Best Games from Indie Developers

I find myself playing more indie games as I get older. They appeal more to me than AAA games or games from larger publishers like EA, Capcom, Sony, or Microsoft. Indie developers tend to be making the games that I enjoy playing.

Many of them use graphics and gameplay that I find more enjoyable. It is also refreshing to play games that give me some nostalgia for the retro games that I like.

It feels like the larger studios turn out the same games with a new coat of paint every month. Almost every company releases the same open-world action RPG with 100+ hours of content. I would rather relax with something that doesn’t feel like work to play through.

Bottom Line up Front: Here is a List of My Favorite Indie Games.

Selection criteria

Let’s talk about what qualifies for this list. I’m not just going to be putting any random game on this list. Here are the criteria I used to compile this list:

  • Games from smaller studios
  • Games that I own
  • Games that I felt are the most enjoyable

Stardew Valley

Developer: Concerned Ape

Genre: Farming Simulation

Review Score: 10/10 Steam

The first version of Stardew Valley I played was on the Nintendo Switch. It was one of the first games I had for the system, and it was something that I didn’t know that I wanted. It was like playing a lost SNES or Sega Genesis game.

Stardew Valley is a farming simulation and an adventure game. You play as a farmer who is escaping from a dead-end job and takes up residence on his family farm. This story hits much harder now than in 2017 when I started playing this game. Over the course of the game, you build relationships with the townsfolk, you can get married, and you complete quests. All of this is optional, but it makes the game more fun when you do it, in my opinion.

Stardew Valley was like a breath of fresh air. It reminded me of the first time I played Harvest Moon, but it was more fun and had more going on. If you like Harvest Moon, Animal Crossing, or Rune Factory, then this is a great game to play.

7 Days to Die

Developer: The Fun Pimps

Genre: Sandbox Survival Horror

Review Score: 9/10 Steam

I’ve been playing this game on and off over the years since it showed up on Steam. I like it more now than I did back in 2015. The developers have made it something I enjoy playing, and the updates have added a lot to the game.

I used to call this game a scary version of Minecraft. The graphics are more realistic, the Zombies and mutants look great, and the crafting system has greatly improved over the years.

I’m not a big fan of online multiplayer, but it was a lot of fun when I played this with a few friends. As long as no one took it too seriously. 7 Days to Die is still being updated, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the future updates are going to be.

Monster Sanctuary

Developer: Moi Rai Games

Genre: RPG

Review Score: 9/10 Steam

This was the best game I played in 2022. It is an amazing game that made me want to go back and play other games similar to Pokemon. Monster Sanctuary is a turn-based RPG where you form a team of monsters.

The game plays out like a Metroidvania. As you play through the game and collect more monsters, more of the map is revealed to you. You also hear more about the story.

I liked everything about this game. Monster Sanctuary has great gameplay, beautiful graphics, and a fun story. It has everything that I was looking for from a video game.   


Developer: Toby Fox

Genre: RPG

Review Score: 10/10 Steam

Undertale has one of the best stories I have experienced in a video game. The characters are wonderful, and the combat system is great! The game rewards you for being nice. It can make the game harder, but it gives you a better ending where everyone is happy.

This game goes against what you’ve learned from other RPGs. Instead of grinding for experience and gaining levels, you’re encouraged to stay at level 1 and find ways to end battles peacefully. Characters will also treat you differently depending on how you act in the game. The game also changes based on how you’ve treated the characters. It can get easier or harder, depending on what you do.

When I started writing character and puzzle guides for another website, Undertale was the first game that I got into. Playing it was wonderful, as was learning more about each of the game’s characters. This is a game I would recommend to any fan of RPGs.

Mount & Blade: Warband

Developer: TaleWorlds Entertainment

Genre: Sandbox Action RPG

Review Score: 10/10 Steam

This is my favorite game of the Mount & Blade series. Like the first game, this is a sandbox action RPG. It gives you a brief tutorial in the beginning to give you the basics, but you’re on your own after that. The player creates a story, and you can decide how you want to play.

There are six kingdoms in the game. Each has its unique culture, military units, and look. The game is reasonably balanced, but if you pick Swadia and build an army of knights. Then you’re almost unstoppable outside of a siege.

