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The best indie games on PC 2024

There’s something for everyone in our look at the best indie games on PC, including roguelikes, puzzlers, and platformers, to name a few.

The protagonists of Sea of Stars square up to a fearsome foe in one of the best indie games in 2023.

What are the best indie games? The great indie boom triggered by digital distribution a decade ago turned out to be more of a Big Bang, firing small-team development into a plethora of directions that now defy simple categorisation. The sheer volume is intimidating, so we have plenty to choose from when compiling our list of the best indie games. Perhaps too much.

But we should take stock, from time to time, to appreciate everything publisher-less development has given us. Some of the games listed below were built in a weekend by first-time coders, while others were crafted by former triple-A creators who’ve instilled their independent work with the same technical standards. They barely have anything in common but a healthy dose of idiosyncrasy and ideas that make Steam worth spelunking and make our list of the best PC games.

The best indie games in 2024 are:

Best indie games: driving through a forest with lightning hitting the ground in Pacific Drive.

Pacific Drive

Fans of the supernatural should check out Pacific Drive. This first-person survival game tasks you with uncovering the mystery behind an abandoned research site in the Pacific Northwest. With all the Anomalies creeping around, traversing on foot is ill-advised, so you’re encouraged to gather equipment to fix up a battered old car. With enough modifying, crafting, and upgrading, that very same car could be the difference between life and death.

While it’s not a horror game per se, Pacific Drive certainly doesn’t make a quick getaway from its paranormal threats easy. You’ll likely fumble with the controls from time to time. However, when you’re not revving the engine with the handbrake on, you can cruise along to a catchy soundtrack of American folk and vintage rock to distract you from the terrors bounding toward you. The main appeal of Pacific Drive is discovering something new around every corner: a clue to the mystery you’re trying to solve, a new part for your car, or a never before seen adversary. If you thrive on unpredictability, then you should definitely hop into the driving seat.

Best indie games: Sheepy is encountering Patches for the first time in Sheepy: A Short Adventure.

Sheepy: A Short Adventure

Platform games have been the cornerstone of several indie movements over the last couple of decades, with the likes of Cave Story, Braid, Fez, and Spelunky showing the world how far they’re willing to take this beloved genre. Sheepy: A Short Adventure is a free PC game about a discarded adorable sheep plush that’s given sentience, and frankly, we think it’s a must-play.

As you descend into a derelict facility, you uncover a great mystery about those who came before through tape recordings and scattered notes. Dilapidated tunnels lead to platforms that crumble beneath your feet or lifts that crunch into gear as they travel downward. Unlike other indie gems such as Limbo, Sheepy: A Short Adventure doesn’t have tense horror set pieces but still gives a haunting, melancholic experience thanks to its beautiful soundtrack. The entire game shouldn’t take more than about an hour or so, and we’re sure you’ll love it as much as we do. Just be careful of Patches.

Balatro

Whether you’re a Poker fan or not, Balatro takes the classic card game to another level by introducing additional cards and mechanics needed to help break the game. For example, you could build a deck where you’re looking to create as many four-of-a-kind hands as possible. In Balatro, you can clone your favorite cards to ensure you have a higher chance of being able to play this hand more often. There are plenty of mechanics in place that make it easy to create powerful synergies, and it’s so easy to start up a new run if your last save doesn’t go to plan; Balatro is so addictive once you start to understand how it works. Fortunately, that doesn’t take too long, as the game is incredibly easy to pick up and learn.

Penking, one of the Pals in indie game Palworld.

Palworld

Palworld, a sort of Pokemon PC game with guns and Ark survival mechanics, was an instant hit, smashing player number records in its first week of release. Made by PocketPair Inc, the Japanese developer behind the comparatively unknown Craftopia, Palworld provided an unexpected start to 2024, met with controversy and criticism over its similarities to other games, as well as unmitigated popularity. It seems the survival game offers Pokemon fans what they’ve always wanted in all the ways Palword differs from Pokemon itself.

A typical settlement in Against the Storm, one of the best indie games of 2023.

Against the Storm

Against the Storm puts a welcome spin on city building games by introducing roguelite elements that ensure no two settlements are ever the same. You are the Scorched Queen’s Viceroy in this dark fantasy, tasked with expanding her territory through the wilderness and claiming any treasures you might find for her own. Your expansion isn’t just for glory, though – it’s also to ensure that the Queen’s kingdom survives the titular Blightstorm wreaking destruction across the land.

Our Against the Storm review describes the city builder as “highly engaging, delectably rewarding, and suitably frustrating”. While it does suffer from UI bloat and a slight learning curve to overcome, once you get to grips with its micromanagement systems you can expect a “near-perfect roguelike strategy game” with ample replayability.

Sea of Stars is one of the best indie games of 2023

Sea of Stars

Sea of Stars is a gorgeous turn-based RPG full of exciting adventure. You’ll play out the story of two children tasked with using their sun and moon powers combined in order to use a new, powerful magic called Eclipse to defeat the big, bad, Fleshmancer. Alongside the engaging story, the soundtrack is glorious and will have you delaying your decision-making just to groove along. There’s plenty of collectibles to grab along the way if you’re a completionist, like the Rainbow Conches and the Sea of Stars relics, which all have different uses.

