The 100 Best Indie PC Games
The best indie PC games are the ones that are constantly pushing things into new areas. We like AAA gaming here, but there’s no denying that it’s often the best indie games that constantly push things forwards and reinvent gaming as we know it. You could play a new game every day for the rest of your life and never get bored, but that’s a lot to expect of anyone.
So, instead, we’ve made a list of the best indie PC games for you to peruse. It’s a big old list, 100 strong, in fact, so you’ll definitely be able to find something here that’ll capture your imagination and help lead you into a whole new fandom, even if you weren’t actually looking for one.
The best indie pc games
Now, our list of the best indie pc games has an order, sure, but we’re not foolish enough to believe our opinions are the only ones that matter. We’ll do our best to update this when we can too, but no matter what, you’re sure to find something on this list of the best indie pc games that’ll be new to you, and that’s what matters.
Imagine developing a game and throwing in a few jokes for comic relief, but liking these so much that you double down on the wackiness and make it the focus of the entire game. That’s what happened with Jazzpunk, a delightfully weird and hilarious mish-mash of different influences.
You play as a secret agent in the 1950s, carrying out bizarre, covert missions for an organisation. Just to give you a flavour, the first of these involves stealing an artificial kidney from a cowboy in a sushi restaurant. Much of what happens is nonsensical but if you make peace with that fact, it’s a hell of a ride.
The cartoonish characters you’ll meet along the way look reminiscent of the design of Thirty Flights of Loving, but despite also being an experimental game in its own right it’s a much more structured and less abstract experience in comparison. Definitely worth a look if you’re up for a laugh and something a bit unconventional.
99. Devil Daggers
Imagine classic Doom and Quake resuscitated for the modern age and distilled down to their purest essence. Take that essence and make an arcadey survival shooter with it, and you get Devil Daggers. Feeling intimately familiar yet new at the same time, this retro action game will have you retrying over and over to try and last just that little bit longer.
The titular ‘devil daggers’ are your weapon of choice here, eschewing the typical shotguns, rocket launchers and machine guns of the genre. These can be thrown either in a short-range blast or more precisely at long range to slaughter the tentacle beasts, flying skull heads and other creatures that spawn in increasing numbers and strength as time passes. As soon as one touches you, you’re dead, and your survival time is posted on the leaderboard. To last longer you’ll have to improve your hand-eye coordination, learn enemy patterns and collect red crystals to strengthen your character.
Those with fond memories of 90’s shooters will love the visuals here, which are nostalgic in their faithfulness to the era. At its very modest asking price, Devil Daggers is a no-brainer.
The first thing you should know about Warframe is to proceed with caution: it has a reputation amongst its Stockholm syndrome players for being crack in video game form. And with good reason. There’s nothing quite like this enormous free-to-play MMOFPS, and the amount of things it has to do is dizzying.
For starters, it has almost 20 separate planets to visit, each with a generous helping of different areas and missions. There are several open-world and social zones which each have their own sets of missions, vendors and currencies. The game has around 300 different weapons and over 60 ‘frames,’ distinct exosuits with different stats and abilities, all of which can be levelled up, customised and augmented separately. There’s PvP, a story-driven seasonal progression system and a deep clan system that allows large bases to be built from scratch.
If any of the above sounds appealing and you have a lot of time on your hands, you’re in luck – Warframe is free to play. And it’s one of the most generous F2P models out there, genuinely playable for hundreds (or thousands) of hours without needing to spend a penny.
97. Towerfall Ascension
Towerfall Ascension is amongst the greatest four-player local multiplayer games out there. At its core is a simple concept fine-tuned to perfection. Battles take place in 2D arenas between fantasy characters with bows and only a few arrows each. Miss your shots and you can retrieve your arrows – or those of your enemy’s – from the wall. With shots being one-hit-kill in most circumstances, it’s high stakes.
That’s mostly all there is to it, but a few crucial mechanics dramatically increase the skill ceiling and fun factor. Dash at just the right time and you’ll not get hurt by an arrow, but instead pocket it. Levels are full of items, traps and will fill with lava if you take too long. And there is a range of special arrows, from ones that bounce off walls to ones which grow a deadly thicket of brambles on the wall. It should also be mentioned that you can just as easily kill yourself with your arsenal as you can your enemy.
96. Nidhogg 2
Never has there been an indie graphic overhaul quite so substantial than that of Nidhogg. The original delighted fans through its simple stick figures enacting simple moves to reach a simple goal; use your sword to fend off the other player as you attempt to reach their end of the side scrolling game world. Nidhogg 2 takes the sublimely straightforward gameplay of its predecessor and glitters it up a bit with 3D sprites and actually comprehensible background art.
