Best Indie Game Hidden Gems of 2024 So Far

2024 has got off to an amazing start as far as indie games are concerned. We have seen games like Palworld and Helldivers 2 rack up monumental concurrent player counts, we have seen some critical smash-hits in the form of Pacific Drive and Ultros, and there is still so much of the year to go! 

With this whirlwind start to the year, we thought it would be a good idea to take stock of gaming’s first quarter in 2024 and reveal some indie hidden gems that you may have missed, because, after all, as much as you might want to, you can’t play every game that pops up on your preferred digital store. 

So, to get you back in the loop, here are some indie game hidden gems from 2024 so far that you may want to add to your wishlist moving forward! 

Selection Criteria

Just some admin before we jump in; we need to establish what constitutes an indie gem, so here are the criteria we will be using to form this list: 

  • As always, all games will be indie projects
  • Games selected won’t be trending titles, but more games that went under the radar 
  • All games will have a 65% Metacritic aggregate score, or higher
  • All titles should have a unique quality that makes them worth playing

Okay, let’s get digging for these hidden gems, shall we?

Best Indie Game Hidden Gems of 2024 So Far

#1 – Promenade


Developer: Holy Cap Studio

Metacritic Score: 81%

First up, we have a cute 2D platformer that seems to have slipped under the radar a little in the form of Promenade. In this one, you play as Nemo, a boy who has fallen into a deep underground world, and will need to explore, find the cogs to get the elevator working again, and get the heck out of there. 

You’ll have your cute Octopus sidekick Poulp alongside you, and with their help, you’ll need to solve a laundry list of puzzles, get through tricky platforming sections, explore a variety of worlds, beat tough bosses, and so much more. 

It’s a game that touts itself as a ‘2D platformer inspired by the best 3D Platformers’, and that’s clear to see, but even with these clear inspirations, Promenade still has more than enough unique charm to warrant playing this colorful title. 

The platforming is a little trickier than you might think, so casual gamers beware, but overall, this is an indie gem you don’t want to miss. 

#2 – Lil Guardsman

Lil' Guardsman for nintendo

Developer: Hilltop Studios

Metacritic Score: 81%

Hey, remember Papers Please? Yeah, the Soviet Bloc immigration booth simulator we all know and love. Well, what if someone took that concept, and added a pop of color and some whimsy? Sounds great, right? Well, then, you need to check out Lil’ Guardsman. 

Papers Please was a gritty and grueling fight for survival to feed your family. Whereas Lil’ Guardsman borrows the format of Papers Please, placing you in the shoes of the Guardsman’s daughter as she mans the booth in his absence, but the deductive reasoning and scenarios at play here have a more cartoonish and silly vibe.

It allows for moments of humor, moments of discovery through experimentation without the worry of your family starving at home if you make a poor judgement call, and if you do pull off a bit of perceptive brilliance, you can invest in nifty tools to help you in later encounters. 

In short, Lil’ Guardsman is a kid-friendly, charming, and very clever deductive reasoning game, and one you should check out real soon! 

#3 – Balatro

Roguelike card game Balatro gets playable demo - Niche Gamer

Developer: Localthunk

Metacritic Score: 90%

This might be stretching the term ‘hidden gem’ to its limit, as it seems a lot of people are beginning to catch on to how fantastic Balatro is in recent weeks, but hey, we are going to throw it in here anyway. 

I can only imagine that Balatro came about when a developer spotted an old, dusty video poker machine in a dive bar and thought, ‘Hey, I could make a roguelike around that!’ 

That’s exactly what Balatro is: a roguelike deck builder that focuses on Poker Hands. It allows you to level up the effectiveness of different hand types, add multipliers and Jokers that make putting together high scores more consistent, and even throw in some Tarot Cards and extras to add extra depth. 

It’s a game that made me brush up on my Poker terms, but I soon reminded myself of the difference between a straight and a flush, and I was hooked pretty much immediately. 

It’s an addictive, and seriously clever deckbuilder well worth a try, so be sure to get your blacked-out shades on and put on your poker face when you do! 

#4 – Turnip Boy Robs a Bank 

Turnip Boy Robs A Bank WayTooManyGames

Developer: Snoozy Kazoo

Metacritic Score: 82%

If you haven’t played the original Turnip Boy Title, ‘Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion,’ then this one might go over your head a little, but for those aware of Turnip Boy’s antics, this is a sequel well worth investing your time into. 

The original Turnip Boy was a very wacky and well-made top-down Zelda-like with a band of colorful characters and a story that ramped up to a very dramatic grand finale. So dramatic, in fact, that I worried that the sequel would have nowhere to go from there. 

