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Top 10 indie games of 2010

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I played more indie games last year than I ever had before. It was a good year for them; we saw a lot of unique and great titles containing everything from creepy treks through a place between heaven and hell, and a zombie game where your only weapon is a soccer ball. The 10 indie titles on this list are the ones that really stuck out for me, and the ones that deserve another round of recognition.

Fellow Bitmobbers, what were your favorite indie games of 2010? Share them in the comments.


Aphelion series — Xbox 360

The Aphelion series brings me back to the original PlayStation era with not only its gameplay and design, but also with the fact that the main character carries a sword much too large for any normal person to wield. It's a fun adventure with likable characters gamers will instantly become drawn to. Only BioWare can compare when it comes to creating such an interesting entourage. Played over two games, the sci-fi story in the series may not be totally unique (hostile aliens, diabolical plots by mad scientists, etc), but it is a damn fine one. Another plus is the ending. Not only does it not follow the normal trend found in mainstream titles, but it also manages to leave a lasting impression.

Pro Zombie Soccer.

Even during an undead onslaught, a soccer player will go for the coveted hat trick.

Pro Zombie Soccer — iPhone/iPad

The fact that some of the team members worked on such hits like Plants vs. Zombies and Worms should be enough to convince anyone to download this iPhone (and now iPad) game. It's a game where players take on the role of soccer player versus the undead. The ball becomes the greatest weapon of genocide against zombies ever known to man. While the premise is simple, a funny, well-written story, constantly changing scenarios and fun power-ups like tilt-controlled satellite lasers of doom keep the game a fun, though brief adventure. And honestly, soccer and zombies make everything better.

Soulcaster II — Xbox 360

Soulcaster II is unique in the fact that you're character can't attack. He can use a powerful Scroll of Ruin to damage groups of enemies when he gets into trouble, but aside from that, the Gandalf lookalike is basically screwed. To survive his grand adventure — an adventure that actually feels like a trek through a real fantasy land as each area traversed is connected — the Soulcaster must cast images of Guardians. Each of the three Guardians has a unique attack. One chucks grenades, another fires off arrows and the knight acts as a shield to soak up damage. It's a fun, and tactical, way to play through each stage and a breath of fresh air. Oh, and the shop keeper is the best in any video game since Resident Evil 4's what-are-ya-buyin' cloaked vendor.

Miasma

Miasma: Citizens of Free Thought. Dystopian sci-fi at its best.

Miasma: Citizens of Free Thought — Xbox 360/ PC

This is the best indie game of 2010. This is why: it's a turn-based strategy game with some new-school rules set in a dystopian world where an evil corporation rules everything…a slight social commentary of our world today. I'm not going to lie, Miasma isn't as unique as some titles on this list, but it happens to be in my favorite genre, and it's a well designed game with slick graphics one would expect in an Xbox Live Arcade title. It stumbles a bit with the opening (man with amnesia stereotype) but it manages to present a great, mature story about your underground resistance group trying to rid the world of the corporation's evil rule. The title may end on a cliffhanger, but don't let that deter you from playing one of the best titles to come out last year.

Faery: Legends of Avalon — Xbox 360/PlayStation 3/ Steam

This game is probably the least perfect on the list. It's nothing new in the world of turn-based RPGs. The story isn't unique — it's another world is ending unless we save it quest. Three things made me beat Faery in three sittings: character growth, the setting and exploration. As players level up, they get to choose what skills their faery learns. Making your character more nimble results in a cat tail that grows longer as you upgrade that skill. Different wing sets ranging from butterfly to dragonfly grant you different elemental attacks. As a faery, your character is tiny and can fly. This allows for creative exploration in and around giant ships, trees and a gigantic beetle with a city on its back. These locations and stories make for a great setting — especially the one inspired by the legend of the Flying Dutchman.

Decay

Decay – Part 1. This eye is the least freaky thing in the game.

Decay Series — Xbox 360

I don't play a lot of point-and-click adventure titles. I get stuck a lot, and that results in me giving up. The Decay series is one of the few titles to keep me motivated enough to keep on hurting my head with challenging puzzles so I can get to the end and see what happens. After three iterations, I'm slowly finding out everything about the limbo-esque world I'm in, and the circumstances behind my family's death. This is also one series you don't want to play with the lights off. These may be some of the scariest games ever made, and your character can't even die.

Zeno Clash: Ultimate Edition — Xbox 360

This game from independent studio, ACE Team, is an odd one. Played from a first-person perspective, this brawler offers up a world of surreal landscapes and a slightly deranged adventure as you expose the truth about your…er, parental figure, Father-Mother, while avoiding deformed bipedal animals and half human monstrosities. Main character Ghat and his female companion find themselves trekking through some odd locations from ghostly graveyards, deserts and wastelands. Everything feels like a dream — if that dream was acid induced. It's a short game, but it's a totally unique game…even if a bit odd. Just don't count on any of it to make sense.

Zeno Clash Ultimate Edition

Zeno Clash: Ultimate Edition.

These two are actually the normal looking characters in the game.

Monday Night Combat — Xbox 360/Steam

Monday Night Combat is just quick, dumb fun. At first glance it looks like Team Fortress 2 with its colorful and eccentric looking characters, but the idea behind the game is more than just simple deathmatch. A constant stream of robots march across the map on their way to reach the other team's Money Ball. It's your job to destroy your adversaries and enemy robots, upgrade your defensive turrets and work with your team in order for your side to gain the advantage and blow that Money Ball up into a golden shower of joy. Think of it as a tower defense game fused with a third-person shooter. Add in different upgradeable character classes like the Assassin and Sniper as well as upgradeable turrets and you get the idea.

Limbo — Xbox 360

Limbo almost didn't make the list. It almost didn't make it because I'm not sure if it's really that good. Sure, I had to beat it in one night after starting it up. Yeah, there's isn't anything else like it — silent protagonist in a black and white world and all. The reason it makes it is the fact that it stayed with me so long after the ending. Answers remain elusive, but just like in English class after reading a good novel, everyone had their piece to say about the ending; everyone had a different viable interpretation of the adventure's meaning. I wrote my own, and I enjoyed, agreed and hated others. Not many other games keep me caring that much — if at all — after the credits roll.

Monday Night Combat

Monday Night Combat. Sport of the future?

DeathSpank series — Xbox 360/PlayStation 3/Steam

DeathSpank isn't remarkable as an action RPG, loot fest. Where it scores points is in its unique story about all-powerful thongs and the constant humor permeating throughout. DeathSpank is a real hero ready to dish out Justice (yes, with a capital J) against any evil doers — even Santa. Although the gameplay may be ho-hum, its quick pace serves it well as gamers will want to dash through the story to see DeathSpank become a pirate, collect thongs, collect unicorn poop and all sorts of shenanigans.


Honorable mentions:

Mecho Wars — iPhone

Explosionade — Xbox 360

Cthulhu Saves the World — Xbox 360

Super Meat Boy — Xbox 360/Steam

These games narrowly missed my top 10 list for various reasons. They each are great titles, and I know people are going to give me some flak for leaving Super Meat Boy out of the top 10. I liked Super Meat Boy; I just never picked it up after I beat the first world. I didn't get hooked like countless others on the savory hero, but what I played was enough to garner an honorable mention — though the fact it didn’t hold onto my attention like Limbo or Aphelion is a big reason it remains in this list.


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