Best Indie Games for Speedrunners

You’re probably already aware, but there are people out there dedicating themselves daily to playing your favorite games as fast as possible (usually under some pretty reasonable rules), and you can join them whenever you want. There’s no prerequisite to being a speedrunner other than having a game you want to play and being able to play it quickly.

It’s not the easiest thing in the world to pick a game you want to dedicate hours upon hours to, though, so I’m here to help you with a bunch of the coolest games to play fast. If you want to sit down and find a game you’ll enjoy practicing for a ton of time to get good at, these games will all be great places to find what you’re looking for.

Discover the Enigmatic World of Hollow Knight | GOG

Immerse yourself in the hauntingly beautiful world of "Hollow Knight," where every step unveils secrets and challenges waiting to be conquered. With its captivating art style and intricate gameplay, embark on an epic journey filled with mystery, danger, and discovery unlike any other.

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Selection Criteria

You can speedrun pretty much any game you want, though some of them are a bit too obscure or weird for most people to wanna speedrun them, and others are just rather lame to speedrun. Speed games need a few aspects to be excellent, and I’ll be sifting through some great games to look for these aspects and find some really great games to run through.

  • A Brief Runtime is not necessarily something everyone will consider or care about, but I’d say having things be 10 hours long for a speedrun makes running them exhausting. For me, things need to be under an hour on average, or it will take a really long time to get good.
  • Engaging Gameplay is pretty subjective, but there’s stuff that feels a bit more boring to try and play quickly, like turn-based RPGs, and stuff that feels much more engaging, like action games or platformers. Some games are more fun to speedrun, but you’ll have your own tastes and preferences, so these are mine.
  • A Community is nice to have since, otherwise, you probably won’t be making many tech discoveries or having fun races. Plus, it’s just nice to have people to talk with who also do the same thing you’re doing, and you should try to link up with the other people running these games if you decide to play any of them.
  • Complexity is something to consider but not something essential. I’d rather a game feel like I’m still playing it than be a 30-minute-long exploit and glitch showcase that hardly resembles a video game anymore, but that’s just me.

Super Meat Boy

Let’s start with an absolute classic that helped birth speedrunning as we know it. Super Meat Boy is a super good, super old game that’s an excellent 2D platformer with snappy movement, challenging gameplay, and a ton of content to dig through, and that superb feeling of control makes this game lend itself to speedrunning incredibly well.

You have probably already seen speed runs of this game. It’s a classic option for a reason, and people are still running it nowadays. There are many normal levels to run through for an any% that lasts just over 17 minutes and feels incredibly dense and action-packed. There’s a bit of tech, but for the most part, you’re just playing the game at maximum skill.

On top of that, if you want something longer, you could run through all 106% of the game, which takes just over an hour. On top of that, there are still over 900 players listed on the Speedrun.com page, so you’ve got a pretty sizeable community going, all of whom still play this game every day to grind and get better, faster, and stronger.

Celeste

From the old into the new, Celeste is one of the most popular speedgames of all time, and there’s a big reason. It feels perfect to play, with every option you have being able to combine with everything else you can do to make incredibly fun, fantastic combinations where you’re speeding through levels at maximum velocity, which is probably why it’s attracted 6,400 players.

This game is, quite literally, made for speedrunning, and it’s made with such quality that most people can’t help but participate in the crazy fast screens you can pull off with some movement tech and game knowledge. This is a 25-minute long any% if you’re good enough (though it’ll very likely take you a lot longer on your first shot), which is the sweet spot for speedruns, in my opinion.

I will say, though, even moreso than Meat Boy, Celeste speedruns can get intense at a high level, and it can feel like your brain has to execute a massive list of inputs to be successful rather than focusing on the fundamentals of platforming and just being good at the game. Either way, pulling it all off feels incredibly good, and it’s super satisfying whenever you reach the summit.

Hollow Knight

Metroidvanias bring a unique aspect to speedrunning, where there are a million different routes you can find through the world and break the game wide open, getting late-game upgrades within just a few minutes. In Hollow Knight, in particular, you get to gun it to all three primary objectives, getting past enemies and bosses as quickly as you can by any means possible.

