In the past few years, independent games, or “indie” games for short, have become increasingly popular as developers leave big studios to make unique games. These independent games often have new takes on how to play and how to tell a story, which makes them some of the most memorable games in recent years. This article will discuss the 20 best independent games that have come out so far. These games range from cute simulations of farming to difficult puzzle platformers and everything in between. These games show that independent developers make some of the business’s best and most popular games.
Why Are Independent Games So Popular Nowadays?
For several reasons, Independent games have become more prevalent in the past few years. First, independent games often bring a new point of view to the gaming industry, giving players experiences that can’t be found in games made by bigger studios. These games usually put gameplay mechanics and stories ahead of fancy graphics and cinematic experiences. This makes the games more engaging and immersive. Digital distribution platforms like Steam and the App Store have made it easier for independent game developers to get their games out to a broader audience without signing a big publishing deal. This has made game development more open, so smaller teams or even one person can make and release games on their terms.
Lastly, fans of independent games are usually very passionate and loyal. They want to support smaller developers and their creative ideas. This has led to a thriving independent gaming scene, with many developers leaving big studios to work on their passion projects and make games that match their artistic vision. Independent games are popular because they have different points of view and new ways to play, and game development has become more open to everyone.
The Best 20 Indie Games
This article will examine the 20 best independent games that have come out so far. These games range from cute farming simulations to difficult platformers and everything in between. These games show off the creativity and skill of independent developers and why gamers worldwide love the independent gaming scene so much.
|Maddy Makes Games
|Yacht Club Games
|Kentucky Route Zero
|Conway, Shannon, Ezra, and June
|Free Lives Games
|Super Meat Boy
|Number None, Inc.
|Baba Is You
|Zagreus, Nyx, Hades
|Daniel Mullins Games
|Frisk, Sans, Papyrus
|The Black Ghost
|The Crewmate, The Impostor
|Kena: Bridge of Spirits
|The Binding of Isaac
|Isaac, Mom, Satan
Matt Makes Games made and released Celeste, a 2D platformer, in 2018. Critics praised its tight controls, challenging gameplay, and emotional story. A young woman named Madeline climbs a dangerous mountain as players take control. She encounters both physical and emotional problems along the way. The developers made a DLC chapter and a spiritual successor called “Skytorn” due to the game’s popularity. Unfortunately, the developers canceled “Skytorn” in 2019.
- A challenging platformer with tight controls
- Emotional and inspiring storyline
- Unique abilities and mechanics for each level
2. Shovel Knight
Shovel Knight is a platform game made by Yacht Club Games and released in 2014. It has a retro look and is a tribute to old games like Mega Man and DuckTales. The player controls the main character, Shovel Knight, as he moves through different levels and fights memorable enemies while collecting treasure and improving his skills. Because of how popular the game was, many expansions and spinoffs were made, such as “Plague of Shadows,” “Specter of Torment,” and “King of Cards.”
- Classic 8-bit graphics and music
- Varied and creative level design
- The fun and engaging combat system
3. Kentucky Route Zero
Kentucky Route Zero is a strange point-and-click adventure game made by Cardboard Computer and released in five parts between 2013 and 2020. It is hard to put it into a single category. Players take charge of a group of characters as they explore a strange underground highway and see and hear strange things along the way. The game’s strange way of telling a story and creepy atmosphere has made it a favorite among people who like atmospheric stories and games that try new things.
- Surreal and atmospheric storytelling
- Dialogue-driven gameplay
- Exploration of themes of loss, memory, and identity
Broforce is a run-and-gun platform game made by Free Lives and released in 2015. It is a tribute to classic action movies from the 1980s and 1990s. Players take control of different “bro” characters with unique skills and weapons and fight through levels full of explosive action and over-the-top humor. Due to how popular the game was, it got a free add-on called “The Expendables” and a spinoff called “Gorn,” which is all about brutal gladiator fights.
