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25 new indie games to keep on your radar in 2021

Venba
(Image credit: Visai Studios)

Last year, we saw a lot of wonderful indie games release. From big surprise hits to delightfully comforting gems, 2020 proved just how diverse, innovative, and creative the world of indies can be. As we steadily make our way through 2021, the indie games just keep on coming, with plenty of announcements and reveals for exciting indie games to look forward to. The recent Wholesome Direct showcase during E3 gave us a glimpse at some of the games on the horizon and further proved just how many indie gems there to add to our ever-growing wishlists. 

With puzzlers, platformers, RPGs, story-rich narrative adventures, and much more besides, there is an abundance of standout indie games to keep your eye out for this year. While this list continues to grow and be updated, it covers just a small amount of the overwhelming number of interesting indies to look out for. 

Lake

Lake game

(Image credit: Gamious)

Release date: September 1, 2021
Platform(s): Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC

Developer Gamious is bringing us a relaxing adventure later this year that will take us back to 1986. Set in Oregon, you play as 40-something-year-old Meredith Weiss, who steps away from her busy big city life for a few weeks to return to her hometown. Meredith helps out her dad by taking over the job of delivering mail. As you drive around the quiet streets posting letters and parcels to the residents of the town, you'll encounter and get to know many of the locals and learn more about Meredith in the process. You also get to choose what you want to do after work and select dialogue responses when you interact with others. From checking out the demo, I was instantly drawn to its art style and atmosphere, and it has some really fun nods to classic 80's movies. I can't wait to see what else the game delivers when it releases. 

Dustborn 

Dustborn

(Image credit: Red Thread Games)

Release date: TBC
Platform(s): PS5, Xbox Series X, PC

With a stylish art style that takes inspiration from graphic novels, Dustborn takes place across ten comic-book style issues. Set in the near future in the year 2030, you play as outcast and ex-con Pax who sets out on a road trip across to get a mysterious package to Nova Scotia. You're what's known as an "Anomal", which is someone who has superhuman powers. See, in Dustborn, words have power and you can use your words to manipulate those around you with the power of disinformation. Pax is also four months pregnant and needs some help. Along the way, you'll be joined by other outcasts who will form your crew as you hit the road and explore various pit stops along the way. With a diverse cast of characters, an eye-grabbing art style, and word-fueled powers, Dustborn is one noteworthy indie to watch out for. 

Moonglow Bay 

Moonglow Bay

(Image credit: Coatsink)

Release date: TBC 2021
Platform(s): Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC  

Developer Bunnyhug and publisher Coatsink are bringing us a fishing RPG set during the 1980s. Taking place along the eastern coastline of Canada, you take on the role of a rookie angler who decides to try and fulfill their late partner's final wish by taking up the family business. With various different biomes in the town of Moonglow Bay, there's a diverse range of fishing techniques to try, such as ice fishing, casting nets, and setting traps, and you'll also be able to cook your catch and sell recipes. With secrets and stories to uncover in the town, a colorful voxel art style and a relaxing feeling, Moonglow Bay looks set to take us on one very charming fishing adventure. 

Toem

Toem

(Image credit: Something We Made )

Release date: Summer 2021
Platform(s): PC 

Developer Something We Made is bringing us its debut game Toem this year. Described as a wholesome adventure that's all about taking photos and helping communities, the striking art style brings to life a world inspired by Scandinavian landscapes. As an amateur photographer who seeks to see a "magical phenomena known as Toem", you can travel by bus to explore different regions, soaking up all of the sights and encountering various characters along the way who you can try to help. Accompanied by calming music, Toem looks set to offer a relaxing adventure full of exploration and charm. 

Where the Heart Leads

Where the Heart Leads

(Image credit: Armature Studio)

Release date: July 13, 2021
Platform(s): PS4, PS5

Developer Armature Studio's co-founder and director Todd Keller says the team's focus when it came to making Where the Heart Leads was to "create a narrative experience that wraps its arms around you - like a well-worn, comfortable couch, or your favorite sweater." Following the story of Whit Anderson, this surreal narrative adventure takes you on a journey through time, where the decisions you make in Whit's past, present, and future will shape the course of his life and the lives of others. With many branching paths to discover, and choices that have meaningful consequences, and an ever-changing world, Where the Heart Leads explores a lifetime of moments that are yours to shape.  

