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26 indie game developers you need to follow

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Thanks to platforms like Xbox Live Arcade and the App Store, it’s easier than ever for developers to put out small, awesome games ready to be gobbled up by plenty of hungry gamers. This has led to a rise in independent game studios: teams of developers sometimes made up of just a handful of people. But because of their limited resources, it’s very common for these developers to fly under the radar, especially when they’re competing against the likes of Blizzard and Ubisoft. Thankfully GR is here to help, with a list of 26 of the best and brightest developers the indie scene has to offer.


2D Boy

If you never played World of Goo, shame on you. Whether it’s the PC or WiiWare version, the clever and charming puzzle game is a unique and refreshing gem. And it was made by just two guys. Though the follow-up to World of Goo has yet to be revealed, if it’s half as inventive as 2D Boy’s first game, it’s sure to be the next big indie hit and a game that will take up way too much of your time.


Amanita Design

The point-and-click adventure may not be the big genre it once was, but Czech studio Amanita Design is keeping the fire burning. After getting started with the bizarrely compelling Samarost games -- as well as Flash titles for the likes of Nike and the BBC -- the team finally hit its stride with Machinarium, a beautiful, dark, and minimalistic adventure starring a skinny little robot on a mission to find his missing girlfriend and stop a bomb from destroying the city.


The Behmoth

It all started with Alien Hominid. A deliciously difficult 2D side-scroller with gorgeous hand-drawn artwork, the game went from a Flash title to the GameCube and PS2 before taking Xbox Live Arcade by storm. Then came Castle Crashers, which, while not quite as revered as its predecessor, still managed to squeeze in some wonderful visuals and solid 4 player co-op action. Plus, you could kill aliens with a carrot. And with the mysterious and strange BattleBlock Theatre on the way, the studio is showing no signs of slowing down.


Brawsome

Brawsome consists of just one man intent upon keeping adventure games alive. After getting his toes wet with Flash and freeware releases and working on casual games like Avenue Flo, Andrew Goulding released one of this year’s sleeper hits: Jolly Rover. A Monkey Island-style adventure with a cast of dogs, the game is as funny as it is clever, with excellent puzzles and even better writing. It also features some great 2D artwork that will definitely appeal to those turned off by Telltale’s 3D Monkey Island games.


Cactus

There’s a good chance you’ve never heard of Swedish indie Jonatan “Cactus” Soderstrom. And there’s an equally good chance that if you ask another indie developer who inspires them most, the answer will be Cactus. Prolific, inventive, and at times downright crazy,  Cactus’ site features everything from first-person shooters to platformers to puzzles. In 2008 alone he released 16 different games; all distinctly original. For example, his recent game Norrland is all about life in Northern Sweden and includes shooting off animal heads, punching bears in the face, and guzzling beer.


Capy Games

Prior to last year, few had heard of the tiny Toronto studio known as Capy, but thanks to a pair of hits -- the gorgeous and addictive PSN puzzler Critter Crunch and the unique DS puzzle/strategy game Might & Magic Clash of Heroes - Capy is practically a household name – well, in its employees’ own houses, at least. But the team isn’t resting on its laurels, with a trio of new games either out or in the works, including an HD version of Clash of Heroes, the intriguing iPhone adventure game Sword & Sworcery, and the mysterious WiiWare rhythm action game Heartbeat.

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30 comments

  • FreedomPhantom - February 16, 2011 11:36 p.m.

    I probably spend just as much time with games by these devs as I do with much bigger titles. Excellent choices GR!
  • CH3BURASHKA - February 16, 2011 11:38 p.m.

    I've heard of a majority of these developers. I'll most definitely be checking out the ones I haven't (heard of). One indie dev you seem to have missed is Giant Sparrow. However, that's completely understandable: they haven't released their first game, the Unfinished Swan, yet. In fact, they haven't had an update in over 4 months. I can only hope they're still working away at their game, because I'm absolutely stoked for it. For those unaware, check them out: www.giantsparrow.com Also, Eric Ruth has been in the gaming news quite a lot for his numerous demakes of famous games. He's responsible for the 8-bit versions of DJ Hero, Halo, L4D, and others, as well as a few originals. Check him out: http://ericruthgames.weebly.com/ PS Whadda ya know, Giant Sparrow updated just recently.
  • TheFlyingFishey - February 16, 2011 11:51 p.m.

    Hmmm...some preatty good choices here, but id really like to see Taleworlds.
  • PimplesInYourAsstista - February 17, 2011 midnight

    Wheres Notch?
  • crossed23 - February 17, 2011 midnight

    Awesome article guys. I love to see the Indy guys get some much deserved love!
  • JohnnyMaverik - February 17, 2011 12:05 a.m.

