Indie games have taken the gaming world by storm, offering unique and captivating experiences that often rival those produced by big-name studios. These games have become a testament to the talent and creativity that exists within the indie game development community.
In this article, we’ll be taking a look at 20 of the best indie PC games that have wowed both critics and players alike.
First up on our list is Hollow Knight, a beautifully crafted 2D action-adventure game that immerses players in a dark and atmospheric world. With its stunning hand-drawn visuals, challenging gameplay, and intricate level design, Hollow Knight has garnered praise for its exploration-based mechanics and deep lore.
Prepare yourself for a challenging adventure that will test your skills and perseverance. Hollow Knight is known for its tough but fair combat, requiring precise timing and strategic thinking. As you face off against a variety of enemies and bosses, you’ll need to master a range of weapons and abilities to survive.
It’s a world waiting to be explored, with hidden secrets and treasures waiting to be discovered. From hidden pathways to secret chambers, there’s always something new to uncover.
One of the standout features of Hollow Knight is its stunning hand-drawn visuals. Every frame of this game is a work of art, with intricate details and atmospheric lighting that bring the world to life.
Accompanying the visuals is a hauntingly beautiful soundtrack that perfectly complements the atmosphere of the game. From melancholic melodies to intense battle themes, the music of Hollow Knight will immerse you in its world and heighten your emotional connection to the characters and story.
So whether you’re drawn to the challenging gameplay, the captivating lore, or the stunning visuals, Hollow Knight offers an unforgettable experience.
- Release Date: February 24, 2017
- Developer: Team Cherry
- Publisher: Team Cherry
- Genre: Action-Adventure, Metroidvania
If you’re looking for a game that combines compelling storytelling with challenging platforming, then Celeste is the perfect choice. This indie gem follows the journey of its protagonist as she navigates treacherous mountains in search of self-discovery.
Madeline is the game’s main character. As you guide her through the perilous mountain peaks, you’ll encounter a variety of obstacles that test your platforming skills. From crumbling platforms to treacherous spikes, each level presents a new challenge that requires precise timing and quick reflexes.
Celeste delves deep into the human psyche, exploring themes of self-doubt, perseverance, and personal growth. As Madeline faces her inner demons and battles with anxiety, players are drawn into an emotional journey that resonates with their own struggles and triumphs.
One of the standout features of Celeste is its stunning pixel art. Every frame is meticulously crafted, bringing the mountainous landscapes to life with vibrant colors and intricate details. From the snow-capped peaks to the lush forests, each environment feels alive and immersive, adding to the overall experience of the game.
As you progress through the game, you’ll also encounter a cast of memorable characters who aid Madeline on her journey.
Celeste has received critical acclaim for its innovative gameplay mechanics and heartfelt storytelling. It has won numerous awards, including Game of the Year, and has been praised for its accessibility options that cater to players of all skill levels.
- Release Date: January 25, 2018
- Developer: Maddy Makes Games
- Publisher: Maddy Makes Games
- Genre: Platformer
Undertale, with its retro-inspired visuals and innovative gameplay mechanics, has become a cult favorite among indie game enthusiasts. This quirky RPG subverts traditional role-playing conventions by allowing players to spare enemies rather than fight them.
The result is a thought-provoking narrative that explores themes of morality and the consequences of our choices. Undertale proves that a game doesn’t need to rely on flashy graphics to leave a lasting impact.
One of the standout features of Undertale is its innovative combat system. Instead of mindlessly attacking enemies, players have the option to choose a peaceful route by sparing them. This choice not only affects the outcome of battles but also shapes the overall narrative.
The game tracks the player’s actions and remembers their decisions, resulting in multiple branching paths and endings. This dynamic storytelling mechanic encourages players to think about the consequences of their actions and consider the moral implications of their choices.
Undertale’s retro-inspired visuals add to its charm and nostalgia. The pixelated graphics pay homage to classic RPGs of the past, evoking a sense of nostalgia for players who grew up playing games on older consoles. The game’s art style, combined with its catchy soundtrack composed by Toby Fox, creates a cohesive and immersive experience that transports players into the underground world.
- Release Date: September 15, 2015
- Developer: Toby Fox
- Publisher: Toby Fox
- Genre: RPG
Escape to the idyllic world of Stardew Valley, a farming simulator that offers a relaxing and immersive experience. In this indie darling, players inherit a run-down farm and must cultivate the land, tend to animals, and form relationships with the charming townsfolk.