- Over-the-top action and humor
- Wide variety of playable characters with unique abilities
- Cooperative multiplayer mode
5. Super Meat Boy
Super Meat Boy is a fast-paced platformer game made by Team Meat and released in 2010. Players have to guide a sentient piece of meat through more challenging levels. Players must use precise controls and quick reflexes to avoid deadly obstacles and reach each stage’s end. The game has become a cult favorite among gamers because of how hard and funny it is. It has been ported to several platforms, including the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4.
- Punishingly difficult platforming
- Quick respawn times to encourage retrying levels
- Tons of levels and unlockable characters
Braid is a puzzle-platformer game by Number None, Inc., released in 2008. It requires players to control time to solve increasingly complex puzzles. Players take control of a character named Tim as he travels through a series of strange environments, each with its way of changing time. The game’s beautiful hand-drawn art style and haunting music have made it a favorite among fans of independent games. It was one of the first big hits of the indie game boom in the late 2000s.
- Time-manipulating mechanics to solve puzzles
- The beautiful and unique art style
- A non-linear story that encourages interpretation
7. Loop Hero
Loop Hero is a unique mix of deck-building, roguelike, and city-building elements. It was made by Four Quarters and came out in 2021. The player controls a hero who automatically moves along a looping path, running into enemies and other obstacles. To shape the path and help the hero stay alive, the player strategically places cards that show different terrain and enemies. As the hero defeats enemies and gathers resources, the player can use these to improve their base camp and get new cards and abilities. Retro-styled graphics and a moody soundtrack make the game moody and exciting, and the game’s unique ways of play keep people coming back for more.
- Innovative deck-building mechanics for progression
- Procedurally generated levels and enemies
- Unique retro graphics and soundtrack
8. Baba Is You
Baba Is Hempuli made you and came out in 2019. It is a puzzle game where players can change rules to solve increasingly complex problems. Each level comprises a grid of things and text blocks that show how to play the game. Players can change the game and develop new ways to solve puzzles by moving and changing these blocks. The game’s simple graphics and upbeat music make it feel charming and fun, and its brain-teasing puzzles and unique controls make it a standout in the puzzle genre.
- Puzzle game with a focus on manipulating rules
- Increasing difficulty and complexity
- Non-linear progression through different worlds
The world of Greek mythology sets the stage for an action-packed roguelike game called Hades. Supergiant Games made it and released it in 2020. Zagreus, the son of Hades, tries to get out of the underworld and reach the world above while players control him. New enemies, weapons, and power-ups are always found in every run, making each one different. Its smooth combat, beautiful hand-drawn graphics, and exciting story make the game fun. Its challenging difficulty and replayability also entice players to come back for more. The game received many good reviews when it was released and has since won many awards for its design, writing, and gameplay.
- The engaging and fluid combat system
- The exciting storyline with replayable content
- There is a wide variety of upgrades and abilities to unlock
Inscryption is a unique mix of card-based strategy, horror, and metafiction. Daniel Mullins Games made it and came out in 2021. The players are stuck in a cabin in the woods, playing cards with an unknown opponent. But as the game goes on, it becomes clear that more than just the outcome is at stake. The player has to use their wits and strategic skills to get through the twists and turns of the game while also finding out the dark secrets of the cabin and its people. The game stands out in indie because of its creepy atmosphere, clever game mechanics, and mind-bending story.
- The blend of card game and horror elements
- The mysterious and suspenseful storyline
- Unique and challenging gameplay mechanics
11. Stardew Valley
Stardew Valley is a simulation game about farming made by ConcernedApe and came out in 2016. It has become a beloved classic in the world of independent games. Players take on the role of a farmer who gets a run-down farm in the country as an inheritance and has to fix it up. Players can plant and harvest crops, raise animals, explore the area, and talk to the game’s colorful cast of characters as they go. The game is fun because of its cute pixel art graphics, relaxing music, and addictive gameplay. It also has deep crafting and customization systems that keep players interested for hours.
