Cool games that live rent free in my head


I love playing weird games and even more love introducing them to anyone who might enjoy them too! The focus of this page is generally on less known indies, but there's a couple of more well known games too because they refuse to leave my thoughts too.

First part of the page is a general unsorted list, then there's a couple of games grouped together based on things that might or might not make sense.

I'm always on the lookout for more games! Quick list of things that generally make me interested:

  • explorable cities
  • commieblocks/slums/dense housing
  • really, REALLY nice art
  • cozy/lived in interiors
  • pipes and cables
  • rusted junkyard tm aesthetic
  • an actual forest, with foliage and stuff
  • biological mess/bodyhorror
  • philosphical sci-fi/transhumanism writing
  • PSX/lowpoly graphic
  • weird shit

Yume Nikki

Steam (2018 version) | UboaChan fan translation (2007)

Genre: walking simulator, atmospheric horror
Playtime: 5-7 hours

An RPG Maker classic. You're Madotsuki, a girl who sleeps and explores her surreal dreams. The dreamworld is difficult to navigate, most of places loop into themselves, and there's little landmarks, but sooner or later you always run into something.

Signalis

Steam | PS4 | Xbox One | Nintendo Switch

Genre: atmospheric survival horror, top down shooter, some puzzles
Playtime: 9-12 hours

Elster, a technician Replika is looking for someone very dear to her, going through locations that make less and less sense. Great retrofuturistic aesthetic, lots of fun worldbuilding ideas, generally a joy to go through and explore, as long as you don't die too much. The game is pretty forgiving actually, and there some difficulty settings too

Pathologic

Steam (Classic HD) | GOG (Classic HD) | MyAbanadonWare (2005)

Genre: walking simulator, atmospheric survival horror, text heavy
Playtime: 60+ hours across all three characters

You are a doctor who found themselves in a town hit by a mysterious plague, and you have 10 days to deal with it and keep yourself alive. Absolutely incredible setting, the steppe town feels familiar and extremely alien at the same time. Lots of weird philosophizing and/or various nonsense. The game as a whole is overly dramatic (literally) and also kinda hates you. Kinda horrible to play actually, but there's some great playthroughs and summaries around.

Citizen Sleeper

Steam | GOG | Epic | Xbox One | PS4 | Nintendo Switch

Genre: (tabletop-like) RPG, text heavy
Playtime: 10-12 hours

An escaped company worker who ended up on a huge space station lightyears away and now needs to make a living for themselves in a flawed system full of exploitation and little regard for individuals. Thankfully not everyone there is like that, and with some luck you can have a happy life engaging in mushroom communism.

Extra mention for the amazing character art, done by Guillaume Singelin.

Hylics

Steam | Itch

Genre: JRPG
Playtime: 3-5 hours

It's an RPG maker game, but with weird claymation style graphic. You're Wayne, who travels through this surreal world, searches for paper cups, learns spells by watching TV and sometimes falls apart after getting punched too hard. A+ aesthetic, 10/10 weirdness, much meat, wow.

Paratopic

Steam | Itch | Nintendo Switch | Xbox One

Genre: walking simulator, atmospheric horror
Playtime: under an hour

You are a VHS smuggler. You are a bird photographer. You are a hitman. And this might be a fever dream after you passed out watching too many X Files episodes.

Disco Elysium

Steam | GOG | Epic | Nintendo Switch | PS4 | Xbox One

Genre: RPG, text heavy
Playtime: 25-30 hours

Finally, a game without politics, and the best detective in the town is on the job. Except he had a mental breakdown, way too much alcohol and now doesn't remember a thing. Rediscover the world, work with the best partner Kim Kitsuragi, reload the game when you disappoint him, ponder about homosexual underground, learn alphabet, get game over by a kid making fun of you, commit fashion crimes and get confused by all your skills talking to you in your head. Oh yeah, and there's a crime that needs solving.

NORCO

Steam | GOG | PS4 | Xbox One

Genre: point and click, adventure, text heavy
Playtime: 6-8 hours

You returned to your hometown in industrial swamps of south Louisiana after your mother died, and your brother is nowhere to be found. Things seem to be a bit weird around here, but they always were. There's this weird cryptotrading scheme, a perfectly normal duck, a definitely fictional oil company improving local living conditions just like the oil companies do, some business with mind uploading and a cult residing in an abandoned shopping mall.

Inside

Steam | Itch | GOG | PlayStation | Xbox | iOS

Genre: puzzle platformer
Playtime: 4 hours

A boy walks through a mysterious facility, avoiding violent guards and other security measures, perhaps looking for something. If you look deep enough, you realize there's a lot to be found.

