The 7 best indies to play in January 2021

The year starts with very interesting indie releases. Here we discover the best independent video games of January 2021 for PC, PS4, Xbox One and Switch.

New year, new indies. As is tradition, at FreeGameTips we closely follow all the news of independent development. We have plenty of reasons for this, since we have had an excellent streak of indie novelties in recent years. It is still too early to know if 2021 will bring us a title at the height of Undertale, Hollow Knight, Celeste and Hades, to name just a few examples of posh, but we want to be the first to find out if that happens. Only in this way can we continue to publicize the best indie releases so that FreeGameTips readers can enjoy them before anyone else.

January is a good example that the independent scene is not affected by the changes of the year and always brings quality, diversity and innovation to the release calendar. Only in this article you will find an ARPG of procedural weapons and a metroidvania of affordable difficulty and to which we will not compare neither with Hollow Knight nor with Dark Souls. That really is innovation! There will be mentions of Zelda, but something had to be noted that this holy house is governed by the rules of Salva Fernández. There will also be nods to retro to keep Fran Serrano happy, let alone. And with the bosses happy and you hungry for new indies, it’s time to meet the 7 best of January 2021.

The 7 best indies to play in January 2021

Cyber ​​Shadow (Yacht Club Games)

A heart-stopping pixel-art, a platform worthy of the best 8 bits and an evident devotion to Ninja Gaiden, one of the most beloved sagas of the video game. Cyber ​​Shadow contains all of those ingredients and so we can’t think of a better candidate to top this list. Especially if we take into account that the work of Aarne ‘MekaSkull’ Hunziker will have the support in the distribution of Yacht Club Games, creators of the excellent Shovel Knight. With such a cover letter, the hype is more justified. And the trailers of this indie only increase it.

Cyber ​​Shadow takes us to a future tyrannized by an evil doctor and his robotic army. It will be up to us, an agile cyberninja and skilled with the edge, to save the planet. We will also have to rescue other members of the ninja clan, who will reward us with new skills. Although the connection with Ninja Gaiden is certified with a simple glance at the images of the game, details such as the acquisition of skills as you progress in the game also remind of Mega Man, another colossus of platform action. Of course, the gameplay, soundtrack and aesthetics promise to transport us to the times when the next-gen consisted of releasing batteries for our Game Boy.

The work published by Yacht Club Games will include an extra that will dazzle Shovel Knight fans who play Cyber ​​Shadow on their Nintendo Switch. Not surprisingly, the hybrid version will allow you to scan the shovel knight amiibo so that its characters can help us during the adventure. They will be able to do so from January 26, the date on which Cyber ​​Shadow debuts on PC, PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. Also in Game Pass, as Microsoft has revealed.

The 7 best indies to play in January 2021

Everspace 2 (RockFish Games)

If Hades showed us anything last year, it’s worth following the evolution of games in Early Access. The Supergiant Games title ended its Early Access turned into a more than worthy GOTY contender. Now, RockFish Games wants to do the same with Everspace 2, a space adventure that can now be tested on Steam. Those who do will find themselves in a game of interstellar exploration and shooting aboard futuristic ships.

Of the more than 25 hours and 8 systems that the work promises, the premiere in Early Access offers about 12 hours of gameplay and a couple of systems available. In them it will be necessary to shoot, it would be necessary more, but also to improve the equipment and collect minerals while we explore the ends of space. In those RPG airs resides much of the appeal of the Everspace saga, whose first installment had a very positive acceptance among critics and the public. Now it’s time for its sequel to take its first steps in Early Access and for players to help improve it.

The 7 best indies to play in January 2021

Skul: The Hero Slayer (SouthPAW Games)

From a game that begins its Early Access, we go to another that has just abandoned it. Skul: The Hero Slayer has finished all the tests and is now ready for its rigorous release and thus delight the staunch of the two-dimensional platform. Indeed, Cyber ​​Shadow will not be the only pixelated jump title that puts your Steam balance in check during the month of January. It is difficult to resist such a successful artistic section, a fluidity of movements more than tempting and a premise that turns the tables.

Instead of embodying the hero of humanity who frees the Earth from the yoke of demons, in Skul: The Hero Slayer the opposite occurs. Humanity has been besieging the castle of the demon king for years and in their last attempt they managed to conquer it. After his attack, all the demons have been captured. All except Skul, a lone skeleton with an innate ability for combat. His attacks will vary in range, speed and strength depending on the skulls he is equipped with, with a maximum of two that can be changed at any time – even during battles. We already anticipate that you will have to tinker with these options to increase your chances against the final bosses, since the fighting of this indie is quite intense. You can see for yourself by purchasing the game on Steam.

The 7 best indies to play in January 2021

Ancient Abyss (Screambox Studio)

Traditionally, January is a busy month of ins and outs in Steam’s Early Access program. Many take advantage of it at the beginning of the year with the aim of maturing their proposal for at least the remainder of the year, while others take advantage of the change in the calendar to debut in style. Like Everspace 2, Ancient Abyss belongs to the first group and Screambox Studio aims to squeeze the possibilities of feedback and improvement that Early Access offers. The objective, to polish to the maximum his particular interpretation of the Zelda saga. This is the just and necessary zeldera reference that allows Salva to sleep a little better at night.