- Relaxing farming and life simulation gameplay
- Wide variety of activities to engage in
- Character relationships and personalization options
12. Death’s Door
Death’s Door is an action-adventure game made by Acid Nerve and came out in 2021. It takes place in a world entirely of magic and mystery. Players take control of a crow who works for the “Reaping Commission,” a group of bird reapers who collect souls from the living world. When a hard soul goes missing, the player must enter a world of dangerous creatures and tricky dungeons. The game is fun because it has beautiful hand-drawn graphics, a haunting soundtrack, and fast-paced combat. Its exploration-based gameplay and clever puzzles keep players interested from the beginning to the end. When it came out, the game got a lot of good reviews, and its characters, world-building, and gameplay have all been praised.
- Beautiful and immersive world design
- The challenging and rewarding combat system
- Exploration of themes of life, death, and purpose
13. Outer Wilds
The developers created Outer Wilds as an open-world exploration game in a mysterious solar system. Mobius Digital made it and released it in 2019. The players play an astronaut stuck in a time loop and going through the same 22-minute period. Players must explore the solar system, figure out what’s happening, and use their ship, tools, and brains before the loop starts again. The unique and memorable experience of the game is due to its beautiful graphics, catchy music, and sense of discovery—the non-linear story and puzzle-solving mechanics interest players from the beginning to the end.
- Non-linear exploration of a mysterious and interconnected universe
- Unique gameplay mechanics based on physics and time loops
- An intriguing story that gradually unfolds as the player progresses
Fez is a puzzle platform game made by Polytron Corporation in 2012. It occurs in a 2D world that can be turned into 3D space. The player controls a character named Gomez, who goes on a quest to find cubes that will bring order back to his world. The game stands out in independent games because of its unique graphics, catchy chiptune music, and mind-bending game mechanics. The game’s focus on exploring, finding things, and solving puzzles has made it a favorite among fans of the genre.
- Unique and innovative use of perspective-shifting mechanics
- The cryptic and mysterious storyline with hidden secrets
- Challenging puzzles and platforming
15. Hollow Knight
Team Cherry made Hollow Knight, which came out in 2017. It is an action game in the Metroidvania style in a dark, creepy underground world. Players take on the role of silent knights who must explore the world, defeat powerful enemies, and learn the secrets of the kingdom of Hallownest. The game is a favorite among fans of the genre because of its beautiful hand-drawn graphics, haunting music, and challenging gameplay. The game’s rich story, memorable characters, and hidden secrets have also made it a favorite among players who like to explore.
- Beautiful and immersive world design
- The challenging and rewarding combat system
- There is a wide variety of upgrades and abilities to unlock
Undertale is a role-playing game by Toby Fox that came out in 2015. It combines elements of traditional RPGs with bullet-hell shooter gameplay. Players take on the role of a human child who has fallen into a world of monsters underground. They must find their way around the world, make friends or enemies with different characters, and decide whether to fight or spare their enemies. The game’s quirky humor, memorable characters, and new ways to play have made it popular with fans and earned it praise from critics for changing up typical RPG tropes.
- Unique combat system based on choices and dialogue
- Memorable and quirky characters
- Exploration of themes of morality, friendship, and redemption
Alexander Bruce made Antichamber, a puzzle game that was released in 2013. The world occurs in an Escher-like environment with shifting perspectives and impossible geometry. Players must solve puzzles and find hidden secrets to navigate the game’s non-linear world. People consider the game one of the most innovative puzzle games ever due to its simple graphics, mind-bending puzzles, and unique approach to level design.
- Unique and mind-bending puzzle mechanics
- Non-linear progression and exploration
- The minimalist yet visually striking art style
18. Among Us
Among Us is a multiplayer social deduction game made by InnerSloth and released in 2018. It has become trendy in the last few years. Players take on the roles of members of a spaceship’s crew and have to work together to finish tasks and find any fake crew members. The game is a favorite among gamers of all ages because it has simple graphics, is fun to play, and focuses on communication and lying. The game’s popularity has also led to a thriving online community, where players make their custom game modes and mods, as well as many memes and fan art.
