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Gaming 101:
Indie Games
 

In this series, we are learning how different aspects of video games work by playing games that offer an easy introduction to this one concept. This is designed for people new to gaming and aims to identify games with the least barriers. In this entry, we are looking at Indie Games.

These are games made by small studios or individual developers. This can mean that the art and production are simpler, but because of no company constraints, these games are often the most inventive and enjoyable for families. They can take risks on strange ideas and push the boundaries of play in new directions.

The games in this list offer a range of acclaimed Indie games that are a good place to start. Because the games don't have big marketing budgets they are often off the radar for families.
 
This list includes 32 games from the last 11 years, with 1,272 likes. They come from a range of different genres and play-styles and are all good games if you want to play your first indie game.

Related Lists
We have 16 Getting Started lists of games, like these:
 

A Short Hike

Release Date: 05/04/2019, updated in 2021

Out Now: Mac, PC, PS4, PS5, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person, Open World, Pixels and Weather

A Short Hike is an adventure traversal game where you play the penguin-like character Claire, who needs to climb a mountain in a beautiful national park to receive an important phone call. Presented in cute pixel graphics, the game invites you to...

Lake

Release Date: 01/09/2021, updated in 2024

Out Now: PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person, 3D Third-Person and Cartoon

Lake is a narrative adventure where you play Meredith Weiss on a career break in 1986 while she returns to her hometown and ends up delivering the mail. As you talk to locals, meet up with old school friends and even fan a few romantic flames from your...

Apico

Release Date: 20/05/2022, updated in 2022

Out Now: Mac, PC, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Day and Night, Grid and Pixels

Apico is a simulation game where you play a beekeeper and conservationist. You explore environments, breed rare bees and release them into the wild while growing your business. There are no enemies, time constraints or set objectives so you can focus on...

Night in the Woods

Release Date: 10/01/2017, updated in 2017

Out Now: Android, Mac, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and iOS

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Hand-Made

Night in the Woods is a narrative adventure which follows college dropout Mae Borowski returning home to the crumbling former mining town of Possum Springs. Play involves exploring the town, interacting with the locals and working out what has happened...

Celeste

Release Date: 23/01/2018, updated in 2023

Out Now: Mac, PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Pixels

Celeste is a platform game that requires players to use jumping and climbing moves to ascend an increasingly challenging two-dimensional mountain. You play Madeline, who is haunted by self-doubt at the scale of the task at hand. She presses on but is...

Loop Hero

Release Date: 03/02/2021, updated in 2022

Out Now: PC, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Cards, Grid, Hand-Made and Pixels

Loop Hero is a dungeon-exploring adventure game where you use cards to create a world for your character to survive. Rather than control the hero yourself, you are tasked with playing cards to create a level that is hard enough to be rewarding without...

That Dragon, Cancer

Release Date: 12/01/2016, updated in 2016

Out Now: Android, Mac, PC and iOS

Skill Rating: 14+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person

That Dragon, Cancer is a game about a family with a young son who has terminal brain cancer. It sounds off-putting and morbid but this living biography invites you to join the family and find hope, faith and love in the face of an insurmountable...

Thief Town

Release Date: 26/09/2014

Out Now: Mac, PC, PS4 and Switch

Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Pixels

Thief Town is a stealth traversal game where you play in a crowd of identical characters. You must first work out which one you are and then spot the other human players to attack them. Get it wrong and all you do is reveal yourself.

Untitled Goose Game

Release Date: 03/10/2019

Out Now: Mac, PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 5+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Cartoon

Untitled Goose game is a tongue-in-cheek puzzle game where you play a dastardly goose intent on ruining the day of the inhabitants of a sleepy English village. Play involves working out the right order of interactions and distractions to let you steal...

Her Story

Release Date: 24/06/2015

Out Now: Android, Mac, PC and iOS

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Components: Filmed

Her Story is a narrative puzzle game where you attempt to solve the 1994 mystery of a murdered man by searching an old police computer archive of interview videos of his wife. The game presents a retro computer interface but the interviews themselves...

Into The Breach

Release Date: 27/02/2018, updated in 2020

Out Now: Android, Mac, PC, Stadia, Switch and iOS

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Grid, Hand-Made and Pixels

Into the Breach is a fantasy turn-based battle. It's set in a future where humanity fights an army of giant monsters. You control mechs equipped with a variety of weapons and armour in carefully coordinated actions played out on super-small tile-based...

Year Walk

Release Date: 21/02/2013, updated in 2015

Out Now: Mac, PC, Wii U and iOS

Skill Rating: 13+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On

Year Walk is a horror narrative traversal game where you partake in the ancient Nordic tradition of Year Walking to see glimpses of the future. As you travel the snowy landscapes by moonlight, you see creatures and characters from Swedish mythology and...

Moonglow Bay

Release Date: 07/10/2021

Out Now: PC, Xbox One and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person, Blocks, Cartoon and Day and Night

Moonglow Bay is a role play game where you play a rookie angler. Unlike other slice-of-life games, fishing isn't tucked away as a side quest here, it's front and centre. Set along the Canadian coastline in the 1980's, you live in a fishing town that has...

Device 6

Release Date: 17/10/2013

Out Now: iOS

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: Text

Device 6 is a narrative puzzle where you piece together a mystery through unusual interactions with your device. As the story unfolds, you rotate your screen, hold it up to a mirror to read backwards text, and generally search for clues in unusual ways...

Papers, Please

Release Date: 08/08/2013, updated in 2017

Out Now: Mac, PC, PS Vita and iOS

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Pixels

Papers, Please is a narrative puzzle game where you play the role of a border-crossing immigration officer in the fictional dystopian Eastern Bloc-like country of Arstotzka. You review each immigrant’s and returning citizen’s passports and paperwork...