As you step into the shoes of a farmer, you’ll find yourself surrounded by a lush and vibrant landscape. The rolling hills, babbling brooks, and towering trees create a picturesque setting that feels like a breath of fresh air. The attention to detail in the retro visuals is astounding, with every pixel contributing to the overall charm and nostalgia of the game.
But Stardew Valley is more than just a pretty face. The gameplay mechanics are engaging and addictive, keeping players hooked for hours on end. From planting and harvesting crops to raising livestock and mining for resources, there is always something to do on your farm.
The game also emphasizes the importance of building relationships with the townsfolk. As you interact with the various characters, you’ll uncover their unique stories and personalities.
From helping them with their own personal quests to participating in community events, you’ll forge meaningful connections that add depth and richness to the game.
Stardew Valley has captured the hearts of players around the world, with its blend of nostalgia, relaxation, and addictive gameplay. Whether you’re a seasoned gamer or new to the world of farming simulators, this indie gem offers an experience that is both accessible and deeply satisfying.
- Release Date: February 26, 2016
- Developer: ConcernedApe
- Publisher: Chucklefish
- Genre: Simulation, Role-Playing
The Witness is a puzzle game that challenges players to explore a mysterious island filled with intricate puzzles and hidden secrets.
With breathtakingly beautiful environments and mind-bending puzzles, this indie title promises hours of captivating gameplay.
As you unravel the island’s enigmatic narrative, you’ll find yourself immersed in a world that constantly surprises and delights.
- Release Date: January 26, 2016
- Developer: Jonathan Blow, Thekla, Inc.
- Publisher: Thekla, Inc.
- Genre: Puzzle, Adventure
Embark on an epic journey through the underworld in Hades, a roguelike dungeon crawler that combines fast-paced action with compelling storytelling.
As you control Zagreus, the prince of the underworld, you’ll battle mythical creatures and encounter gods of Olympus in your quest to escape.
With stylish art style, tight gameplay mechanics, and a dynamic narrative that reacts to your choices, Hades has received critical acclaim for its addictive gameplay loop and captivating characters.
- Release Date: September 17, 2020
- Developer: Supergiant Games
- Publisher: Supergiant Games
- Genre: Roguelike, Action RPG
If you’re a fan of challenging roguelike games with a relentless combat system, Dead Cells is a must-play. This indie gem features fast-paced action, fluid movement, and an ever-changing world that keeps you on your toes.
With beautiful pixel art and a wide variety of weapons and abilities, Dead Cells offers a satisfying and addictive gameplay experience that will keep you coming back for more.
- Release Date: August 7, 2018
- Developer: Motion Twin
- Publisher: Motion Twin
- Genre: Roguelike, Metroidvania
Transport yourself back to the golden age of animation with Cuphead, a challenging run-and-gun game that pays homage to 1930s cartoons.
Featuring hand-drawn visuals and a jazz-inspired soundtrack, this indie title captures the charm and aesthetic of a bygone era.
As Cuphead and his brother Mugman, you’ll face off against a colorful cast of bosses in this visually stunning and unforgiving adventure.
- Release Date: September 29, 2017
- Developer: Studio MDHR
- Publisher: Studio MDHR
- Genre: Run and Gun
FTL: Faster Than Light
FTL: Faster Than Light is a real-time strategy game that puts you in control of a spaceship and its crew as you navigate through space.
With a unique mix of exploration, resource management, and tactical combat, FTL offers a challenging yet rewarding gameplay experience.
he game’s permadeath mechanic adds an additional layer of tension, making each decision crucial as you try to outrun rebels and complete your mission.
- Release Date: September 14, 2012
- Developer: Subset Games
- Publisher: Subset Games
- Genre: Real-time Strategy, Roguelike
Next, we have Disco Elysium, a groundbreaking role-playing game that combines noir storytelling with an open-world setting. Set in the city of Revachol, you play as a troubled detective trying to solve a murder mystery while battling your own inner demons.
With a deep and branching narrative, complex characters, and thought-provoking themes, Disco Elysium has earned critical acclaim for its innovative gameplay mechanics and unique approach to storytelling.