Jokes aside, the truth is that the connection between Ancient Abyss and the veteran Nintendo saga is evident. So much so that the creators of this indie themselves speak of their work as a Zelda-like inspired by the 2D era of the franchise. The result of following Link’s teachings is a roguelite with a lot of emphasis on exploring a procedurally generated dungeon. However, Screambox not only drinks from Lake Hylia, but adds an extra speed, cartwheels and dashes that give the title a frenetic pace. In addition, as each run progresses we can customize the character’s abilities allowing him to hit harder after dodging or allowing him to revive if an enemy sends us to the Kakariko cemetery. The variety of weapons, attacks and environments to explore make Ancient Abyss a title to be closely watched by Zelda fans. We trust that a great adventure will come out of this Early Access.

The 7 best indies to play in January 2021

Sword of the Necromancer (Grimoire of Games)

From dungeon to dungeon and I shoot because it’s my turn. Our next recommendation also appeals to our soul as explorers with a proposal whose genre forces us to take a breath to pronounce it. And is that Sword of the Necromancer is an ARPG in the dungeon-crawler style and with roguelite elements. Or, put in another more understandable way, a role-playing game in which you explore dungeons and in which your arsenal of weapons is renewed with each game. In addition, it is the latest from Grimorio of Games, a Spanish studio based in Barcelona and responsible for Super Hyperactive Ninja.

Sword of the Necromancer also stands out for including the option to use our sword to revive defeated enemies and turn them into allies. However, this kind of army is not infinite. There is a limitation of simultaneous items that these monsters enter. Along with the weapons that appear in the dungeons as we progress, it is clear that this roguelite aspires that no two games are alike. The range of possibilities when combining weapons and enemies is enormous, so it will take you a long time to get tired of this indie. Especially if you try their local cooperative, one of the great attractions of the game and another reason why Sword of the Necromancer swept their Kickstarter campaign. Now it’s the turn to do the same on Steam, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch starting January 28.

The 7 best indies to play in January 2021

Olija (Skeleton Crew Studio)

The Devolver Digital seal is always a guarantee of quality. In 2020 alone, the American publisher published works such as Carrion, Disc Room and Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout, one of the most viral video games of the past year. That’s why we keep an eye out every time they star in a release, just as it happens this January. Devolver Digital has a new year distributing Olija, the new video game from the Japanese studio Skeleton Crew.

Like several of the members on this list, Olija is a two-dimensional action platformer. Its protagonist, Faraday, is shipwrecked on the mysterious Terraphage. His escape – and that of the rest of the castaways – will depend on his skill with his magic harpoon. And we say “magical” not because it makes us a substitute for Herman Melville’s Queequog, but because it also allows us to teleport around the stage. Instead of walking around to pick up the harpoon and fill the step counter on our activity bracelet, Olija gives us the option of teleporting around the stage. A skill that is not only comfortable for the protagonist, but also leads to agile and fun combat and movement. If the idea appeals to you, you can give it a try at zero cost thanks to the demo available on its Steam page. And if you want to get the full version, Olija can be played on PC, Xbox One, PS4 and Nintendo Switch from January 28.

The 7 best indies to play in January 2021

Sunlight (Krillbite Studio)

2021 has started strong, right? We have not been there for a month and the new year has brought us a historic assault on the Capitol -revival of Village People included- and a storm, Filomena, which has frozen all of Spain. As if that were not enough, writing these lines there was an explosion in the heart of Madrid. Taking into account that 2020 was not a particularly relaxing year, at FreeGameTips we have been setting ourselves the duty of recommending video games that give us a break for some time. Last year we echoed proposals such as Cloud Gardens and Townscaper, both ideal to silence the umpteenth meeting in Meet and disconnect a bit. In 2021 we will continue to give space to games like this and the indie calendar has wanted to reward us by starting the year with Sunlight.

Krillbite Studio’s proposal is very simple and consists of taking a walk through its digital forest. Now that the most sensible thing to do is stay at home and contact with nature is scarce, Sunlight gives us the opportunity to stretch our legs for half an hour. On this short walk we will see hand-painted trees and enjoy relaxing sounds. We do not know when we will stop receiving misfortunes in mobile notifications, but works like Sunlight help us forget them for a moment. You can enjoy a pleasant walk if you first make a stop at Steam, where Sunlight is available for 3.59 euros.

The 7 best indies to play in January 2021

Indies for Valentine’s Day

So far the review of the most prominent indies that will reach computers and consoles in January 2021. As a bonus, we recommend that you do not lose track of Encodya, Down in Bermuda and Bezier: Second Edition, other video games with which start the year in the best way. Now is the time to start tracking indies for February, a delicious alternative like Valentine’s Day chocolates. And more original, where does it end up. We are convinced that next month we will surprise you with a list full of independent works that will make you fall in love. Don’t miss it!

About author

Chris Watson is a gaming expert and writer. He has loved video games since childhood and has been writing about them for over 15 years. Chris has worked for major gaming magazines where he reviewed new games and wrote strategy guides. He started his own gaming website to share insider tips and in-depth commentary about his favorite games. When he's not gaming or writing, Chris enjoys travel and hiking. His passion is helping other gamers master new games.

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