The Professional

Release Date: 31/12/2022

Out Now: Mac and PC

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On

The Professional is a traversal game where you attempt to steal a diamond from the museum with a wacky twist: you control each of your character's limbs individually. This makes even the simple goal of moving forward a challenging (and hilarious) task...

Arctico

Release Date: 15/02/2022

Out Now: Mac and PC

Components: 3D Third-Person, Cartoon and Open World

Arctico is a meditative, exploration and base-building game where you play a lone scientist on a quest to continue your mentor's legacy and grow food in the arctic. You explore the vast frigid wilds of the island of Arctico with your sledge dogs, create...

Pocket Oasis

Release Date: 08/05/2024

Coming Soon: PC, Switch and iOS

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead and Hand-Made

Pocket Oasis is a gentle horticulture simulation where you care for plants and pets on your balcony. It's a meditative experience where the end goal, rather than being a defined objective, is simply to create a beautiful balcony with an array of...

Iron Lung

Release Date: 10/03/2022, updated in 2022

Out Now: PC and Switch

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person

Iron Lung is an exploration puzzle game where you navigate a submarine through a sea of blood with only your instruments to guide you. With no visibility in a small enclosed space, you need to make repairs, stop leaks and take recognisance pictures...

Ori and the Blind Forest

Release Date: 11/03/2015, updated in 2019

Out Now: PC, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On

Ori and the Blind Forest is a running and jumping game that places you in control of a diminutive guardian spirit. You traverse and solve platforming challenges to progress through the world while fighting off monsters. It's familiar territory but...

Flame Keeper

Release Date: 16/03/2023, updated in 2023

Out Now: PC and Switch

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead

Flame Keeper is a strategic fighting and collecting game where you gather energy to restore the eternal flame and save the world from evil monsters. As you explore and fight enemies in fast-paced combat, you sacrifice your health to collect energy and...

Selini

Release Date: Coming soon

Coming Soon: PC

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On

Selini is a running, jumping, and fighting game where you explore a desolate world and defeat monsters. With no dialogue or visual distractions, it's up to you to decipher the story that skirts the topics of environmental and social responsibility. It's...

Botany Manor

Release Date: 09/04/2024

Coming Soon: PC, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person and Cartoon

Botany Manor is a peaceful puzzle game where you explore a 19th-century English home and gardens and care for the plants you find. By reading the newspapers, postcards and posters in the house, you discover how to look after each species, from pot size...

Letters: A Written Adventure

Release Date: 09/02/2022

Out Now: Mac, PC and Switch

Components: 2D Side-On and Text

Letters: A Written Adventure is a running and jumping literary puzzle where you write letters to your pen pal throughout the stages of your life. What's unique is that you physically explore each letter, using the lines as platforms and changing words...

Rob Riches

Release Date: 17/11/2021, updated in 2023

Out Now: Android, PC, Switch and iOS

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person, Blocks, Cartoon and Grid

Rob Riches is a puzzle game about a treasure hunter in search of precious artefacts. You carefully navigate a safe path through the small stages, pushing blocks, avoiding pitfalls, and collecting the coins to advance to the next stage. Like [link to...

Risk of Rain (Series)

Release Date: 08/11/2014, updated in 2023

Out Now: Mac, PC, PS Vita, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Pixels

Risk of Rain is a running, jumping and fighting game where you defeat hordes of monsters and the difficulty steadily increases the longer you survive as you try to scavenge the parts to make a way back home. When you die, you start over but do keep some...

1428: Shadows over Silesia

Release Date: 04/10/2022

Out Now: PC

Skill Rating: 14+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Hand-Made

1428: Shadows over Silesia is a historical adventure where you explore 15th-century Europe through the eyes of two characters intertwined at the outbreak of war. You fight opponents, sneak around enemy sites, and solve puzzles to progress through the...

Hermit and Pig

Release Date: Coming soon

Coming Soon: Mac and PC

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead and Pixels

Hermit and Pig is an action-adventure game about a socially anxious hermit and his pig companion who must save a village from hunger. Along with exploring the world to complete quests, you fight a menagerie of whimsical creatures by picking attacks,...

I Commissioned Some Bees (Series)

Release Date: 30/05/2022, updated in 2024

Out Now: PC

Skill Rating: 4+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Cartoon

I Commissioned Some Bees is a puzzle game series where you search original artwork to find bees hidden in them. There are many bees in every picture, so you can normally find one in a couple of seconds, although finding all of them can be challenging...

The Ramp

Release Date: 03/08/2021, updated in 2022

Out Now: Android, PC, Switch and iOS

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead and Blocks

The Ramp is a relaxed skating game where you perform stunts, jumps and flips with no timers, penalties scores or objectives. It's this simplicity that, along with its deep-yet-simple controls and laidback soundtrack, make it a uniquely calm and...

Cracks Where the Light Gets In

Release Date: Coming soon

Coming Soon: Mac and PC

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person and Day and Night

Cracks Where the Light Gets In is a narrative game where you observe the day-to-day lives of different people and find your assumptions being subverted. As you watch a refugee family from hidden viewpoints, you piece together the stories of their lives...

Smushi Come Home

Release Date: 10/06/2023

Out Now: Mac, PC and Switch

Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person, Cartoon and Open World

Smushi Come Home is a running, jumping, climbing and gliding game where a small mushroom explores a whimsical forest to make its way home. You talk to the people you meet, search for items, and use the oversized environment to get around as you move...

Taming Gaming Book Written by parents for parents, the database complements the in-depth discussion about video game addiction, violence, spending and online safety in the Taming Gaming book. We are an editorially independent, free resource without adverts that is supported by partnerships.

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