There were plenty of weird and wonderful indie games to look forward to in 2020, and I’m happy to report that there are plenty more to keep an eye out for in 2021.
Looking through these upcoming games was exciting. There are so many interesting, weird, and gorgeous games to look forward to in the new year. All of the games on this list are slated to come out in 2021, each equally ambitious in meeting its goal. We’ve got a few noir-style detective thrillers, a bit of teen angst, and a few hand-drawn delights.
Of course, these aren’t all of the amazing indies coming out in 2021 — there are simply too many to list. We’ll continue our coverage of indie games to play in 2021, and I’d love for you to share games you’re looking forward to in the comments below.
Raptor Boyfriend: A High School Romance
From developer Rocket Adrift, Raptor Boyfriend: A High School Romance is about a shy, awkward teenager looking for love in the 1990s. It’s a dating simulator and visual novel, where players — as the main character Stella — makes friends with a bunch of cryptid teens: a fairy, talking velociraptor, and a bigfoot. It’s described as a ‘90s teen drama, and it looks like it; it’s got everything from dramatic phone calls, make out sessions, and cassette tapes. The art style looks incredible, too.
Raptor Boyfriend: A High School Romance is coming in early 2021.
Saturnalia is a stylish survival horror game coming to the Epic Games Store in 2021. The game takes place in Sardinia, Italy in 1989, in an old village with a creepy ritual — and people disappear each year. What stands out most is Saturnalia’s art style. I haven’t seen anything like it!
Saturnalia is coming to the Epic Games Store in 2021.
She Dreams Elsewhere
She Dreams Elsewhere, as you may have guessed, takes place within a dream. Described as an adventure role-playing game, the indie game has a surrealist vibe set — the perfect setting for a bad dream. The music, composed by Mimi Page, is perfect.
Goodbye Volcano High
Canadian developer KO_OP is working on Goodbye Volcano Hight, a narrative game about a bunch of high school-aged dinosaurs as they’re figuring out life with graduation coming. It’s described as a cinematic game “about the end of an era, and the beginning of a love story.”
Season, from developer Scavengers Studio, was recently announced during The Game Awards 2020, and it was one of the standout games from the event. The game looks like an atmospheric wonderful, featuring a woman collecting memories of a gorgeous, mysterious world.
Season is coming in 2021 .
Nuts is a game about watching squirrels. It’s got a very distinct art style — it looks incredible. In watching these squirrels, the player will “uncover the secret that the curious creatures are hiding.” Personally, I am very excited.
Nuts will be out in 2021 on Windows PC.
Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion
The name says it all — Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion. There are puzzles, crops, battles, but most of all, no taxes. “Tear down a corrupt vegetable government,” according to the Steam page. Who isn’t down with that?
Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion in 2021, on Nintendo Switch and Windows PC.
Chinatown Detective Agency
Sure, we’ve got a huge cyberpunk video game out at the end of 2020. But there is more to the genre, and you can see that in Chinatown Detective Agency. It takes place in 2032 in a stylish, futuristic Singapore. Created by Singapore-based developer General Interactive Co., it looks like an interesting future.
Like the others on this list, it’s coming in 2021.
From developer Visai Games, Venba is described as a “narrative cooking game,” set in 1980s Canada. It centers on an Indian mother, with players tasked with cooking and remembering lost recipes. It’s a story about “family, love, loss, and more,” the developer wrote on Steam. It looks incredible.
Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1 + 2 held me off for a while, but the skateboarding game I’m really looking forward to is SkateBird, from developer Glass Bottom Games. Birds on skateboards! Birds! On! Skateboards!
You can wishlist the game on Steam now, but it’s also coming to Nintendo Switch and others consoles.
The colorful world of 30XXlooks fast paced and intense, and it’s got a fantastic soundtrack. It looks a lot like Mega Man X, but according to the developer, it’s got the “replayability of a modern Roguelike.” Co-op is available too. If you liked 20XX, you’ll like this game, too.
I’ve been impressed with Mundaun’s visuals since it was announced. The game is pencil-drawn, telling a horror story “set in a dark, secluded valley of the alps.” The aesthetic is certainly enough to draw folks in, but the story and gameplay makes this a game to watch.
From developer Hidden Fields, Mundaun is available to wishlist on Steam.
Another cyberpunk-styled game, ANNO: Mutationem is coming from developer ThinkingStars and publisher Lightning Games. It’s got a really cool style style — a mix of 2D and 3D graphics.
From developer BOBBY, Chaotic Era looks super stylish — a black-and-white interstellar, real-time strategy game. “Take on the role of a hyper-advanced AI system designed by one of humanity’s greatest (and now extinct) megacorporations,” the developer said. “Land Earth’s last escape ship on a new world and rebuild human civilization from the ground up.”
Hot Pot for One
When it’s safe to do so, the first restaurant I will visit in my local hot pot spot. Instead, I’m eating hot pot with my partner at home, and looking forward to experiencing the virtual version of it when Hot Pot for One comes out next year.
There are a lot of noir, detective-style games coming out in 2021, but Backbone stands out. From developer EggNut and published by Raw Fury, Backbone has you playing as a raccoon private eye named Howard Lotor. The pixel art style is fantastic, and I can’t wait to try out this stylish point-and-click adventure game.
I played Maquette at PAX East in 2020, and have been eagerly awaiting its release date. The game first appeared in 2011 at the Game Developers Conference, and it’s ingenious design was an instant hit. Finally, it’s a full game, based around an innovative and interesting puzzle style.
Maquette is coming to PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Windows PC.
Book of Travels
Developer Might and Delight describes Book of Travels as a “unique social roleplaying experience that doesn’t hold your hand.” It’s set in a fairytale world that’s open for exploration — “no overarching goal and no real beginning or end” — where the player creates their own journey.
I’m curious to see how the multiplayer elements play out when this comes out for Windows PC in 2021.
If there is one way to describe Dordogne, I would go with stunning. The game has a fantastic watercolor-style that I was instantly drawn to. The narrative adventure game has the player engaging in “childhood memories,” according to the Steam page. It’s set in the present and the past, but each of those worlds look equally gorgeous.
It’s coming to Windows PC in 2021. Wishlist it on Steam.
Teacup stars Teacup, a very shy frog. The whimsical world is filled with other animals to meet and plenty of puzzles to solve. It’s got a fantastic aesthetic, featuring the wholesome journey of finding herbs to make tea.
Another beautiful hand-drawn game, Tunche is a hack-and-slash roguelike through the Amazonian jungle. It’s got a four-player co-op mode, and looks like a ton of fun. “Choose one of the five characters, master their skill-sets and ultimate abilities defeat epic bosses, and unravel the secrets of the mysterious Amazonian jungle,” developer LEAP Game Studios wrote on Steam. “The game is centered around high-risk, high-reward combat, and features a ‘stylish’ grade system.”