Best indie games: the greatest hidden gems on PC and console

Best indie games: Untitled Goose Game's Goose on a blue background
(Image credit: Future/House House)

The best indie games can be a bit difficult to find these days, simply because there are so many of them to choose from. 

While there are still players who reject indie games out of hand, most are well aware of how indie games offer innovative experiences that simply aren't found in the traditionally more risk-averse triple-A gaming market.

The games on this list have large fan communities and have been going strong for years: living proof that a great game doesn’t have to rely on a big budget, just love, good ideas, and stamina to succeed and persevere in the crowded indie space. This list is full of quirky games that often defy easy categorization; after all, most of us can't imagine what a competitive cooking game would look like, let alone a goose game.

This element of quirkiness and unpredictability is exactly what makes indie games so fun to explore, and you will find them on all of our lists whether you're in search for the best PS5 games, the best Xbox Series X games, the best Nintendo Switch games or the best PC games

For now, have a look at the indie games we consider unmissable.

Best indie games

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best indie games: a goose honking at a boy in a shop, the boy's body language reads 'scared'

Image Credit: House House (Image credit: Panic)

Untitled Goose Game

Honk! Honk!!!!!

Reasons to buy

+
You're a goose
+
Charming portrayal of a pseudo-English town
+
Puzzles are fun to work out for players of many ages

Reasons to avoid

-
Some solutions are a bite harebrained

Available on: PC, PlayStation4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

Who knew an untitled game about a goose could be so fun? A bit of an unexpected hit, Untitled Goose Game quickly went viral after its brand of avian nuisance-making was unveiled to the world.

Set in a village in the English countryside, you play as a goose tasked with terrorizing your human neighbours: stealing their crops, locking them in closets, and honking all the way through. Inspired by the stealth-action series Hitman, but with its own charm, it’s hardly a surprise that the Untitled Goose Game became a huge hit. Untitled Goose Game takes brains and a little bit of patience throughout, but the reward for working its puzzles out is laughter (and, if you're like us, a bit of smugness).

best indie games: a first person view of a gun pointed at three characters in a cave

(Image credit: Coffee Stain Publishing)

Deep Rock Galactic

These dwarves are not to be trifled with

Reasons to buy

+
Fun world to explore
+
Satisfying class progression
+
Dwarves in space

Reasons to avoid

-
Shooting is definitely more fun than mining

Available on: PC Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S

This co-op FPS is not like the others. there are many different shooters you can play with friends, even ones that have a destructible environment, but we're pretty sure none of them but Deep Rock Galactic feature dwarves. Fighting against aliens.

In this game, you can take on enemies with up to three friends and fight and mine your way through mysterious and strangely beautiful procedurally generated caves. Additionally, Deep Rock Galactic has a number of different seasonal events an *gasp* a really nice community.

Even if you're not a dwarf lover (or don't want to admit out loud that you are), this is one of the best co-op shooters currently available, so maybe it will be dwarves who can finally pry you away from Left 4 Dead.

best indie games: two Kerbal Space program aliens in space

(Image credit: Squad)

Kerbal Space Program

To infinity and beyond

Reasons to buy

+
Great blend of science and humour
+
Tinker with a rocket with zero repercussions
+
Makes you feel accomplished

Reasons to avoid

-
Can be frustrating

Available on: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S

How often can you say that a game from a list of best indie games has taught you something? Well, look no further than Kerbal Space Program. the idea behind it is to simply simulate space flight – its intelligent use of real physics, however, means that you'll find yourself following NASA as you’re building multi-stage rockets and space stations as well as exploring the Kerbal's strange universe on EVAs, before bringing your discoveries back for research on the Kerbal planet, if you that's if you can get off the ground at all. 

Kerbal Space Program is a huge, complex, challenging and fun game that manages to deliver real-life knowledge with humour.

best indie games: farmer with a hat standing near several vegetable beds

Image Credit: Eric Barone (Image credit: Eric Barone)

Stardew Valley

Try a different lifestyle

Reasons to buy

+
Many different ways to become a successful farmer
+
Even offers dungeon crawling
+
Lovable characters to befriend and/or date

Reasons to avoid

-
Slightly grindy in the beginning

Available on: PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, iOS, Android

If you’ve ever played a Harvest Moon game, you’re likely already familiar with Stardew valley's premise – a farming game in which you need to become both a successful farmer and a member of the local community.

Sole developer Eric Barone sought to make a Harvest Moon experience that was as good, if not better as the game he remembered. That's why there is lots of you to do – you farm, tend to livestock, fish and even make your way through the local abandoned mine.

Stardew Valley isn't farming that easy to pick up and fun for hours and hours, it has also plenty of secrets, events in the local town, a bunch of characters to romance and much more. If you're playing on PC, you should also have a look at its brilliant modding community, which has been tirelessly working to put even more things in a game that's received several large content updates from its developer already.

best indie games: Mae talking to her parents at home, saying "I want Tacos every day. All day."

Image Credit: Infinite Fall (Image credit: Infinite Fall)

Night in the Woods

Blue collar blues

Reasons to buy

+
Emotional and funny
+
Mae's band has some killer songs
+
Several optional routes

Reasons to avoid

-
Very simple gameplay

Available on: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch

Night in the Woods is an unconventional side-scrolling adventure game that revolves around a 20-year-old protagonist named Mae who drops out of college and moves back in with her parents.