But thankfully, the game not only provides a follow-up narrative that keeps that crazy train chugging. It also flips the script in terms of gameplay to offer a bullet-hell roguelike format, which improves on the basic combat of the original game for better moment-to-moment gameplay. 

If you want to understand anything that’s going on, I suggest you play the first game in the series. Then, when you hop into the second, be sure to steal something pricy in my honor, would you? 

#5 – Portal: Revolution

Portal: Revolution

Developer: Second Face Software

Metacritic Score: N/A

While Portal may be a franchise that is about as far removed from the indie scene as it gets, we all know that Valve isn’t in the business of completing trilogies. So avid Portal fans have taken it upon themselves to create a fangame to add another chapter to Portal’s story, and it’s surprisingly polished. 

In terms of the overall story, it’s not too far removed from Portal 2’s narrative, where you find a core, help them, and then need to take them down when it all inevitably goes wrong. But let’s face it, if you’re playing a Portal game, you’re there for the puzzles, and for the most part, they are extremely well put together. 

The new elemental and cube additions are fun to play around with, and while the writing is a little predictable and shaky, you have to say that the fan developers nailed the overall Aparture Labs ambiance. 

This is a free to play title that is dripping in love and passion for the Portal series, so if you want more mind-bending Portal puzzles, Portal: Revolution is a great game to try. 

#6 – Islands of Insight

Islands of Insight Is a Dreamlike Open-World Puzzle Game

Developer: Lunarch Studios

Metacritic Score: 78%

From one puzzle game to another, but I assure you, you have never played anything quite like Islands of Insight.

This game is an MMO puzzle game, where players will explore an open world made up of a series of floating islands in the sky, and amongst a collective of puzzle-solving pals in the server, you can take on a wide variety of puzzle types that refresh every single day, which effectively means an endless stream of puzzles to solve, and a fantasy realm to explore as you do. 

You can work to unlock cool cosmetics with no microtransactions in sight. You can upgrade your abilities, allowing you to unlock new areas of the realm with new and exciting puzzle variants, or you can just chill with your pals and try to work out a mind-bending puzzle together. 

It’s an extremely ambitious game, and while it does have some flaws in terms of performance, and lacks some of the multiplayer functionality we have come to expect from games like this, it’s still undoubtedly a puzzle-based gem you need to check out for the sheer amount of content on offer alone. 

#7 – Beat The Beats

Beat the Beats upcoming 2024 games

Developer: Parallel Circles

Metacritic Score: TBA

Here’s one for the VR fans out there. As someone who tries to keep up with the VR scene, I think it’s fair to say that when a VR rhythm game releases, it’s only a matter of time before the unhelpful comparisons to Beat Saber rear their ugly head.

Which, I’m also going to do, but for a change, the comparisons are positive, as I think this is the first VR Rhythm game, perhaps aside from Synthriders, that matches Beat Saber for quality. 

Beat The Beats is a game that has the player do exactly what the title suggests: and hook, uppercut, and jab the colorful notes that come at you at a blistering pace.

The concept is fun and tactile, but what’s more impressive is that there is a genuine rhythm to each track you play instead of just a few arbitrary notes thrown at you with a track playing in the background. 

On release, this is a very strong VR Rhythm game, and with some love and support, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see licensed tracks, new game modes, and more in the coming months. So, if you want to get a sweat on, stick on your golden gloves and give this one a bash. 

#8 – Bandle Tale: A League of Legends Story

Bandle Tale: A League of Legends Story

Developer: Lazy Bear Games

Metacritic Score: 75%

Then, lastly, we have Bandle Tale: A League of Legends Story. Shocking wouldn’t begin to cover my feelings when I heard that League of Legends, the game with perhaps the most toxic community around, would be the subject of a cute, cozy spin-off game set in the world of Bandle City. 

It’s a game that swaps intense team-based fights and playing as chosen champions, for a quintessentially cozy pixel-art game where you create a Yordle, and knit, craft and cook to advance the story and find out what happened to your missing friend Clover. 

But that’s not to say that there isn’t strategy involved here, as you’ll need to manage time, positioning of resources, and the use of items to make sure events go off without a hitch if you want to maximize the amount of Stars you rake in. 

It’s a game that makes exploring the world feel rewarding, really nails the community aspect of world-building in a game of this nature, and will offer a nice change of pace for League fans who need to step away from the high-octane ranked matches for a little while.

Uncover Great Games Right Now!

As you can see, if you’re willing to dig a little deeper when looking for a new game to play, you might just uncover something far superior to the AAA game of the moment. That’s the wonderful thing about indie games!

I hope that this list helps you find a game worth playing in the coming weeks and months, and as always, thanks for reading Indie Game Culture. 

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