2021 proved to be a solid year for indie games, as we got a little bit of everything--tough turn-based RPG Cris Tales, artistic journey Chicory: A Colorful Tale, frantic dodgeball extravaganza Dodgeball Academia, haunting and layered deck-builder Inscryption, and so much more. Two indies in particular, Before Your Eyes and The Forgotten City, are, in our humble opinion, some of the Best Games of 2021. But 2021 is officially over; it's about time we started looking forward to 2022 and a whole new batch of indie games.
There's an obscene number of indie games already scheduled to launch in 2022, but these 27 have managed to really catch our eye as the year kicks off. We're getting quite the variety of protagonists and stories this year, from Thanatos' daughter struggling to escape the Land of the Dead to a group of dinosaurs grappling with their future as they graduate high school. We've included a handful of follow-up efforts from indie studios that have already made their mark, but we made sure to note plenty of cool-looking titles from lesser-known developers making their debut as well. The 27 games are listed alphabetically.
In Afterlove EP, you play as Rama, a musician whose girlfriend, Cinta, has passed away. Except, she seemingly hasn't fully left, as Cinta's voice now lives in Rama's head. The story that follows is one of music, grief, and relationships that mixes together the mechanics of dating simulators and rhythm games--as Rama, you'll explore the city, make music, and maybe fall in love again. The game features an original soundtrack, a charming manga-inspired art style, and multiple endings based on your choices. Afterlove EP is coming to Switch and PC in Summer 2022.
You can wishlist Afterlove EP on Steam.
In Beacon Pines, you are both the reader of a book and its main character, Luka. As you complete certain actions in the story, you'll unlock additional charms that you can use to replace certain words in the book, causing branching paths in the story to lead you to new outcomes. You can always flip back and change those words, too, allowing you to explore alternate storylines and acquire different charms. As Luka, you explore the town of Beacon Pines in search of the truth behind the mysterious factory in the nearby forest while also trying to just survive the summer, meet new friends, and deal with your bully. Beacon Pines is coming to PC in 2022.
You can wishlist Beacon Pines on Steam. A free demo is also available on Steam.
Bear And Breakfast
Bear and Breakfast sees you take over an abandoned shack and, with the help of your friends, transform it into a bed and breakfast. Oh, and you're also a bear named Hank, and your friends are woodland creatures. This management adventure game will test your ingenuity when it comes to attracting human tourists and keeping them happy long enough that they continue spending money. There also seems to be a bit of a mystery underlying this cozy-looking management sim, as you can uncover details about something strange and darkly sinister that's going on in the deepest parts of the forest. Bear and Breakfast is coming to Switch and PC in 2022.
You can wishlist Bear and Breakfast on Steam.
Though the style isn't used as often anymore, there are still games that utilize fixed camera angles to create an unnerving atmosphere. That's what Broken Pieces seems to be going for; it's a psychological thriller where you play as Elise, a woman caught in a time loop. To escape, you'll have to explore the post-Cold War climate of the French coastal village Saint-Exil, which houses a ritualistic cult. Broken Pieces is coming to PC "soon."
You can wishlist Broken Pieces on Steam.
Citizen Sleeper is a tabletop RPG-inspired game where you play as a digitized consciousness placed into an artificial body that's owned by a powerful corporation. You manage to escape your servitude and find yourself on the Erlin's Eye, a ruined space station that's home to thousands of people like you--just trying to survive the capitalist hellscape one day at a time. Every cycle, you'll awaken into an ever-evolving society, one influenced by the actions you take. Citizen Sleeper is coming to PC in 2022.
You can wishlist Citizen Sleeper on Steam.
In Frogsong, you play as Chorus, a little tree frog that society expects to become a person of religion. But Chorus doesn't want that life--despite their small stature, they want to become a warrior, and so they move to Boreala to train with the best of the best at the Defense Guild. However, with an opposing army approaching and a strange rumor causing trouble around the village, Chorus is suddenly thrust into an undertaking more dangerous than they had anticipated. The game features expressive hand-drawn 2D animation, giving all the characters adorable appearances despite the heavy themes of the narrative. Frogsong is coming to Switch and PC in 2022.
