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Top 10 Break Out Indie Games of 2011

Monaco 6

Check out our Top 10 Break Out Indie Games of 2012!

This is easily one of my favorite posts of the year. In fact, since about June I’ve been looking forward to crafting this piece. Last year I came up with a similar list of games and, while they weren’t all correct, I’d say I nailed at least 4 and a half of them:

  • Super Meat Boy
  • Joe Danger
  • Max and the Magic Marker
  • Shank
  • Puzzle Bots (the half point for being in PAX 10)

Not too bad of a percentage, if I do say so myself.

So, while you may be pondering what indie games are even being released next year, allow me to thrill you with my predictions for 2011′s break out indie games.




I’m sure, as you’ve probably surmised by now, that I’m absolutely in love with Bastion in both gameplay and artwork. Just check out my glowing preview from this past year’s PAX 2010 to get a good indication of my thoughts on the game.

Still, despite my personal opinion, it also makes sense that the mainstream media and consumer would be interested in the game. It’s very polished, offers a unique storytelling mechanic, and is overall an easy sell for people on both the Xbox 360 and Playstation Network. In fact, I’d be surprised if Bastion wasn’t picked up as an exclusive for one of the two consoles.

[Super Giant Games, Trailer]



Faraway was a game that I wasn’t able to play until this past year’s IndieCade and remains the only mobile game on this list. While I’ve no doubt there will be many popular indie mobile games next year, I believe Faraway stands out above everything else I’ve seen thus far in it’s unique, almost ambient, styled gameplay.

Oh and for those who took that as “yet another art game” I assure you that Faraway tries to do nothing than offer itself as a fun, addictive mobile game, of which I believe will absolutely capture the minds of attention of mobile gamers everywhere.

[Steph Thirion, Video]



Is anybody really surprised Fez is on this list? Fez is a game that was originally promised in 2010, but, unfortunately was pushed back to 2011. No matter though, the game has long been awaited by mainstream press and consumers alike.

The game itself features a unique puzzle platforming type gameplay that has you shifting the world around in order to move Fez in and around obstacles. It’s certainly a unique angle to take on a game and one that seems to resonate with all kinds of gamers.

[Polytron Corporation, Trailer]


Monaco 4

Monaco. There’s so much to say about this game and only a couple of paragraphs to say it in. Coming out of nowhere at the 2010 IGF to win the grand prize was certainly a good start to what has been an amazing year for the game and its owner.

Today, Monaco is constantly reported on the mainstream press and maintains a stronghold on the consumers’ eye for 2011. Now if we could only figure out what platform the game is due to come out on we’d be set. Look for Monaco to be one of the premiere indie games next year.

[Pocketwatch Games, Trailer]

Retro City Rampage


Okay, so Retro City Rampage is still “planned” for a release in 2010. I can see the official reports that were listed a couple months ago. However, I have it on good authority that this game may be slipping to early 2011.

Regardless of when it actually ships, though, Retro City Rampage will be the must-own WiiWare release of the year. There’s not many of them each year, but I can guarantee you that this will be one of them. It has enough open world action, combined with classic video game satire/humor to make any old school gamer sit up and take notice.

[Vblank Entertainment, Trailer]

Slam Bolt Scrappers


Born out of MIT’s Gambit game lab, Slam Bolt Scrappers maintains its place as one of the most interesting PSN games of 2011. When the game isn’t trying to be a Tetris-like puzzle game, it’s trying to be an action game. It’s absolutely insane. The best part is that the game seems to mesh the two genres so perfectly. It’s chaotic, yes, but fun as hell.

Of course, obviously the game has a lot going for it and because of that the mainstream and common gamer has seemed to take notice. When it ships in early 2011 this could be the PSN game everybody compares themselves too.

[Fire Hose Games, Trailer]

Spelunky (Xbox 360)


Who wouldn’t have guessed this game would make the list? While it’s not necessarily an original game, Derek Yu is updating the graphics and adding enough new features to it so that it will certainly feel like a fresh new game.

Of course, that’s not to say it wouldn’t sell were the game not being revamped so much. Spelunky is arguably one of the most popular PC indie games, up there with the likes of legends Cave Story and Knytt. When this game hits XBLA next year, expect it to make waves.

[Spelunky World]

Spy Party


I’ll be honest. I don’t know a terribly large amount about this game. I wasn’t able to play it at PAX and I, unfortuantely, have not been able to talk to Chris (the developer) about it. What I do know, however is that the game constantly had an incredibly large crowd surrounding the Chris’ PAX booth at all times. If that’s not indicative of success I don’t know what is.

But aside from all that, the game does have a fairly unique premise in its spy/assassin party premise. The one thing I could see holding this game back is a niche release on PC. We’ll have to wait and see what kind of distributing support the game gets in 2011.

[Spy Party]

Tales from Space: About a Blob


Fresh from new developer Drinkbox Studios, About a Blob is destined to be the other exclusive PSN game that has people talking. From the onset the game immediately feels like a sort of 2D Katamari, but with oodles of charm and a character who you’ll immediately fall in love with.

Recently picked up by Sony’s indie funding initiative, expect a decent amount of marketing to be used on this game, not to say the press isn’t already aware because we most certainly are.

[Drinkbox Studios, Trailer]

The Witness

Two words: Jonathan Blow. The second game from the legendary creator of Braid – arguably one of the greatest indie games ever created — The Witness immediately has a different feel to it. That’s not to say it won’t be as good however. If we know anything about Jonathan Blow it’s that he knows how to create an interesting game premise.

Of course, being that the game is being created by none of than the same guy who created Braid, you can bet the mainstream media won’t let this one go without showering it with tons of press.

[The Witness]

And that’s it! Those are my picks for 2011′s break out indie games. Note that I’m not necessarily saying they will be the best or most fun. I have no way to indicate if these games will actually be any good upon release. However, given their status right now I’m feeling pretty good about my predictions.

Did I leave one off? Do you have another game you think will do better? Let me know in the comments!


  • TechnologoDoom

    well Spelunky will be out on PSN nov 23 (surprise!) but it’s a solid list for sure.

    • Dominic Tarason

      SpelunkER – slightly similar but generally very different game, and a remake/update of a very old arcade/NES release. Spelunky is a 360 exclusive.

  • TechnologoDoom

    oops my bad!
    go figure Spelunky is a remake of sorts.
    but honestly i can’t wait to play all of these!!

  • Erik Johnson

    All these games look great but Frozen Synapse is definitely on my own list.

  • chrisbelldesign

    Where’s Miegakure? You’ve gone out of your way to call out Johnathan Blow, and you leave out his expected GOTY.

    I had a chance to play it twice, both at IndieCade and TIGJam, and it definitely deserves a spot on this list. I especially appreciate Mark’s “i’ll release it when it’s done”. Even with all the puzzles he has, he was confident there was so much more to try.

  • PiD

    I’ve had my eye on Monaco for ages, I can’t wait to get my hands on it!

    Spelunky getting a release on XBLA is awesome, i’ll be picking it up for sure.