First Person Shooter games are one of, if not the most popular gaming genre in the West. Since the early days of DOOM and Wolfenstein, they have been all over the market, some even arguing that they have become oversaturated. It is no surprise that the indie scene would eventually release their own takes on FPS games - resulting in several unique gaming experiences. From Rogue-lites to multiplayer shooters, there are quite a few amazing indie games in the FPS genre, and here are some of our favorites!
10. Paranautical Activity
- System: PC, PS4, PSV, XBO, Wii U.
- Publisher: Code Avarice
- Developer: Code Avarice
- Release Dates: Oct. 20th, 2014
Inspired by classic FPS games such as DOOM and Quake, Paranautical Activity is a fast-paced Rogue-Lite shooter with a special emphasis on weaponry. Each character has a different weapon and starting stats, allowing for players to choose the particular playstyle they would like from the very beginning. A majority of the difficulty in Paranautical Activity will come from the ability to dodge the various enemies while still focusing on fighting back - with the controls being far more floaty than many other FPS games.
To assist the player in their trek through the haunted ship, there are multiple items that can be bought in shops - as well as obtained through mini boss and boss encounters. One of the more unique mechanics in Paranautical Activity is the introduction of a challenge-type room, in which the player is guaranteed an item in exchange for an extremely difficult room layout, highlighting the risk vs reward of item management. Paranautical Activity combines the more free-flowing movement of older FPS games with the brand new trappings of the Rogue-lite genre in order to create a compelling and difficult experience. It is certainly a game worth checking out.
- System: PC
- Publisher: New World Interactive
- Developer: New World Interactive
- Release Dates: Jan. 22nd, 2014
Multiplayer military FPS' are a staple genre in the gaming world, and Insurgency is a welcome addition to this genre, considering its indie upbringings. While military shooters have become more arcade-like as the years go by, Insurgency relies much more on a very realistic approach. Insurgency takes a very minimalist approach in its design - with very limited elements to the UI and damage indicators - leading to a more authentic experience than one would expect from games like Call of Duty or Battlefield.
Insurgency heavily incentivizes teamwork and tactical gameplay in order to create a much more serious shooter experience. This leads to some very fun and tense situations in the gameplay that can really immerse players and keep them hooked. Couple that with a still-active playerbase, and you can have yourself one of the more immersive shooter experiences on the market.
8. Heavy Bullets
- System: PC
- Publisher: Terri Vellmann
- Developer: Devolver Digital
- Release Dates: Sept. 18th, 2014
Heavy Bullets is a stylized FPS take on the procedurally generated Rogue-Lite genre. The player is tasked with reseting the security mainframe and stopping an outbreak of strange creatures and machines. The premise fits the visuals rather well, as Heavy Bullets has a rather colorful, neon color palette unique to itself. The main gimmick of Heavy Bullets is that your ammunition can be reused consistently, requiring constant management of how many bullets you used in order to know how many to pick up.
Heavy Bullets has much of the typical Rogue-Lite mechanics, including a very high difficulty ceiling. While difficult, Heavy Bullets also comes with a multitude of items to make your trek to the security mainframe slightly easier. There are overarching elements between runs as well, such as ways to carry some of your currency to another run in hopes of that being the winning run. For fans of procedurally generated games, Heavy Bullets is a challenging and addictive ride all the way through, and an easy recommendation.
- System: PC
- Publisher: Wolfire Games
- Developer: Wolfire Games
- Release Dates: Jun. 18th, 2012
For a game created in only a week, Receiver has one of the most interesting approaches to shooting mechanics in recent memory. A staple of the shooter genre is how reloading is typically handled - which normally just involves pressing a button and your gun is reloaded after a short wait. Receiver instead made the reloading of a weapon fundamental to the gameplay experience, as each bullet must be loaded individually into the magazine before you can load the weapon.
This small, but logical change to such a simple mechanic changes the entire tone of the shooter, as the player must pay attention to how many bullets they use, and at what point they want to reload their weapon. While being a short game overall, Receiver is a perfect example of the types of innovations that can be made by indie developers, and more games with the same approach to reloading would certainly be a welcome change.
6. Tower of Guns
- System: PC, PS3, PS4, XBO
- Publisher: Terrible Posture Games
- Developer: Terrible Posture Games
- Release Dates: Mar. 4th, 2014
Tower of Guns melds Rogue-lite FPS gameplay with the hectic and fast-paced style of traditional bullet hell games, creating one of the more engaging indie FPS’ of recent years. Tower of Guns places a heavy emphasis on movement - with the double jump being one of the most useful upgrades from the very start - as you must quickly learn to dodge all of the large projectiles headed straight for you. Movement isn’t only useful for dodging, however, as being able to explore the environment leads to the many secret areas littered throughout the tower, typically containing some sort of upgrade to your gun or character.
The guns themselves work on an upgrade system in which golden orbs can be collected from fallen enemies or secret areas that will evolve your gun to its highest potential. Gun upgrades can be lost by taking damage, so it is heavily encouraged to learn enemy patterns in order to avoid unnecessary damage and use your weapons to their maximum utility. Tower of Guns is a challenging but entertaining Rogue-Lite for anyone who wants to test their FPS skills!
