Indie games are where niche ideas are created, and they can sometimes be as successful as triple-A titles. The top indie games of 2021 have all taken something to the table that can’t be found anywhere else, whether it’s been made by a small team of people with a small budget, or whether they’re pure features stories and ideas separate from the norm. The following are the best of the year, in no particular order.
Today we will talk about best indie games.
Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights
Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights was first released through Steam Early Access in January, and it earned positive reviews and comparisons to Hollow Knight, Dark Souls, and Vanilla ware titles. Lily, the last living heir of the White Priestesses, has the soul of a knight bound to her for protection in this Metroidvania platformer. Lily utilizes the powers of the souls she cleans to battle alongside the loyal knight as her sword while attempting to locate the source of the “Rain of Death.” Ender Lilies was lauded for its puzzle-platforming gameplay, art style, setting, combat, and orchestral soundtrack, which was dubbed an “indie darling” by critics after successfully cloning beloved elements from other games.
Valheim, a creation able multiplayer game, was also released in Early Access, but unlike Ender Lilies, it is yet to be fully launched. Despite this, the game built by a five-person team would be well-known by critics for its PvE survival and story elements. Players must build shelters, craft tools, and battle enemies to live in their biomes after being dumped into a procedurally generated world. Valheim’s gameplay loop of crafting and fighting is easy to get lost, but the atmosphere afforded by each swamp, mountain, and ocean is ambient, both infected with monsters and filled with gorgeous textures. The goal of the game remains to defeat the bosses of each distinct biome, with players being so via craftable boats or on foot, but the gameplay is far more expansive than just that, especially with Iron Gate Studio continuing to build on the unfinished areas and add crafting options in the future.
Loop Hero was one of the first to release this year, and roguelikes and rogulesites have been flourishing throughout 2021. Loop Hero, like many other genres, features procedurally generated maps, but rather than just building a strong fighter, players build the terrain using landscape cards, each of which carries its own special abilities and effects such as health restoration or speed buffs.
After the world has died, the central antagonist of the game, known as the Lich, has trapped the hero inside a time loop. The goal remains to defeat the Lich by rebuilding the world using landscape cards, building terrain, and defeating enemies until the path’s end has been achieved. Loop Hero was praised for its 80s nostalgia and a surprisingly addictive gameplay loop in which players can waste time exploring with various terrains and builds. At The Game Awards, it was nominated for Best Indie.
Before Your Eyes
Indie games can also be an excellent source of emotional journies, with ‘Before Your Eyes’ being the most moving title in this list. Before Your Eyes, a play on the game’s name, tracks the player’s eye movements and blinking in order to progress the story of Benjamin “Benny” Brynn, who has recently fallen and is currently transitioning to the afterlife. Benny is about to be judged at the gates of the afterlife, either be accepted into eternal paradise or turned into a seagull, while observing his memories dance out before him. Before Your Eyes was one of the most cathartic stories to roll out of 2021, thanks to the simplistic yet mature nature of the blinking mechanic paired with the impactful, heartbreaking story. It isn’t to be missed for players who appreciate powerfully somber stories.
Chicory: A Colorful Tale
Chicory: A Colorful Tale may appear to be unassuming and possibly even a bit childish, but that’s part of its charm. Players instead wield a paintbrush in this Zelda-inspired adventure after Chicory, the hero who fills the world with color, dies, and brings all of it with her, which is another game without combat. Now it’s up to the protagonist, who is called after the player’s favorite food, to fill the color back in and work out why the hero has vanished. Players can use patterns, tools, and paint styles to help bring the world to life along the way, expanding on their basic painting skills. Furthermore, puzzles provision Chicory with a small but notable level of difficulty, as well as the player’s growing level of skills that can unlock new areas and progress.
Don’t be concerned about the overwhelming world of Chickory: A Colorful Tale. With bite-sized sidequests and manageable exploration, it’s designed to be enjoyed at whatever pace the player prefers. Nearly every critic and player who have played Chicory has come on to praise it, thanks to every gameplay and story element working together expertly and cohesively.
Players play on the role of a crow that collects the souls of the dead in Death’s Door, another nomination for Best Indie at The Game Awards. The crow is told about a conspiracy involving the disappearance of other crows after receiving the soul of a monster who refuses to leave the mortal realm, and they must now embark on a journey through a series of dungeons to unlock Death’s Door. At the INDIE Live Expo Winter 2021 Awards, it won the Best Game Feel award in addition to its Dark Souls and Zelda influences, as well as its basic yet satisfying combat and puzzles.