Scorn

Steam | Epic | GOG | Xbox X | PS5

Genre: walking simulator, horror, vaguely shooter
Playtime: 5-6 hours

There's this weird complex full of flesh, and you need to get on your way. Honestly, gameplaywise this game isn't very good, but it's worth it for the visuals and general aesthetic alone. Love me some gory biopunk and Zdzisław Beksiński.

Final Fantasy VII (1997)

Steam | MyAbandonWare (the original pc version) | honestly like most of platforms

Genre: JRPG
Playtime: 35-50+ hours

This isn't really an obscure game, but please play it before the remakes. Old RPG classic that tells the story of Cloud, his group, dealing with trauma and bombing energy companies. It has extremely great writing (even with the translation being wonky at times), pacing and character development, and the remakes severly lack in these. Excellent pre rendered backgrounds, character models may need to get used to, or there's mods.

The additional games are fun too, and the remakes are honestly amazing to look at and add some great character banter and stuff but just. Please try to experience the original game first.

Primordia

Steam | GOG | Nintendo Switch | iOS

Genre: point and click, adventure, puzzle
Playtime: 6-8 hours

Horatio Nullbuilt has been living a happy solitary life only with his companion Crispin, until a rogue robot steals their energy source, so they set out to recover it, discovering more about the post apocalyptic world they live in. Extremely amazing art style, I want to eat it.



Pipehell bunkercore/city exploration


Couple of games with a strong city exploration element along with appropriately claustrophobic cluttered spaces, lots of concrete, neverending cables and/or a bunch of pipes.

NaisssanceE

Steam (free!)

Genre: walking simulator, puzzle
Playtime: 4-5 hours

Explore a strange blocky world, accompanied by no one but yourself and your own breaths. It's like playable Blame! by Nihei Tsutomu, just without the action bits. Mostly.

Stray

Steam | PS4 | Xbox X

Genre: walking (running?) simulator, adventure
Playtime: 5-7 hours

Cat game set in a Kowloon Walled City inspired environment, and some fleshy body horror on top. There's a dedicated meow button.

Babbdi

Steam | Itch (free!)

Genre: walking simulator
Playtime: under an hour

Your average commieblock neighbourhood. Find a way out. Or scale buildings with a leaf blower, you can do that too. Reminds me of my childhood.

Cloudpunk

Steam | GOG | PS4 | Xbox One | Nintendo Switch

Genre: walking/driving simulator
Playtime: technically 10-12 hours for the base game, easily over 20 when actually exploring the city

This one is a lot more vibrant, but also incredibly fun to explore. Taxi people around the city, listen to their stories, run errands. Pretty neat cyberpunk writing with some great over the top delivery, excellent soundtrack.



Bizarre wastelands


A bit hard group to define, but the general shared characteristics are extensive mostly barren landscapes, alien looking lifeforms, bugs, scrapyards, bones, huge shrooms.

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

Steam | GOG | Xbox

Genre: open world RPG
Playtime: 30+ hours for the main story

Open world game set in (part of) the homeland of the dunmer - proud but xenophobic people living on an isolated volcanic isle of Vvardenfell. Weather forecast: ash with a chance of blightstorms. Excellent worldbuilding, excellent art design, actually great main story, later TES games have absolutely nothing on this one. You want bug? We have bug. We wear bug. We drive bug. We eat bug. We live in bug. Bug.

Sable

Steam | GOG | PS4 | Xbox One

Genre: open world adventure, puzzle
Playtime: 7-14 hours

Chill desert exploration game. You just set out for your Gliding - a rite of passage where you explore the world and try as many things you can, so you can decide what your adult job will be. You can upgrade your hoverbike, collect masks, explore spaceship ruins, meet people or just chill with the bugs.

Kenshi

Steam | GOG

Genre: open world sandbox RPG
Playtime: until your character dies

Stressful desert exploration game. Grow your squad, don't starve, don't get killed, don't get eaten, loot some corpses, escape slavers. Or become one of them, your choice of how you decide to live in this unforgiving wasteland.

Zeno Clash

Steam | Xbox 360

Genre: first person fighting
Playtime: 4-6 hours

Bizarre is the perfect world to describe this game. Fistfight weird guys, find out what's going on with Father-Mother, adventure across the strange lands of Zenozoik.

There's also Zeno Clash 2 for even more good weirdness, and Clash: Artifacts of Chaos that I haven't played yet.