From death-dealing crows to rockstars in space, there was an astounding array of independent titles to enjoy this year. Some tackled hard topics like mental health. Some let us escape into a carefree world. They released on every platform, starred in gaming presentations big and small, and even let us go hands-on before launch.

But it’s not just the amazing variety that makes these titles interesting. It seems like this year, more indies than ever walked away with top marks in Game Informer‘s reviews. Did your favorites get the top scores? Are there any amazing experiences you missed out on? Check out our list of 2021’s highest-scored indies below to find out.

8.5


Before Your Eyes



Platform:

PC, Mac

Release Date:

April 8, 2021 (PC), September 28, 2021 (Mac)

Purchase

A touching narrative adventure about life and, more centrally, death that the player can control with the blink of an eye and a webcam. | Our Review


Dreamscaper



Platform:

Switch, PC

Release Date:

August 5, 2021

Purchase

This game takes the phrase ‘sleep on it’ deadly seriously as you battle your nightmares to improve your waking life. | Our Review


Eastward



Platform:

Switch, PC

Release Date:

September 16, 2021

Purchase

Recalling classic RPGs like Homebound, Eastward follow two characters, John and Sam, on a journey to escape a stifling life underground. | Our Review


Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights



Platform:

PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

Release Date:

June 22, 2021 (Switch, PC), June 28, 2021 (Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One), July 20, 2021 (PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4)

Purchase

The world is falling to a terrible blight, and a young priestess and her loyal knight are the only ones who can stop it in this Metroidvania-style title. | Our Review


F.I.S.T.: Forged In Shadow Torch



Platform:

PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, PC

Release Date:

September 7, 2021 (PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4), TBA (PC)

Purchase

In F.I.S.T., you explore and fight through a detailed, sidescrolling world as a rabbit with a heroic past and one big mechanical arm. | Our Review


Hades



Platform:

PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

Release Date:

September 17, 2020 (Switch, PC), August 13, 2021 (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One)

Purchase

Escape from the depths of hell, and your father who runs it, in this roguelike title from the makers behind Pyre, Transistor, and Bastion. | Our Review


Knockout City



Platform:

PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

Release Date:

May 21, 2021

Purchase

With few of 2021’s triple-A sports games hitting the mark, this fast-paced dodgeball title may well be one of the genre’s best titles this year. | Our Review


Loop Hero



Platform:

Switch, PC

Release Date:

March 4, 2021 (PC), December 9, 2021 (Switch)

Purchase

Even though you don’t control the character, there’s a lot to do and explore that will make you want to go for one more loop. | Our Review


Olija



Platform:

PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

Release Date:

January 28, 2021

Purchase

Don’t let the pixelated art style lull you into a false sense of security; this story of a warrior in a strange land has some wicked combat. | Our Review


Ratropolis



Platform:

PC

Release Date:

December 22, 2020

Purchase

The card-building meets city-building mechanics in Ratropolis are only topped by the adorable design of the game’s rodent denizens. | Our Review


The Artful Escape



Platform:

Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC

Release Date:

September 9, 2021

Purchase

Race across the galaxy defining your identity and wailing on your guitar in a space adventure colored by stunning visuals and rocking sound. | Our Review


Young Souls



Platform:

PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, Stadia, PC

Release Date:

August 17, 2021 (Stadia), 2022 (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC)

Purchase

Twin orphans Jenn and Tristan discover their adoptive father has been kidnapped and set off to save him, taking down anyone in their path. | Our Review

 

8.75


Chicory: A Colorful Tale



Platform:

PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Switch, PC, Mac

Release Date:

June 10, 2021 (PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, PC, Mac), December 15, 2021 (Switch)

Purchase

Though its coloring book aesthetic and painterly objectives may seem simplistic at first, Chicory actually takes a deep look at mental health. | Our Review


Griftlands



Platform:

PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

Release Date:

June 4, 2020

Purchase

Whether in conflicts of weapons or words, you’ll want to play your cards right in the deck-building Griftlands. | Our Review


Sable



Platform:

Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC

Release Date:

September 23, 2021

Purchase

Take in the beauty of the desert as you roam the sands looking to discover your own identity and help those around you. | Our Review


Solar Ash



Platform:

PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, PC

Release Date:

December 2, 2021

Purchase

Skate through the galaxy destroying enemies and searching for a way to keep your home from being swallowed by the Ultravoid. | Our Review


Wildermyth



Platform:

PC

Purchase

No two stories are ever the same in Wildermyth, so feel free to roll up multiple characters and get going on your adventure. | Our Review

 

9


Death’s Door



Platform:

PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

Release Date:

July 20, 2021 (Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC), November 23, 2021 (PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Switch)

Purchase

It’s your job as a crow to reap souls, but your latest acquisition has been snatched, and you must retrieve it to restore order to the world. | Our Review


Disco Elysium: The Final Cut



Platform:

PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, Stadia, PC

Release Date:

March 30, 2021 (PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Stadia, PC), October 12, 2021 (Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Switch)

Purchase

This ultimate edition of developer ZA/UM’s award-winning RPG includes full voice acting and more story content. | Our Review


Dodgeball Academia



Platform:

PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

Release Date:

August 5, 2021

Purchase

Another of the indie sports titles that are up there with the best of them this year, Dodgeball Academia is filled with personality. | Our Review


Inscryption



Platform:

PC

Release Date:

October 19, 2021

Purchase

If you’re looking to play something that goes to unexpected places, this enigmatic card game should shoot straight to the top of your must-play list. | Our Review


Kena: Bridge of Spirits



Platform:

PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, PC

Release Date:

September 21, 2021

Purchase

Winner of The Game Award’s best indie prize, Kena puts you in the role of a spirit guide helping souls transition to the afterlife. | Our Review


Subnautica: Below Zero



Platform:

PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

Release Date:

May 14, 2021

Purchase

Diving into this chilly sequel title feels just as good as the first, as it builds nicely on the original game’s formula. | Our Review


The Forgotten City



Platform:

PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

Release Date:

July 28, 2021 (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC), September 23, 2021 (Switch)

Purchase

What would you do if you found yourself in an ancient civilization where one wrong move means certain death for everyone around you? | Our Review


Unsighted



Platform:

PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

Release Date:

September 30, 2021

Purchase

The clock is ticking, and time is running out as you try to save everyone from turning into mindless killing machines. | Our Review

 

9.25

It Takes Two

It Takes Two took home this year’s Game of the Year award at TGAs, and it also got our best indie review score of 2021. | Our Review

To check out Game Informer’s top 10 games of the year, head here. Or if you just can’t get enough of lists, click on the goose below.

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