The Forgotten City
The Forgotten City was originally conceived as a Skyrim mod that transformed the providence into an ancient Roman empire in 2015, but its plot was changed significantly when it was released as a complete standalone game this year. Nick Pearce created the critically praised mod, which he later resigned his day job to hire several developers, forging the Modern Storyteller studio. Instead of implementing crunch onto his employees, Pearce overworked himself at around 80 hours per week to the point of hallucination, but the end result would be an award for Excellence in Narrative, just as the mod had earned File of the Month and Best Interactive Media. Professional voice acting, an original orchestral score, unique gameplay mechanics, and a script over double the size of the mod’s would also be added in the Forgotten City’s soundtrack.
Kena: Bridge of Spirits
Ember Lab originated as an animation studio, and before turning to the gaming industry, it released many animation commercials as well as a small film based on The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. Its first game, Kena: Bridge of Spirits, would move on to win Best Indie at The Game Awards earlier that month. It tracks Kena, a young protagonist who assists spirit guides in moving over from the land of the living, but some troubled souls take a tough time accepting their deaths.
Kena collects little, Pikmin-like creatures called The Rot, which can assist her in tasks such as solving puzzles and moving objects, to aid her in her battle against a corrupt spirit. Kena’s staff also serves as her weapon, turning into weapons such as bows and tools such as grasping hooks. Kena’s artistic design obtained some of the highest praise from critics, but its narrative was another enthralling and moving adventure that entailed death and passing away.
Inscryption is based on YouTuber Luke Carder, who detects a floppy disc with the same name, a computer version of the Inscryption collectible card game. He confronts a shady dealer, and the roguelike includes a story in between rounds against NPCs and bosses that Carder gets across virtually. Carder will eventually confront the dealer, but defeating him and trapping him in his own card is just the beginning of this ill tale. This was something that many critics highlighted about Inscryption, that its gameplay loop switches and moves aside for the story before it grows too monotonous. The haunting mystery was enthralled by reviewers, and it was nominated for Best Indie and Best Sim/Strategy at The Game Awards.
Most gamers probably aren’t tempted by something that calls them to perform mundane or even potentially tedious tasks like unpacking boxes at first blush. Unpacking, on the other hand, turned that chore into something unique, tying into the story of a person moving through various stages of life, which the audience observes through unpacking her boxes and organizing them throughout each room, which items she chooses to hang onto through each chapter. Because items have various spots they can or cannot be put, there are some simple puzzle mechanics involved, which also tie into the character’s journey. Unpacking may have been a bit too brief for some, but many were sucked in by its meditative gameplay, claiming that it is the ultimate title for relaxation in an industry saturated with action-adventure games.
What are some other Indie games that you should be looking out for in 2021?
As far as indie games go, the year of 2021 will be a big one for gamers.
There are a few that we can’t wait to see:
1. Cyberpunk 2077
2. A Way Out
3. Wasteland 3 (2K Games)
4. The Elder Scrolls VI: Wolfborn
5. Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade (Red Faction Studios)
6. Resident Evil 2 Remake (Capcom)
7. No Man’s Sky NEXT, part of the Next update
8. Silent Hills (Konami), aka P.T., remade with all new dialog and music by David Jaffe after its cancellation in 2013, as a way to honor Hideo Kojima while also putting him out more recently; considered by fans as “the day that Konami died” 9. Minecraft: Story Mode (Telltale)
10. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, a psychological thriller based on Celtic mythology from Ninja Theory; one of the most applauded indie games in recent years with over 10 awards including 2017 Game Developers Choice Award for Most Innovative and numerous IGN editors’ choice award nominations as well as top favourites for its Image & Form Cyberpunk 2077 amongst scores of other accolades , who will bring its protagonist, Senua/Sonic the Hedgehog to life as she travels through Viking and Celtic mythology in search of her imprisoned soulmate
11. Monster Hunter World (Capcom)
12. Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey (Ubisoft Quebec)
13. Red Dead Redemption 2 (Rockstar Games)(2016-2021).
14 Fire Emblem: Three Houses (Nintendo EPD / Intelligent Systems & Nintendo Switch), an upcoming entry into the popular tactical role playing video game series that started on NES and has since expanded on GameBoy Color , multiple other portable systems by Nintendo and most recently on smart devices by DeNA as well. It will be the first installment in a Great Adventure story adapted from the Fire Emblem Heroes game app, that has been very successful since its release February 2017.
15 Crypt of Thieves (Another Indie Game with French roots)
Indie games are where niche ideas are created, and they can sometimes be as successful as triple-A titles. The top indie games of 2021 have all taken something to the table that can’t be found anywhere else, from old-school platformers to AAA RPGs and even roguelikes. There’s a huge variety of types of indie games available for download on various platforms, so take some time today to explore what’s out there. In order to get started on this process, please fill out our contact form below so we can provide you with more information about what will work best in your situation.