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The best indie games of 2019

Valfaris 

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC (Steam), Switch 

Valfaris is the most metal game we've seen in years, and it's got some of the most detailed, grisly pixel art, too. It's a hardboiled 2D action-platformer set in a grotesque world filled with monsters that are almost as sick as the guitar that carries the game's rock soundtrack. It is, in one word, awesome. 

Indivisible 

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC (Steam) 

The very idea of Indivisible is exciting: a turn-based RPG from the makers of Skullgirls. And in practice, it's a true delight. Its art and animation is every bit as luscious as you'd expect from Lab Zero Games, and its inventive combat system leverages scores of interesting party members in cool ways. Levels are fun to explore, dudes are fun to fight, and the whole dang thing is just plain fun to look at. 

Untitled Goose Game 

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC (Epic Games Store, Steam in 2020)

What started as a joke game name has snowballed into an unstoppable global movement. The goose has come. It came to kick ass and steal things, and it can't reach anyone's ass, so it'll have to settle for stealing everything that isn't nailed down - and indeed some things that are. You play as a goose tasked with completing creative, comedic tasks in a minimalist modern world, most of which involve stealing things and screwing with people. Untitled Goose Game is effortlessly funny, utterly unique, and it deserves every ounce of the mountain of praise it's received.

Children of Morta 

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC (Steam) 

Children of Morta is a top-down action roguelike that revolves around a family of heroes, the Bergsons. Its roguelike blood shows in its procedurally generated dungeons and high difficulty, but that's where the similarities end. Because rather than dying and starting over, Children of Morta is explicitly about building up the Bergson family and playing as different members, from the brawny dad to the quick-witted daughter. This gives you access to a huge range of skills and play styles, and the familial theme gives Children of Morta's overarching story a surprising degree of weight. It starts out great, wowing you with impeccable pixel art, and it only gets better the more you play. 

Noita

Platforms: PC (Steam Early Access) https://youtu.be/smkdscv6SJs

We've seen a lot of pixel art on this list, but nothing quite like Noita, a 2D action roguelike "where every pixel is physically simulated." What does that mean, you might ask? Well, it means Noita has one of the most inventive and reactive game worlds since The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and I do not say that lightly. You can melt, soak, burn, freeze, atomize, and electrocute just about everything in Noita - including yourself, if you're not careful. You can shoot out a chunk of the ceiling and use it as a bridge, or chuck lightning into a lake to electrify its watery denizens. It's a solid action game in its own right, even in Early Access, and the freedom to experiment with the foundations of the world itself elevates Noita to creative new heights. 

Afterparty

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC (Epic Games Store) 

"Out-party Satan" may be the most immediately compelling adventure game premise I've ever seen. You play as Milo and Lola, two now-deceased college students who are trying to break out of Hell itself. To do so, you'll need to navigate sharp and complex conversations in an almost Tim Burton-esque rendition of the fiery afterlife, party with crowds of literal demons, and ultimately beat Satan in a drinking contest. Afterparty is infectiously charming and laugh-out-loud funny, and it's more than a worthy follow-up to Night School's Oxenfree. 

What the Golf

Platforms: Switch, PC (Epic Games Store, Steam in 2020)

If you define golf as the process of moving a thing toward a goal, sometimes with the aid of a stick, then yes, What the Golf is indeed a golf game. More accurately, it's a wild, anarchic romp through wacky physics, video game history, and basically everything except golf. It's as unpredictable as it is creative, and there's truly nothing else like it. It's like Untitled Goose Game in that sense - you just plain need to see this. 

Creature in the Well

Platforms: PC (Steam), Nintendo Switch

If pinball was an isometric action game, it'd be Creature in the Well. You play as a robot who's trying a free village from the tyranny of the titular creature, and you do so by diving deeper and deeper into a mountain dungeon. Along the way, you'll need to clear puzzles, challenges, and boss fights where you collect, hit, and reflect fast-moving projectiles pinball-style. You can charge up balls with your sword and send them flying with your bat, and after playing it for ourselves, we can attest to how intense this simple two-part combat system can get. Creature in the Well is an intuitive, exciting, and incredibly pretty take on an arcade classic. Did we mention its levels get re-colored every playthrough? Because they do, and it's mighty cool. 

Disco Elysium

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC 

Disco Elysium is one of the most ambitious and articulate RPGs ever made. It's a hard-boiled detective game on its face, and underneath you'll find a seemingly endless pool of evolving characters and branching dialogue, every line pulling you deeper and deeper into its evocative world. If it weren't for Outer Wilds, it would unquestionably be the best narrative game of 2019 - and even then, it could go either way. The fact that both games came out in the same year is nothing short of miraculous. Disco Elysium is an instant classic and a must-see. 

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