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Great Single Developer
Games
 

Video games are complicated. The era of a lone developer making a hit game in their bedrooms is long gone. Or is it? We have found a swath of amazing games that have been driven into existence by just one person.

These games often stand out because of their singular vision and focused scope. Although, as the discussion surrounding this list has uncovered, almost all games have some contribution from other people. Coding, designing, creating art, writing music, recording dialogue.

Still, these are games where there has been a single driving force (auteur) willing their creation into existence. This list aims to highlight these games not to hold up the ideal of solo development (which can lead to unhealthy work-life balance) but to uncover this deep pool of fascinating games with a singular vision.

As Lewis Procter tweeted, it's exciting to realise that "you can make a game without needing permission or support from a big company, and many great tools are readily available." But, as he continued, in reality, "games are almost always at some level a collaborative effort."

The games we are including here are those that were created by a single person. Sometimes this is in a final form, sometimes a single developer's vision was released and has subsequent versions that expands this with more people. This is our thank-you to all these tireless individuals who have created something singular and pure that we now enjoy.
 
This list includes 7 games from the last 11 years, with 382 likes. They come from a range of different genres and play-styles and are all good games if you want to play games created by one person.

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Stardew Valley

Release Date: 26/02/2016, updated in 2018

Out Now: Amazon Fire, Android, Mac, PC, PS Vita, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and iOS

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

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

Stardew Valley looks like a farming simulator. That’s partly what it is, but you also develop relationships with the other townsfolk and delve deep into the mines. Its quirky labyrinthine attention to detail is inviting for young players to try their...

TowerFall Ascension

Release Date: 25/06/2013, updated in 2017

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

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Pixels

TowerFall Ascension is a running, jumping and archery game where each player selects a pixelated knight and fights to eliminate opponents by shooting them with arrows or jumping on their heads. Play is about quick reactions and second-guessing what your...

Thomas Was Alone

Release Date: 18/04/2013, updated in 2014

Out Now: PS Vita, PS3, PS4, Switch, Wii U and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On

Thomas Was Alone is a jumping and puzzle-solving platform game where you control different-coloured rectangles. It sounds boring and derivative but each of the distinctly coloured shapes comes to life in the game as a character embroiled in this escape...

Undertale

Release Date: 15/09/2015, updated in 2021

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

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Pixels

Undertale is a 2D adventure game where you don't have to kill anyone. Providing you with unique ways to avoid combat, from dancing with a slime to whispering your deepest secret to a knight. However, you could just ignore this option and rain...

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...

Nidhogg

Release Date: 12/09/2014, updated in 2014

Out Now: Mac, PC, PS Vita and PS4

Components: 2D Side-On and Pixels

Nidhogg is a fast two-player duelling game whose simple visuals belie the skill required to defeat your opponent. The novelty is that upon death you reappear on the next screen. The player to advance through the most screens wins.

Axiom Verge 2 (Series)

Release Date: 31/03/2015, updated in 2017

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

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Pixels

Axiom Verge is a series of running, jumping and fighting games where you play as Trace, a scientist who wakes up in an unknown ancient world. It's similar to retro games like Metroid and Contra where you explore levels, collect items and progress your...

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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