A Shiba Story

A Shiba Story

(Image credit: Foxdog Farms)

Release date: 2021
Platform(s): PC

If there's one thing I can never get enough of, it's games featuring very good dogs. A Shiba Story from developer Foxdog Farms sees you take on the role of a rookie dogsitter who's tasked with looking after a Shiba Inu called Sunday. The adorable Shiba is said to be stubborn and quite a difficult character. When it comes to petting this pup, you're going to have to put your skills to the test to try and befriend your new canine companion. From picking up Sunday, playing fetch, and exploring the neighborhood, you'll start to learn your Shiba's moods from his body language and barks. Can you pet the dog? Well, if you earn Sunday's love and respect, you just might be able to. 

Bear and Breakfast  

Bear and Breakfast

(Image credit: Gummy Cat)

Release date: TBC 2021
Platform(s): PC, Nintendo Switch 

There's nothing we need more this year than some laidback goodness, and developer Gummy Cat's upcoming management game looks like just the ticket. In Bear and Breakfast, you get to manage your very own B&B in the woods, and customize your inn with all manner of guest rooms, bathrooms, and much more besides that you can decorate as you wish to ensure your guests have a pleasant stay. Oh, and did I mention you get to do all this as a bear called Hank? Yes, that's right. You play as an adorable bear. With secrets to find, characters to meet, and side quests to discover, there's plenty to do as you try to maintain the reputation of your very own bed and breakfast. 

 Kena: Bridge of Spirits

Kena: Bridge of Spirits

(Image credit: Ember Lab)

Release date: August 24, 2021
Platform(s): PS4, PS5, PC (Epic Games Store) 

Set to release in August, developer Ember Lab looks set to take us on one very magical journey in its debut title, Kena: Bridge of Spirits. Taking on the role of a young spirit guide called Kena, you make your way to an abandoned village in search of a sacred shrine, where you'll encounter corrupted spirits and a strange curse. Channeling the spirit realm, Kena can use special abilities and gain the help of adorable little spirits known as The Rot. These cute little fuzzy friends help Kena restore and alter the environment in order to progress. Kena: Bridge of Spirits already looks very promising, with some Pikmin vibes, plenty of intrigues, and a beautiful world to explore.

Sable

Sable

(Image credit: Shedworks)

Release date: TBC 2021
Platform(s): Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PC 

From developer Shedworks and publisher Raw Fury comes Sable, a gorgeously stylized upcoming adventure that draws inspiration for its design from a blend of European comics and Japanese animation. Following protagonist Sable, who's on a rite of passage known as a "gliding", you explore the world's vast deserts and ruins at your own pace. From riding on your hoverbike, to climbing up walls, and walking across the sand, are puzzles to solve, fellow nomads to encounter, and secrets to uncover. With no combat and a focus on exploration, Shedwork's eye-catching open-world is one I can't wait to get lost in. 

Open Roads 

Open Worlds

(Image credit: Annapurna Interactive)

Release date: TBC 2021
Platform(s): PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PC 

Gone Home and Tacoma developer Fullbright's upcoming release Open Roads follows the story of Tess Devine and her mother Opal, who set out on a road trip they won't soon forget. After uncovering old letters and notes in their attic, the pair journey to old family properties in a bid to learn more about their family's past and long buried secrets. Fullbright has a talent for bringing compelling story-driven experiences to life in interesting ways, and I can't wait to see how this story unfolds. It's also great to see a game explore the bond and relationship between a mother and daughter.

Season 

Season

(Image credit: Scavengers)

Release date: TBC
Platform(s): PS5, PC 

Everyone needs some space to relax, and Scavenger Studios' Season looks set to provide just that by whisking you away on a bicycle road trip in its lush, beautifully stylized world. Set in a "surreal version of the mid-twentieth century", you explore through the eyes of a young woman who leaves a secluded community for the very first time. By recording the life around you by taking photographs, drawing, and documenting what you see, you'll venture to different societies, collecting artifacts and memories. There's also an element of mystery wrapped up in Season's unique setting, and I can hardly wait to discover everything it has to offer. 

Weird West 

Weird West

(Image credit: Devolver Digital)

Release date: Fall 2021
Platform(s): PC

Saddle up and get ready to venture into WolfEye Studios' fantasy reimagining of the wild west. In this isometric action RPG from the co-creator of Dishonored and Prey, Weird West presents you with the adventures of five different heroes whose destinies are all intertwined and connected. Also described as an "immersive sim", there are many different playstyles to try out, and every choice you make will be reflected in the game; each hero's journey will be tied to the actions you take. With its dark take on the wild west, you'll encounter fantastical creatures as well as fellow gunslingers. It sounds like one highly replayable adventure.

