The independent developers through indie platformers are doing a great job of filling the void left behind by the AAA devs. But which ones are the peak examples of the genre? Well, we’re gonna throw our collective hats into the ring and offer up our own two cents on the matter.
Obviously, what’s the best is relative, but one thing y’all can count on is that every pick today is a beloved gaming treasure. Now, let’s see which ones make the cut.
Which Indie Platformers Are the Best Of the Best?
So, the thing about indie platformers is that no matter how many you play, there’s something to like about every single one of them. With that said, we gotta draw the line somewhere, so we’re narrowing down our list to a good top 8. Yep, so with some wiggle room, we’ll look to squeeze in more than a couple of fan favorites, too. Now, let’s get this party started! Here we go!
So, we’re kicking things off with one of the forerunners for the modern indie platformers and the boom that would follow. We’re, of course, talking about Spelunky. It’s one of the most addictive platforming titles ever! The theme of randomness is strong in Spelunky; you’ll never know what kind of environmental hazards and enemy types are waiting in every stage.
What’s more, Spelunky takes things up a notch by making it a completely new experience each time you die and begin again. The surprises just never stop and always keep players on their toes. The platforming element, in particular, is super smooth and responsive. Plus, the rewards you unlock make it super enticing to keep playing Spelunky.
If that wasn’t enough, here’s some more incentive to check out Spelunky. You can team up with up to 4 other players in a co-op mode, and even that comes with a twist. You see, Spelunky is one of those unique indie platformers where you can either help the other players or throw a wrench and stop them from progressing. Now, how’s that for a twist to the 4-player games formula?
If you’re looking for indie platformers doing the impossible of telling a tale so emotional that it can rival our favorite story-driven games like Life Is Strange, then we present to you GRIS. Without a single piece of dialogue, you explore the narrative with lusciously gorgeous backdrops and captivating soundtracks. You’ll feel the raw emotions and even shed tears, too; it’s that good.
GRIS will not be that much of a challenge for veterans of the platformer genre, but it’s not what the devs’ intentions are. This game’s practically a breeze to play, but if you wanna test yourself and improve your skills, there are optional challenges, too. GRIS is more about the journey than the destination. The implication is exploring the five stages of grief throughout the gameplay.
The main visual component of GRIS is the protagonist’s dress, which changes colors, allowing for greater traversal. The entire layout of the levels will shake up drastically to open up new paths and give players new abilities to get past obstacles. If you’re on the hunt for indie platformers with a visual flare, GRIS is your best bet.
6.) Little Nightmares
Now, we add a little spooky flavor to our indie platformers with Little Nightmares. If you’re one of the few people who haven’t tried this beautifully haunting gem yet, you need to course correct ASAP. Little Nightmares is gonna make you question everything happening in the background. The dangers aren’t just the ones coming after you from the front or the back; they’re everywhere.
Little Nightmares is a masterclass in level design; everything has a chilling atmosphere. From the lighting or the lack thereof to the disturbing visuals and the creepy music, you’ll feel the heebie-jeebies. You’ll also wanna exercise precision in Little Nightmares because timing is critical in the gameplay. There’s also a fair bit of puzzle-solving, too.
Oh, and expect no form of combat at all in Little Nightmares. As the name implies, the little is you, and the nightmares are what you’re trying to escape from. The game’s pacing is wonderful, slowly building up the anticipation until things just go haywire. By then, you just gotta gun for the exit. If you’re a fan of spooky indie games with your platformers, you gotta check out Little Nightmares.
5.) A Hat In Time
For the hallway point on our list of awesome indie platformers, let’s take a dive into the 3D realm with A Hat In Time. This beautifully colorful and vibrant adventure platformer just screams a fun time for players. The game’s protagonist has a charming character design and is equally as charming personality-wise.
A Hat In Time allows players to explore majestic worlds without any invisible walls getting in the way. You also get unique power sets that you can switch up on the fly by replacing the protagonist’s hats. The detail in every level is a throwback to the era of the best Nintendo 64 (N64) games, except it’s indie.
You have several NPCs to interact with, and there are a ton of collectibles to pick up, too. A Hat In Time is meant for the long haul; you gotta savor every second of it to appreciate all its got to offer fully. There’s lots of backtracking in A Hat In Time, a trait not uncommon in indie platformers. But since everything’s so drop-dead gorgeous, we don’t complain.
