Wcctech’s Best Indie Games of 2021 – A Bit of Everything All of the Time
Indie games come in all shapes, sizes, colours, and formats. They can be anything from an introspective adventure across a desert to a sinister game of cards with a stranger. You might battle for Aseir or for Death himself, or you might just meet someone new. Or move.
This year has seen the release of some of the most varied indie games ever, where experimental ambitions have been met with surprisingly enjoyable, successful games. We list but a handful of the best indie games that came out this year so that you might find something you haven't. Of course, you're more than welcome to argue for missing titles in the comments. Also, vote in the community poll below to let us know your favorite among this best indie games of 2021 list.
Although the drums of the Valheim aren't nearly as loud as they were at the beginning of the year, this Viking base building survival game is still well worth its acclaim. Valheim has a distinct style that makes for beautiful vistas and so many details to uncover. There was something for everyone with plenty of biomes to explore, beasts to slay, and constructions to construct. And even with its expansive multiplayer and massive worlds, there was still too much to do.
The boss battles alone were a highlight, with giant monsters that proved a genuine challenge and lots of preparation to overcome. It might not necessarily stand out against the titans of the genre, but something about Valheim made it incredibly popular and hard to put down.
Many indie games attempt to have this melancholy feeling when you play them: bleak, isolating worlds, and quiet abandoned places to wander through. Most can't maintain this feeling, with enemies, plotlines, or excitement getting in the way. Death's Door manages to effortlessly blend this sense of loneliness with an amazingly deep combat system.
The almost black and white art style makes everything in the game feel more cinematic, as you play as a reaper coming for souls that refuse to pass on, but it is the nail biting, super fast combat that manages to keep you hooked on Death's Door undeniably strong aesthetic.
Sable has been on the way for years. Check back at our most anticipated indie game for literally years and you'll see it there, mockingly out of reach. But it's out now, and it was well worth the wait. Before anything about the game, it is worth noting how undeniably beautiful Sable is. Handdrawn graphics inspired by sci-fi landscapes from texts like Dune and Star Wars, with evolving colours over day and night, mean you could stand perfectly still in Sable and have a beautiful experience. In Sable, you aren't saving the world; you're exploring it. Your goal isn't to overcome adversity, it's to discover yourself.
You play as a child on a Coming-Of-Age ritual where you must set out and find a mask to represent you. The world and cultures you encounter are all alien and so enticing. Like Breath of the Wild, this is a game that invites you in with its horizon. Every landmark is explorable, and everything can be tackled in any order.
Sometimes you just want to meet someone. And sometimes, you just want a cool weapon. In Boyfriend Dungeon, you can do both simultaneously. Boyfriend Dungeon is a surprisingly moving dating sim where the potential suitors are also weapons used to explore deadly dungeons. If that isn't enough, you should maybe reevaluate your interests.
Like every game on this list, it looks fantastic, with great art and use of colour. The story is interesting, sometimes controversial, but always interesting. And the combat is actually really fun.
The Forgotten City (8.5)
The Forgotten City is one of the year's best games, regardless of genre. What started as an extensive, expansive Skyrim mod became its own game, with an even more layered history in the game. The Forgotten City is dozens of stories, civilisations, and ideals built on top of each other. Each half ruined, half mysterious.
As the newest citizen of the Forgotten City, your goal is to understand and enshrine the Golden Rule that governs the lives of the city's people.
Chicory is a kids' game. It's inspired by colouring books and has this cutesy vibe that continues to warm your heart long after you've finished it. And that makes it extraordinary. No matter what kind of year you had, you probably haven't completed nearly enough colouring books or had nearly enough adventures with talking dogs with magic paintbrushes. Chicory is the best way to achieve your recommended dose of adorable.
You play as a dog with a paintbrush and a quest to colour in the world. Puzzles are solved by painting the right colours. Chicory is simple and lovely all the way through. It's one of those indie games that doesn't get tired of being warm and fuzzy, like Wandersong.
Moving house can be one of the most stressful things a person can do in western society. From the initial purge of unwanted belongings to carefully packing everything you need and silently praying that it all survives the journey and can be found on the other side. Then you have to unpack, take everything you own, and try and find a home for it all in a different space. It is mentally and physically exhausting.
On the other hand, Unpacking, a game where you lovingly choose a home for each object your fictional self owns, is one of the nicest indie games that came out this year. There is a story told through the places you move and the things you take between them, starting with your childhood room. But there is something nice about taking away the pressure of the move and letting you patiently pick a place for each object, all with chilled out lo-fi hip hop in the background and beautiful colourful pixel art.
There is something unnerving about Inscryption. There's actually lots that makes you nervous in the game, but there's something else, something not immediately obvious, that makes it so goose-bump invoking. Don't ask me what it is, though. It's different for everyone.
Inscryption is a deckbuilding game where you play against a stranger who you can barely see. The cards feel alive, and the room is filled with worryingly animated occult artifacts. The graphics feel almost jittery, like the core game is broken or glitched, making it all the weirder.
On the surface, it feels a bit like several other spooky occult games, such as Cultist Simulator (without the baggage), but there's so much more to Inscryption, and even the game itself has a lot of nuance, weirdness, and surprises to overcome.