Dredge

This indie horror fishing game (you heard that right) made quite the splash earlier this year with its unique art style, compelling narrative, and fishing mechanics, making it equally parts terrifying and relaxing. Unravel a heart-breaking mystery by upgrading your fishing boat to explore new islands and chat to the residents, trawl for rare jewels and artifacts, and research new equipment. Dredge is a great Steam deck game, too!

The best indie games - Norco

Norco

This adventure game takes place in the real town of Norco, Louisiana as a search for your missing brother quickly spirals into a mystery that spans generations. Akin to games like Kentucky Route Zero and Beneath a Steel Sky, Norco’s stand out pixel art and powerful themes of capitalism, climate change, and the impact of our choices in the future make this one of best story games on PC.

As with most point and click games, the gameplay isn’t challenging, and the real adventure is experiencing the story through narration that appears on a side bar where you can determine your next move and find out more about your surroundings, whether that’s interacting with objects or talking to the characters you meet along the way.

The best indie games - Terraria

Terraria

This sandbox game hasn’t slowed in popularity since it arrived as the ‘2D Minecraft’ back in 2011. Mainly, you’re never short of something to do in this spellbinding indie game. You can make your own objectives by setting objectives, such as building Terraria houses, fighting one of the many Terraria bosses, or even exploring the depths of the deadly dungeons.

Completing goals unlocks NPCs and you essentially build your own village to house them, with each NPC providing different benefits, such as a Wizard for potions or a Nurse for healing. If you reach the end, no problem, there’s an expert level that adds even more bosses, enemies, biomes, and items. Though Terraria certainly isn’t as relaxing as its blocky comparison, you can always try a spot of Terraria fishing to ease you in.

The best indie games - The Binding of Isaac Rebirth

The Binding of Isaac Rebirth

A randomly generated action RPG with roguelike elements, The Binding of Isaac Rebirth is the sequel to the first game, which has the same premise. The game follows Isaac through an unknown world as he makes a quick escape into a trap door hidden in his bedroom to flee his devout Christian mother whohellbent on sacrificing him.

As Isaac, you acquire superhuman abilities and find hidden treasure as you fight off droves of enemies, discover secrets, and hopefully escape to safety. The maze of rooms and variations of creatures make this a tough game, but it’s worth scrappily making your way to the multiple endings the game has to offer.

Best indie games: Wildermyth. Image shows a woman in simple leather clothing in a forest; a beam of light shines on a sword covered in ivy embedded in a rock.

Wildermyth

If you’ve ever wanted to play through a tabletop roleplaying campaign with friends without needing a dungeon master to craft your story, Wildermyth is the perfect solution. As your unique cohort of heroes set out into the world, they encounter all sorts of adventures that shape their identity and personal narrative – and as each story is procedurally generated, you end up playing through a tale that’s totally unique.

Your characters age, fall in love, and eventually die, but you can keep their legacies alive in subsequent playthroughs. It’s a storytelling marvel, with beautiful papercraft art and endless replayability.

Best indie games: Inscryption. Image shows a player sitting across from a spooky figure cloaked in darkness, playing a card game.

Inscryption

Inscryption is a card game at first glance, but there’s much more hiding under the surface. The initial gameplay is a mix between Slay The Spire and lane-based card games, though it tends towards the macabre as you need to sacrifice smaller animals to play bigger and better beasts to wipe out your opponent.

This unsettling atmosphere escalates as you begin to examine the creepy log cabin you’re playing in; Inscryption is also partially an escape room game where you must decipher cryptic clues to find your way out. Before long, it’s apparent that nothing is as it seems, and unravelling the mystery takes you on an unexpected journey.

The best thing about Inscryption is that once you’ve played through the campaign, you can keep playing. Opting into the beta for the free DLC, Kaycee’s Mod, turns the card game into a roguelike, adding new cards and events to keep the game feeling fresh – and handicaps to make each run more challenging to complete. If you like stories with conspiracies and dark secrets, Inscryption is well worth investigating.

Best indie games: Disco Elysium. Image shows a group of characters looking out on rocks from a pier.

Disco Elysium

Disco Elysium was arguably the best indie game of 2019. Dumping you into the soiled shoes of a detective after an amnesia-inducing night of drinking and immediately charging you with investigating a grizzly murder. With no traditional combat to speak of, Disco Elysium is all about wrestling with your own psyche in order to form the kind of detective you want to be, and then employing this fractured personality to get answers from suspects.

This wouldn’t work if it weren’t for some phenomenal writing, and in this respect Disco Elysium is a peerless RPG. With countless conversational threads to pick at in any given encounter, the fact that every single one of them is brimming with personality is what makes this detective game so special.

Best indie games: Valheim, Image shows a viking standing on the shore as the sun sets over the water.