You can choose to align with one of the factions, become a mercenary or a bandit, or you can create your own kingdom. I like creating my own country. This is one of the games that I’ve had with a game like this in a long time.


Developer: Night School Studio

Genre: Point-and-Click Adventure

Review Score: 9/10 Steam

This is a simple point-and-click adventure game similar to the Lucas Arts adventure games. You move your character around and interact with other characters and the environment. The game tells you a story, and it is an entertaining story that can be different each time you play.

Oxenfree has a handful of characters; you choose how you want to talk to them. The dialogue tree is great; you can change how the main character is perceived throughout the game.

The game’s plot involves five friends heading to an island where they can interact with ghosts using a small radio. The ghosts end up entering our world, and they torment our heroes. They also torment a girl named Clarissa, but she sucks, and I wasn’t too worried about her being abducted.

Oxenfree is a fun game. It isn’t a long game but a fun four to five-hour game. It was funnier than I expected, and it got a little spooky as the game when on.

Citizen Sleeper

Developer: Jump Over the Age

Genre: Adventure RPG

Review Score: 9/10 Steam

This is a terrific science fiction adventure game. Citizen Sleeper’s story could exist in the Battle Angel Alita manga. It is a fantastic setting and has a great story.

You play as a Sleeper, which is an android that has been loaded with a human’s consciousness. Before the start of the game, your character sold their body to a corporation and worked as slave labor. It was a way to see the universe, but it turned out to be terrible. We don’t know much about the Sleeper’s life before this.

After an escape attempt, you find yourself on a space station called The Eye, and the corporation is hunting you for stealing their technology. On top of that, your body is also breaking down because it needs medicine from the corporation to keep functioning. This new life presents a host of new problems for your character.

The idea of a dark future is extremely interesting. It is a beautiful setting for a game like this, and the more you learn about this place, the more interesting it becomes. The only thing I have against this game is how simple the gameplay is. Citizen Sleeper is more about the story than anything else.

The Guild II: Renaissance

Developer: Runeforge

Genre: Real-Time Strategy

Review Score: 9/10 Steam

In this game, you create a guild and try to eliminate rival guilds. You start with one family member and have to marry and have kids to keep the game going. It allows you to play at your own pace and decide how you want to win.

In some ways, you’re creating an organized crime family, as killing off the members of other families is the best way to win the game. Be careful, however! The legal system in this game is rather active, and the other guilds will charge you for the crimes you commit.

In The Guild II, you create a business and work your family into the city’s political system. These businesses can be legitimate or criminal. You can be a baker, innkeeper, farmer, or a rogue. There is a lot to do in this game, and it is a great game to get lost in!   


Developer: Subset Games

Genre: Roguelike

Review Score: 84/100 Metacritic

This is a rogue-like space game. It is a challenging game to walk away from as you want to do better than the last game you played. There are multiple ships you can use, different crew members to get, and a good number of weapons to collect.

The gameplay in FTL is simple to pick up, and each game is different. You can take multiple paths through the game, and by customizing your weapons, you can change how challenging or easy the game is.

The game puts you on a clock. Your ship is trying to outrun an enemy fleet, and while you might want to explore each map, you also need to avoid the incoming enemy wave. However, if you rush through the map, you miss out on the resources you might need to improve your ship.

FTL is a fun game. It is easy to learn but a challenging game to master. It feels like an arcade-style rogue-like game.

World of Horror

Developer: Paweł Koźmiński

Genre: RPG

Review Score: 9/10 Steam

Have you ever been reading a horror manga like Hellstar Remina and wondered if it would make a good video game? World of Horror answers those questions, and it is a resounding yes. This is a beautiful game that I enjoyed a lot!

The game draws on Japanese horror stories and uses manga-style artwork to create a great game. It looks like a point-and-click adventure similar to Uninvited but has more RPG elements.

World of Horror feels like a descent into madness. You have a series of cases to play through, each revealing another piece of the story. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started playing, but the more I got into it, the more I enjoyed it.


Developer: Black Salt Games

Genre: Horror Adventure RPG

Review Score: 10/10 Steam

Have you ever wanted to play a Lovecraft-inspired fishing game? Did you think this would ever be something that would exist? I didn’t think it would until I heard about Dredge. Now, I’m so happy that it exists!

