[Top 10] Indie Game Developers and their Best Games

Indie Game Developers Best Games
The biggest games often come from the smallest devs.

(Edited for formatting 11/22/2023 at 12:51 PM EST)

In the midst of multi-million dollar franchises like Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed exist a faction of gifted creatives that labor tirelessly to deliver their beloved projects to the gaming landscape and into the hands of gamers everywhere: independent game developers, lovingly called “indie devs”.

Indie games have a habit of sweeping the rug out from under these massive franchises, shining the spotlight on amazing games from otherwise obscure or unknown creators and providing a fresh experience in a medium that has become more and more inundated with shameless cash-grabs, incomplete titles riddled with bugs, and bland, iterative gameplay.

The thing that sets indie developers apart from the massive Triple-A studios is the willingness indie devs have to take risks in what they create. Whether it be a unique and exciting gameplay mechanic, pushing the bounds of storytelling in the medium, or simply being ridiculously fun, the payoff for the risks that these Indie devs took did not only help them break even - it helped (and I would argue continues to help) redefine gaming as a whole.

If you’re tired of the same old games from the same old developers, turn your attention to these indie devs and their creations!


10. Telltale Games

Many iconic characters from across media have had their tales told through Telltale's titles. 

Telltale Games Official Developer Website

In 2012, Telltale Games introduced their narrative-driven episodic adventure title The Walking Dead. The game skyrocketed in popularity almost instantaneously, gaining traction through YouTube “Let’s Plays”- one of the main ways in that era that gamers consumed new and exciting games. With almost 30 million copies sold at the height of its reign, it’s no surprise that Telltale capitalized on their formula for success in their subsequent productions. From Gotham City to Pandora, Telltale has told many tales indeed.

Sadly, the Indie giant fell from grace after a company restructuring in 2018, citing low morale, toxic crunch culture, and an unwillingness from studio leadership to expand on this aforementioned formula. Despite laying off 90 percent of their original workforce, the company was acquired a year later in 2019 by LCG Entertainment, announcing their intent to continue making games, beginning with their reveal of The Wolf Among Us 2, a long-awaited sequel to their fantasy-thriller title. Their most recent game is The Expanse, a prequel to the science-fiction TV show, which is being released episodically.

Notable Titles:

  • The Walking Dead: A Telltale Series (2012)
  • The Wolf Among Us (2013)
  • Tales from the Borderlands (2014)


9. DontNod Entertainment

Max, the protagonist of DontNod's Life is Strange, uses her strange powers to help solve the mystery surrounding the disappearence of a local girl.

DontNod Entertainment Official Developer Website

DontNod debuted their Life Is Strange series in January of 2015. An episodic adventure game focusing on Max, a college photography student, and her discovery that she has the ability to turn back time. Though she tries to use that mysterious power to save her best friend, the choices you make throughout the game (some as simple as drawing a butterfly on a dirty van or not), can wildly change the outcome of the story.

I played Life is Strange basically on a whim when it was released. I love narrative-driven titles, though I gravitate more towards action-packed, fantastical settings that have worlds rich with lore. Life is Strange is nothing like those kinds of games, but I was still locked to my screen all the same. DontNod’s commitment to designing a player-driven story with complex and compelling characters in a grounded setting did wonders for Life Is Strange and the studio as a whole. Since Life Is Strange, DontNod has continued making games across varying genres, including action-adventure, platformers, and RPG’s.

Currently, DontNod is preparing to release their upcoming action-RPG Banishers: Ghost of New Eden on February 13th next year. Their most recent title is Jusant, a platformer released in June of 2023.

Notable Titles:

  • Life Is Strange (2015)
  • The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit (2018)
  • Vampyre (2018)


8. Playdead

As the silent protagonist in Limbo, Playdead's first game, you travel through a dark and sullen world.

Playdead Official Developer Website

Indie gamers know Playdead. The developers of Limbo, Playdead’s approach to game design and storytelling gives the studio an instantly recognizable “signature”, so to speak.

Focused on atmospheric storytelling as the main driver for their projects, Playdead’s games may appear simple, but underneath the side-scrolling platforms are oodles of interesting (and often unsettling) story beats that keep the player curious enough to move forward and uncover more. Limbo, their most well-known game, is a prime example of an Indie dev taking a chance on themselves- and it being very much worth it.

Playdead has two published titles, Limbo and Inside. With a six year gap between the two existing games, Playdead fans have been getting a bit antsy waiting for “Game Three”. While nothing has been concretely revealed, the studio has made it clear to their fans that they have no intention to stop making games.