Valheim

Valheim’s enchanting visual style and dreamlike Norse setting set it apart from the pack of co-op survival games. The survival mechanics are comparatively forgiving, so you can raise mead halls and roundhouses in relative tranquillity, watching the sunset wash across the sky as the mist rolls in.

Vikings in search of a challenge, though, can set sail across the procedurally generated wilderness, trudging through swamps and scrambling over freezing mountains to defeat a series of Valheim bosses in order to bring home hordes of trophies and gold. Just don’t forget that boar loves you.

Best indie games: Death's Door. Image shows a crow standing in a park in autumn.

Death’s Door

Death’s Door is an action-adventure game inspired by classics like The Legend of Zelda and Dark Souls. You play as a crow in charge of reaping the souls of monsters for the Reaping Commission Headquarters, a mysterious yet surprisingly bureaucratic organisation.

These monsters aren’t ready to give up their lives, and they’re ready to put up a fight in order to keep them. Make your way through dungeons, cemeteries, and overgrown ruins as you solve puzzles and defeat smaller enemies along the way.

Death’s Door’s beautiful visual style in combination with strong combat mechanics truly sets it apart. Enemies are tough to take down, but the difficulty is perfectly balanced; the combat feels fantastic as every slash of your sword has weight behind it.

Indie games Hades 2

Hades 2

Developer Supergiant’s latest is an impossibly moreish roguelike and the follow up to the 2020 breakout. Instead of playing as Zagreus, you’ll play as his sister, Melinoë, the Princess of the Underworld, on her quest to defeat the Titan of Time, Chronos, and save her family.

The vicious, hard-as-nails combat is an absolute joy to experiment with, but it’s Hades’ cast of bickering gods that makes its cyclical nature sing. You’ll relish any chance to chat with your Olympian relatives, especially as doing so offers gameplay benefits and grants you a greater understanding of Supergiant’s refreshing take on Greek mythology. Our Hades 2 review raves about the sequel to the hit indie game, with bigger upgrades, open world areas, and a host of new gods and characters, and you don’t even need to play the first one to enjoy! 

Best indie games: Stardew Valley. Image shows a character walking around holding a bone near their farm.

Stardew Valley

There’s a lot of love for Harvest Moon among the PC community despite the series being exclusive to Nintendo consoles. That’s why Stardew Valley captured the hearts and minds of so many. A cute role-playing management game, it plays to the farming strengths of the popular Harvest Moon games, while simultaneously being its own brand of charming.

You’ll begin life in Stardew Valley with an inherited farm in dire need of repair. As you plant new crops and inject life into your land your focus will shift to exploration of the world around you. The valley is in similar need of loving attention, and it makes for the perfect project to unwind with night after night. While Stardew Valley is one of the best single player games, it’s also home to a marvellous co-op mode – in case you’re after some co-op games – and a place to experiment with the plethora of Stardew Valley mods.

Bursting with personality, Stardew Valley is an unmissable adventure for anyone craving the village life.

Best indie games: Undertale. Image shows a character sitting on a small island with flowers in a dark cave.

Undertale

In a traditional RPG, you’d make a start by exploring the outskirts of a troubled town before you begin to bolster the arsenal of your chosen character. It’s a safe assumption that you’ll be solving any problems you encounter with fists, swords, or magical abilities. In Undertale, however, murder can be treated as a last resort – as we sincerely hope applies to you in real life.

This 16-bit indie is one of the best RPGs around, you can subdue, pacify, and even flirt with enemies that stand in your way. How you approach everything that stands in your way throughout the game actually impacts the story and how characters treat you in the future. Leave enemies alive and they’ll show up later and probably make friends with you. But, if you’d rather go with the usual bloody murder then that’s just as valid.

Speaking of the story, you play a kid who falls into the world of monsters, and then has to find a way to escape. What ensues is an endearing adventure that’s consistently well-written, full of memorable characters and one-liners you’ll trade with friends, and a wonderful soundtrack to boot.

Best indie games: Celeste. Image shows a character braving the elements on a mountain.

Celeste

The mountaineer that pulled at everyone’s heartstrings, Celeste wasn’t just one of the best indie games in recent years, it was our pick for the best PC game of 2018. Its pinpoint, simple controls make it an excellent and challenging platformer, while its narrative takes the genre to a whole new level.

You play as Madeline who has decided to conquer the icy mountain Celeste by reaching its summit. You’ll fail countless times to Celeste’s tricky levels, but thanks to a quick respawn time and some thoughtful messages of encouragement, Celeste spurs you on even when it gets tough. If the challenging gameplay of Celeste puts you off playing, then there’s no need to worry as there are a variety of assists you can turn on so you’re free to enjoy the story regardless of your skill level.

Thus ends our roundup of the best indie games on PC. Be sure to seek out our list of old PC games if you want to take that indie vibe one step further and go full hipster. With that list of cultural highlights done and dusted you’re free to go and play outside, or return to your favourite triple-A multiplayer games – whichever you prefer.

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