This summer, AAA games like Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Final Fantasy VII, and The Last of Us: Part II penetrated every inch of the zeitgeist; even folks who haven’t touched a video game in years are itching to dive back in – but don’t want to drop hundreds of dollars on a new console or computer upgrade. The answer: indie games.
While they may not offer the traditionally pristine landscapes of FF7 Remake or TLoUP2, they do offer some of the most interesting gameplay out there, definite artistic direction, and they do it economically. Without further ado, here are 4 video games even your mid-tier laptop can handle. Let’s kick it off with the Reigns series from Devolver Digital.
Reigns, Reigns: Her Majesty, and Reigns: Game of Thrones
The Reigns series is medieval Tinder, but with a kingdom-based decision-making instead of algorithm-based potential mating. Depending on which of the three versions you’re playing, you’re either a king, queen, or a number of GoT characters navigating the complex web of bureaucracy, political subterfuge, and the occasional romance, that entails a ruling experiment. Each decision arrives one at a time, with a yes or no answer (a right of left swipe) that both contributes to a set of amounts that must be balanced to keep the peace, and contribute to ongoing stories.
Because you can (and will) lose so quickly, there’s a constant urge to try new things and see what possible outcomes there are, with little risk involved. Because of that, it’s a perfect game to dip into for a few minutes in between tasks, and reset the old pins. Plus, its minimalist art style and gameplay keep system stress at a minimum.
The Reigns series is avilable on Steam, Nintendo Switch, or on any of your favorite mobile devices.
Into the Breach
Here are the tags for Into the Breach: kaiju, mech, chess. If any of those sound appealing, this game will absorb hundreds of hours of your life like it has so many other folx. It’s a roguelike set in a near-apocalyptic Earth as humanity tries to fend off certain doom in the for of the monster-like Vek. To do that, you control a team of mechs with a variety of specializations.
Although the game begins with a relatively standard set-up, composed of a tank, close-combat, and artillery mech, unlocking new teams completely changes the way strategies are composed. The turn-based combat is forgiving for newcomers, but also rewards growth and risk-taking. Into the Breach is a super addictive game for strategy newbies and veterans alike.
Six Ages: Ride Like the Wind
Six Ages: Ride Like the Wind is an immensely deep narrative-based community builder. You play as a group of clan leaders as they migrate to a new valley, familiarize with their surroundings and neighbors, and struggle with maintaining the old traditions, or adapting to something new. If you’re a person who lives for BioWare’s meaningful decision-making, Six Ages’ entire gameplay is for you.
Throughout each year, your community is faced with various scenarios which you and the clan leaders have to deal with via a variety of options and advice, for or against those choices. In any case, your clan will face repercussions either immediately, or in the future. It’s exactly the type of game that begs you to play just one more turn and offers dozens of hours of replay-ability.
Baba Is You
This absurdist puzzle game is not only a charmer, it’s a skull buster for anyone who loves wordplay. Baba Is You takes some explaining, but it’s well worth it. In a nutshell, the game asks its player to move word blocks around a space to write new rules for the current level.
For example, if the blocks ‘Rock,’ ‘is,’ and ‘stop,’ were pushed together, your character could not budge any rock in the level. But, if the ‘stop,’ is replaced by a ‘push,’ block, then you’re allowed to move them however you want. It’s a simple conceit that grows to exponentially ridiculous and hilarious scenarios meant to be stared at for hours. Baba Is You, as some say, could be run on a graphing calculator, which is a testament to its maddeningly simple gameplay and its massive replay-ability.