Notable Titles:

  • Limbo (2010)
  • Inside (2016)


7. Heart Machine

The Drifter faces several Titans, ancient biomechanical beings whose corpses are littered throughout the world.

Heart Machine Official Developer Website

Heart Machine dashed onto the indie game scene with their debut title Hyper Light Drifter, a top-down action-adventure RPG aesthetically inspired by timeless 16-bit classics. The game’s focus on fast and flashy combat coupled with beautiful hand-animated graphics and subtle storytelling brought it much deserved renown.

In 2021, Heart Machine upped the ante with the release of Solar Ash. Trying their hand at creating an enchanting 3D world to explore, Heart Machine planted their feet firmly in the ground and said: “Yeah, we can do it like that too!”

The studio announced a successor to Hyper Light Drifter in 2022 in the form of Hyper Light Breaker, expanding the original concept of Drifter to a massive 3D open-world cooperative action roguelike (it almost sounds too good to be true!) Hyper Light Breaker’s original 2023 release window was delayed, and the game is now set to release in 2024.

Notable Titles:

  • Hyper Light Drifter (2016)
  • Solar Ash (2021)


6. Re-Logic

Promotional art for the Terraria Journey's End content update, released on the game's ninth anniversary on May 16th, 2020.

Re-Logic Official Developer Website

Woe be to the gamer that describes Terraria as “2D Minecraft”, for it is so much more.

A team of only eleven people, Re-Logic took the meteoric rise of the resource-collection genre pioneered by Mojang’s Minecraft seriously, and put their own spin on it with Terraria. Originally released in 2011, Terraria mined its own path in the scene, giving players a literal world of possibility to explore and create. Re-Logic’s design philosophy with Terraria is “discovery”, allowing players near infinite gameplay options, whether they be collecting, building, modding, or grinding for Moon Lord.

If you know anything about Re-Logic, then you may also know that “Terraria 2 When?” has become a bit of a meme in the community. Re-Logic has a knack for releasing generous amounts of content for Terraria throughout its life, while also saying that each update is very much still Terraria and not representative of its upcoming sequel.

Regardless, Re-Logic has given steady updates throughout Terraria’s lifespan, each filled to bursting with new content for fans to enjoy. The most recent Terraria content update was the Labor of Love update in August of 2022, which added many quality of life changes, world seeds, balance adjustments, and more.

Notable Titles:

  • Terraria (2011)
  • Terraria 2 When Re-Logic Pls


5. ConcernedApe

Key art for Stardew Valley, a farming simulation game developed by solo indie developer ConcernedApe.

ConcernedApe Official Developer Website

Don’t be deceived! As cute as Stardew Valley is, the spreadsheets I’ve seen for that game would make any Old School RuneScape veteran blush beneath their dragon med helm.

You may be surprised to hear that a game as wildly popular as Stardew Valley has only ever had one developer. The sole programmer, artist, sound engineer- you name it- ConcernedApe is the person responsible for the community-building simulation sensation.

I’ve known people that have never touched a video game in their life get into Stardew through its charming visuals and loveable characters and become absolutely enthralled when they encounter the surprising amount of depth that Stardew contains.

ConcernedApe’s success with Stardew Valley is a message to future Indie developers everywhere: if you have an idea for a game that you really believe in, make it happen! Stardew’s story is an unlikely one, but ConcernedApe has shown that “unlikely” and “impossible” are two wildly different words.

Stardew Valley is ConcernedApe’s only published game. In 2020, the solo indie dev announced that he is working on a new project, Haunted Chocolatier- which, as of the time of this writing, has no confirmed release window.

Notable Titles:

  • Stardew Valley (2016)


4. Toby Fox

Toby Fox uses their Annoying Dog character from Undertale (pictured above) as their audience-facing persona.

Toby Fox (Undertale) Official Developer Website

“You are filled with DETERMINATION.”

These words became burned into gamers’ minds when Toby Fox, another solo indie developer, released Undertale in 2015. The zany RPG turns many of the traditional tropes of its genre on their heads, allowing the player to make friends with the creatures they encounter on their journey out of the Underground… or not.

Look no further for proof of how much indie developers affect the gaming industry than Toby Fox’s work on certain music tracks in Pokémon Scarlet & Violet. Undertale’s iconic characters and wacky dialogue spawned a tidal wave of memes and inside jokes amongst fans of the series. The somber tale, as well as the ways in which the game presents the consequences of certain player actions, give weight to every decision- sometimes in heartbreaking ways.

For a game that can be completed in less than twenty hours, Toby Fox’s Undertale is certainly one that will be remembered as an influential component for the rise of the indie gaming scene due to its willingness to push the boundaries of what “games” can be.

