While so many people love to tuck into huge, big-budget adventures, you also want some greens on the side for a balanced video game diet. It’s with indie games that you will often find some of the most wonderful creative experiments, the new twists that will gradually trickle up to the AAA developers and mainstream gaming – just look at how the roguelike has defined the PS5’s first year with Returnal and Deathloop – or titles that will narrow their focus to truly hone a craft.
This year’s winner likely won’t ruffle many feathers, having widely been lauded upon its release and one of the best and most refined examples of its genre.
Death’s Door is a perfect example of an indie game. It’s stylish, it’s characterful, and it refines and enhances a genre that the AAA scene wouldn’t take too much interest with, unless it’s Nintendo remaking a 90s classic. Death’s Door’s closest companion is the classic Zelda titles, and it boasts the same tight map design, enjoyable combat, and evocative storytelling that made Link’s earlier adventures so arresting.
You play as a crow, and you’re busy reaping souls when a would-be thief throws your day upside down. Before you know it you’re caught up in their plan to try and wedge open the Death’s Door. If that synopsis doesn’t do it for you then consider the fact that the art design is wonderful, with memorable landscapes and enemies, the soundtrack is fantastic, and it’s chock full of imaginative characters that’ll have you chuckling away throughout. Everyone should play Death’s Door.
– Dom L
Fights in Tight Spaces – Runner Up
Fights in Tights Spaces originally launched back in February through Steam Early Access. It was immediately clear that the game was something special, but it’s only got better through the regular updates and an eventual full release. This card-based roguelike John Wick ’em up has achieved greatness for sure. Its stark visual style mixes with the excellent gameplay, multiple modes, and wonderfully weighty whacks to create a game that’s more moreish than a pack of Pringles.
– Jason C
The Forgotten City – Runner Up
The time travelling mystery of The Forgotten City was one of the stand-out indie narrative experiences of the year. Having begun life as a Skyrim mod way back in 2015, it was the first mod to win a Writers’ Guild award. This obviously turned some heads and led to the development of a full standalone re-imagining. Relocated from its Skyrim setting to a cursed Roman city, the result is an entirely new experience with a fantastic sense of place and time.
Exploring The Forgotten City involves negotiating conversations with a wide cast of characters and heaps of moral choices. Multiple endings reward repeat playthroughs and finding them all will require you to master the time loop mechanics and keep a track of the consequences of your decisions. All in all, this is a fabulous mystery game that deserves to be added to your playlist.
– Steve C
Honourable Mentions (in alphabetical order)
To catch up on the Game of the Year awards we’ve handed out so far, here’s a handy list!
- Best Ongoing Game
- Best Remake/Remaster
- Best Multiplayer Game
- Best Visual Design
- Best Original Soundtrack
Are you an indie game connoisseur? Let us know which indie titles have stood out for you in 2021.