Featuring a story largely based around dialog choices and mini games that put a spin on mundane tasks, like carrying boxes up the stairs and eating perogies, Night in the Woods is a timeless coming-of-age tale. Not only will you experience middle class America through the eyes of a personified cat, but virtually every interaction in-game will have you laughing aloud. It's one of the best indie games not only thanks to its subject matter, but also due to how much Mae and her friends grow on you. A true pearl of the narrative genre.

best indie games: Dead Cells protagonist fighting inside a clock tower

Image Credit: Motion Twin (Image credit: Motion Twin)

Dead Cells

Something different with every run

Reasons to buy

+
Snappy action
+
Plenty of weapons
+
useful secrets to uncover

Reasons to avoid

-
Can be crushingly difficult

Available on: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, iOS, Android

If you’re looking for a game that’s as unforgiving as it is fun, look no further than Dead Cells. It takes gameplay inspiration from so many places – from roguelikes to MetroidVania. There’s even a hint of Dark Souls in there, creating a unique action game that will test your limits and skills. It's one of the best indie games because of the sheer amount of stuff you get to do and playstyles you can try,

Each time you play this game, it will feel new. And, while you’ll lose some progress each time you die – and you will die a lot – the game will become even more rewarding as the complex and fluid combat becomes second nature. Thankfully, Dead Cells' hasn't only grown in content over the years, it's also become more accessible, meaning you can also attempt to play it at a less punishing difficulty.

best indie games: Celeste mid-jump in a frosty cabe filled with spikes

Image Credit: Matt Makes Games, Matt Thorson (Image credit: Matt Makes Games Inc.)

Celeste

Climb that mountain

Reasons to buy

+
Smooth controls
+
Great story
+
beautiful soundtrack

Reasons to avoid

-
Slightly short

Available on: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

It’s not often that a platformer is able to balance challenging and engaging gameplay with an emotional and thought-provoking narrative. Celeste, however, pulls it off, making it one of our best indie games picks. From the developers of Towerfall, Celeste follows the story of Madeline, a young girl who decides to face her mental health issues by climbing to the top of the mysterious Celeste Mountain. In doing so, she learns more not only about the mountain, but about herself as well throughout the process. 

An inevitable classic, Celeste integrates the obvious jump, air-dash and climb controls into a brutal series of platforming challenges in upwards of 700 unique screens. If that’s too easy, you’ll unlock B-side chapters along the way, designed for only the most intrepid of hardcore players. You don’t even have to worry about waiting an eternity between each respawn, as Celeste brings you back from the grave in an instant, a welcome departure from the typically extensive load screens.

best indie games: a giant worm in Nidhogg 2, with a horn, bleeding eyes and teeth

(Image credit: Messhof Games)

Nidhogg 2

Reasons to buy

+
Imaginative new weapons
+
Controls feel great
+
Nothing makes sense and that's how you want it

Reasons to avoid

-
Art style won't be for everyone

Available on: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

Despite its controversial art style, Nidhogg 2 packs a refined, stunning look that the first version, a cult-classic, wouldn’t dare compete with, which earned it a place in our hearts (and the best indie games list).

This is a fighting game unlike any other, lots of fun both against AI opponents or of course friends in local co-op. You just kill everything that moves, and should you fail, you try again, with a new weapon. It's not deep, but it's fun, and sometimes that's all you need.

Overcooked 2

best indie games: two teams of cooks in Overcooked 2 working on rafts

Image Credit: Ghost Town Games (Image credit: Ghost Town Games)

Overcooked 2

Well done

Reasons to buy

+
Lots of levels
+
Imaginative stages
+
Manic fun

Reasons to avoid

-
can be visually overwhelming

In this party cooking game, your mission is to defeat the 'Un-Bread' (zombie baked goods) that have taken over the Onion Kingdom, by battling through recipes including sushi, pizza and burgers in increasingly chaotic kitchens with up to three other people.

To add to the frenetic fun, you must deal with obstacles including random fires, collapsing floors and interfering passers by, all while getting your orders out to the pass in time. 

Things get complicated incredibly quickly. Relationships, friendships and family bonds will be tested as you work together to complete your recipes on time. Overcooked 2 is a fun and challenging couch co-op game that will make you truly understand the meaning of "too many cooks spoil the broth” and is well-deserving of its spot in our best indie games list and among the best co-op games.

best indie games: Someone getting shot from behind on the ship Obra Dinn

(Image credit: Lucas Pope)

Return of the Obra Dinn

Just one more thing...

Reasons to buy

+
Gripping narrative
+
Rewarding puzzles
+
Unique art style

Reasons to avoid

-
It#s easy to overlook things

Available on: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

Every so often, there’s a game that perfectly balances aesthetic, gameplay and narrative – where everything feels like it just fits like puzzle pieces. The best indie games always excel at this, and Return of the Obra Dinn is the epitome of that. A mystery taking place on a derelict ship, your mission is to figure out how the crew of this lost ship died, disappeared or worse. 

The entire game has this old-school visual styling and simple controls that try to emulate an older PC system. Right from the settings menu, you’ll get to choose what kind of monitor you’d like to emulate – that should give you an idea of the type of retro revivalism on offer here. 

Critical thinking, exploration and a ton of reading is essential in Return of the Obra Dinn. If that all sounds appealing to you, and you’re happy with retro aesthetics, you will love this game. 


With contributions from