Acquiring games has always been the delicate balance of adding and removing from your library. The good news with this list is that the indies featured are on the short side of things with only one of them going over 25 hours, so you can quickly get in and out of a great experience leaving you satisfied with time to spare.
We’ve experienced a lot of indies in 2021, and while we’ve reviewed a fraction of them, a whole group of indies went under our radar because there are only a few of us and dozens of indies coming out before we realize it. Thankfully, there are some demo showcases to check out if you don’t have the time for the full game.
Here are some indies that we think would go well into your library for this year if you’re looking for some quality content that can be completed over a weekend.
5 Indies We Recommend
One of the last games to be released in 2021, The Gunk is an indie adventure experience that’s half walking simulator with some action elements sprinkled in, all while you test your platforming skills and rid the unknown planet you’re in of its sentient pollutant, the aptly named “Gunk”.
While reviews on this game are mixed, having completed it recently, I can honestly say that it is an adventure worth trying out if you’re a fan of exploration and character relationships. It’s a short adventure that would take you around 6-8 hours to complete, with a way to backtrack to previously explored areas if you want to collect everything.
Available on Xbox and on Game Pass.
Chicory: A Colorful Tale
One of the more original indie RPG experiences this year, Chicory tells a quirky tale of a world that suddenly lost its color when its color master suddenly vanished and left their assistant with the magical paintbrush to find out what’s behind this phenomenon.
With any unique experience, it also comes with a little bit of a learning curve as its interface is quite new. However, after completing a few chapters, the game comes to life as it allows you to freely color the world on how you want it to be. It’s like an interactive coloring book where you also engage in fetch quests and other RPG activities and you can bring a friend for a fun co-op experience.
Doki Doki Literature Club Plus!
Dating sims haven’t really evolved for the longest time, with their elements being implemented in popular RPGs such as Mass Effect and Persona as “romance options”. Enter Doki Doki Literature Club Plus, where it takes the dating sim paradigm and flips it on its head by introducing some questionable elements and ingenious storytelling mechanics rarely seen in this genre. We recommend steeling yourself for some disturbing elements that may not be for everyone.
The Artful Escape
The Artful Escape is by far my favorite indie experience from 2021 that I didn’t review. In this sensory spectacle of sound, color, and light, it takes the walking simulator experience and pushes it to an eleven. You may know this game as a title that’s been nominated multiple awards in several categories in The Game Awards and the Golden Joystick Awards, and rightfully so.
In this six-hour coming-of-age experience, trek through spacetime in Francis’ tour of the universe experiencing alien cultures and unlocking the secrets of life. It’s quite a treat.
Available on Xbox.
Hollow Knight: Voidheart Edition
Okay, hear me out. This game has been out since 2017 and most of its fans are clamoring for its eventual sequel Silksong to be announced in every Nintendo Indie World showcase. For those who haven’t played it, don’t let its Soulslike Metroidvania in a cutesy exterior get in the way of experiencing what a gem this game is like I did.
The game is challenging, don’t get me wrong, but it’s only challenging if you try to traverse it without the right preparation. Its main questline is quite manageable even for someone with a delayed reaction time like myself, but Hollow Knight excels by providing enough motivation through its rich lore and addicting interface for you to take on its many challenges and opening up areas of the map to explore and then returning to it when you’re ready.
Hollow Knight is definitely something to try out to find out just why there are legions of fans angrily waiting for its eventual sequel. But hey, if you want another platformer with the same aesthetic, there’s always Greak: Memories of Azur.
Any of these titles catch your eye? Any recommendations that we missed? Let us know in the comments below!