Best Indie Games To Play This Thanksgiving

After you’re done stuffing your face, boot up these games and relax for the holidays.

November 23, 2016 by Morgan Shaver

Thanksgiving is a holiday that celebrates everything we’re thankful for. Here at Indie Obscura, we’re thankful to you as a reader, thankful to indie game developers for their hard work, and of course… we’re thankful for food. After all, what is Thanksgiving without a bountiful dinner that you cram down amongst family?

Even if you don’t have a family to stuff your face with, you can still get in on the festivities and buy yourself a nice dinner, then sit down and enjoy a good video game or two. Below, I’ve listed a few of my personal favorite indie games that I highly recommend playing this Thanksgiving weekend.

They were chosen based on how fun they are, how relaxing (after all, you’ll be digesting), and overall are ones I feel promote the spirit of thankfulness the most!

Abzu/Journey

While feeling like a stuffed turkey yourself, you’ll likely find yourself feeling a little sluggish. No worries, Abzu is a beautiful underwater adventure full of relaxing sights, sounds, and a delightful lack of complex mechanics. You can swim around, or progress through the story, at your own pace.

I picked this one because—in an ironic turn of events—I underwent minor surgery and was coming down off the effects of anesthesia on the day Abzu was released.

Not wanting to miss out, I played this whale of a tale from beginning to end without stopping in a complete stupor. All I remember is that I had a huge grin on my face the entire time.

Since then, I’ve swum through Abzu a multitude of times, and have discovered something new to take away from the game after every playthrough. I’m thankful for this game, and how it kept me company during my recovery. If you’re looking to kick back and relax during Thanksgiving weekend, be sure to check out Abzu by Giant Squid!

Additionally, if you’ve already played Abzu and want a game of a similar nature be sure to check out Journey (the soundtrack on both games comes courtesy of the masterful Austin Wintory). You can buy Abzu on Steam and Journey on the PlayStation Store

Limbo and Inside

These introspective greyscale games have gained notoriety for a wide variety of valid reasons. First and foremost, they’re artistic masterpieces.

Many people have proclaimed to have felt “moved” upon completing Limbo, though I’ve heard this sentiment more frequently from those who’ve played Inside.

No matter which of the two you decide to play, these games are relaxing and pleasant to look at. They’ll help you through your food coma, and you can even bring your family in to have them help you with some of the puzzle solving.

Personally, I don’t like solving puzzles alone and will ask for help whenever I become stumped. These two games may just aid in your family bonding session this Thanksgiving! You can buy both Limbo and Inside over on Steam. 

Audiosurf 2

It’s no secret I love Audiosurf 2, especially considering how I can input my own music into the game.

After inputting music, Audiosurf 2 will build you a custom track to race through which can be as fast or slow as you want it to be. If you enjoy listening to music, Audiosurf 2 is hands-down one of the best music games on the market.

Again, this is something you can get your family in on as you try to beat each other’s scores, and share some of the music you’ve been listening to recently.

There are a wealth of mods that can make the game even more relaxing (like creating an atmosphere of driving at night), and best of all, the game doesn’t require too much of you.

Using either your keyboard or your mouse, navigate obstacles and collect colored blocks. It’s fun, it’s simple, and it’s definitely a great game no matter how you choose to play it! You can buy Audiosurf 2 on Steam to begin your custom musical adventure. 

Divekick

Do you want a good laugh? Well, look no further than Divekick! Divekick is a fighting game… well, sort of. You only have two mechanics to focus on, diving and kicking. You can play alone against AI opponents, try your might against strangers online, or get your family involved for what will surely become a session of on-the-floor laughter.

There’s nothing quite like trying to play a fighting game using skill, only to find that your skill doesn’t extend too far in Divekick. You’ll be jumping through the air and moving in a wide variety of awkward mannerisms (depending on the character you select) and may surprise yourself to find you’ve played this weird games for hours. Buy Divekick on Steam

Life is Strange

One thing I distinctly remember when I celebrated Thanksgiving as a child is how I used to listen with fascination to the reasons why everyone around me felt thankful that year. I loved hearing a good story growing up, and that holds true to gaming, which is why story-based games are high on my list of favorites. 

Now, to make something abundantly clear… Life is Strange is not a happy story whatsoever. However, it has one of the most interesting plots I've ever experienced within an indie game, and I connected to it on a very personal level. It's an incredible game, one I'm thankful for, and that's all that really matters. 

There aren’t many complex mechanics to worry about when playing as Max in Life is Strange, and you’ll find yourself easily entangled in the complexity of her new powers to alter the past and world around her. I cried at the end of almost every Life is Strange episode (there are five in total) and that's impressive as there aren't many games that can make me shed genuine tears. 

It’s game that’s relaxing in its play style, has an engrossing premise, and is one of the best story-based games you’ll play from Dontnod Entertainment (Remember Me is another good one, and I look forward to Vampyr next year). You can try Episode 1 of Life is Strange for free on Steam, if you fall in love, purchasing the other four episodes won't cost you too much as they're on sale across a multitude of websites! 

The Long Dark

The Long Dark is a gorgeous survival game from Hinterland, one that can be both relaxing and stressing in equal parts. However, it will make you feel a sense of thankfulness. After all, you’re playing this game at home where you're undoubtedly warm and cozy. You aren’t struggling to find food, or shelter, or ward off the dangers found in The Long Dark’s frozen landscape.

If you enjoy survival games, I found The Long Dark to be among the best around. There’s something beautiful about the scenery even with the knowledge that my poor character is dying from the elements (and because I accidentally tumbled off a cliff… oops). Head on over to Steam to buy The Long Dark

Stay tuned for more indie game recommendations during the holidays, including indie games we recommend playing with your family during those chilly winter months, and ones that make great Christmas gifts! Until then, we wish you a very happy Thanksgiving weekend, and hope you stay safe amidst all that Black Friday craziness!

For more features here at Indie Obscura, be sure to check out our exclusive preview of Sometimes Always Monsters, some of the most anticipated indie games of 2017, and our exclusive look at Let it Die including an interview with the ever-stylish Hideyuki Shin!