- Release Date: October 15, 2019
- Developer: ZA/UM
- Publisher: ZA/UM
- Genre: RPG
Night in the Woods
Next up on our list is “Night in the Woods.” This delightful adventure game follows the story of Mae, a young cat who returns to her hometown after dropping out of college. As you navigate through the charmingly animated world, you’ll unravel a tale filled with mystery, humor, and relatable characters.
Set in the fictional town of Possum Springs, “Night in the Woods” captures the essence of small-town life with its beautifully detailed environments. From the rustling leaves of the autumnal trees to the flickering streetlights casting long shadows on the pavement, every corner of this world is meticulously crafted to immerse you in its atmosphere.
As you explore the town, you’ll encounter a variety of interesting characters, each with their own unique stories and struggles. From Gregg, the hyperactive fox who works at the local video store, to Bea, the cynical alligator who manages the town’s only hardware store, the residents of Possum Springs will quickly become familiar faces that you’ll grow to care about.
The game delves into deeper themes such as mental health, identity, and the struggles of young adulthood. Mae’s journey of self-discovery and her attempts to reconnect with her friends and family will resonate with players of all ages.
“Night in the Woods” also offers a variety of gameplay mechanics to keep you entertained. From platforming sections where you’ll jump and climb your way through the town, to mini-games and side quests that offer additional insights into the lives of the characters, there’s always something to do in Possum Springs.
Whether you’re a fan of adventure games, coming-of-age stories, or simply appreciate a well-crafted experience, “Night in the Woods” is a game that shouldn’t be missed.
- Release Date: February 21, 2017
- Developer: Infinite Fall
- Publisher: Finji
- Genre: Adventure
Next on our list is “Oxenfree.” This supernatural thriller will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. As Alex, a teenager visiting an abandoned island with her friends, you’ll uncover dark secrets while communicating through a unique radio mechanic. The choices you make will determine the outcome of the story, giving the game a sense of replayability that will keep you hooked.
As you explore the island, you’ll come across remnants of a bygone era. Crumbling structures stand as silent witnesses to the island’s dark history. Each step you take reveals more about the supernatural forces at play, and the radio in your hands becomes a lifeline to the unknown
The relationships between the characters are intricately woven, creating a web of emotions that will tug at your heartstrings. The conversations you have with your friends reveal their fears, hopes, and insecurities, adding depth to their personalities and making you care about their fates.
The choices you make during conversations and interactions with the environment have a direct impact on the narrative. Will you be a peacemaker, trying to keep the group together, or will you stir up conflict and uncover hidden truths?
Replayability is a key feature of “Oxenfree.” With its multiple endings and branching storylines, each playthrough offers a fresh experience. You’ll find yourself compelled to explore different choices, eager to discover new secrets and unlock alternative outcomes.
- Release Date: January 15, 2016
- Developer: Night School Studio
- Publisher: Night School Studio
- Genre: Supernatural Thriller, Adventure
Return of the Obra Dinn
If you’re a fan of mysteries and puzzles, “Return of the Obra Dinn” is the game for you. As an insurance investigator in the early 1800s, you are tasked with uncovering the fate of the crew aboard a ghost ship.
The Obra Dinn, a ghost ship, has mysteriously reappeared after being lost at sea for years. Your mission is to piece together the puzzle of what happened to the crew and passengers on board.
Equipped with a remarkable time-traveling pocket watch, you have the ability to witness the final moments of each person’s life. As you explore the ship, you’ll encounter eerie scenes frozen in time, allowing you to gather clues and make deductions about the events that unfolded.
The art style of “Return of the Obra Dinn” is truly unique. The game is presented in a monochromatic, pixelated aesthetic reminiscent of early computer graphics. This deliberate choice adds to the sense of mystery and intrigue, immersing you in the haunting atmosphere of the ghost ship.
As you delve deeper into the story, you’ll encounter a wide array of characters, each with their own unique background and motivations. From the captain to the lowliest sailor, every individual has a story to tell, and it’s up to you to unravel the truth.
With its immersive storytelling and intricate puzzles, “Return of the Obra Dinn” offers a gaming experience like no other.