    Surprised to not see Johnathan Blow's name pop up on here somewhere, not nessesarily all that bothered seeing as there were bound to be people/teams forgotten/left off, and he isn't the only one, but still surprised.
  • NotBraze - February 17, 2011 12:28 a.m.

    I've played several of these games after hearing good things through word of mouth, but Machinarium was a fantastic game which caught me completely by surprise. I purchased the most recent Humble Indie Bundle primarily for Braid which I had already fallen in love with, and World of Goo, which I had heard great things about, but I had never even heard the name Machinarium before, and when I launched the game it was love at first sight. In terms of story it's not incredibly deep or sophisticated, but the puzzles, the art style, and just the sheer amount of charm makes this hame a must play.
  • jazxsora - February 17, 2011 12:39 a.m.

    Sweet, my uncle (thatgamecompany) made the list. Sucks I can't play his games though, as I don't have a PS3.
  • miningguyx360 - February 17, 2011 1:17 a.m.

    SuperGiantGames should be on this list....
  • ChipTheExecutioner - February 17, 2011 1:55 a.m.

    where's notch/mojang? with how much minecraft news you guys post I figured they would be up there without a doubt
  • Risonhighmer - February 17, 2011 2:23 a.m.

    Shank was a crock of shit. It was a glorified flash game, that played worse than most of them these days. I hated the animation style, the dialogue was downright childish, and the controls were piss. However, all of the other titles and developers on this list are fantastic. Amanita Design's title Machinarium is by far my favourite adventure game of all time. And ThatGameCompany's Flower was absolutely brilliant and I can't wait to try journey. Meat Boy was platforming perfected. Sleep Is Death is hardly a game and is often pretty lame, but when it works, it works astoundingly well. As for AaaaaaAAaaaaAAAaaaAAAAaaAAAAAa! I loved the shit out of the demo, never got around to getting the full game (due to lack of funds) and their new game looks even better!
  • richtaur - February 17, 2011 2:25 a.m.

    Don't forget Lost Decade Games … … … anybody? ;)
  • JLThatshilarious - February 17, 2011 2:32 a.m.

    Where is Frictional Games? Why hasn't GR done ANY coverage of Amnesia? It comes out on retail the 22nd (feb). I expect there to be a review then Gamesradar, or I will be VERY unhappy.
  • Mike657 - February 17, 2011 2:46 a.m.

    I know this has been said already, but where the HELL are the creators of Minecraft? I can't believe they didn't make this list, did some stupid technicality keep them off?
  • Rub3z - February 17, 2011 3:25 a.m.

    There are some devs of note I'd like to add. You guys have checked out the indie games section on XBLA, and a couple guys from there that I think should havee made the list are Ska Studios (creators of the absolutely fantastic and wonderfully titled I MAED A GAEM WITH ZOMBIES 1NIT!!!111!! and the less known but still pretty cool ZP platforming/twin stick shooter online fragfest titles) and the creator of the radiangames series, whose name escapes me (pretty sure the dev is in fact called radiangames, not sure though), but most all of the radiangames - JoyJoy, Crossfire, fluid, Inferno, and the final one... the mind-bogglingly chaotic and beautiful Ballistic - are works of pure, distilled gameplay awesomeness. You owe it to yourself to try them. I really do hope those devs have more goodness to offer in the future.
  • heartskuppy - February 17, 2011 3:53 a.m.

    the lack of nifflas on this list makes me sad. :(
  • Montag - February 17, 2011 4:11 a.m.

    Amanita Design did a great mini game for the band Polyphonic Spree, very much in the same vein as Samorast... http://www.questfortherest.com/
  • Crimmy - February 17, 2011 4:21 a.m.

    Where's Uber Ent.? I <3 them. Monday Night Combat has devoured a lot of time (seven hours being cloaked as assassin alone is just scary) and that will just continue to grow. Oh wait MvC3 just released. THAT is going to be my new time killer.
  • Shuuvuia - February 17, 2011 5:18 a.m.

    I love thatgamecompany. They're definately one of the best indie developers out there. Flower is a masterpiece of modern gaming that just hasn't gotten the attention it deserves. I can't wait to see what the company does with Journey.
  • borutp - February 17, 2011 7:52 a.m.

    Check out Haunted Temple Studios' Skulls of the Shogun: http://skullsoftheshogun.com/

Showing 1-20 of 30 comments

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