The top indie games can also offer something that their big blockbuster games can’t. Because the best indie games are free to experiment the way AAA games cannot, they can offer a different perspective or a unique type of gameplay.
The top 10 and best indie games push the boundaries of what’s possible in a video game. From party experiences like Among Us to wonderfully unique roguelikes like Loop Hero, there’s an endless sea of excellent indie games to choose from. Sorting through the massive pile is a chore, though, which is why we rounded up the top indie games you should have in 2021.
First up is the aggressively competitive survival & crafting game from Facepunch Studies - Rust. The MMO sees players wake up the same way every time they join a new server, naked with only a rock and a torch in their arsenal. There are three key aims to Rust: surviving, crafting & looting.
The better weapons and gear you have in the game, the better chance you stand of surviving. But in order to get there you will need to mine resources with your rock and find blueprints in order to improve your stores, finding these is usually down to luck rather than ability which gives the game an additional edge as your ability to progress depends on this.
From this perspective Rust is a lot like Minecraft; however with over 400 hostile players on each server we recommend you approach this game like DayZ - Do not trust anyone!
Superliminal is a game about perspective. Although a short, two-hour puzzler, Sueprliminal packs enough of a punch to justify its price. Much like The Witness –which we’ll get to shortly — Superliminal is a puzzle game where figuring out the mechanics is as exciting as solving the puzzles themselves. What makes Superliminal stand out is how it manages to do so much with so little.
Unlike a lot of puzzle games, Superliminal‘s core design is so good that it doesn’t need red herrings or any other distractions to keep puzzle rooms interesting. Each puzzle room only has a few components, and all of them are essential to reaching a solution.
8. Warhammer: Vermintide 2
If fighting through hordes of giant rats with your mates is your thing, then the Warhammer Universe inspired Vermintide 2 is a fantastic ‘Left for Dead’ style action game with an array of weapons to use in taking out your enemies. There are five characters to choose from, each with three versions called ‘careers’ which all come with unique skill trees and abilities.
The game has 13 different missions spanning across well-crafted locations. Each mission incorporates various obstacles & objectives as well as a finale. The highlight of the game is the brutal combat, blunt weapons send your enemies flying back, while the bladed options are great for slicing off heads. So whatever your preferred rat killing style is, Vermintide 2 has got you covered.
If you’ve ever wondered what it's like to experience a zombie apocalyptic aftermath, then DayZ is the game for you. The real life survival simulation game really takes everything into consideration as you battle to survive. You explore Chernarus which is based on a real world location in the Czech Republic.
The aim of the game is to forage for anything you might need while surviving either the infected or other players. Unlike a lot of zombie games where you generally only search for immediate needs: health, food, ammo.
In DayZ, players will have to venture further inland looking for loot, and will have to carefully manage their inventory which is not unlimited.
6. Black Mesa
This is a fan remake of the original Half-Life game released in 1998, in an unusual move Valve allowed the game to be sold independently, although it took 8 years to make. Black Mesa is based in an American research facility (also called Black Mesa) where a number of experiments are conducted on-site including secret projects.
The game retains the beloved feel of Half Life’s look and creepy atmosphere however, there are more NPC interactions and storytelling elements to the game. The enemies put up a bit more of a fight and the puzzles and missions are fairly challenging, so if you were a fan of the original Half-Life then you’re likely to enjoy this indie remake.
5. 7 Days to Die
Similar to DayZ, and in fact released around the same time, 7 Days to Die is a zombie survival struggle FPS made by The Fun Pimps. This is their only game and has been in early access since 2013. Don’t let this put you off though, as 7 Days to Die has been hailed as a great game to play with friends and follows the typical zombie survival game narrative.
There is no story arc instead the game is a sandbox-esq minecraft style game where players will have to craft in order to obtain better items and build structures in order to shelter themselves from attacking zombie hoards.
There are psychological terrors and Resident Evil engine romps, and then there’s GTFO. 10 Chambers’ debut is a Left 4 Dead shooter that leans on the hallmarks of Dead Space and Alien: Isolation—binding anxiety and adrenaline to intermissions of pitch-black darkness that will flat-out ruin you.
Every expedition in GTFO’s underground complex is meticulously crafted with exploration and communication in mind, with speed runs involving foam launchers, mine deployers, and modded shotguns usually being interrupted by hordes of “sleepers” and a difficulty spike that maximizes tension.
Phasmophobia is a game about going on ghost hunts with your friends. Groups of up to four are assigned to investigate abandoned facilities and utilize a grab bag of EMF readers, UV flashlights, and crucifixes to gather evidence on the supernatural.
There are 12 ghosts to become BFFs with—including wraiths, phantoms, shades, poltergeists, and oni—and due to Kinetic Games’ fascination with psychological horror, each type is efficient at using visual tricks and audio manipulation to steer your chat comms into chaos.
One minute you will find yourself thooming down hallways while screaming the words “Help me, Bill Murray!” and the next you’ll be sweating through something serious in the corner of your bedroom.
2. ESCAPE FROM TARKOV
There are countless FPS games that tout their realism, but none come close to the obsessive attention to detail paid by Escape from Tarkov’s dev team when it comes to guns, attachments, and ballistics modelling. Not only are there upwards of 60 guns in Escape from Tarkov, but each one can be modded up or stripped down to the point where they’re unrecognisable from their off-the-shelf counterparts.
You can swap barrels, mounts, scopes, flashlights, foregrips, pistol grips, handguards, muzzle attachments, stocks, charging handles, magazines, receivers, gas blocks, and choose from several different types of round for each ammo type. No two weapons you find in-raid are ever the same.
1. No Man’s Sky
With over 50 awards and nominations No Man’s Sky is the beautiful open world single-player FPS from Hello Games with hours of epic voyages at your fingertips. Inspired by classic science fiction, the game takes you across space exploring planets as you go.
The game is heavily geared towards collecting resources to level up your character, while you search to find the centre of the universe rather than having a specific story arc. The developers have stated that although No Man’s Sky is open world the universe is so big the chances of you running into another player during your voyages are incredibly slim...that's a lot of space to explore!