The gaming industry may be looking ahead to an exciting new hardware generation, but no matter how advanced technology becomes, there’ll always be room in our hearts and on our devices for humble indie games. They’ve always thrived on mobile, and recent months have seen a fresh batch of them drop onto app stores, ripe for you to get your thumbs into.
Google Play, the App Store and Apple Arcade’s latest indie gems include a choose-your-own-adventure game based on the work of Yuri Nikitin, a platformer with gorgeous Claymation visuals and a whimsical puzzler set in a world where humankind has long since departed.
As you can probably imagine, there’s an eclectic smorgasbord to sample and no two titles we’ve picked out are alike. One thing they do have in common, though, is that they’re unmissable for anyone with an appreciation for the best games outside of the mainstream.
So, here are the top five best indie games to try this month…
We gamers have done more than our share of princess-saving over the years, but never like this. Save the Princess, a new offering from Wolf Games, is a choose-your-own-adventure title based on a story by bestselling Russian author Yuri Nikitin. It’s a dark fantasy tale and a modern take on Orpheus and Eurydice, in which players take control of a hero who journeys into the mind of the woman he loves to defeat her inner dragon and return her to life.
As anyone who read choose-your-own-adventure books as a child will probably have guessed already, players can steer the narrative with the decisions they make throughout their quest, and this, of course, means there are multiple endings to discover.
Featuring music by Dark Fantasy Studio, Save the Princess doesn’t outstay its welcome, taking between one and two hours to complete, although players who want to experience all of its narrative paths and endings will get more mileage out of it.
The first thing that strikes about Hopply is how charming its sound and visuals are. Developer Clayburger has rendered everything in a beautiful claymation-style aesthetic and a chorus of mouth-noises serve as its sonic backdrop. Players take control of the eponymous amphibian and must guide him across a series of disappearing lily pads to collect a magic flower, swerving handcrafted enemies and obstacles along the way.
Gameplay-wide, Hopply is a mobile platformer that takes the ‘less-is-more’ approach, making it easy for anyone to hop into, but it doesn’t solely rely on its unique presentation to keep players hooked. Randomly-generated levels, daily challenges and the promise of new characters to unlock provides more than enough incentive to draw you back in.
We caught an early glimpse of Hopply during the Pocket Gamer Connects London event way back in 2016, but its arrival on the app stores has been worth the wait. This one is free to download and play from the App Store and Google Play, assuming you don’t mind the occasional, non-obtrusive ad.
Apple Arcade is fast becoming a treasure trove of weird and wonderful titles, and A Monster’s Expedition certainly checks both of these boxes. Developed by Cosmic Express studio Draknek Limited, this indie puzzler takes place in a world where humankind is long extinct, and an intrepid monster has set off to explore the remnants of our civilization.
If this sounds depressing, spending no more than a few minutes with the game will quickly change your mind. This is a relaxing and introspective puzzler that attempts to frame the human race from an outside perspective. It’s not unlike wandering through a digital museum, one that’s full of creative conundrums and peppered with British humour.
The in-game world is made up of countless little islands. None of them are connected, so the eponymous monster must uproot trees to fashion rafts and bridges, or find other environment-based solutions to the problem of getting from A to B. This essentially makes it block-shifting puzzler of sorts, albeit a thoroughly original one.
Monument Valley and its 2017 sequel are two of the most beloved games ever released for mobile devices, so it comes as no surprise that they’ve inspired developers to create similar titles for touchscreen devices. Odie's Dimension II is the latest game to take its isometric cues from the Ustwo Games series, but that isn’t to say it has no ideas of its own.
Like its predecessor, Odie's Dimension II has players explore a strange world full of oddball geometry, dragging and rotating the environments along the way to clear a path for protagonists Laura and Lara. The influence of the aforementioned Monument Valley is plain to see, but the game evokes other classic puzzlers like Threes and Twenty 48 Solitaire, too.
There’s plenty of originality to be found in the game’s story which follows Laura and Lara as they attempt to escape from their isometric prison. The narrative plays out across five chapters, all of which will give your grey matter a good workout.
Hellrule might sound like a post-apocalyptic corner of the Zelda universe, but it’s actually an auto-runner with a difference. Inspired by Castlevania and Ghosts 'n Goblins, this is a side-scroller with a nightmarish aesthetic and a big focus on combat and strategy.
The slower pacing and tactical approach sets Hellrule apart from its auto-running counterparts, as does its handcrafted levels. This is a gauntlet run against hordes of hellish nasties, with players taking control of a dapper gent armed wielding a weaponised parasol. Sort of like the Penguin from Batman, with a bit of class and sophistication.
A rockin’ soundtrack from Spanish freak metal band El Reno Renardo will ring in your ears as you hack and slash your way through the game’s first chapter, which consists of four levels and a boss fight. Chapters two and three are due to land as future updates, and the whole shebang is free to download from Google Play with no ads, IAPs, or monetisation of any kind.