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Game Of The Year Awards 2012 | Best Indie Game

Jonathan Lester
A Valley Without Wind, Best Indie Game 2012, Dear Esther, Defender's Quest, FTL: Faster Than Light, Game of the Year 2012, GOTY 2012, Hotline Miami, Lone Survivor, Thomas Was Alone, Torchlight II, Vessel

Game Of The Year Awards 2012 | Best Indie Game

Selecting the best indie game of 2012 is no easy task, and not just because there are so many fantastic titles to choose from. As independent and boutique gaming continues its meteoric rise, it's getting harder and harder to define what the word 'indie' really means. Is it one man in his bedroom or garage? A relatively large team with a multi-game deal from a major publisher? What was once an ostracised segment of games development has become a massive part of the mainstream market, and a force to be reckoned with over the coming years.

We've taken the decision to include Fez and Journey in 'Best Download/Marketplace Game', which went live earlier today, simply because the competition is more relevant in that category.

So, down to business... and Merry Christmas!
NB. Click on the thumbnails for price comparisons and the game's title for the relevant review where available.



Game Of The Year Awards 2012 | Best Indie Game

A Valley Without Wind

A Valley Without Wind is enormous, life-affirming and brilliant. Enormous randomised worlds, tight platforming gameplay and infinite scope for exploration made for an addictive indie classic.

Game Of The Year Awards 2012 | Best Indie Game

Dear Esther

Though only a 'game' in the most tenuous of senses, this interactive oddity still gives us pause for thought and introspection. Dear Esther may be maddeningly surreal and abstract, but we'd urge you to give it a go.

Game Of The Year Awards 2012 | Best Indie Game

Defender's Quest

One of the very first indie games of 2012 proved to be one of the very best. Defender's Quest managed to perfectly fuse RPG and tower defence mechanics into a gloriously compelling experience, which we're still dipping into eleven months after launch.

Game Of The Year Awards 2012 | Best Indie Game

FTL: Faster Than Light

If you love roguelikes, space operas and always dreamt of being the one in the big chair saying "Make it so!" then this is the game for you. FTL is massively replayable, hugely rewarding and genuinely thrilling at times. Engage!

Game Of The Year Awards 2012 | Best Indie Game

Hotline Miami

Hotline Miami is a sleazy, shocking, often unpleasant and thoroughly worthwhile use of a few hours. Dennaton Games' "f*ck 'em up' is as compelling and exhilarating as it is brutally raw.

Game Of The Year Awards 2012 | Best Indie Game

Lone Survivor

A one-man masterclass in effective survival horror design. Utterly tense, disturbing and unforgettable despite its two-dimensional trappings.

Game Of The Year Awards 2012 | Best Indie Game

Thomas Was Alone

Thomas Was Alone is a bona fide indie masterpiece that reminds us that you don't need glitzy graphics to create relateable characters with meaningful depth. A minimalist triumph.

Game Of The Year Awards 2012 | Best Indie Game

Torchlight II

Runic Games may have less than 40 developers on staff, but they delivered what is perhaps the best loot grinder since Diablo II. Practically perfect in every way.

Game Of The Year Awards 2012 | Best Indie Game


A truly superior puzzler and one of 2012's most cruelly under-rated games. Massive quantity and exceptional quality made for a truly wonderful purchase, brought home with exquisite art direction and liquid modelling.

Best Indie Game Of 2012 | Defender's Quest

Game Of The Year Awards 2012 | Best Indie Game

Every game in our shortlist makes a convincing argument for the top spot, as do plenty more fantastic indie titles that failed to make the cut due to space constraints. Ultimately, however, one humble hybrid from a tiny independent team has remained on our start menus since it released in January.

Defender's Quest.

As a sublime blend of classic tower defence mechanics and persistent RPG elements, Defender's Quest succeeds because each individual facet is absolutely spot-on. The core tower defence gameplay is arguably the most balanced, intuitive, deep and polished we've ever experienced from the genre - packed with subtle intricacies and convenient features - while the roleplaying side of things presents a strong storyline with memorable characters and unbelievably compelling progression. Combined with eyecatching art direction and a massive amount of replayable content, Defender's Quest became a ruthlessly addictive and thoroughly enjoyable part of our gaming lives.

Game Of The Year Awards 2012 | Best Indie Game

Its few flaws were all but ironed out by the recently-released Gold Edition, which also added new art assets, tweaks, extra maps and more New Game Plus content besides. Brilliantly, existing fans could update for free, while Steam users could finally get involved as of last month.

In a year of truly exquisite indie titles, this little hidden gem shone very brightly indeed. Be sure to support this surprisingly magnificent and oft-overlooked masterpiece.

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