- Release Date: October 18, 2018
- Developer: Lucas Pope
- Publisher: 3909 LLC
- Genre: Puzzle, Adventure
Slay the Spire
Calling all card game enthusiasts! “Slay the Spire” is a roguelike deck-building game that will put your strategic thinking to the test. As you ascend the spire, you’ll encounter various enemies and collect powerful cards to add to your deck. With each playthrough, you’ll face new challenges and discover different strategies, making each run feel fresh and exciting.
The first enemy you encounter is a fearsome goblin, armed with a rusty blade and a wicked grin. You quickly assess your options, carefully selecting cards from your deck to play. Will you strike with a powerful attack, defend yourself with a shield, or unleash a devastating spell?
With each floor you ascend, the challenges become more difficult, and the stakes grow higher. You face off against towering bosses, each with their own unique abilities and devastating attacks. Your deck evolves, as you discover new cards and unlock powerful synergies.
As you ascend higher and higher, the spire reveals its secrets. Ancient tomes offer glimpses into forgotten lore, granting you knowledge of powerful spells and ancient rituals. Mysterious merchants appear, offering rare and valuable cards in exchange for your hard-earned gold.
With each playthrough, you become more skilled and knowledgeable, honing your strategy and adapting to the ever-changing challenges of the spire.
- Release Date: January 23, 2019
- Developer: MegaCrit
- Publisher: Humble Bundle
- Genre: Deck-building, Roguelike
Hyper Light Drifter
Prepare to embark on a visually stunning journey in “Hyper Light Drifter.” This action RPG will captivate you with its atmospheric world and intense combat.
As the Drifter, you’ll explore a post-apocalyptic landscape filled with secrets and ancient technology. With its challenging gameplay and breathtaking visuals, this game is a true masterpiece.
- Release Date: March 31, 2016
- Developer: Heart Machine
- Publisher: Heart Machine
- Genre: Action RPG
If you’re a fan of fast-paced, retro-style games, look no further than “Hotline Miami.” Set in 1980s Miami, this top-down shooter will push your reflexes to their limits.
With addictive gameplay and pulsating soundtrack, it’s no wonder this game has become a cult classic among indie game enthusiasts.
- Release Date: October 23, 2012
- Developer: Dennaton Games
- Publisher: Devolver Digital
- Genre: Top-down Shooter
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to work as an immigration officer? “Papers, Please” allows you to step into the shoes of a border control officer in the fictional country of Arstotzka.
As you process documents and make tough decisions, you’ll face the moral dilemmas that come with holding such a position.
With its thought-provoking gameplay and immersive storytelling, this game is a unique experience you won’t want to miss.
- Release Date: August 8, 2013
- Developer: Lucas Pope
- Publisher: 3909 LLC
- Genre: Simulation, Puzzle
“Braid” is a puzzle-platformer that will challenge your perception of time. As Tim, you’ll manipulate the flow of time to solve mind-bending puzzles and rescue a princess.
With beautiful hand-drawn art style and intricate level design, this game is a masterpiece in both gameplay and storytelling.
- Release Date: August 6, 2008
- Developer: Number None, Inc.
- Publisher: Number None, Inc.
- Genre: Puzzle-platformer
Prepare for an awe-inspiring adventure in “Outer Wilds.” In this open-world exploration game, you’ll uncover the secrets of a solar system trapped in a time loop.
As you traverse various planets and unravel the mysteries of the universe, you’ll be treated to a breathtaking soundtrack and a captivating narrative that will keep you hooked until the very end.
- Release Date: May 28, 2019
- Developer: Mobius Digital
- Publisher: Annapurna Interactive
- Genre: Action-Adventure
Last but certainly not least, we have “Darkest Dungeon.” This challenging roguelike game will push your tactical skills to their limits. As you lead a group of flawed heroes through treacherous dungeons, you’ll face psychological stress and gruesome battles. With its dark atmosphere and strategic gameplay, “Darkest Dungeon” is a game that will test your resolve like no other.
- Release Date: January 19, 2016
- Developer: Red Hook Studios
- Publisher: Red Hook Studios
- Genre: Roguelike, Turn-based Strategy
So there you have it, the 20 best indie PC games that are sure to provide you with countless hours of entertainment. Whether you’re in the mood for a heartwarming story or a brain-teasing puzzle, these games have something for everyone. So why not take a break from the mainstream and dive into the world of indie gaming?
If we missed your favorite game, let us know in the comments …