Venba 

Venba

(Image credit: Visai Studios)

Release date: November 2021
Platform(s): PC 

Venba, from Toronto-based developer Visai Games, is a narrative cooking game set in the 1980s. Taking on the role of an Indian mother who immigrates to Canada with her family, you cook all kinds of dishes and bring back lost recipes as you go. Experienced through branching dialogue, Venba tells a story of "family, love, and loss" – it already sounds like it has all of the right ingredients for one very charming experience full of warmth and heart.  

Stray

Stray

(Image credit: Sony)

Release date: October 2021
Platforms: PS5, PC 

In Stray, from developer BlueTwelve Studio, you play as a cat who roams the rundown alleys of a forgotten cybercity. Yes, that's right. You're a cat. Need I say more? Experiencing the sights and sounds of the neon-tinted futuristic setting through the eyes of a feline, you can make use of your agile form and be stealthy as and explore the world from the ground or up on high with your nimble paws. The cat is also said to befriend a small flying drone called B12, which sounds adorable. Facing many dangers in the Cybercity's underbelly, you journey with your drone companion to find a way out. Sounds pawsome, doesn't it? (I'm sorry.) 

Unpacking  

Unpacking

(Image credit: Witch Beam)

Release date: TBC 2021
Platform(s): PC

Taking things out of boxes when you move in reality is stressful and, frankly, no fun at all. But in Unpacking, from developer Witch Beam, it becomes incredibly satisfying and unexpectedly relaxing. I tried out the demo for this indie gem last year, and I can hardly wait to dive right back in and continue neatly organising everything just so. Described as a "zen" puzzle game, you go about unpacking boxes in various different rooms and setting items down so everything brings the room together. The things we own can say a lot about us too, so you'll learn more about the person from the possessions you unpack. 

She Dreams Elsewhere 

She Dreams Elsewhere

(Image credit: Studio Zevere)

Release date: TBC
Platform(s): Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC

She Dreams Elsewhere from Studio Zevere is a "surreal RPG" full of striking pops of color and distinctly eye-catching character designs that really evoke its dreamscape setting. Exploring themes such as mental health and self-identity, you play a woman named Thalia who struggles with anxiety and has to face the nightmares that are keeping her stuck in a comatose state. Along with its unique art style and interesting dream setting, She Dreams Elsewhere also features turn-based battles, various different playstyles to try out, and a "connection system" that allows you to bond with the characters you meet. 

The Artful Escape  

The Artful Escape

(Image credit: Annapurna Interactive)

Release date: TBC 2021
Platform(s): Xbox One, PC 

The Artful Escape is the first game from developer Beethoven & Dinosaur, and it's firmly on our radar thanks to its stylish, imaginative art, guitar-shredding music, and psychedelic vibes. In this 2D platformer, you play as Francis Vendetti as he gets ready for his very first live performance. Diving into a world of his own imagination to get inspiration for his own stage persona, you journey through surreal landscapes made of sound that will play as you move. With outlandish encounters and plenty of slick-looking moves, The Artful Escape looks like one musical journey you'll want to take note of. 

Teacup  

Teacup

(Image credit: Smarto Club)

Release date: TBC 2021
Platform(s): PC

In Smarto Club's narrative adventure, you play as a shy, introverted frog called Teacup and must get everything together for a tea party. Teacup loves drinking tea and reading books, and I can already tell that she's going to steal my heart later this year. After running out of tea (the horror), you set out into the woods to find herbs and gather a list of ingredients to restock the pantry. With it's wonderful illustrated art style and adorable characters, I'm more than ready to take a stroll through its colourfully inviting world. 

Kinder World 

Kinder World

(Image credit: Lumi Interactive)

Release date: TBC 2021
Platform(s): iOS, Android 

Kinder World from Melbourne-based developer Lumi Interactive looks set to offer some much-needed relaxation. As a game for "healing, houseplants, and practising kindness", you take care of plants and do small activities such as breathing exercises in an environment you can design. With delightful art, an adorable Samoyed dog character, and a variety of plant types, it sounds like a fantastic way to take a little break during the day. The plants you care for will also feature procedurally generated growth, so it will be unique to you. 