You can wishlist Frogsong on Steam.
Goodbye Volcano High
Goodbye Volcano High rests on the shared knowledge that we all know what happened to the dinosaurs--if you happen to have not heard, just know things didn't go very well. In Goodbye Volcano High, you play as Fang, a dino enjoying their final year of high school just before it ends, giving you precious little time to make amends, admit your feelings, write music, and decide what you want to do for the rest of your (presumably very short) life. Goodbye Volcano High is coming to PS5, PS4, and PC in 2022.
Have A Nice Death
In Have a Nice Death, your vacation plans are thrown out the window after your subordinates at work start slacking on the job--an act made all the more excruciating when you're so overworked. But you're Death itself, so you can take matters into your own hands. With scythe in hand, you set out to punish your employees, and thanks to being Death, you can return from your own demise as many times as necessary when they fight back. This narrative translates into a 2D action roguelite, one with more than 30 unique weapons and spells that you can find, upgrade, and combo together. Have a Nice Death is coming to PC via Steam Early Access in March 2022.
You can wishlist Have a Nice Death on Steam.
High Elo Girls
High Elo Girls is a visual novel in which you play as Rafaela, a college dropout who becomes a substitute member of Momentum Gaming, a MOBA esports team. The storyline takes place over a 12-week period, during which you can befriend, romance, or fight your new teammates. The storyline can branch depending on your actions--you can try to avoid making ripples by remaining in everyone's shadow, for example, or support your own ambitions and take someone's coveted spot on the team as the new Top Lane, DPS, Support, Mid Lane, or Jungler. High Elo Girls is coming to PC in Fall 2022.
You can wishlist High Elo Girls on Steam.
Letters sees you play as Sarah as you experience her life through letters and messages--first via handwritten pen pal notes and then online message boards and social media sites. The game tasks you with arranging the words and letters on the page to solve riddles. Perhaps you need to get past a drawing of a stranded sailor to flip to the next page, so you break apart the word "friendship" that Sarah has written there in order to obtain the word "ship" and give the sailor a boat for him to leave the page and open a path for you. All the while, your actions will dictate Sarah's life, opening branching paths that determine how she grows into a teenager and ultimately an adult. Letters is coming to Switch and PC in 2022.
You can wishlist Letters on Steam. A free demo is also available on Steam.
Loco Motive is a point-and-click mystery adventure game in which you play as lawyer Arthur, rookie detective Herman, and secret service agent Diana, all of whom have become the prime suspects in the murder of wealthy heiress Lady Unterwald. Stuck on a train with the true killer, you'll have to carefully sleuth out the truth and discover who actually wanted Lady Unterwald dead. Set in the 1930s, Loco Motive will feature a jazz soundtrack inspired by the time, and if the trailer is anything to go by, the game will be quite funny, too. Loco Motive is coming to Switch and PC in Summer 2022.
You can wishlist Loco Motive on Steam.
In Neon White, you play as a demon from Hell who's competing against other demons for a chance to ascend to Heaven, racing through first-person shooter combat gauntlets in a celestial speedrun. As you move through a level, you can collect cards which are added to your hand--playing a card allows you to temporarily use whichever weapon is depicted on it (like a shotgun or pistol) while discarding the card provides you with a special ability like a dash or double jump. Whether you're aiming to rank high on the leaderboards or find secrets, you'll have to learn how to make split second decisions and use/discard cards in quick succession to blast past enemies and reach tough-to-reach locations. There's also a bit of a visual novel component to the game, where you can befriend and enter relationships with your fellow demons, learning more about their mysterious pasts, as well as your own. Neon White is coming to Switch and PC in 2022.
You can wishlist Neon White on Steam.
OlliOlli World is the third entry in the OlliOlli series and sees you grind, trick, and wallrun through the colorful (and somewhat strange) world of Radlandia, a place that's all about skateboarding. OlliOlli World is a departure from the linear roots of the series for a more open approach--for example, each level contains multiple avenues to reach the end (rewarding experimentation) and there's a huge world to explore too. The game features a varied customization system, allowing you to create your ideal character and unlock more looks as you play. OlliOlli World is coming to Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS5, PS4, Switch, and PC on February 8.
