Top 7 Awesome Indie Games of 2021

How much entertainment we have. For every taste, color, and smell. Some people can indulge themselves in betting at, some people get an incomparable thrill from reading a book, and others love to play games.

This decade has given us a lot of great games, which in the future will be talking about as the treasures of the industry. And in many ways, we have not the big studios to thank for this, but the independent developers. A handful of enthusiasts, sometimes working for years on an idea, risking their livelihood for one goal – to make that very game. One that no one else can make but them.

When the editorial staff began to compile a list of the very, very best, there were so many applicants that it would have been a shame to leave some of them out. There are no first and last places in this text, as well as those who dropped a little lower – each of the mentioned games has contributed to the development of the industry.

Super Meat Boy (2010)

When Tommy Refenes and Edmund McMillen took on Super Meat Boy, they set themselves a very clear goal: they just wanted to make “their Super Mario Bros”. But Team Meat actually did much more than that, they breathed new life into the genre; they showed many independent developers that there has always been and always will be a demand for truly complex games – it’s all about execution. Super Meat Boy packed the complexity of the old platformers into a very compact package, throwing out everything unnecessary: all that was left was the meat kid, the love of his life, and a billion circular saws on the way to the goal. Simple doesn’t mean easy, after all.

Hotline Miami (2012)

Hotline Miami is a true masterclass in how to make the player feel like an animal. How to discreetly plunge him into a completely different state of mind, into a trance. When the stranger in a rooster mask asks if you like hurting other people, don’t be fooled – the question is rhetorical. Of course, you do! What’s more, you don’t even need a reason – just enjoy it. And the studio Dennaton Games knows how to deliver it: the developers squeeze the adrenaline out of the player with their bare hands. Especially when, ten tries later, the last pixelated mobster falls into a pool of blood and the music, which had been pounding in your ears, abruptly cuts off.

Amnesia: The Dark Descent (2010)

The Swedes from Frictional Games have been trendsetters in the horror genre for years, getting to the simple truth: we are not afraid of the monsters themselves, but of what happens if they catch us. That’s why in Amnesia: The Dark Descent you can only run or hide from nightmarish creatures; even looking at them is fraught with problems – if not for your physical health, then for your mental health. Making the player powerless in the face of danger, the developers managed to turn the degree of paranoia to the maximum: in Amnesia there is no inventory management, no combat system. Just you, a huge abandoned castle full of puzzles, and darkness from which a weak oil lantern barely saves you. In short, the concept is simple but insanely effective – that’s why it’s been picked up by a whole army of imitators.

The Stanley Parable (2013)

Of all the video games – both independent and big-budget – released in the last ten years, The Stanley Parable can safely be called one of the most unconventional (if not the most). That’s because it’s not a game at all – it’s an essay. A sparkling, ironic reflection on freedom of choice, presented as a story about the office routine of the faceless Stanley, whose actions are dictated by an invisible narrator. Except that you, the player, are not Stanley, and you have a choice. Should you obey the narrator’s orders? What happens if you don’t follow instructions? Is it possible to “break” the game and take the voice-over by surprise? Alas, you can’t – but that’s the point. The Stanley Parable’s creators, Davy Riden and William Pugh, masterfully mock themselves, their audience, and games as such. Once you’ve been in Stanley’s shoes, you can hardly look at interactive art as you did before.

Papers, Please (2013)

Pick up papers, check them, stamp them, give them back; nine to five, no days off. Papers, Please is hard to call exciting or addictive: like paperwork in real life, the daily routine of a customs officer at the Arstotsky border is terribly monotonous. But the game’s author, Lucas Pope, uses the simulation of this mechanical labor to show how insignificant matters of state are in the eyes of the average person. Arstotzka has quarreled with a neighboring country and tightened its visa regime? Great, now we’ll have to do more paperwork. A suicide bomber broke through the checkpoint? Terrible, of course, but don’t expect compensation for the interrupted day’s work. One stamp in a passport can change the fate of a stranger – but does it really matter when your own family can barely make ends meet? You don’t have to be a highbrow critic to get the message, but that’s what makes Papers, Please great: it deals with complex issues in very simple terms.

Minecraft (2011)

There are just great games, and there are great games – and Minecraft is definitely one of them, just like Tetris or Half-Life. In ten years Markus Persson’s project has grown from a curious idea into the best-selling game of all time and an unprecedented cultural phenomenon that turned the industry upside down. Minecraft has achieved what many developers only dream about: it can be played by absolutely anyone – from pre-schoolers who can’t part with their tablets to retirees who are no strangers to computers. And all will be equally fun, everyone will find something to their liking. Some will build a cozy hut with a kitchen garden, others will arm themselves with diamond swords and go in search of adventure, and others will churn out a replica of the Sistine Chapel at a scale of 1:1 or a working, programmable calculator. The only limit to creative freedom is your imagination.

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (2017)

When PUBG first appeared in early access Steam, many users, despite good reviews and sales, squinted at it with disbelief. And now it’s hard to imagine what the market for multiplayer shooters would be without the brainchild of Brendan Green, who made “battle royale” a full-fledged genre in itself. Its success came not even so much from gameplay findings, as from the approach to design. Simple and straightforward mechanics create a low entry threshold and a ton of tactical nuances and the need to adapt to the situation – a high skill ceiling. This formula is as simple as it is elegant – and thankfully, Green, who learned to program from scratch, had the tenacity to bring it to life. PUBG will be echoing in multiplayer shooters for years to come – and it’s not certain it will ever stop.

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Rupesh Kumar

First, I am an online marketing professional, as well as a night time gamer with a wide array of interests. Aside from constantly writing about games, I also enjoy writing about my other hobbies such as fitness, cooking, home DIY projects and travel. Contact me at

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