Forever Ago 

Forever Ago

(Image credit: Third Shift)

Release date: TBC
Platform(s): PC

Forever Ago, the debut game from developer Third Shift, takes you on a road trip in the shoes of Alfred, a man in his senior years who journeys north in "search of redemption". Using your instant camera to capture and document Alfred's journey, you'll solve environmental puzzles, explore by interacting with objects to learn more about the world around you, and encounter various characters along the way. With a wonderful art style and a story that promises to explore loss and regret, as well as hope and friendship, Forever Ago looks set to take us on quite the adventure. 

Garden Story 

Garden Story

(Image credit: VIZ Media)

Release date: Summer 2021
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC

Starring an adorable little grape called Concord, Picgram's Garden Story promises to scratch that farming sim itch in 2021. Concord is the youngest grape in the grove, and as the new Guardian, you set out to bring a community together and restore the island. With a host of fruit friends to help you, you'll take on the invading Rot threatening your home. With a delightful pixelated art style, a cozy feel, and lots of cute characters, Garden Story looks full of charm. 

A Long Journey to an Uncertain End 

A Long Journey to an Uncertain End

(Image credit: Crispy Creative)

Release date: TBC 2021
Platform(s): PC

A Long Journey to an Uncertain End from developer Crispy Creative is an LGBTQ+ space opera management game that's already giving off serious Firefly vibes. In fact, the devs have even said it's like Firefly meets The Fifth Element, and I'm so here for it. As you travel around the universe, you'll recruit a ragtag crew of eclectic characters and take on any job you can get to maintain the necessary resources and repairs to keep on flying. But you're not your run-of-the-mill rogue captain. Oh, no. Instead, you're the actual ship. Yes, that's right. You play as a sentient outlawed spaceship. It sounds out of this world. 

Here Comes Niko!  

Here Comes Niko

(Image credit: Gears for Breakfast)

Release date: August 3, 2021
Platform(s): PC, Nintendo Switch

The moment I saw the tagline for Here Comes Niko from developer Frog Vibes, I wanted to know more about it. Described as a "cosy platformer for tired people", you play as Niko who applies for a job at Tadpole Incorporated as a "professional friend." Working for your new frog boss (yes, that's right, you work for a frog who wears a tie), you're tasked with going to various islands to lend a helping hand. With its quirky animal characters and wonderful, cartoony art style, Here Comes Niko looks absolutely delightful.

Mineko's Night Market 

Mineko's Night Market

(Image credit: Humble Games)

Release date: TBC 2021
Platform(s): PC, Nintendo Switch 

From developer Mewoza Games comes Mineko's Night Market, a game all about crafting unusual items with resources you find around the world and selling them to residents at the weekly night market. As Mineko, a young girl who's just arrived on a Japanese-inspired island at the base of Mount Fugu, you'll encounter and get to know the locals, uncover the secrets, and try to help restore the struggling village that you now call home. With its vibrant, quirky art style and all manner of activities to get stuck into – including cat racing – Mineko's Night Market looks like one very charming adventure sim.  

Dordogne

Dordogne

(Image credit: Un Je Ne Sais Quoi)

Release date: TBC 2021
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC

Dordogne is a narrative adventure with an enchanting 3D watercolor style that looks utterly beautiful. In the debut game from French studio Un Je Ne Sais Quoi, you take on the role of a 32-year-old woman called Mimi who visits the home of her grandmother who has recently passed away. By finding letters and solving puzzles left behind by her grandmother, Mimi immerses herself in the memories of her childhood and reconnects with the girl she once was. Playing as both the past and present Mimi, you'll collect photos and objects to create a journal that will be unique to your playthrough as you explore the French region of Dordogne. 


Looking ahead to more future releases? Here are all of the new games 2021.

Heather Wald

I started out writing for the games section of a student-run website as an undergrad, and continued to write about games in my free time during retail and temp jobs for a number of years. Eventually, I earned an MA in magazine journalism at Cardiff University, and soon after got my first official role in the industry as a content editor for Stuff magazine. After writing about all things tech and games-related, I then did a brief stint as a freelancer before I landed my role as a staff writer here at GamesRadar+. Now I get to write features, previews, and reviews, and when I'm not doing that, you can usually find me lost in any one of the Dragon Age or Mass Effect games, tucking into another delightful indie, or drinking far too much tea for my own good.