30 Indies From 2019 To Add To Your Pile Of Shame

30 Indies From 2019 To Add To Your Pile Of Shame

If you’re unhappy with the games you’ve paid $60 or more for, or you’re looking for something shorter and cheaper to cleanse the gaming palette, 2019 has plenty to offer.

Katana Zero

30 Indies From 2019 To Add To Your Pile Of Shame

Now that the game’s been given the OK by the Classification Board, you can enjoy one of the best 2D neo-noir platformers of the last few years. Colourful, clever and fast as hell, Katana Zero is a blast.

Katana Zero's Ban Overturned, Receives R18+ Rating

Life was looking grim for Katana Zero's Australian release, after the game received a Refused Classification rating upon its initial release. But there's some good news: after the game was reviewed by actual humans, the cyberpunk ninja game will be released in Australia.

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30 Indies From 2019 To Add To Your Pile Of Shame

The love-letter to ’90s shooters like Heretic and Hexen, AMID EVIL fully launched out of early access this year. It was already a cracking retro shooter — like DUSK — when it was first available, and it’s well worth the price of entry now.


30 Indies From 2019 To Add To Your Pile Of Shame

Fire Emblem is where it’s at, but if you don’t have a Switch or you just want those Advance Wars vibes with a cute doggo, Wargroove is the shit.

Wargroove: The Kotaku Review

Wargroove has everything: A charming 2D look, imaginative characters and toylike units placed on gorgeous little battlefields, and accessible turn-based strategy inspired and informed by Intelligent Systems’ classics of the genre, Fire Emblem and Advance Wars. So why am I not enjoying myself as much as I should be?

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Tetris 99

30 Indies From 2019 To Add To Your Pile Of Shame

Does Tetris lend itself well to the battle royale format? More than you’d expect. Tetris 99 is free if you have a Nintendo Switch Online subscription.


Got nothing to spend? Then grab BirdGut, a free-to-play quirky platformer about escaping the dystopian world of … a bird’s stomach.

Elo Hell

Still the most cringey game of the year.

Behold, 2019's Most Cringey Game

I can't decide if Elo Hell is so bad it's good, or if it's just really, really bad.

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Outer Wilds

30 Indies From 2019 To Add To Your Pile Of Shame

On the flipside of Elo Hell is Outer Wilds, which I’m betting we’ll see on many GOTY lists come December. One of the best space exploration games in years, combined with a clever reset timer and hand-crafted worlds.

My Friend Pedro

Staying with the hyperactive pace, there’s My Friend Pedro, a 2D action shooter that’s basically a more stylish version of Max Payne. It’s really a bullet hell game from a 2D perspective, as you flip over gunmen dodging their fire and target multiple enemies at once like you’re John Wick.

Gato Roboto

30 Indies From 2019 To Add To Your Pile Of Shame

Speaking of eye-catching, how about a monochromatic platformer where you play as a cat in a robot suit? Gato Roboto is cute, chill, and not particularly long if you don’t want to spend 15 or 20 hours backtracking as you unlock new abilities. There’s some neat humour running throughout, and most players should finish the game within four hours.

1000 days to escape

30 Indies From 2019 To Add To Your Pile Of Shame

Launching into space for a bit is 1000 days to escape, a game about building the largest space program on Earth. You’ve got 1000 days until the end of the world, so it’s up to you to colonise new planets, explore the galaxy, and decide whether to wage war or cooperate with the alien races you find.


30 Indies From 2019 To Add To Your Pile Of Shame

A chill, colourful game with a fantastic lo-fi soundtrack, Islanders probably won’t be on any GOTY lists this year. That’s a mistake. It’s very, very well done with a great construction and animation loop that makes for a relaxing experience.

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When I first saw Islanders last month, I thought it was going to be very chill, but also barely a game. I was only half right.

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A puzzler that plays on your idea of gravity, Etherborn is one for people who enjoy fumbling around with M.C. Escher drawings. It’s not a particularly long game, but the minimalist stylings and colourful visuals are great if you need something meditative.

Slay the Spire

30 Indies From 2019 To Add To Your Pile Of Shame

Slay the Spire was already a top game when it was in early access, and now that it’s released and launched on more platforms, it’s one of the best deckbuilders around. Plays great on the Switch, but get it on any platform you’re most comfortable with.



A cuter Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis, basically. What more do you need?

Void Bastards

30 Indies From 2019 To Add To Your Pile Of ShameImage: Supplied

A stylish sci-fi roguelike shooter that’s also Australian, Void Bastards is an RPG-shooter-roguelike with a banging comic book aesthetic. It’s part of Xbox Game Pass if you’ve got that, but it’s also available separately on Steam.


Think Gravity: The Video Game, but this sci-fi thriller plays out from the perspective of the space station’s AI, SAM. A slower-paced game with restricted viewpoints, Observation is an intriguing adventure that tasks you with uncovering the disaster that befell the station, and why you’re suddenly being encouraged to kill the last human helping you.

Samurai Shodown


Fighting games aren’t for everyone, and Samurai Shodown certainly isn’t the most accessible of the bunch. But it’s got style for days, and it’ll be fun to watch at EVO this year.


Think equal parts Alienation with some ARPG, Diablo-esque stylings.

Interstellar Space: Genesis

30 Indies From 2019 To Add To Your Pile Of Shame

A turn-based 4X for Master of Orion 2 fans. If you’ve moved on from the original, games like Stellaris don’t scratch that itch and things like Endless Space 2 are a little too simplistic, Interstellar Space might be your jam.