Nidhogg 2 retains the core goals and mechanics of the standout original, but adds new character customisation and combat options. Your now fully formed protagonists can hurl daggers at one another or go for a longer range with a bow and arrow. The classic rapier is back, but so is its more unforgiving brother, the broadsword. Each weapon is designed for different combat styles, so mastering the idiosyncrasies of each will serve you well for battle. The whole experience is intensely competitive, with high tension action constantly in motion throughout each level and the gloriously gory art providing your spectators with plenty of eye candy, Nidhogg 2 is perfect for any game night.
95. Overcooked 2
Overcooked was a revelation in local co-op play. This fiendishly tricky and addictive cook ’em up sees you banding together with mates in somewhat unorthodox kitchens to prepare, cook and serve a variety of different meals. Just be prepared for those friendships and relationships to be tested to the limit, as if one of you screws up, it screws it up for everyone. Aprons on!
Some of the levels in Overcooked 2 would make one of Gordon Ramsay’s kitchens look peaceful. They shift and slide and take place on moving vehicles, even transform into something new entirely. One minute you’ll be happily chopping tomatoes for a burger and then realise you’re trapped in and can’t get to the meat to make the patties. Or you fall down a hole just as you’re about to serve up a finished meal – the ultimate heartbreak.
Whereas both Overcooked games are fantastic, the sequel benefits from a little more polish and less frustrating progression through the campaign.
Observer (technically >observer_ but we’re not going to write it like that) is an atmospheric and engrossing psychological horror, taking a Blade Runner-style setting and amping up the terror factor. It’s the 2080s, many of the world’s population is augmented and the nanophage – a sort of technological plague – has wiped out thousands and had multiple knock-on effects on society. One of these is the deployment of Observers, a special police force with the legal ability to hack people’s minds. You play as one such Observer, Daniel Lazarski.
You can use your powers of mind-hacking to interrogate suspects, as well as having the ability to scan your environment for electronic and biological sources, helping you to carry out investigations. While Observer is lighter on the action side of things, exploring its cyberpunk world and hacking citizens are fascinating. This is helped, too, by a great presentation and mood-setting soundtrack.
You can read our interview with devs Bloober Team here to find out more about Observer.
93. VA-11 Hall-A
A good bartender should be able to create the perfect drink for any occasion, well that’s the premise of Sukeban Games’ VA-11 HALL-A at least. In reality, if you went to your local and ordered a pint you’d be pretty annoyed when the bar staff presented you with a ‘Blue Fairy’ cocktail instead. Mixing drinks at the dark, dystopian ‘VA-11 HALL-A’ bar will require you to listen to the stories of the patrons sitting before you in order to infer the perfect beverage for their situation. The quality and relevance of the drink you mix will decide how much you make in tips and further the story in unique ways. This is a branching narrative situation, but not as you’ve seen it before. With no dialogue decisions your only form of navigation is the mixing tray in front of you. The story progresses depending on what you decide to serve to your customers and how it affects them.
While the central gameplay mechanic is certainly an original and highly effective way of enhancing a subtle story, it’s the cast of characters who talk through the doors of your bar that make VA-11 HALL-A so extraordinary. These characters come from all walks of Glitch City, and each unusual persona holds up a unique mirror to a number of aspects of our own society. It’s your job to learn everything you can about these characters through their stories in order to mix their perfect drink and further the story however you like. VA-11 HALL-A is a feat of character depth and original gameplay.
92. Yuppie Psycho
Inspired by the corporate dystopian films of the ’90s, Yuppie Psycho follows Brian Pasternack on his first day of work for SintraCorp. After his arrival, he soon finds out this isn’t exactly the desk job he anticipated and things only get weirder from there.
Tasked with killing a witch that helped the corporation gain an occult edge over their rivals, Brain will have to dive headfirst into SintraCorps shady past. The game presents a wide variety of puzzles, boss fights and exploration as you scour SintraCorp tower in the hopes of finding the truth and putting an end to the evil witch that torments the building and its employees.
It’s an exciting and challenging adventure wrapped up in a satirical look at a dystopian future in which corporations control the world. It touches on such subjects as social standing, inequality and friendship, all in a bizarro story culminating with multiple endings deciding on how you choose to play. It’s really a statement on the dangers of capitalism and going too far in the pursuit of profit.
91. FAR: Lone Sails
Saving the world is cool and all, but some of the best video games deal with what happens after a civilisation has collapsed. That’s the scenario FAR: Lone Sails drops you into at the start of your post-apocalyptic pilgrimage. As you journey across a parched ocean, you’ll need to maintain and upgrade your steam punk vehicle if you’re going to survive the harsh weather conditions up ahead.
FAR is a sidescroller, but there’s so much more going on than the background simply passing you by. The entire cross section of your vehicle is always visible, and your job is to jump from room to room manning each control station and keeping your journey going. While there’s no specific story to speak of, keeping your eyes open to your surroundings will colour a world full of imagination. The meaning behind FAR: Lone Sails is really what you make of it, with clues of highly advanced civilisations reduced to rubble at every turn, developers have mastered the art of encouraging a player’s personal narrative through an experience.