In Dredge, your character gets shipwrecked on an island and becomes a fisherman. Along the way, you learn more about the character’s past and the people who call this island chain home. You also catch the different fish native to the waters here and find some mutated fish. It is a very effective version of the “town with a secret” horror trope.

This will probably be my game of the year for 2023 unless something else comes up. It is going to be on my best games of the year list! It was a combination of things I didn’t think would work, but it came together so well that I got sucked into the game.

Disco Elysium

Developer: ZA/UM

Genre: Adventure RPG

Review Score: 9/10 Steam

This is another point-and-click RPG; at least, that is how I think of the game. It reminds me of the King’s Quest games but with a more serious tone. The world that the developers created here is the real draw for me. I wanted to learn more about it!

You play as an alcoholic detective who has temporarily lost his memory, badge, and gun while investigating a murder. Memory loss helps this game out a lot as the player learns about this world through their character. It is a corrupt place where people are trying their best to live their lives. The history that has been created for Disco Elysium is fascinating.

The game’s plot is very good! It didn’t feel like I had played the game for as long as I did. Disco Elysium is one of the best video games that I’ve played in a long time.


Developer: Pillow Castle

Genre: Adventure

Review Score: 9/10 Steam

In many ways, this game plays like Portal or another experiment that is taking place in the Portal universe. Your character is participating in a sleep experiment, and things seem to have gone wrong. This is a fantastic idea for a video game like this!

This is a first-person adventure game. You’re solving puzzles and trying to get out of the dream state that you’re in. You can manipulate objects by changing their size. The game also messes with your perspective of objects and tricks you into thinking an object is in front of you when it is painted on the wall.

Superliminal is a game that will mess with your eyes. You can’t always trust what is in front of you, and figuring out what the game wants you to do can be tricky. You need to be a little creative to find a solution to the problems that you’re confronted with.


Developer: Campo Santo

Genre: Adventure

Review Score: 81/100 Metacritic

Firewatch’s story is what carries the day here. It is one of the many games labeled as a walking simulator. It dials back the gameplay to the bare minimum to focus on a story about self-healing. At least, that is what I got out of the story.

Taking place in the late 80s, Firewatch takes place in a national park in Wyoming. It is a rocky place in the middle of a dense forest. You play Henry, who has taken a job in an observation tower. You’re supposed to be looking out for forest fires and working on a novel.

This is a very relaxing game for me. I love the art style and how the game focuses more on telling a story and having you interact with your boss. It is a pleasant experience where you can enjoy some of the funny moments in the game.

Deep Sky Derelicts

Developer: Snowhound Games

Genre: Card Battler RPG

Review Score: 7/10 Steam

Deep Sky Derelicts reminds me of other rogue-like card battlers like Darkest Dungeon. This one takes place in deep space and has your party exploring derelict spaceships. This is a job that might exist in the future.

The game consists of you completing missions to these derelicts. The missions involve finding items, defeating monsters, and gathering information about the ships. You’ll encounter monsters, rival scrappers, and other horrors that might exist out in space. It is a fun take on this genre.

I enjoy games like this. There is something fun about collecting cards and using them to battle unspeakable horrors. This seems like a natural extension of other Trading Card Games but without the constant expansion packs and rule changes.

Best of the Rest

  • Prison Architect
  • Signalis
  • Spiritfarer
  • Soma
  • Stellaris
  • Judgment: Apocalypse Simulation
  • Wolfstride
  • Dune: Spice Wars
  • The Mortuary Assistant
  • Rewind or Die


There are many more video games out there that could have made it on this list. The more that I thought about it, the more this list changed. I find that indie games are where smaller development studios can take chances and experiment.

Larger studios find a formula that works and then run it into the ground. They also have to deal with their investors and tighter deadlines. This is the part of the video game industry that I don’t like that much. It leads to a bunch of companies making the same game.

This is just a short list of my favorite indie games. I know that I missed many games or haven’t gotten around to playing yet. I’m looking forward to seeing what else is out there and updating this list next year if needed.

Published by Paul Werkema

Hi! I'm here to share my hobbies with all of you. I love video games and books, so I write about the books that cover video games or are novels about video games.

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