The any% of this game makes you feel like an absolute badass, walking through Hallownest like nothing there is bothering you, and it’s fantastic, only taking up 31 minutes as well. On top of that, if you’re a fan of taking a long time on a speedrun, you could go for a 112% All Pantheon Bosses, which takes a very long and challenging 3 hours to complete.

This is an enjoyable one to get into and a prevalent one with 2,200 players and many runs. On top of that, if you get bored of the vanilla game, you can install a mod and start running the randomizer, changing the position of every item in the game, meaning your speedrun will be different every time. It’s an excellent option for any fan of metroidvanias.

Cuphead

Now, for a game you’ve definitely heard of but may not have ever thought about speedrunning before, it’s Cuphead! This is a run-n-gun game in a lovely retro cartoon art style, and it’s another one that makes you feel fantastic for running through it; once you know what you’re doing, it’ll feel incredible, gunning through every level and knowing every boss front to back.

On top of it just feeling great to play this game quickly, it’s also a 27-minute long speedrun, again in my sweet spot for what makes the best speedgame. It’s also pretty easy to learn but challenging to master, being low on the “super complex tech that takes months to learn” side and more just on the “this game might destroy you” vibe.

Speedruns of this game are just mesmerizing, which is probably why 2300 people are running it constantly. It’s a decent-sized community and a game that can keep you busy for a while, especially if you opt for a 300% run that takes over an hour of precise, challenging gameplay to finish. This is a cool speedrun, and I’d recommend giving it a go.

Katana Zero

You might be less familiar with this game, but it’s an incredibly excellent hack-and-slash platformer. The game consists almost entirely of levels where you have to plan a route to kill every enemy you can see, and the execution of doing this isn’t too easy once you’ve figured everything out, either. This makes for a fantastic speed run to watch unfold, and it feels incredible to play too.

Slashing through each enemy with excellent execution isn’t an easy effort. Still, it’s effective, and you can finish this entire game within 15 minutes, making this a swift speed run, primarily thanks to the game’s built-in speedrunning mode. There’s quite the support to play this game however you wish, supported by the developers, though you’d be pressed to find longer categories.

A pretty sick speed game leads to a bunch of people playing it constantly, and 1,100 players on speedrun.com ain’t anything to sneeze at. If you want to speedrun a game that could entertain you entirely on how cool it feels to execute everything consistently, then Katana Zero should absolutely be your choice.

Risk of Rain 2

To get a bit more random, we have a roguelike, which is almost always fun to speedrun since that’s just how roguelikes are built. I chose Risk of Rain 2 specifically because it’s popular, feels excellent to speedrun, and you can eliminate some of the RNG with Artifact of Control speed runs if you’d wish; these runs last only around 8 minutes.

There are longer categories to keep you busy, like the Gauntlet, which takes an hour and a half to run through with multiple characters, or 100% completing the game, which takes over 12 hours. Shooting down enemies in roguelike fashion with different categories set for whatever character you feel like playing makes this a great run, primarily since it utilizes skill in regular runs or game knowledge in control runs.

This excellent balance between luck and skill causes only around 400 people to run this game constantly, with weekly tournaments showing people competing to get the fastest time. Competitive Risk of Rain is a thing, and it’s very cool, but if you want to speedrun normally, this game has a ton of stuff to offer.

A Hat in Time

Now for one of the most traditional types of speedgames, we return to the platformer, but a 3D one this time with A Hat in Time, a game with incredibly fun movement, chaining dashes and rolls together to gain some incredible speed and platform super fast while feeling cool. It’s also not a terribly long run, at only 34 minutes long.

The best part about Hat in Time is it has a super extensive modding community, meaning you’ll practically never run out of new levels to play through super quickly if you get bored of running through the main game. If you want even more content, you could also run the 110% category, lasting 3 hours and 20 minutes.

This game also has a decent speedrunning scene, with 930 players and quite a few features by default to help you time your runs and make the speedrun process as smooth as possible. This is easily my recommendation for the indie speedrun to hop into if you’re a big fan of 3D platformers, and it’s a fun one in general.

