If you’ve been playing games for any period of time, chances are you’ve played many of the big names like Call of Duty and Halo. While triple-A games are all great in their own right, there’s just nothing that compares to the tightly crafted and unique experiences that can only come from indie games.
Indie games are smaller, lower-budget titles made by studios that don’t have the support of a big-name publisher to back them up. While many people may mistake these lower-budget games as being lower quality, in actuality, indie games are some of the best the industry has to offer. For more eccentric entertainment, dive into the best indie games for PC gamers this year.
Best Indie Games for PC, Ranked!
Here are ten of my personal favorite games from this genre, ranked from worst to best!
- Developer: Tendershoot, Michael Lasch, ThatWhichIs Media
- Release Date: March 12th, 2019
- File Size: 500 MB
Let’s start out our ranking with possibly the most unique game on this list. Hypnospace Outlaw is essentially a 1990s web surfing simulator. You play the role of an online moderator watching over the Hypnospace. You must search the internet for any content that violates the terms of service, and use your admin powers to ban the offending users.
It may sound boring on the surface, but the act of investigating specific individuals for proof of their crimes on the web is very engaging. If you love challenging puzzle games, you’re sure to get a kick out of Hypnospace Outlaw. You’ll need to comb through a variety of different web pages and interact with them in unique ways in order to accomplish your objectives.
That isn’t even touching on all of the side content and things you can do when you’re not moderating the internet! Download in-game music, visit a huge variety of personally owned websites, go on wacky social media pages, etc. There’s never a shortage of things to do in this unique indie puzzle adventure!
The Dream Machine
- Developer: Cockroach Inc.
- Release Date: May 11th, 2012
- File Size: 1.2 GB*
The Dream Machine is a point-and-click puzzle adventure that sees you navigate through a large variety of levels across multiple people’s dreams. The game is a multi-part adventure that takes place across six episodes.
The main attraction here isn’t the gameplay, but the art style. Every shot is handcrafted by the developers with cardboard and clay! This gives it a unique and beautiful art style that you won’t find in any other game. Every level looks amazing, and you can tell a lot of love and care went into this project.
If you love story-driven games, you’re sure to feel right at home with The Dream Machine. It’s one of the best I’ve played in years, and there are several twists and turns along the way. I won’t go into too much detail about it to avoid spoiling anything, so why don’t you just download the first two episodes yourself and see what it’s all about?
- Developer: Necrophone Games
- Release Date: February 7th, 2014
- File Size: 2 GB
You may remember Jazzpunk from way back in 2014, as it was played by many popular YouTubers at the time of its release. All of this attention and praise was more than well deserved! Jazzpunk is a comedy spy-thriller taking you around the world on a variety of different missions. You’ll do everything from infiltrating a Soviet city to relaxing on a holiday vacation.
The gameplay in Jazzpunk is fairly simple. Each level has you go to an exotic location, and there’s a big emphasis on exploration and player-freedom to explore the level in any order of your choosing. There is also a huge variety of different minigames to play, keeping every moment fresh. But the main attraction for Jazzpunk isn’t the gameplay, it’s the comedy.
The game is crack full of different jokes and gags that still hold up to this day. There’s a huge cast of different people to encounter — some friendly, some not-so-friendly — and they’ll all leave a memorable impression on you. The whole journey from start to finish is cram-packed with charm and humor, and it’s something everyone should play through at least once.
Night in The Woods
- Developer: Infinite Falls
- Release Date: February 21st, 2017
- File Size: 8 GB
Now for a personal favorite of mine, we have the 2D-adventure game Night in The Woods! This is a story and character-focused psychological horror centering around Mae Borowski, a college drop-out who has returned to her hometown for reasons known only to her.
Gameplay is based on exploring the town of Possum Springs, talking to a variety of different characters, completing various tasks, and playing minigames. There are even some choices to make regarding different characters to hang out with and when, giving the game some replayability. While you’re doing all of this, you’ll need to solve a mystery plaguing the small town.
Being a psychological horror, the game isn’t really all that scary and threatening when you first turn it on. When it does get scary, the build-up is very well done and the payoff is more than worth the wait. I won’t spoil what exactly happens later in the game, but let’s just say there’s something in the woods…
- Developer: Playdead
- Release Date: July 7th, 2016
- File Size: 3 GB
Now for one of the darker entries on this list, let’s take a moment to go over the 2D puzzle-platformer known as Inside. This game was made by the studio that made the very popular game Limbo. If that isn’t enough to entice you, let’s talk about the gameplay and the story.
You play as a young boy traveling through a dystopian world. You’re on the run, constantly needing to hide from and outsmart your foes. You’ll solve a variety of different environmental puzzles, as well as some more…interesting ones later on. The gameplay and story are both very much intertwined, and it makes the creepy setting feel even more unsettling.
Combine all of this with its wicked soundtrack, and you have one of the best dystopian stories in gaming history. Did I mention it manages to tell its story without anyone uttering a single word? Everything is done through the environment, visuals, and audio. As much as I enjoyed playing Limbo, there’s just no comparing that game to Inside.
- Developer: Askiisoft
- Release Date: April 18th, 2019
- File Size: 200 MB
Katana Zero is described on Steam as a “stylish neo-noir, action-platformer featuring breakneck action and instant-death combat.” If that’s not the perfect descriptor, then I don’t know what is! The game sees you play as a katana-wielding assassin using a drug that affects his perception of time.