- System: PC, XBO, PS4
- Publisher: Samurai Punk
- Developer: Surprise Attack
- Release Dates: Oct. 21st, 2014
Screencheat is a multiplayer party game in which the primary gamemode revolves around players shooting at one another - while each character is also invisible. The main objective is to look at the other players’ screens in order to pinpoint their locations and then attacking them. While a simple premise, Screencheat is executed very well in order to provide a chaotic and fun experience for four friends. With a wide selection of weapons - from a grenade launcher to a blunderbuss - each player can strategize on how they intend to take out their opponents while simultaneously making their location somewhat unknown.
Deathmatch isn't the only game mode, however, as there are many FPS staples (including free-for-all, Capture the Flag, King of the Hill, etc.) allowing for a diverse party experience that isn't quite like any other FPS before. Screencheat is a throwback to old FPS split-screen gaming, and while it is a relatively simple game to explain, the fun that can be had with a group of friends is enough to easily recommend this game.
4. Lovely Planet
- System: PC, XBO, PS4, Wii U
- Publisher: Quicktequila
- Developer: tinyBuild
- Release Dates: Jul. 31st, 2014
As the name implies, Lovely Planet is one of the more cheerful and colorful First Person Shooters on the market. The visuals should not fool you, however, as Lovely Planet quickly ramps up the challenge, turning into one of the most difficult FPS games released. Lovely Planet is a twitch shooter in which the player must platform across multiple levels as quickly as possible - all while disposing of every enemy on said level.
Lovely Planet can become brutally difficult, but the game is generally fair and many of the errors will come from the player themselves rather than the game. As a result, the game incentivizes players to get better as they play and eventually beat the game as quickly as they possibly can. For fans of speed-running and challenging games, Lovely Planet should not be looked down upon simply because of the visuals.
- System: PC, PS4, XBO, Wii U
- Publisher: Milkstone Studios
- Developer: Milkstone Studios
- Release Dates: Oct. 32rd, 2014
When it comes to the indie FPS Rogue-lite hybrids, no other game has combat and gameplay as fun and innovative as Ziggurat. Rather than relying on guns and the sort, Ziggurat instead focuses on magic and fantasy elements to enhance both its gameplay and design. The magic weaponry allows for more creative attack-types, aided even further by the fact that the player can carry multiple weapons at a time - something almost foreign to any other Rogue-lite game.
Luckily, there are a multitude of enemies to face throughout Ziggurat, another trait that not many Rogue-lites seem to possess, and allowing for a lot more variety in each playthrough. Most of the perks in the game are actually earned through upgrades rather than special rooms - meaning that there are rewards for trying to complete as many rooms as possible while still running the risk of being seriously injured as you try to level up. Each character has their own traits with make them feel unique from one another - meaning that each run done by different characters can feel very fresh. Overall, Ziggurat has a number of great design innovations which push it up as one of the best FPS Rogue-Lites on the market.
2. Devil Daggers
- System: PC
- Publisher: Sorath
- Developer: Sorath
- Release Dates: Feb. 18th, 2016
Devil Daggers takes heavy inspiration from older FPS games such as Quake, and chooses to strip the gameplay down to the core of shooters. In doing so, Devil Daggers only has one level and one objective - shooting as many enemies and scoring as high as possible while surviving. Devil Daggers’ single level is an open arena in which the player must shoot at a horde of skulls and other demonic monsters while dodging as much as possible before the run inevitably ends.
While extremely difficult, the main appeal of Devil Daggers is in its arcadey gameplay loop - a style that very few FPS games have ever truly utilized. Surviving in Devil Daggers is entirely up to the player and their ability to focus on both avoiding obstacles and shooting back. Devil Daggers is sure to hook you if you’re looking for a more addicting arcade shooter than any other.
- System: PC, XBO, PS4
- Publisher: Superhot Team
- Developer: Superhot Team
- Release Dates: Feb. 25th, 2016
"Time moves only when you move" is the main premise of Superhot, and it is executed well enough to be one of the most fun indie games of 2016. Superhot is split up into various levels in which the player is presented with obstacles that only move when the player moves. The main mechanic of Superhot makes the game feel more like a puzzle game, while still keeping that high-octane action that is synonymous with the FPS genre.
Whether the player would like to ramp up the action or slow the game down to a crawl is entirely up to them, and it allows for many creative solutions to the levels. The controls are similar to other FPS games, but the most intuitive and entertaining part is using the different guns and weapons that the enemies use against them - nothing is more satisfying than chaining between multiple weapons and killing enemies along the way. Superhot is by far one of the most unique and entertaining indie FPSs, and is a must-buy for anyone even slightly intrigued by its quirky design.
The diversity of indie FPS games compared to AAA releases shows just how creative indie developers can be, even with a genre that is as popular as FPS. As the years have gone on, indie FPS games have also improved, and it is certainly interesting to think of what the future may hold for this small part of the overall indie community! These are just our top 10, however, so if you have any other FPS games that you’d like to mention, feel free to do so in the comment section!