Best Upcoming Indie Games 2021 (And Beyond)

The best upcoming indie games of 2021 and beyond are looking bigger and bolder than any year before as the industry inches towards a new console generation with the PS5 and Xbox Series X.

Additionally, PC gaming continues to be the preferred method for discovering hidden gems before they explode in popularity. 

In this list, we’ll be recommending the most highly-anticipated indie releases along with some lesser-known titles that may not be on your radar.

If we forgot to include your favorite game, feel free to sound off in the comments and let us know. And lastly, make sure to check back as we continue to update this list with new games in the future.

Related:Best Upcoming Games 2021 (And Beyond)Best Indie Nintendo Switch Games 2021Best Laptop Games For Low-Spec PCs

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Tarsier Studios’ Little Nightmares is a delightfully creepy puzzle-platformer and one of the standout indie horror games of 2018. The game ends with a very interesting twist that we’re excited to see expanded upon in a sequel due out this year.

Published by Bandai Namco, Little Nightmares II was announced during Gamescon 2019 for current-gen consoles. The sequel will feature a new playable character named Mono accompanied by Six, the protagonist from the first game.

The two will work together to clear platforming challenges and solve puzzles in a variety of unsettling new environments. The second character will be AI-controlled by default; however, Tarsier may plan to add support for local co-op before release.

Indie developer Picogram has partnered with Rose City Games to publish Garden Story, a hybrid social sim/adventure RPG with farming sim mechanics. 

The game sees you controlling an adorable-looking grape named Concord who’s just been crowned village guardian. Embracing his new title, Concord sets out to restore Grove Island to its former glory by identifying the source behind a mysterious Rot destroying the land. 

With help from his friends and neighbors, Concord will travel to new regions, solve puzzles, and care for the environment. Throughout the story, you will get to know the many creatures that call Grove island home as they complete favors and create memories to fill Concord’s scrapbook with new skills.

Maquette is a clever puzzle game that sees you exploring a world with multiple layers of existence, each with a different scale and magical rules that allow you to manipulate space and time.

It can be a bit tricky to wrap your head around the actual mechanics of the game at first, but we have a feeling it’s much easier to grasp when you’re actually playing. Puzzles are designed around the idea of a recursive world, where actions have different outcomes for each layer.

This is also expressed through the game’s story, which focuses on the memories of two young lovers. While we still haven’t gotten a release date, we’re looking forward to experiencing plenty of “a-ha” moments and stumbling upon mindblowing puzzle solutions.

Fans of the cult frisbee-meets-tennis sports arcade phenomenon Windjammers will get to experience intense 1v1 disc-throwing bouts when Windjammers 2 releases later this year. Replacing the 2D sprites are vibrant, hand-drawn character designs that breathe new life and expand upon the series’ roster of larger-than-life competitors.

The upsides of this new design become clear once you see the game in motion, with characters performing flashy, over-the-top animations that see them launching into the air, charging up for powerful throws, and celebrating between each set. 

Windjammers 2 is being produced by French developer DotEmu, who also worked on the 2017 Windjammers port for modern consoles. 

Ready or Not is an upcoming first-person shooter that emphasizes realism and a tactical approach to gameplay. The game takes place in a politically divided world that grows more unstable with each passing day.

You play as Judge, the commander of an elite SWAT unit responsible for de-escalating intense situations by any means necessary. Scenarios are highly-detailed and require you to carefully examine location layouts, mission briefing details, and coordinate with additional teams and negotiators to determine the best plan of action.

Developer Void Interactive has consulted with police teams across the globe to come up with an accurate set of engagement rules based on the real-world challenges encountered out in the field.

Originally planned to release in 2018 and then later 2019, Atomic Heart has had one of the more refreshing development stories, with rumors suggesting it might not even be the same game anymore.

Categorized as a “first-person shooter with RPG elements,” the game is well into development at studio Mundfish, a Russian-based indie game studio. 

Evoking memories of sci-fi staples like BioShock and Fallout, Atomic Heart takes place in an alternate reality where the Soviet Union’s research has led to a technical revolution. In it, you assume control of a Soviet KGB officer tasked with infiltrating a secret facility that’s gone radio silent.

Empyrean, the studio behind House Flipper, have revealed their next simulation game will focus less on redecorating homes while upping the blood factor.

Body of Evidence sees you becoming a “cleaner” for the mob, a specialist in the field of promptly getting rid of dead bodies using all tools at your disposal. This includes using a lockpick to access locations, hiding corpses in lockers and closets, and cleaning surfaces until all traces of blood have been removed.

With the growing number of weird simulation games out there, it was only a matter of time until we would reach this point. However, if black comedy’s your thing and you have no problem getting some blood on your hands, Body of Evidence might just be your new favorite game.

Mineko’s Night Market is an adorable adventure/simulation game inspired by games like Animal Crossing that features vibrant environments and more cats than you’ve ever dreamed of.

You play as a curious girl still getting accustomed to her new home on a Japanese-inspired island at the base of Mount Fugu.

With an emphasis on story and exploration, the game sees you trying to unravel the island’s many secrets, including the mythological Sun Cat, Abe, who’s rumored to be real. You’re also tasked with managing daily activities such as crafting items, running a shop, and breeding cats.