- Fun and engaging social deduction gameplay
- Easy to pick up and play with friends
- There is a wide variety of customization options for characters
19. Kena: Bridge of Spirits
Ember Lab made Kena: Bridge of Spirits, an action-adventure game released in 2021. The lush, magical world that inspired Balinese and Japanese culture sets the scene. A young spirit guide, Kena uses magical skills to help lost souls move on to the afterlife, and players take on her role. The game features beautiful graphics, an exciting story, and a unique fighting system that allows players to summon and control a team of cute spirit companions. Critics have praised Kena: Bridge of Spirits for its beautiful graphics, fun gameplay, and emotional story.
- Beautiful and detailed graphics and animation
- Unique and engaging combat system with spirit companions
- Exploration of themes of grief, loss, and healing
20. The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth
The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth was made by Nicalis in 2014. It is a roguelike dungeon crawler that follows a young boy named Isaac as he tries to escape his fanatically religious mother. The game has randomly generated dungeons, challenging boss fights, and a lot of items and power-ups that can significantly change how you play. This game is a cult favorite among fans of independent games because of its dark humor, strange themes, and fun gameplay. The game also has a lot of hidden secrets and Easter eggs, which makes it easy to play over and over again.
- Challenging and varied roguelike gameplay
- Twisted and dark humor with a unique art style
- Wide variety of items and power-ups that drastically affect gameplay
15 Most Faqs And Their Answers About Indie Games
What are indie games?
Individual creators or small teams develop and publish indie games independently as video games.
How are indie games different from other games?
A smaller budget and development team typically creates indie games, often featuring unique and innovative gameplay mechanics and art styles.
Can indie games be played on consoles?
Many indie games are available on consoles such as Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo Switch.
Where can I buy indie games?
You can purchase indie games on various platforms such as Steam, GOG, Epic Games Store, Humble Bundle, and Itch.io.
Are indie games cheaper than other games?
Indie games can be cheaper than AAA titles, but prices vary depending on the game and platform.
Is Journey to Hiroshima Anime: Unveiling Adventures and Discoveries in Animated Excellence?
Yes, many indie games have multiplayer modes, either locally or online.
What genres are popular in indie games?
Indie games cover many genres, but some popular ones include platformers, adventure games, RPGs, and puzzle games.
How do indie game developers make money?
Indie game developers typically make money through game sales, crowdfunding, and partnerships with publishers.
Can indie games be as good as big-budget games?
Many indie games have received critical acclaim and have been highly successful, often offering unique and innovative experiences that big-budget games may not.
Are all indie games pixel art or retro-style games?
No, while many indie games may have pixel art or retro-style aesthetics, many indie games have unique and modern art styles.
- Are indie games only available on PC?
Indie games are now available on consoles and mobile devices.
How do I find new indie games to play?
You can find new indie games through gaming news sites, game review sites, and social media platforms like Twitter and Reddit.
Can I make my own indie game?
Anyone can make their own indie game with the right tools and resources. Many game engines and development tools, such as Unity and Unreal Engine, are available.
Are indie games just for hardcore gamers?
Gamers of all skill levels can enjoy indie games, and game developers design many indie games specifically for casual and mobile gamers.
Are indie games important for the video game industry?
Yes, indie games are essential for promoting innovation and creativity in the video game industry and have helped to popularize new game genres and mechanics.
In the past few years, indie games have become more popular because of their unique gameplay, creative ideas, and new designs. Players can do many different things in these games, and they have inspired a new generation of game designers who are constantly pushing the limits of what is possible. Indie games have something for everyone, from challenging platformers like Celeste and Super Meat Boy to games with deep stories like Kentucky Route Zero and Inscryption. They are still a significant force in the gaming industry, and in the years to come, we can expect to see many more exciting and innovative games from them. We hope you love these 20 games that we have chosen for you. That’s all for today. Leave a comment if you have any suggestions.