Oxenfree II: Lost Signals
Taking place five years after the events of Oxenfree, Oxenfree II: Lost Signals sees you play as Riley Poverly, a 32-year-old woman who returns to her hometown of Camena to take an entry-level job as an environmental researcher. As you navigate the coastal town, you'll soon discover that not everything is as it appears and come into conflict with Parentage, a mysterious collective that seems to be manipulating the same strange anomaly that Alex first discovered in the original Oxenfree. Oxenfree II: Lost Signals is coming to PS5, PS4, Switch, and PC in 2022.
Planet Of Lana
Planet of Lana is a 2D puzzle-platformer with a hand-painted art style. You play as a young girl accompanied by a cute little creature. You live on a planet that seems like a garden paradise, until it's invaded by scary-looking machines. In order to preserve the natural beauty of the planet, you'll have to go on a planet-wide odyssey, where you'll regularly need to rely on stealth and your wits to navigate action sequences and puzzles. Planet of Lana is coming to Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC in 2022.
You can wishlist Planet of Lana on Steam.
Prim stars a teenager by the same name, who is the daughter of Thanatos, Angel of Death. Prim is forbidden from going to Earth--she's told by her father that she'd develop immensely dangerous powers if she did--but when she begins having dreams about a human boy calling out to her for help, she decides to sneak out of the Land of the Dead and go to Earth anyway. Featuring a Tim Burton-inspired hand-drawn art style and traditional frame-by-frame animation, Prim looks to be a visual treat. The point-and-click adventure seemingly has a welcome dose of comedy too, with fully voiced lines giving Prim a dry sarcastic demeanor. Prim is coming to PC in 2022.
You can wishlist Prim on Steam. A free demo is also available on Steam.
Set in an alternate 1980s America, Replaced is a 2.5D action-platformer where you play as R.E.A.C.H., an AI who has been forcibly trapped in a human body and now must adapt to living in a dystopian society following a nuclear event. The game looks incredibly cinematic, featuring platforming and combat all captured in a gorgeous pixel art style. Replaced is coming to Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC in 2022.
You can wishlist Replaced on Steam.
River City Girls 2
Misako, Kyoko, Kunio, and Riki are joined by newcomers Marian and Provie in River City Girls 2, a direct follow-up to the incredible 2019 beat-'em-up River City Girls (which you should absolutely play if you haven't already). The sequel adds new locations, items, abilities, and enemies, as well as a day-night cycle. Like the original game, River City Girls 2 features a campaign that can be tackled solo or with a friend, comic book-inspired cutscenes, and full voiceover in both Japanese and English. It already sounds like the game will also have a bangin' soundtrack, with River City Girls composer Megan McDuffee returning. River City Girls 2 is coming to Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS5, PS4, Switch, and PC in Summer 2022.
Sea Of Stars
Both mechanically and artistically inspired by the turn-based RPGs of the '90s, Sea of Stars sees you play as the two Children of the Solstice: Zale and Valere. Together, the two possess the powers of the sun and moon, allowing them to perform Eclipse Magic--the only hope that the world has to overcome The Fleshmancer, an alchemist responsible for the twisted monsters now roaming the land. Combat in Sea of Stars revolves around timing, encouraging you to strategically press buttons in sync with attack animations in order to achieve more powerful results. Sea of Stars is coming to Switch, PC, and other, "to be determined" platforms in Holiday 2022.
You can wishlist Sea of Stars on Steam.
In a follow-up to 2017's Serial Cleaner, Serial Cleaners sees you take on the role of four cleaners in the '90s who are responsible for clearing up crime scenes to help criminals and mob hitman get away with murder. Each cleaner in this stealth action game possesses unique skills--veteran Bob has old-school tricks the others lack, Lati's street smarts make her adept at blending in and avoiding police, psychopathic Hal can confront problems with overwhelming brute force, and computer jock Erin can utilize her tech skills to short-circuit electronics and small size to crawl through vents. Serial Cleaners is coming to Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS5, PS4, Switch, and PC in 2022.
