The Best Indie Games of 2021, From Splitgate to Garden Story

The Best Indie Games of 2021, From Splitgate to Garden Story
Image: Rose City Games, 1047 Games, Ember Lab

This year turned out to be a very good one for games, be it for the Xbox Game Pass, for PlayStation games or for indie games. In particular, we saw a heap of creative indie games come out in 2021, from tight shooters like Splitgate to creative, wholesome experiences like Garden Story.

We’ve listed all the best indie games of 2021.

The best indie games of 2021

Here are the best indie games that have been holding our attention in 2021. Note that while this list is dominated by indie games released in 2021, we’ve also decided to include games released outside of this year. There are plenty of great older games well worth your attention!

Inscryption

Release date: October 19, 2021

Actual Game of the Year front runner. A brilliant melding of horror and card game mechanics. The less you know about it going in, the better. – David Smith, Kotaku Australia

Inscryption is available on Linux, Mac and Windows computers.

Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout

Release date: August 4, 2020

Fall Guys has remained one of my favourite games over the last year and a half. You’d think there are only so many times you can fall, but Mediatonic has kept the game fresh with new seasons, challenges and costume collabs, so I’m still not bored with it! – Lauren Rouse, LifeHacker Australia

Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows computers, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S.

Splitgate

Release date: August 25, 2021

Splitgate was one of my favourite multiplayer games of 2021 and absolutely my favourite indie game of the year. A low-stakes mix between Halo and Portal, free to play with an easy to learn but harder to master competitive philosophy, Splitgate involves multiplayer FPS matches between two teams, with objectives like deathmatch, capture the flag and free for all. It’s Halo with the movement turned up to 10. – Zachariah Kelly, Gizmodo Australia

Splitgate is available on Linux, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows computers, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S.

Deltarune Chapter 2

Release date: September 17, 2021

Deltarune Chapter 2 is yet another stellar addition to the Undertale storyline. It’s definitely got me excited for each chapter to come out. Not only does it add more to the story to keep you engaged in the lore of these characters, but it introduces new characters that are immediately incredible. Spamton and Queen are probably two of my favourite video game characters to exist. – Ruby Innes, Kotaku Australia

Deltarune Chapter 2 is available on Nintendo Switch, Mac, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows computers, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S.

Kena: Bridge of Spirits

Release date: September 21, 2021

Kena: Bridge of Spirits absolutely rules. With its beautiful Pixar-like art style and easy-to-pick-up gameplay, Kena: Bridge of Spirits puts you in the shoes of Kena, a magical spirit guide, as she journeys through a beautiful land, helping spirits enter the next life. Its gameplay harks back to the days of the PS2 platformer, like Jak or Ratchet and Clank. A simple treat that’s a total joy. – Zachariah Kelly, Gizmodo Australia

Kena: Bridge of Spirits is available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 and Windows computers

The Forgotten City

Release date: July 28, 2021

A time loop game set in Ancient Rome, in a city where the breaking of any law, no matter how minor, triggers its destruction. If you fail, the city is destroyed and you start your journey again. You learn more about the city and its inhabitants on each run, allowing you to gently nudge events in ways that help you. An Aussie game, made here in Melbourne at Modern Storyteller. Based on a mod for Skyrim of all things, now built into its own full game. – David Smith, Kotaku Australia

The Forgotten City is available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows computers, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S.

Boomerang Fu

Release date: August 13, 2020

Boomerang Fu is a delightful little couch coop game from Australian studio Cranky Watermelon. Released in 2020, it’s some of the most fun I’ve ever had on a Nintendo Switch and the perfect game to play at a party you just so happen to bring your Switch to. The game is played between two and six players who fight across a range of colourful maps, playing as bite-sized foods with deadly boomerangs. It’s a tonne of fun. – Zachariah Kelly, Gizmodo Australia

Boomerang Fu is available on Nintendo Switch, Windows computers, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S.

Garden Story

Release date: August 11, 2021

Garden Story was an absolute treat of an indie release this year. A game where you play as a little grape tasked with the big job of being the guardian of the four seasonally themed villages in your realm. The gameplay is smooth, the writing is very funny, and everything you collect and achieve seems to feed back into your gameplay so you’re constantly being rewarded. Plus, you get to collect hats for the little grape to wear! – Ruby Innes, Kotaku Australia

Garden Story is available on Nintendo Switch, Mac and Windows computers.

Unpacking

Release date: November 1, 2021

A delightful little game from Australian studio Witch Beam, Unpacking is a simple game about… unpacking! Moving through a few stages of life, this puzzle game is a story about growing up. You may be brought to tears, but overall it’s a very wholesome experience. – Zachariah Kelly, Gizmodo Australia

Unpacking is available on Nintendo Switch, Windows computers, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S.

Townscaper

Release date: August 27, 2021

A lovely, cozy indie game under the Raw Fury label about building a nice little town. Great family game and it just went up on Game Pass. – David Smith, Kotaku Australia

Townscaper is available on Android, iOS, Nintendo Switch, Mac and Windows computers.

Other indie games worth a mention

Though these are the indie games that held our attention in 2021, there are plenty of other games worth checking out! Sable, Death’s Door, Eastward, The Ascent, Little Nightmares II and Valheim are all worth a look if you’re searching for your perfect game.

If your favourite didn’t make the list, let us know in the comments.