Valiant Hearts: The Great War is a poignant and powerful reminder of the significant human toll borne of the wars that we so often act out in our favourite video games. It doesn't exaggerate or embellish its subject matter, but rather tells a story rooted in historical accuracy and human emotion. And while the puzzler's gameplay isn't revolutionary by any means, its awe-inspiring visual design, clever soundtrack, and thoughtful plot will break your heart in the best possible way.
Transistor is an absolute triumph: a stunning sensory experience that buoys its lofty ambitions on a rock solid strategic core. It spins a tale of love, technology, and political and social unrest that speeds confidently towards a magnificent crescendo. What's more, the razor sharp combat remains thrilling throughout, and the visuals and music display an almost superhuman level of polish. While niggling complaints can certainly be levelled at the gorgeous indie, a trip to Cloudbank comes highly recommended.
ABZÛ is a triumph of exploration and atmosphere. Its gorgeous underwater playgrounds are a joy to explore thanks to its perfectly tuned controls, awe-inspiring visuals, and beautiful sound design. A somewhat predictable story does little to hamper what is otherwise an utterly unique and rapturous experience.
Everybody's Gone to the Rapture is a masterwork – a gorgeous and subtle experience, which treats you as an adult, without ever indulging in pretence. It cares about its characters enough to give them interesting and meaningful things to say, while also playing host to some truly breathtaking art direction and music.
The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is a fast-paced and fun twin-stick shooter. Its strengths lie in its tight gameplay, and the almost infinite replayability created by its endlessly inventive special abilities. Similarly, its darkly humorous story and visuals are nothing if not memorable. However, if you aren't prepared to truck with this deranged premise, then you probably won't enjoy your time in the basement.
Pix the Cat is a fiendishly addictive arcade experience. Featuring a bevy of different modes, rock solid core mechanics, and a ludicrous level of polish, it has the potential to devour gaping chunks of your time. Unfortunately, slightly shonky controls let the title down, but if you can look past this misstep, you'll find hours of leaderboard climbing action.
With tight gameplay, sharp shooting, and a remarkable sense of style, Futuridium EP Deluxe is a delightful 3D shooter. While there are certainly moments of frustration to be had here – predominantly stemming from misjudged aiming – the gorgeous graphics and stellar soundtrack more than make up for any misgivings. Oh, and if you do decide to play it, be sure to use headphones.
The Swapper is an indie puzzle platformer with a gameplay hook which is cleverly married to a grand operatic narrative. Its strange visuals and atmospheric soundtrack augment this vision, creating a wholly unique and cohesive experience. While some of its later puzzles are a bit too fiddly for their own good, and the overall pacing sometimes feels a little off kilter, this is still a space voyage that comes highly recommended.
Grow Home is a gorgeous title which acts as yet another example that not all games need to be hours upon hours long. Its unique climbing mechanics make for a tense and often terrifying time, while its endearing story grounds the entire experience. There are some niggling control issues, but the stunning presentation and subtle soundtrack round things out, ultimately making for a satisfying and adorable game.
Enter the Gungeon is another in a long line of fantastic roguelikes. Its razor sharp twin-stick gunplay, huge variety of passive and active weapons, and clever world building make it an absolute joy to sink countless hours into. The lack of leaderboards or a daily run mode is a frustrating oversight, but you'll be too busy running, gunning, and dodge-rolling your way through its many caverns to notice or care.