Freeware

Griptape Backbone Title

Griptape Backbone


Steam Page || Game Jolt Page

Terrible jokes, great music, memes, and a desktop screen containing the best use of a Samuel Beckett play I have ever seen are some of the most important parts of this existential skateboarding game. With no way to lose, a vague goal of collecting 1000 ‘aesthetics’ shaped like cups which make old Windows sounds when you touch them, and the ability to skate on any surface in any direction with no fear of crashing, this is a short and very relaxing experience where players are free to explore and interact with the world at their own pace. Griptape Backbone is mostly made up of bits and pieces of meaningless nonsense, but this is one case where the whole is definitely greater than the sum of its parts as all these abstract objects and pop culture references do come together to convey a surprisingly powerful message. The ending is particularly good, but the roughly one hour journey to get there is also worthwhile in its own way.
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Touhou – Wandering Souls


RPGMaker.net Page

You know an indie game has made it big when other indie developers start making fangames based on it and the Touhou series has a ton of fangames. I’ve played my fair share of Touhou fangames over the years and at the end of the day Touhou – Wandering Souls remains not only my favorite Touhou fangame, but one of my favorite freeware indie games. This sidescrolling action RPG perfectly translates the gameplay of a bullet hell shmup series into an entirely different genre alongside some surprisingly deep mechanics and an outright obscene amount of content all while being made in the utterly unlikely RPG Maker VX engine.
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Close Your Eyes


Steam Page || RPGMaker.net Page

Close Your Eyes is a horror game where you must question everyone and everything you encounter. Taking on the role of a character who has narrowly escaped from death row, you must navigate your way through dark and ever-changing locations as time and space twist around you. There are plenty of scares along the way ranging everywhere on the spectrum from standard jumpscares to disturbing love letters and every assumption must be doubted in order to reveal even the smallest slivers of truth.
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Genetos

Genetos


Official Site

Genetos is a shmup which celebrates the history of its genre from its humble beginnings to the modern era. The aesthetics evolve along with the enemies and even your own ship in this journey through the ages. With many difficulty levels to choose from and different evolutionary paths for your ship based on your actions, Genetos is a game which can vary as much as the genre itself.
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From Next Door


RPGMaker.net Page

With a description stating that this game “draws inspiration from the works of Junji Ito and games like Silent Hill” and that it contains “mild jumpscares” I was prepared to either fall in love with From Next Door or be horribly disappointed – I was not disappointed. Even though it’s only about an hour in length, this game’s pace is an extremely slow burn, slow enough that after a few minutes you might start to wonder if those ‘jumpscares’ are just going to be fake-outs without anything legitimately frightening ever happening. Yet this slow pace is what makes the game work so well because the sense of tension continually builds even when nothing is happening. A neighboring house with no windows, a mysterious locked room, and a growing sense of unease are all it takes to make you expect an unknown horror to at last abruptly reveal itself every time you turn on the lights at night.
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