Genesis Noir is an adventure title being developed by Feral Cat Den and was announced back in early 2018.

The game tells “a unique cosmic story” about a selfish artist named Golden Boy, a seductive jazz singer named Miss Mass, and the player character No Man, a watch salesman attempting to stop the Big Bang from taking place.

Gameplay will be focused on researching different worlds, getting to know each character, and solving puzzles. Most interesting is Genesis Noir’s gray-scale visuals, which evokes memories of old detective movies and fits in nicely with the game’s sci-fi themes.

Coming from indie developer Amplitude Studios, Humankind is a 4X strategy game that sees you rewriting history by establishing unique civilizations based on 60 historical periods starting with the Bronze Age up until modern times.

Players will be able to influence societies by making tough moral decisions, reacting to historical events, and spearheading scientific breakthroughs.

The game shares some obvious similarities with the Civilization series, but we can’t exactly blame it. The Sid Meier games have dominated the 4x turn-based strategy subgenre for almost 30 years, so you could say fans are overdue a worthy alternative.

Described as an “interactive thriller about a man trapped in a time loop,” 12 Minutes sees you taking on the role of a husband whose wife is accused of murder. While trying to prevent her from getting arrested by the police, your character is ultimately killed.

Things take a dramatically strange turn upon death, as your character is immediately brought back to the very beginning of the game. Your task then becomes to replay the events over and over, investigating every possible angle to figure out the truth and break the 12-minute time loop.

This is all done from the confines of your cramped apartment, which goes a long way towards creating a claustrophobic and unsettling atmosphere. It’s an interesting video game concept that’s almost entirely reliant on the quality of its writing, so we’ll be keeping our eyes peeled for a release date.

Silksong was initially planned as DLC for Hollow Knight; however, developer Team Cherry was very ambitious in creating the project and kept expanding upon their initial ideas until the game felt large enough to warrant a sequel.

While the game will keep many of Hollow Knights’s core Metroidvania elements, it will be using them in a slightly different manner. For one, players will be controlling Hornet, a curious bug-like creature who uses a needle to fight.

At the start of the game, Hornet gets captured and taken to an unknown, haunted kingdom. Players will have to escape the kingdom by making their way upwards instead of downwards like the first game, encountering over 150 new creatures along the way.

Upcoming samurai indie game Naraka: Bladepointsees you taking on the role of a deadly warrior who won’t hesitate to slay anyone who dares to cross their path.

Bladepoint presents a robust combat system consisting of numerous parry, blocking, and attack mechanics that will no doubt require hundreds of hours to master.

This is further complemented by free-flowing character movement along with access to a grappling hook that can be attached to just about any surface.

Saturnalia is a survival horror game that sees you controlling a group of characters as they one-by-one explore an isolated village where an ancient ritual is taking place.

Making your way through a sprawling labyrinthine whose paths randomly change between runs, you’ll unlock new locations and gather valuable tools and resources while being constantly stalked by spooky shadow creatures.

While the game can essentially be considered a roguelike, developer Santa Ragione is known for incorporating elements of different genres in games. Most amazing is the game’s art style, which makes characters and environments all look like they were drawn and shaded by pencils.

Solar Ash Kingdom is the next project to come from developer Heart Machine, best known for the 2D action RPG Hyper Light Drifter.

While the game’s color palette and overall tone feel reminiscent of HM’s most recent game, Solar Ash Kingdom takes place in 3D environments with the player character able to glide across surfaces.

Little is known regarding gameplay details, however, you can see the main character in the trailer jumping to attack a towering, one-eyed monster. This leads us to believe the game will focus on combat and exploration, similar to HLD.

The critically-acclaimed space-flight simulator Kerbal Space Program will be receiving a sequel anytime between now and early 2021. This is after having development shifted from studio Star Theory to a new in-house team at Private Division, an indie-publisher under Take-Two Interactive.

KSP2 looks to introduce a wealth of content and requested features, including more spacecraft parts, colony building, graphical improvements, online multiplayer, and upgraded modding tools.

Additionally, the sequel will include comprehensive tutorials and a more streamlined UI. If you’re one of the many players who found the original interesting but was ultimately intimidated by its steep learning curve, perhaps give it another shot.

Sable is an upcoming adventure title currently in production by UK studio Shedworks.

Described as a “coming-of-age tale of discovery,” the game sees you controlling the titular protagonist as they embark on a personal journey across an alien planet learning about its history and place in the world.

The first thing that caught our eye was the fact that you can ride a hoverbike while exploring Sable‘s unique world. It’s not often that we see desert environments depicted as vibrantly and engrossing as Sable’s appears to be, so we’re hoping there are plenty of possibilities to stop and explore its many destinations.

Rawmen looks to answer the question, “What if Splatoon replaced inklings with naked men who love to cook?” The game is still very early in development; however, developer ANIMAL appears to have an interesting concept on their hands.

Matches see you controlling a customizable chef and battling against other players using kitchen equipment such as pots, pans, ladles, etc. You’ll also have control over what dishes your character uses in battle and can even run around slapping enemies with a fish.

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Justin Fernandez
Justin Fernandez

As a fan of both indie and triple-A games, Justin finds joy in discovering and sharing hidden gems with other passionate gamers. In addition to reporting on the latest and greatest titles, he manages GamingScan’s social media channels.

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