Top Ten Indie Shooters- Decade’s Best
For the Love of Shooters
My friends over at The Sip have a reoccurring joke involving my choice of video games, the shooters. Yes, I am an American living in the heartland of the US, and along with that I meet all the stereotypes that Americans receive; I love God, bar-BQ, and guns. Now, I will admit that I don’t actually own any guns, but I do like them in my video games. In fact, it is for that reason that shooters, in general, are my favorite types of games. Indies have presented some incredible shooter titles over the last decade, and I want to count down the best that I have played.
Before we get into this list, know that I am not just covering first-person shooters. Along with having some of those games on the list, I am also adding shmups, rail shooters, and twin-stick shooters to the mix.
Indies are known for creating games that are so simple that they are fun. For those of us that grew up playing with little plastic army men, it didn’t get much more simplistic than that. For the solo developer SteelRaven7, the line between good and evil is about as thick as the difference between blue and red. In this WWII-style first-person shooter, you play as a low-poly, “toy soldier” fighting against the opposition in a wide range of war-torn areas. The action is similar to that of the Battlefield games, although the core title is a single-player game.
One of the best parts of the game is its simplicity. Due to the monochromatic structure of the soldiers, this game is easily modded, and the developer allows for the Steam-community to do just that. In fact, a new multiplayer mod has just been released for the game. If you want a simple, but fun FPS without all the extra fluff of other titles, Ravenfield is definitely worth checking out.
9. Pistol Whip
Virtual Reality is providing new ways for people to play old genres. One of those genres is the classic rail-shooter, and Cloudhead Game’s newest VR title, Pistol Whip, breathes new life into the arcade-style. Being both a musical title and rail shooter, Pistol Whip blends both dynamics into its gameplay as you rhythmically blast away at villans while dodging their shots. The action in this game does not slow down as you move faster and faster through the levels, wasting clip after clip into your opponents. As far as VR games go, Pistol Whip is considered one of the best that you can buy!
8. Revolver360 Re:actor
Shoot ‘em ups, or shmups, as they are affectionately called, are blasts from the past that are quickly making their way back into the public eye. Shmups are usually pretty straight forward, providing the player with a quick set of six or so levels of high-intensity, bullet-dodging goodness. For the indie developer Cross Eaglet, however, simple linear gameplay wasn’t enough. They decided to provide a new angle for the shmup, and thus Revolver360 Re:actor was born. This is a classic, side-scrolling 2.5D shmup that adds a new mechanic to the gameplay; the environment can be rotated around the player. This includes the rotating of the bullets, which makes this shmup stand out from the rest for being creative and unique.
Along with the “rotation factor,” this game has a great soundtrack and wonderful visuals to heighten the experience. If you are tired of the same old shmup, then you are going to want to give Revolver360 Re:actor a try.
7. Bit Blaster
Indies pride themselves on ingenuity through simplicity, and Nickversion Studio’s 8-bit throwback Aracde Shooter, Bit Blaster, provides that in spades. Being a spiritual successor to Asteroids, Bit Blaster gives the player control of a small, pixelated ship that flies around blasting aliens and other nefarious forces. Much like any arcade game, the goal of Bit Blaster is to survive and achieve the highest score possible. This is done through collecting various power-ups that will strengthen your ship’s weapons and give you an edge over your unsuspecting enemies.
Thre are plenty of games on the market like this, but Bit Blaster stands out from the rest because it has incredibly smooth gameplay and tons of replay value. Many indie developers think they can get away with cutting corners with gameplay if they use an 8-bit aesthetic. The developer of Bit Blaster cut no corners with this game, and it shows.
6. The Binding of Isaac
I remember the first time I played the original Binding of Isaac. I wasn’t at all impressed with its cartoony artwork and animated style, but the demented theme of the game was oddly entertaining. This twin-stick shooter has been a cult classic since it was originally released in 2011, but has since had various “sequels.” As the brainchild of both Edmund McMillen and Florian Himsl, this game has gone through various transformations over the years to become a solid title and one of the best twin-stick shooters on the market. However, there is no denying it, The Binding of Isaac is a really fun, and really strange ride.
