“Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering ‘it will be happier’…” – Alfred Lord Tennyson
2020 has been an undeniably strange year, to say the least, but despite the uncertainty and challenges, studios have persevered and we’ve been lucky to see a healthy selection of indie games published nonetheless!
In this article, David and Rachael list some of their top picks from the 2020 releases they have reviewed this year!
David’s Top Picks
The Pedestrian – Double review here.
Developer: Skookum Arts
Released: 29th January 2020
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux
Available on: GOG, Steam
The Pedestrian is a fresh take on the puzzle platformer genre. Playing as a male or female sign pedestrian, you traverse several realistic but visually gorgeous locations, manipulating signs and connecting doorways to get to your goal! The unique and clever presentation, as well as the difficulty of the game makes this game highly recommended for puzzle enthusiasts, and one of my top picks of 2020!
Luminous Labyrinth – Review here.
Developer: Bobby Wolfe
Released: February 2020
Platforms: Windows, Linux, Android
Available on: itch.io
Luminous Labyrinth is a game in-development in which you get a cube out of brightly colored mazes! Navigating around walls, finding secret areas and encountering dangerous objects, the game keeps you occupied with exploring and staying alive until you safely make it out!
Whether at home or on the road, the simple controls and varied labyrinths, in addition to the short play lengths and challenging yet forgiving difficulty, make it an excellent top pick, especially so for Android players.
Sword Slinger – Full review available here.
Released: 20th October 2020
Platforms: Windows, Linux, Mac
Available on: itch.io, Steam
Sword Slinger is a puzzle game by developer Firebelley, in which you must kill goblins by very…unconventional means. You must throw a magic sword in increasingly specific and strategic ways, including usage of effects like bounces or mid-air throws, to slay the evil little creatures using the least moves possible.
The unusual yet creative premise and its excellent, satisfying execution as a puzzler lands the game squarely in top picks territory.
Rachael’s Top Picks
Welcome to Elk – Review available here.
Developer: Triple Topping
Releases: 17th September 2020
Price: £11.39 – £12.49
Platforms: PC, Mac, Xbox One
Available on: Steam, Microsoft
Without a doubt, my favourite indie game of 2020, Welcome to Elk is a charming adventure set on a fictional island full of true stories and tall tales, and inhabited by the people who lived them. Players take on the role of Frigg, a young carpenter starting a new life in a small town and meet the plethora of weird and wonderful residents within.
This game features unique and whimsical artwork and characters that are cleverly juxtaposed with the emotional rollercoaster that makes up the narrative experience. The stories within are primarily based on true events and are often harrowing, yet they are told with tact and understanding, creating a meaningful and passionate experience that is truly original and not to be missed!
When the Past was Around – Prologue review available here.
Developer: Mojiken Studio
Released: 22nd September 2020
Platforms: Windows, Mac
Available on: Steam
When the Past was Around is a unique point-and-click game about love, loss and moving on. It follows 20-year-old Edda and her mysterious companion through a series of disjointed and puzzle-filled rooms made up of memories, with each one representing a fragment of time.
The game has a beautifully original art style and a truly moving narrative that had me in tears. The story itself is unremarkable but that’s part of what makes it so relatable and emotive, especially to anyone who has experienced loss. When the Past was Around was, without a doubt, my favourite game to cry to in 2020!
Before I Forget – Full review here.
Developer: 3-Fold Games
Released: 16th July 2020
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux
Available on: Steam, itch.io, Humble Original
Before I Forget is a short, narrative exploration game in which players step into the world of Sunita – a woman living with early-onset dementia. Wandering from room to room, she examines faded postcards, scribbled notes, photographs, and more in order to rediscover and piece together her past and hopefully make sense of the present. It aims to explore how living with dementia can affect someone’s life, as well as the lives of those around them and was developed with support from medical professionals and Gaming the Mind to help create a sensitive and realistic portrayal of the condition.
This game provides a touching and realistic portrayal of a life changing and degenerative condition with beautiful artwork and a simple but emotional story that made it one of the most poignant gaming experiences I had in 2020.
If Found – Review available here.
If Found, an interactive visual novel, is a coming of age story about connection, isolation and self-discovery that centres around Kasio, a young Irish trans woman, destroying her diary in the remains of a crumbling old mansion. A record of the last 28 days, it tells the story of her return home, her conflict with her family, the friendships she made and the challenges she faced. Somewhere within its pages is also an explanation for the looming black hole that’s about to destroy the Earth!
Despite the disparity between the two juxtaposed narratives, the stunning abstract art and the engaging, emotional and well told story help this game stand out and earn it a position in my favourite games of 2020.
We know 2020 has been quite a ride, but we hope you enjoyed these games as much as us. Thank you for reading Indie Hive over the last year, we’re looking forward to reviewing even more great games in 2021!
Enjoyed reading this? Take a look at some of our other game lists!
Five Festive PC Games to Play this Christmas – More DRM-Free Treasures from the Humble Trove – Five Free Games that Attempt to Tackle Mental Health Issues