Developers: Yacht Club Games (2014)
Genre: Action, Platformer
Easily the most satisfying platformer of this generation, Shovel Knight controls like a charm, has rich combat mechanics which meshes well with its beautifully laid out levels, and has a fantastical story to boot. It was the first breakout indie success of this generation and it paved the way for the reinvigoration of the 8-bit style of games.
Developers: Studio MDHR (2017)
The 1930s style cartoon animations accompanied by the jazz and swing soundtrack is what made this dauntingly difficult boss-rush platformer become an instant hit. Although, Cuphead can get frustrating at times and while its overemphasis on boss phases wasn't a lot of people's cup of tea, it nailed the “fair but difficult” angle and managed to provide a sense of accomplishment unlike any other pint-sized indie game had ever before.
Developers: SUPERHOT Team (2016)
Genre: First-person shooter
Superhot's central mechanic is that time becomes really slow when you're not performing an action. Building on this concept, the game lays out its multiple situations and levels for you in which you have to avoid being shot or stabbed while planning out how you're going to take out all your enemies. Superhot is just about the most weirdly unique game in terms of presentation.
This War of Mine
Developers: 11 Bit Studios (2014)
The premise of This War of Mine focuses on the fate of the civilians caught between the mortar shells and armed forces of war. Being that it's a strategy game, every decision you take affects the lives of the civilians deeply and the game does not cut any corners with the narrative flow your decisions may have on their lives. This War of Mine's story feels too real at points and can leave players with a long-lasting emotional impact and newfound perspective on war and loss.
Developers: Toby Fox (2015)
Undertale has been a noteworthy indie experience for a lot of players this generation because of how personal an experience it was for them. And it has been true in my case as well. Undertale's a game about choices, whether it be the consequences of your pacifistic approach or genocide approach, the game's story leaves no stone unturned with how your decisions affect the overall game world.
Ori and the Blind Forest
Developers: Moon Studios (2015)
Genre: Platformer, Adventure
Simply put, Ori and the Blind Forest is a beautiful game. The warm colour pallets combined with the simple yet melodic soundtrack makes the game world feel lush and vibrant. Ori's mechanics are somewhat simple but the interwoven Metroidvania style levels make up for the traditional platformer controls and mechanics. The lore surrounding the Blind Forest and Ori's journey through it doesn't ever feel too ambiguous and will tug at just about everyone's heartstrings.
Developers: Supergiant Games (2014)
Genre: Action role-playing game, Turn-based strategy
Transistor's utopian game world is one of grand neon colours, syncopated by the grim authoritarian schemes of the game's antagonist group, the Camerata. Transistor’s plot thickens at every turn, and the combat is a refreshing mix of hack n' slash with turn-based mechanics. The combat system only keeps on giving with each upgrade path you unlock, while also getting more and more complex as the game progresses.
Developers: Matt Makes Games, Noel Berry (2018)
Tight controls, smart level design, great soundtrack and a relatable story about overcoming depression made Celeste a pick for the best indie game of 2018 for a lot of critics. Celeste's polish deserves a lot of praise for being just a two-man project. The simple game mechanics, such as, the mid-air dash, enriches the levels ten folds and is at the centre of some of the game's most seamless moments.