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The Best Indie Games Of 2021

With the widespread success of several indie games like Super Meat Boy, Stardew Valley, and Undertale in the past decade, indie games seem to have become more and more popular. There's even a popular documentary called Indie Game: The Movie, which followed independent developers and explored the industry from their point of view. Not only that, but indie game Hades had a massive presence in the 2020 gaming awards.

There's a certain charm to indie games that just can't be captured by many AAA titles. Fans of indie games know this, and it's why there are so many dedicated indie game enthusiasts. These games cover all sorts of genres, including hack n' slash action-fests, adorable visual novels, and even farming sims. Essentially, there's something for everyone in these titles. 

Whether you're one of those dedicated indie game fans or you're new to gaming as a whole, you'll want to check out these indie favorites from 2021.

Everhood

Do you like to question your existence or face existential truths in the form of musical battles? Everhood will make you do just that as you'll battle foes in a unique rhythmic fashion. This odd little RPG received excellent reviews. A review from Hardcore Gamer said that "Everhood is likely to be one of the most surprising, smart, and moving games to surface in 2021."

It's not all a battle of rhythm, either. The game's trailer shows off a variety of gameplay mechanics, including a race and even a match in the style of a board game. Writing for Gaming Trend, reviewer Poch Saldana remarked that the soundtrack was "repeat-friendly" — which might be one of the best compliments a game based on music could receive. 

Between the unique gameplay and neon-bright world, the game enchanted critics. With only positive reviews and overwhelmingly positive reviews on Steam, the game didn't disappoint. It was also one of the best RPG games of 2021!

Sunlight

Sunlight offers players a break from the hustle and bustle of life with a journey through a hand-painted forest. According to the official description of the game on SteamSunlight will only take about 30 minutes for players to complete. However, the price is meant to reflect that brief runtime, and it didn't stop critics from raving about it.

The game is meant to be a hike where the trees guide the player, and it's filled to the brim with classical inspiration. The art style is influenced by artists like Monet, and the music in the game features a robust choir of singers. The voice acting in the game was provided by a group of performers from all over the world. The game's meditative story is rather simple, but Screen Rant's Rob Gordon felt that Sunlight provides gamers with a welcome "little moment of peace."

Given the low price and the short playtime, it's a must-play for gamers who appreciate both classic and modern art.

Skul: The Hero Slayer

Skul: The Hero Slayer is the kind of traditional 2D indie action-platformer that fans know and love. Both critics and fans have praised the game for its well-developed combat system and fun style.

The premise of the game is that a demonic castle has been overrun by heroes and the humans in the area. Players step into the role of Skul, the last demon not killed or captured, as he fights for his home. With a combat system that's deceptively complex, Skul has to fight his way through various adventurers to reclaim the castle and save his fellow demons. As one critic said, the game "balances risk-and-reward elements with player skill to make a wholly engaging action platformer." 

Despite being set in a literal demon castle, the art style is surprisingly bright and full of color. If you love traditional platformers with a solid dose of action, then you can't miss Skul: The Hero Slayer.

The Life and Suffering of Sir Brante

The Life and Suffering of Sir Brante is a "narrative-driven RPG" that literally takes place in a journal, according to the Steam page for the game. The game is focused on the player's journey to rise through the ranks of social ranks of the empire to inherit the Brante family legacy.

In the pages of your diary, you'll make decisions through your life that may decide the ultimate fate of the empire you live in. Starting out at the bottom of the barrel as a commoner, you'll have four "chances" (or lives) to use as you rise to the top. There are plenty of different ways to live out your in-game life, and you can even continue to stay a commoner if you accept your fate. The skills you acquire throughout your life will help you and your relationships with other people, and this will all contribute to what you can and can't do as your character progresses.

The game received praise from critics, even those that aren't into visual novels. If you enjoy replayable story-driven games, The Life and Suffering of Sir Brante may be right up your alley.

Cyber Shadow

It's time for the next 2D side-scrolling indie platformer that fans and critics can't get enough of. Cyber Shadow is a critically-acclaimed hack n' slash platformer that pits players against one 8-bit enemy after another.

The story is set in a world where "synthetic lifeforms" have taken over everything. Shadow, the playable character, is fighting to figure out just what happened to the world. Nintendo World Report complimented the game by saying "Cyber Shadow knows why people have fond memories of NES-era action platformers, whether it's the thoughtful level layouts, unforgettable boss battle, or eye-catching visual embellishments." If you love retro games, then you'll probably want to pick this indie game up.

The game's Steam page highlighted its soundtrack and "animated cinematic story scenes" that contribute towards the game's overall retro-futuristic vibe. All in all, Cyber Shadow a great new action platformer for those who love that genre. In fact, Cyber Shadow is also one of the best platformers of 2021.