Image of the Steam game Papers, Please

5 Indie Games on Steam That You Should Play Right Now

The best part? These little known video games won't cost you much to play. Some of them are even free.

These are crazy times, so it is important to keep busy. Video games provide a great escape from reality, and sometimes we need to go on a new adventure rather than play the same old video games all the time. I found a few games on Steam that you’ve probably never heard of, but you should try out.

With Animal Crossing: New Horizons and the new, hyped up version of Doom out now, it can be easy to forget the games on Steam that are free or cheap to play. These developers put a lot of work into making these games, and people should give them a chance.

Here are five of my favorite Steam games, and most of them are either free or under $10.

1. Papers, Please

Remember learning about the Berlin Wall in school? Well, Papers, Please evokes the real-life historical concrete barrier. You play a border patrol agent who either approves or denies entry into the country. It’s your job to determine who gets in and who gets sent back or even detained. The game has multiple endings, and you have to keep your family alive as well.

While it was released on Steam in 2013, Papers, Please portrays today’s political climate accurately, showing how hard it can be to become a citizen of a country when others say it’s easy. They even have a resistance group in the game. I won’t say who it is — because spoilers — but I will say that you will want to hear what these guys have to say. You can either choose to support the government or join the resistance. This is a game where every decision matters.

Papers, Please is different from other games I have played; it relies on time, and you need to get as many people “processed” as possible in order to get money to survive. To get the best ending, you have to figure out the game’s strategy, but I don’t wish to give spoilers. I want you to figure it out.

2. Not Tonight

Not Tonight has a similar concept to Papers, Please. You play as a bodyguard at various night clubs where you check for fake IDs. It is set in an alternate timeline, starting shortly after the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union.

Like Papers, Please, it is a game where all choices matter. Your choices can either give you citizenship or land you back in your own country. There is also a strategy to getting the best ending, but again, there are multiple ways to go about it. If you choose to play, I will let you find that out on your own.

The music in this game is also enjoyable. Here is a little clip of a song that quickly got stuck in my head.

3. An Aspie Life

Imagine being on the autism spectrum and your roommate suddenly leaves. Now you have to face the outside world, which for some people might be okay, but for an autistic person can be torture. In An Aspie Life, you play as a college student who goes out into the world, and you experience what it’s like to have to adapt to all the new sounds and sights. It shows you how autistic people see the world.

The game creator is autistic, and his goal was to recreate the social anxiety that comes with living with autism; I have also felt the anxiety of going out into the unknown, with unfamiliar sounds and so many shapes. The style and music of An Aspie Life reminds me of an ’80s video game. I believe that every person should play this game so they can be more educated on what it means to be autistic.

4. A Normal Lost Phone

Who is Sam? In this game, you find a lost phone and have to figure out who it belongs to. You use all of the clues in the phone and solve each puzzle to find out more about Sam. Why did Sam run away? Why did Sam leave their phone behind?

I won’t reveal Sam’s gender because that’s a spoiler; however, I will say that the game deals with LGBTQ+ issues, and it also brings to light the issue of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.

The last time I played a found phone game, I jumped, and that was Simulacra. But this one made me think about important issues, and it will make you consider what people in the LGBTQ+ community are going through and how you should check up on them. At the end of the game there are resources available for those who might need them.

5. Kyle is Famous

In this game, your name is Kyle, and one day you wake up as a famous television host. You are interviewing a very famous celebrity, but there are so many things that could go wrong. What can you do? How will it end?

This game has multiple conclusions. One of them is more normal than the others. What I enjoy about this game is the element of surprise — you never know how things are going to play out or how the story is going to end.

It might seem like a general, choose your own adventure kind of game; however, what I like about Kyle is Famous is how humorous it can be. It’s a game that you can play whenever you’re bored, and you can pick either the most logical choices or the funniest.

These games deserve to be played. There are so many games on Steam that people don’t know about. This is a call for everyone to give indie games a chance, even if they’re not your style. Tell someone about them. For all we know, one of these games could become the newest hit and even win some big awards. We just have to give them their moment in the sun.

Lisa Lilianstrom, Northern Illinois University

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Lisa Lilianstrom

Northern Illinois University
Journalism, minor in Communications

Everyone deserves to have their stories heard. Writer, student, artist — plans to one day travel the world with the love of my life.

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