4.) FEZ – One of the Modern Classic Indie Platformers
Gearing up for the upper half of our list of amazing indie platformers, we’re going with FEZ to usher us beyond. This game’s got that retro vibe of the Nintendo GameCube adventure games. Why do we say that? Well, for starters, the game’s got a gimmick, which, if you know anything about Nintendo, is all about that.
But that’s not all there is to FEZ; the innovation ties into the core gameplay, too. The traversal of 3D environments in a 2D setting is a unique feature that only a select few titles do well. Plus, you can tilt the entire level on its head to create possible solutions and open up new pathways. Pretty neat, right?
FEZ is also one of the indie platformers that’s short and sweet and doesn’t offer much sense of direction. Some think that can be off-putting, but for us, it was a clear sign that devs didn’t wanna hold the player’s hands. The sense of wonder and discovery is part of the appeal of FEZ, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Have you ever felt rooting for a brave, selfless protagonist with flaws that she acknowledges then overcomes? Enter Celeste, one of the most feel-good and heartfelt indie platformers you’ll ever play. The pixelated art style only complements the visuals, and every level having a B side makes things even more interesting in terms of replay value.
Celeste also boasts an impressive soundtrack that keeps you immersed and hooked to the screen. The combat slash, jumping, forward rush, and mid-air dash all make for an easy-to-learn but tough-to-master type of gameplay. The diversity of enemies, as well as the scope of platforming perils, always keep you guessing.
The story of Celeste is another marvelous aspect of the game. The cut-scene dialogues are full of impactful expressions in the panels. When you retrospectively think about the themed challenges and secrets, the feeling of satisfaction only grows. The finale of Celeste, in particular, is super effective at making you feel a sense of accomplishment. Few indie platformers can top that.
2.) Bloodstained: Ritual Of The Night
For the runner-up spot on our list of dope indie platformers, we’re going with the indie darling Bloodstained: Ritual Of The Night. Mr. Castlevania himself, Koji Igarashi, personally called for the Kickstarter for this gem. By golly, the man delivered big-time. You feel the grandiose scale and gothic vibe from the inspiration.
The 2D side-scrolling action is both intense and so smooth to pull off, whether you’re jumping to reach the next platform or dodging a powerful enemy attack. Bloodstained: Ritual Of The Knight offers a breathtakingly spectacular castle for you to explore. There are secrets around every corner, so keep an eye out. The boss fights are no joke, either.
Yes, this is pure Metroidvani, and yes, it’s magnificent. Bloodstained: Ritual Of The Knight is darn perfection within the indie platformer genre. In fact, it’s really up there among the upper echelons of our top-tier vampire games of all time. Can’t possibly be higher praise than that.
1.) Hollow Knight
Finally! We’re gonna close off our list of fantastic indie platformers with our personal favorite title, Hollow Knight. Let us just first come out and say it: Hollow Knight is the platformer equivalent of SoulsBorne games. This game is designed to be brutal and punish you for slipping up; there are no two ways about it.
But before you sign off here, hear us out: Hollow Knight is pretty fun and not to mention captivating, too. Hollow Knight has a vast, interconnected world that you can explore freely, though there will be paths sealed off to you. You’ll need to become stronger and find upgrades that’ll help you get past obstacles. Also, there are gigantic boss fights, so prepare well.
You can use physical skills or magic to cheese your enemies. We recommend both since you never know when you’ll need to change your approach. Hollow Knight also has active lore in it, meaning your progression shapes your understanding of the history in the game world. New perspectives unlock the further you get into the story. Simply put, Hollow Knight is king among indie platformers.
Final Thoughts On the Best Indie Platformers To Play In 2024
Well, there ya go, folks. Our list of exciting indie platformers to check out in 2024 is in the books. We sure hope y’all have fun checking out our picks if ya haven’t already. So, then, what’s the verdict? Think we nailed it? Or do ya think we’re missing some obvious choices? Either way, tell us about it in the comments below.
If you’re still hankering for more platformer action, don’t worry. We’ve got plenty of suggestions you can check out. For instance, take a gander at our top 8 co-op platform games like It Takes Two. There should be games that fall more or less within the same ballpark as today’s indie hits. Alrighty then, that’s gonna do it for now but check back in soon for more lists. Take care y’all, and happy gaming!