Alright, I might be cheating a little on this one, but I feel like indies are all about creating hybrids within genres, and Broforce certainly fits that mold. Yes, the game from Free Lives is technically an action-platformer with many characters that don’t do much shooting, but the overall theme of the game is based around guns. Not only that, but there are plenty of American action-film references in this title ranging from Rambo to Aliens. Choosing your “bro-hero,” you are able to light up the forces of evil that threaten freedom as we know it. With plenty of explosions, bombs, guns, tanks, and yes, even swords and arrows, the shoot ‘em up action hardly stops when you enter the fray!
*Editor Note, there is also a spin-off game called Expendabros. Which is based on, you guessed it, The Expendables. It’s also free so well worth checking out.
Indie developers are the kings of creating roguelikes, the genre which is designed to be played over and over again. Heck, I think the roguelike genre may very well be the creation of indies themselves. With that said, twin-stick action shooters make for great roguelikes because they are fast and exciting. One of the best ever made is a surprisingly obscure title called Monolith. This game presents you with procedurally generated chambers that you must complete before getting to a boss at the end. The idea of the game seems simple enough, but it can get very, very difficult.
Monolith is a visual masterpiece. The game is clearly made with an 8-bit art-style, but the gameplay is so smooth that it hardly feels like it is a throwback. Your ship floats through the abandoned facility with ease as you blast away at countless enemies using powerful weapons. If you have not heard of Monolith, well, now you have to, and should, check it out right away!
3. Hotline: Miami
If video games have taught me one thing it is that the life of a hitman is certainly not boring. The developers at Dennaton Games think the hitman life is quite exciting, especially for those within Hotline: Miami. The hyper-violent, pixelated indie has slowly garnered a cult following after its initial release in 2012. Playing as a hitman, it is your job to fulfill your clients’ wishes as you go from mission to mission blasting away at targets and earning some cash. The top-down view makes this a twin-stick shooter, but there are now mods available that turn it into an FPS. It seems like modders are constantly trying to upgrade their gaming experiences.
2. Amid Evil
Not all of the games that I have on this list are pixelated throwbacks. There are a select few indie shooters on the market that take advantage of enhancements of new graphics engines, and Indefatigable has done this with their spell-casting FPS, Amid Evil. The game has quickly become one of the best selling titles on Steam, and there is little question as to why. You play as a spell-caster on a quest to destroy seven evils on seven worlds, and the weapons you use are not guns but rather powerful artifacts. From a staff that shoots electricity to swords that hurl blasts of wind, this game is just as much a shooter as any other FPS.
Amid Evil is not alone in its pedigree of successful FPS games, however. Dusk, another game created by the developer, is also a solid FPS that did not make it on this list. Both games are available for sale together on Steam, and you would be wise not to let them slip by.
Top 1. Enter the Gungeon
If you want to make a game that will be considered one of the greatest twin-stick shooters ever made, then you might as well make it gun-themed. Dodge Roll’s Enter the Gungeon is a shooter for the ages. It gives the players a bullethell roguelike experience that forces them to think quick and act faster. Not only that, but everything, and I do mean everything, has to do with guns. The enemies are shaped like bullets and all of the weapons provide a wide array of shot patterns. Even the bosses themselves are pigeons holding Gatling guns or snakes with lasers attached to them. All of this is undergone to retrieve a gun that can kill the past. It’s just crazy!
I put this game at the top of the list of the Decade’s Best Indie Shooters because Enter the Gungeon is fundamentally an indie. It was not only made by an independent studio, but it is also wild and unpredictable. In all honesty, the game is just nuts, and it is that wide-eyed and imaginative gameplay that sets indies apart from all other AAA titles. Congratulations Enter the Gungeon, you’ve earned the title!
But Hey, I’m Just One Person
I know that there are many other indie games out there that deserve to be on this list. I wish that I could put more of them on here, but alas, ten is the magic number this year. If you have some other games that you think should be on this list, I welcome you to leave them in the comments below. Happy New Year everyone, and remember to stay tuned to SipRead for your daily dose of indies!
I am a husband, father, pastor, teacher, gamer, writer, cat lover, and Steampunk gentleman. I like my coffee as black as night, so hold the creamer…