You can wishlist Serial Cleaners on Steam.
In martial arts brawler Sifu, every time you die, your character will age a little more and, in the process, attain a greater mastery over kung fu. Die enough times and the young warrior you started out as will become an elderly but highly skilled master fighter. This is a helpful tradeoff in your quest to confront and take revenge on the five kung fu masters responsible for your family's death--you also take less damage as you age, but die too many times, and you'll become so old that you'll die for real. Sifu's combat focuses on close-range fights, encouraging you to use the environment to your advantage and make do with makeshift weapons. Sifu is coming to PS5, PS4, and PC on February 8.
Somerville looks eerily creepy, and the dystopian atmosphere seen in its trailers seems to hint at a narrative that features both catastrophic tragedy and heartwarming intimacy. In Somerville, you play as a man trying to keep his family--which consists of his wife, son, and dog--alive in the wake of an alien-like invasion. Along the way, you'll run into other human survivors, as well as the strange artifacts from space that are systematically killing off all human life. Somerville has no dialogue; instead, the story is entirely conveyed through the environment, music, and character animations. Somerville is coming to Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC in 2022.
You can wishlist Somerville on Steam.
Spirit Swap: Lofi Beats To Match-3 To
Spirit Swap: Lofi Beats to Match-3 To sees you play as Samar, a young witch who notices there's been a massive spike of spirit activity in their city recently, and plans to figure out why. In order to reassemble and deal with lost spirits, Samar needs to cast some powerful spells--each of which requires you complete match-3 puzzles. But there's no rush or frantic nature to it all, as you're able to enjoy chill lofi beats while completing puzzles. When not on the job, you can talk to other characters, forge relationships, and decorate your room with new furniture. Spirit Swap: Lofi Beats to Match-3 To is coming to PC in 2022.
You can wishlist Spirit Swap: Lofi Beats to Match-3 To on Steam. A free demo is also available on Steam.
Thirsty Suitors puts you in the shoes of Jala, who finds herself in a bit of hot water. With her sister's wedding coming up, she needs to prepare for the visit of the terrifyingly judgmental matriarch of the family, Nani, but that's easier said than done when she has friendships to fix, parental demands to live up to, and a whole roster of exes to contend with. When you're not trying to impress your mom in cooking segments and pulling off sick tricks on your skateboard, Thirsty Suitors seems to focus on your attempts to handle your ex-partners, encounters with whom play out in wacky-looking turn-based battles. Thirsty Suitors is coming to PC "soon."
You can wishlist Thirsty Suitors on Steam.
Tunic is for those who seek double the challenge in a video game--the cute-looking The Legend of Zelda-like has challenging combat, but understanding what the game even is about is also difficult. As you overcome tough bosses and unlock additional weapons and abilities, you'll discover remnants of old gaming manuals, pieces of an unknown language, and other hidden secrets that the community will likely have to piece together in order to parse what exactly is going on. Tunic is coming to Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC on March 16.
You can wishlist Tunic on Steam.
We Are OFK
We Are OFK follows the misadventures of four friends in their 20s struggling to make and release their debut EP in the cutthroat Los Angeles music industry. The game's story changes depending on your choices and actions as you argue over what your song's lyrics should be, maneuver blossoming romances, and text your friends and business associates. The game features voice acting, and the trailers have hinted at a truly superb soundtrack. We Are OFK is coming to PS5, PS4, and PC in 2022.
You can wishlist We Are OFK on Steam.
An immersive sim, Weird West sees the playable sandbox of an otherworldly American Wild West-inspired setting evolve and change as you make decisions and interact with it. The game features five playable characters, each with their own story and goals--as you play through the game, you'll begin to see how they each can connect and interact. Once you switch to a new character, you can even find and recruit the earlier characters as party members, assuming they're still alive, of course--once a character dies in Weird West (even your own), they're dead for good if you don't have an item on hand to revive them. Weird West is coming to Xbox One, PS4, and PC on March 31.
Writer's Note (1/10/2022): A previous version of this article incorrectly used she/her pronouns for Goodbye Volcano High's Fang, when they're actually non-binary and have they/them pronouns. The text has been updated.