Terraria

For a far less traditional game to speedrun, we have perhaps the best-selling indie game of all time, Terraria. These runs are typically on a random seed, where you drop into a world and work to kill the Moon Lord as quickly as possible, but you can also choose to run seeded if you want an insane tech showcase that beats the game in under 6 minutes.

The prominent category people run, though, is just beating the Moon Lord on classic mode and completely unseeded, which typically takes under an hour to finish. This game is no stranger to meatier runs, though, with the All Bosses run taking just about two hours, so you’ve got a pretty wide range of categories to fit into, and you’ll definitely find one you like.

Despite Terraria’s popularity as a game, only around 900 speedrunners are playing Terraria on speedrun.com, which is still a sizeable community, just not an absolute goliath like Minecraft. It’s a lovely little community where you can choose exactly how you want to play the game, and this is undoubtedly the most customizable speedrun possible. Shoutouts to the few hours I had the Journey Crash% World Record.

Ultrakill

From a game with ultra customizability to one that’s more streamlined into making you feel like the world’s coolest person alive, we have Ultrakill. This first-person movement shooter has a super dark, DOOM-like 90s aesthetic while also having you run and gun your way through levels as you destroy everything in your path, being quite a fun speedrun as well.

This game’s still in Early Access, but you’ve got a very dedicated community of 3,400 people behind it already, all of them having run through the game in under 10 minutes, and if you watch one of these runs, you’ll see it’s one of the most insane speedruns you’ve ever laid eyes on, being incredibly execution heavy without giving you an excellent chance to breathe.

This chaotic combination shows that this game, while it does feel incredibly cool to execute everything one after another, is pushing my complexity factor quite a bit. I can’t even tell what’s going on with these runs half the time, but if you’re one to throw yourself into a complex scenario and come out on top, I’d say you should give Ultrakill a go.

Neon White

Finally, we have what I consider to be the pinnacle of speedgames, a game that’s so fun to speedrun it’ll subconsciously trick you into speedrunning it without you even knowing. Neon White was such an addictingly fun platformer, shooter, and deck management game that every time I ran through these levels, I felt a burning fire in my heart to do them faster and faster.

It’s mostly seeing my times on a leaderboard at the end of each level, being compared to my friends, and my competitive spirit made me see new routes, play the game better, and execute everything so perfectly I feel an absolute rush at the end. Only 459 other players felt this and committed to speedrunning, which means this is a small but close community.

This run clocks in at a perfect-for-me 30-minute time, with many extra categories to keep you busy, including 100% glitchless that lasts over 2 hours. It’s an excellent game for people looking to speedrun a game casually to impress their friends and an incredible game if you’re looking for something fast, skill-based, frantic, and fantastic. Absolutely my favorite speed game.

Discover the Enigmatic World of Hollow Knight | GOG

Immerse yourself in the hauntingly beautiful world of "Hollow Knight," where every step unveils secrets and challenges waiting to be conquered. With its captivating art style and intricate gameplay, embark on an epic journey filled with mystery, danger, and discovery unlike any other.

Check Price
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Questions and Answers

Question: How do I start speedrunning?

Answer: Find a way to record yourself playing your favorite game as fast as possible, post it to the leaderboard on speedrun.com, and engage with the community to learn and grow as a speedrunner.

Question: How do I time my speedrun?

Answer: Almost everyone uses LiveSplit, a PC program you can use to split up your run and make your time more digestible, sometimes automatically splitting, starting, and ending your timer for PC games.

Question: What’s the best game to speedrun?

Answer: The answer will come down to your personal preferences, but for a game that encourages speedrunning heavily, Neon White is a great option.

Conclusion

Overall, you could get into speedrunning just about any indie game you feel would be fun. Still, these are what I (someone who’s done multiple speedruns) think is pretty reasonable for games that have an outstanding balance of fun, length, and not losing their unique aspects in the process of becoming a cool speedrun.

If you’re a budding speedrunner and need ten suggestions to get started on games that could be cool to check out, then go for these, but I’d still recommend running through your library of excellent games until you find something that feels right for you. Terraria felt suitable for me, and that’s a pretty weird game to run, so go for it; play what you want!

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