With this, he is able to infiltrate buildings jam-packed with a variety of different enemies, slashing his way through them to get to his main target. It is very easy to die in this game, and it requires you to learn from your mistakes and be very precise with your attacks. It is for all intents and purposes a 2D version of Hotline Miami.
The story is very well-written as well, and in between the intense fights, we get to see the inner workings of our hero’s mind and his struggles with his own mental health. Dialogue is interesting and realistic, and in some cases, you can even choose where the conversation goes through dialogue choices! It’s hard to explain why I love it without spoiling it, so it’s really better if you play it for yourself.
- Developer: Klei Entertainment
- Release Date: April 23rd, 2013
- File Size: 500 MB
Now for another personal favorite of mine, we have Klei Entertainment’s beloved survival-horror game, Don’t Starve! Where to even begin with this? This is a very high-quality indie survival game that sees you waking up on a mysterious island. You must quickly make a campfire and gather food so you can survive the night without an empty stomach.
The game constantly has you on the move, and you’re always thinking about where to go and what to do next. There is a large variety of systems you need to worry about, such as the approaching winter, your hunger, and even your very sanity! It’s one of the best-made survival games out there and it’s a must-play for anyone who’s a fan of the genre.
Once you’re done with the main game, there are several content-packed DLCs for you to choose from! From visiting new locations and biomes to fighting new huge enemies to making friends with enigmatic pigmen, you’ll never run out of things to do in Don’t Starve!
Baba is You
- Developer: Hempuli Oy
- Release Date: March 13th, 2019
- File Size: 200 MB
If you’re getting tired of all the gritty dystopian action games and the survival horror stuff, how about we take a break with a nice relaxing puzzle game? Baba is You is an incredibly unique 2D block-pushing puzzle game. You play as a weird, rabbit…thing…named Baba, who is tasked with reaching the flag at the end of the level.
What really makes this game so unique is the fact that you can literally change the rules of the game to solve puzzles! See three blocks that say “Rock is Push”? Swap out “Rock” with “Wall” and now you can push around any wall in the level! You can change the rules for practically anything, including Baba himself!
Of course, certain levels prevent you from changing too much about the game. After all, you don’t want things to get too easy. What follows this is a nicely balanced and well-tested puzzle adventure that keeps you on your toes and forces you to really analyze everything on the screen. Baba is You is by far one of the most unique games I’ve ever played, and I can’t recommend it enough.
- Developer: Toby Fox
- Release Date: September 15th, 2015
- File Size: 200 MB
Here’s one you’ve definitely heard of before. UNDERTALE by Toby Fox is an indie RPG where you’re trapped deep below ground in a strange, fantasy world. You must travel through a land full of monsters in order to reach the gate that blocks your path and escape.
UNDERTALE is a game with really great writing and humor. Shortly after its release back in 2015, many of the characters became instant icons who are still memed and talked about to this very day. There is no shortage of witty dialogue, unique characters, and interesting locales for you to explore.
At its core, UNDERTALE is an excellent RPG centered around choice. You can kill monsters the old-fashioned way, or spare and befriend them. Kill too many and towns will evacuate, harder bosses will appear, and the story will dramatically shift. It’s a game with loads of replayability, and there’s always something new to discover on every playthrough.
- Developer: Mobius Digital
- Release Date: June 18th, 2020
- File Size: 8 GB
And finally, sitting at the very top spot of the best indie games for PC (2022), we have Outer Wilds! I made this ranking list solely so I could talk about this game. Outer Wilds is a space exploration game. You play the role of a young astronaut on his first trip to the stars! But there’s a catch — you’re stuck in a time loop, and you need to explore every inch of the star system to figure out how to break it.
At the start of the game, you can visit any of the different planets and celestial bodies in the solar system. There’s a huge amount of environmental diversity in this game. You have an oceanic planet covered in storms, a desert planet filled with ancient ruins, and even a planet with a black-hole resting at its core!
Another amazing thing about the Outer Wilds is its puzzle-solving, as well as how you uncover the mysteries of the precursor civilization that once inhabited the system. There are a huge amount of well-designed environmental puzzles, secret areas to explore, and text logs to translate. It really makes you feel like a space archaeologist!
Speaking of puzzles, be sure not to look up any walkthroughs, even if you get stuck on one that is really difficult. It’s best to just drop it and come back to it later. This is the kind of game you can only play once, and figuring everything out on your own is incredibly satisfying.
It’s hard to describe just how wonderful and inspiring this game is. The sense of exploration and awe as you uncover ancient mysteries, the satisfaction of solving an environmental puzzle all on your own, and even the simple joy of roasting marshmallows while listening to the game’s ambient and acoustic guitar soundtrack are just things you really need to experience for yourself first hand.
Join the High Ground
And so ends our list for the top ten best indie games for PC in 2022! There are many great indie games I wish I could have included on this list, but sadly, there just wasn’t enough room. So be sure to let us know down in the comments what ones you were hoping to see!
Be sure to subscribe to our weekly newsletter once you are done with that! We offer regular content on all the best games, including more top ten lists just like this one.