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8 indie games to help you forget about lockdown

Everyone’s feeling the frustration with the return of lockdown restrictions and now more than ever it’s important to get some time away from the doom and gloom of the pandemic age.

There’s plenty of AAA games to fill the market so instead The Standard presents a list of games with innovative strides and varying length that you just can’t get from the mainstream output.

Whether you’re looking to get lost in a new world or simply want to while away some time before your next remote activity, here are seven indie games to help you put your isolated mind at ease.

Lake

(Steam for PC only)

Picture this: it’s 1986 and Meredith Weiss returns to her small hometown for two weeks to fill in as a mail carrier for her dad. This is the premise of the newly released Lake by Gamious Digital. Playing as Meredith, participants can interact with the townsfolk in an open-ended, reflective story that leaves the choice up to you. Will you decide to return to your busy city life? Or will you settle in the quiet Providence Oaks? The cozy, slice-of-life game is receiving rave reviews for its bittersweet story, and is a perfect short, but sweet, play during lockdown. – Emily Spindler

8 indie games to help you forget about lockdown

Lake sees Meredith Weiss delivering the post, interacting with locals, and navigating the mundanity of Providence Oaks circa. 1986. Image: Gamious/Whitehorn Digital.

Hades

(PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, Nintendo Switch) If there is one indie game that can get you through the isolation of lockdown it would be Hades. Right off the bat, the player is trapped in the underworld trying to escape, repeatedly failing and starting over from scratch. While you will lose all progress and power ups upon death, each new attempt gives you the opportunity to learn more about each level and their unique enemies/bosses, allowing you to improve your skills and get closer to the exit. Hades at its core is a hack n’ slash dungeon run game with amazingly smooth mechanics. It has a skill system that you can dump a hundred hours into, and still not even get halfway through every possible combination of powers and skills. With eye-catching art, a phenomenal soundtrack, an intriguing story and rewarding combat, Hades is a game that lives up to the praise it receives where you will quickly discover that no two runs are the same, making replay value high. – Tim Wilson

8 indie games to help you forget about lockdown

A Groundhog Day of epic Greek proportions, Hades is the ultimate metaphorical escape from the cycle of imprisonment. Image: Supergiant Games.

Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion

(Nintendo Switch, PC)

If cosy and quiet isn’t your style, then perhaps the chaos and fun of Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion is more up your alley. Turnip Boy has been caught red-handed evading tax and racked up a huge debt with Mayor Onion. After being evicted from his home, players control the cute little turnip with a penchant for mischief as he goes on an adventure to pay back his debts. It’s a little oddball, but the Stardew Valley-esque vibes mixed with challenging puzzles and boss fights works perfectly. On top of that, playing as a turnip with no respect for authority (or tax law) is pretty entertaining. – Emily Spindler

8 indie games to help you forget about lockdown

Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion transports you to a chaotic world of colourful characters and whimsical locales. Playing as a vegetable never seemed so frenetic. Image: Graffiti Games/Snoozy Kazoo.

Void Bastards

(PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch)

For those of you wanting a return to “the good old days” of the ’90s, Blue Manchu’s Void Bastards has you covered. Part System-Shock, part FTL, part roguelike, and with all the black-comedic British charm of shows like Red Dwarf, Void Bastards is a fun, strategic sci-fi romp brimming with a magnetic character and an unparalleled hybridity in its design. With a pulpy 2D-esque aesthetic that mashes comic-style art with classic shooters like Doom, Void Bastards is darkly funny, enjoyable and rewarding for whatever amount of time you’re willing to put into it. – Tim Bottams

8 indie games to help you forget about lockdown

Void Bastards sees the player navigating an endless series of dangerous ship complexes replete with random enemies and dizzying procedural layouts. Image: Blue Manchu/Humble Bundle.

Ori and the Blind Forest

(PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch)

Ori and the Blind Forest is an absolutely stunning game that will make you forget all about your lockdown blues. Everything about this 2D Metroidvania game from Moon Studios is absolutely brilliant from its heart-warming story, to its tight movement, combat system and giant sprawling map. But the real stars of the game are its gorgeous art style and its amazing orchestral soundtrack that will bring a tear to your eye. If any of this sounds appealing to you, then you owe it to yourself to play Ori and the Blind Forest. – Theo Tunks

8 indie games to help you forget about lockdown

Every motion is a painting as Ori leaps and jumps through the varied forest setting, offering a delightful alternative to the drab familiarity of lockdown conditions. Image: Microsoft.

Hyper Light Drifter

(PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch)

On the lighter side of escapism, (or at least a more vibrant, upbeat one) is Hyper Light Drifter released by Heart Machine in 2016. Above all else, this game serves as a modern homage to classic 2D action-adventure titles like Legend of Zelda and Diablo. Hyper Light Drifter sees the eponymous Drifter exploring ancient ruins while suffering from an unknown condition. The game is practically stripped of exposition, traditional dialogue, and even conventional language, allowing the player to become immersed in the game’s explosive neon aesthetic, explorative electronic score and dynamic action sequences. Hyper Light Drifter dares the player to become lost in its fantastical juxtaposition of sci-fi heavy metal imagery splayed across a 16bit lens of colourful intrigue and flowing ambience. – Tim Bottams

8 indie games to help you forget about lockdown

Hyper Light Drifter is a game of mood above all else and its emphasis on sound and visuals ensures you’ll forget your place in the current state of the world. Image: Heart Machine.

Journey

(PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PC)

Journey is actually a game from 2012 that received a facelift in 2019 on PC. Not a long game by any means as you’ll finish it within four or five hours of play, but make no mistake this is an indie game that’s worth every second invested into it. With a breathtaking landscape and outstanding music, this silent narrative will have you in wonder from beginning to end as you glide, sore and fly over oceans of sand in a way you never thought you’d be able to enjoy with intriguing puzzles along your “journey”. – Tim Wilson

8 indie games to help you forget about lockdown

With sweeping desert vistas and an intriguing atmosphere, Journey’s re-release on PC and PS4 keeps a console classic alive. Go see what all the fuss was about. Image: Sony Computer Entertainment.

Kentucky Route Zero: TV Edition

(PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch)

Cardboard Computer’s 2020 surrealist adventure Kentucky Route Zero (KRZ): TV Edition is the ultimate indie escape. A dark-palette world dripping with Lynchian magic realism, KRZ takes the player on an atmospheric trip down the eponymous highway filled with memorable characters and artful dialogue. The game’s slower point-and-click gameplay invokes a return to the LucasArts adventure games of yore while being steeped in a resonant melancholia and haunting sound design. Released in episodic format across a seven-year period, Kentucky Route Zero: TV Edition collects all five episodes in a complete immersive experience. This game will transport you into another world, another dimension even—a dimension that will never quite leave you. – Tim Bottams

8 indie games to help you forget about lockdown

A haunting world with disarming beauty and a powerful ambience, explore the depths of the human spirit as you travel across the eponymous Route Zero, interacting with strange characters in an even stranger dimension. Image: Cardboard Computer.

The writers: Tim Bottams is gaming editor, Emily Spindler is the Standard’s co-editor, Theo Tunks is pop culture editor and Tim Wilson is a reporter.

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