Toby Fox has continued building upon the world of Undertale with Deltarune, a pseudo-sequel to the 2015 hit. Chapters 1 & 2 of Deltarune are available to play for free, with chapters 3, 4 & 5 currently in development.

Notable Titles:

  • Undertale (2015)
  • Deltarune (2018)


3. Team Cherry

Key art for Godmaster, Hollow Knight's fourth and final free content update, released in August of 2018.

Team Cherry Official Developer Website

The developers of indie icon Hollow Knight, Team Cherry is an Australian-based studio dedicated to creating excitingly big games set in impressively small worlds.

The attention of gamers everywhere turned towards Team Cherry in 2017 with the release of their 2D action-adventure game Hollow Knight. An endearing cast of characters, surprisingly rich lore, and soulsborne/metroidvania-inspired gameplay hooked gamers (including myself) immediately.

Since Hollow Knight’s debut in 2017, Team Cherry has released four significant content updates to the game, each adding new abilities, enemies, storylines, and endings to the games’ already respectable catalog of each.

In February of 2019, Team Cherry announced a sequel to the beloved Knight’s adventure in Hollow Knight: Silksong, originally projected to be released in 2023. It has since been delayed, and no longer has an official release window. 

Notable Titles:

  • Hollow Knight (2017)

2. Larian Studios

Larian Studios' newest game, Baldur's Gate 3, brings their tactical RPG formula to the Forgotten Realms.

Larian Studios Official Developer Website

Calling back to the roots of classic RPGs, Larian Studios consistently delights fans with polished, memorable titles that set the bar for other developers- Triple A and indie alike.

Founded in 1996 by Belgian game developer Swen Vincke, Larian Studios is most known for their isometric tactical RPG series Divinity: Original Sin, a game that sports the beloved mechanics and qualities that made the genre timeless, while- you guessed it- taking risks with the traditional concepts that helped it stand out against other titles in the space.

Larian Studios has recently risen to the top of gamer’s news feeds with their absolutely astonishing release of the jaw-dropping Baldur’s Gate 3, a game that has irrevocably challenged standard gaming industry practices of publishing sub-par titles- all while Larian Studios has far fewer resources than bigger developers.

Larian Studios lets their games and actions speak for them, and they aren’t anywhere near done talking. Through a transparency not often seen from contemporary developers, Larian Studios have been applying feedback from Baldur’s Gate 3 players into the game through steady patches, hotfixes, and other content updates, cementing them squarely amongst the best of the best.

Notable Titles:

  • Divinity: Original Sin (2014)
  • Divinity: Original Sin 2 (2017)
  • Baldur’s Gate 3 (2023)

1. Supergiant Games

Supergiant Games pushed the indie envelope yet again in 2018 with their release of Hades, an action-adventure roguelike set in the Underworld of ancient Greek mythology.

Supergiant Games Official Developer Website

No surprises here, I think.

Since its founding in 2009, the developers at Supergiant Games have released smash hit after smash hit. Beginning with Bastion in 2011, the studio’s definitive style of stunningly detailed isometric environments, real-time and strategic combat, and unparalleled character and environment driven storytelling breathed much-needed life into the indie gaming landscape.

No matter what your tastes are, as soon as you start a Supergiant game, you know exactly what you are getting into- and yet the developers still manage to surprise fans each time. Transistor evolves concepts born in Bastion while still remaining unique. Pyre is a deviation from form that brought new ideas forward while preserving Supergiant’s distinct style. Hades is simply a masterpiece that combines the elements that made each of its predecessors shine.

There’s a reason that Supergiant Games highlighted 2022’s Game Awards with their announcement of Hades II. When developers are committed to delivering fun and enjoyable experiences, it commands the respect and admiration of even the titans of the gaming industry itself.

Hades II is set to release sometime in Q2 2024.

Notable Titles:

  • Bastion (2011)
  • Transistor (2014)
  • Hades (2018)


It's more than worth it to keep an eye on independent game developers, otherwise you might miss the gems they create. If you enjoyed reading, many of the games mentioned above are often on sale on various platforms. Also, please check out these articles below from Gamer’s Decide if you want to learn more about the indie gaming landscape!

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I take this "life" thing kind of seriously, and there is no life more vibrant than within a story. Gaming is the only medium that melds the arts and senses to tell one story. I want to see them all.
Gamer Since: 2002
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Baldur's Gate 3
Top 3 Favorite Games:The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Dragonborn, Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward, Dragon Age: Inquisition

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