In spite of how the term is often used, “indie” games aren’t really a separate genre. The exquisite retro-style platforming of Shovel Knight, for example, isn’t anything like the text-heavy interactive novel in 80 Days, and neither game has anything to do with the first-person puzzles of The Talos Principle. While indie studios might share some similarities in terms of the size of their budgets or the scope of their design teams, independent games themselves are just as unique as big-budget triple-A titles, if not more so.
Still, that hasn’t stopped indie developers and their fans from banding together, creating a viable alternative to repetitive and DLC-heavy mainstream releases. The indie game movement is growing, with no sign of stopping any time soon. Many of the most anticipated games of 2015, like Firewatch and No Man’s Sky, are indie titles. Mojang, the company behind Minecraft, was independent until last September, when Microsoft bought the company for $2.5 billion.
As tools like Unity and the Unreal make game development more and more accessible, the number of indie titles on the market keeps growing. As time goes on, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to figure out what’s worth playing, and what should be ignored. That’s where IndieBox comes in. For about $20 a month, IndieBox ships a hand-picked game from an independent studio straight to your door. Every package comes with a cartridge-style USB stick, a soundtrack CD, an illustrated instruction manual, a sticker, and a collection of merchandise based on the game of the month.
All titles have a Steam rating of 75 or higher, and run on PC, Mac, and Linux. They’re also all DRM-free, and come with an associated Steam code. So far, IndieBox has exhibited excellent taste. For example, December’s box featured the genetics-based dungeon crawler Rogue Legacy, and shipped with a Rogue Legacy card game, a magnetic poetry kit, a keychain, and a picture frame. Similarly, October’s Brutal Legend box came with a faux backstage pass and a limited-edition guitar pick.
Both of those games retail for $15 on their own (although they’re often on sale for less), making the IndieBox a pretty good value, particularly for gamers who like special editions or miss the old days when every game had a cartridge, box, and manual.
On the other hand, most of the games IndieBox offers are fairly old; January’s offering, Super Win the Game, came out in October 2014, but many of the titles are from 2013 or earlier. Further, IndieBox doesn’t reveal what games are coming until they’re ready to ship, creating a situation where subscribers might end up with a second copy of a game they played a long time ago. For people who are just starting to explore the independent game industry – or who just like extra stuff – IndieBox seems like a no-brainer. For everyone else, proceed with caution.