Hell Let Loose

30 Indies From 2019 To Add To Your Pile Of Shame

One for everyone who wants the old Battlefield games to come back, without the modern stylings. Hell Let Loose leverages that gritty WW2 era, and blends it with an overarching metagame and a front line that dynamically shifts as up to 100 players duke it out with 14 separate roles.

Ion Fury

30 Indies From 2019 To Add To Your Pile Of Shame

The actual Ion Maiden sued the developers, so this banging ’90s retro shooter had to change its name to Ion Fury. It doesn’t matter: it’s still a top game if you want a taste of Duke Nukem 3D in 2019.

Hell Is Other Demons


Synthwave meets an arcade-arena shooter. The speed won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, so check out some gameplay first.

Tetris Effect

I will always go into bat for Tetris Effect. It’s only out on the Epic Games Store — it obviously launched on PC last year — but it’s still far, far better than many people will give it credit for.

Cricket 19

30 Indies From 2019 To Add To Your Pile Of Shame

EA doesn’t do cricket games any more, but fortunately the Melbourne-based Big Ant have gotten very good at them. Cricket 19 hits the PC this week, and while it’s playable on the Switch you’re probably best off playing it on a more powerful platform.


I've been stuck in a hotel room for a couple of hours, slamming out some morning stories, responding to emails and finishing as much work before the day's schedule overwhelms me. I hadn't showered, but I knew I had a spare 15 or 20 minutes.

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Streets of Rogue

30 Indies From 2019 To Add To Your Pile Of Shame

Think a top-down pixel-art GTA where you can also play as a gorilla that can bribe people on your way to raising an army of smaller gorillas. Fast, funny, and very, very dumb.

Nowhere Prophet

30 Indies From 2019 To Add To Your Pile Of Shame

Another solid deckbuilder from 2019, Nowhere Prophet is about leading an army across a post-apocalyptic desert. It’s equal parts risk-taking, Magic: The Gathering deckbuilding, a little Slay the Spire and a bit of FTL.

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night

30 Indies From 2019 To Add To Your Pile Of ShameImage: Supplied

It’s oldschool Castlevania updated for 2019 by the man who knows the series best. ‘Nuff said.

Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the Necrodancer

A Switch exclusive from the makers of Crypt of the Necrodancer, Cadence of Hyrule is a cheeky respin on that formula in the world of Zelda. Cute, vibrant and features lots of fun dungeons, but doesn’t outstay its welcome.

Baba is You


This year’s The Witness, basically.

Kind Words (lo fi chill beats to write to)

If Twitter Wasn’t A Shithole: The Video Game. That’s basically Kind Words in a nutshell. It’s only available now as part of the Humble Trove vault for Humble Monthly subscribers, but it’s launching on Steam in mid-September.

What indies have stuck out to you from this year?


  • I’d also put Crystal Crisis on this list for anyone who’s a fan of puzzle games, it’s on PS4, Switch and just about to release on Steam

    It’s great fun and would be awesome to see more players on ranked!

  • You had me at ‘this year’s Witness’, but truth be told Baba has been on my wish list since launch. I have disposable cash and don’t mind spending money on stuff. So someone tell me… why do I balk spending over ten dollars for a game?

    • Meanwhile, I see “this year’s Witness” and I immediately assume that means it is an incredibly overhyped meh-fest. Different strokes and all that.

      As for balking at spending ten dollars or such for a game… I used to do this a lot, until I started comparing the time to value I got from games compared to other forms of entertainment.

      My loose gauge in that regard is spending on average of $15 on a movie ticket for a movie that might be 2 hours of entertainment at best. On top of which is the fact that something like movies are also very passive, noninteractive affairs. So these days if anything gets better value than $7-$8 an hour worth of entertainment it’s a lot easier for me to swallow.

      That said there are downsides to acting as if such an approach is an infallible gold standard… First thing is that most games can hit that time-value ratio with ease. Second, the bad part, is there are absolutely games that you can spend 10+ hours playing and still feel as if not only your money has been utterly wasted, but more importantly (to me at least) your time as well.

      It’s one of those odd things I’ve always been curious on how other people judge the value of games or such they buy.

    • Probably because you’re a smart spender, but as someone who did pay full price for it I can say it’s well worth it if you like the ideas behind it. I didn’t 100% it or even actually finish it I think, but I got a good 20 hours of brain bending puzzling out if it. The Witness comparisons are apt for more than just the “it’s a hard puzzle game” too 😉

  • Had a lot of fun with Katana Zero and My Friend Pedro, and after joking about it, Tetris 99 ended up being my biggest surprise this year so far. Another game I recently enjoyed playing was Touhou Luna Nights, which came out of Early Access earlier this year, so technically a 2019 release?

  • Hypnospace Outlaw missing from this list! Also, I quite liked Pathway and Weedcraft. Also, Love Thyself is kind of a must for all Endless Space fans.

  • I picked up Tetris Effect for PC the other day to see what the Brouhaha was all about. I think it’s really a game that you’d want to play on the couch in front of a good sized TV screen with some quality audio. Kinda loses a lot of the impact hunched in front of a computer screen

  • I do not need more games.

    I do not need more games.

    I do not need more games.

    I do not need mor… DAMNIT!!!! Why are there 3 new games in my pile?

    I’m blaming you @alexwalker…

  • I was wondering why you kept telling us to buy Outer Wilds, when every time I checked it on the Steam Store, it isn’t available yet, with a release date of TBD.

    And then I realised – it’s an Epic Store exclusive.

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