Best Co-op Indie Games

Best Co-op Indie Games: Why Play Alone When You Can Dominate as a Team?

Some of my fondest gaming memories are from a simpler time when nothing beat huddling around a screen playing video games with friends. As time went on, co-op games comfortably transitioned into something you could enjoy online instead, and then, all of a sudden, they just stopped.

If you focus solely on the AAA gaming space, you’d be forgiven for thinking co-op games went the way of the dodo. Fortunately, if you dig just that little bit deeper, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Co-op experiences are as prevalent as they are fantastic in the Indie gaming space, and with so many choices, it’s quite the challenge to find ones that rise above the rest. In this article, I’ll be showcasing some of the Best Co-Op Indie Games you can play right now, ranging from the well-known to the obscure. Few things in gaming are more rewarding than beating a game with your best mates, and if you’re struggling to pick something, I’ve got you covered.

Bottom Line Up Front

There’s a Co-op game in the Indie gaming space to suit everyone from casual to hardcore. Unfortunately, typing keywords like ‘Co-op’ into Steam does little to separate the good from the bad, and there are some awful games you can unearth doing so.

I’ve tried to detail a few games to suit everyone in the list below. If you’re looking for a casual recommendation, try out Moving Out. If you’re after something hardcore, you can’t go wrong with Spelunky 2.

Selection Criteria

If you punch ‘co-op’ and ‘indie’ into a Steam search, you’ll drag up thousands of results that vary massively in scope and quality. With this in mind, I think drawing up a few guidelines explaining my choices is essential:

  • 70 or higher Metacritic Score.
  • 1 Title per series.
  • Co-op must be a primary focus of the game and not relegated to a side mode.

Metacritic scores aren’t perfect, but they give a broad overview of how a game was received at launch from multiple sources.

Some of my favorite games have a decent Co-op mode tacked on. Even though those modes can be fantastic additions, I want this list to be full of titles where Co-op multiplayer is center stage. Full games that can be played solo or as a team are also allowed.

The Games

This list is in no particular order as the best ones for you will depend massively on who you’re playing with and what you enjoy. That being said, I’ve played each of these titles myself, with some (like Viscera Cleanup Detail) becoming all-time favorites. 

Overcooked

Overcooked: All You Can Eat PS5 Game

  • Metacritic Score: 81
  • Platform: All
  • Players: 1-4
  • Couch Co-op: Yes

Overcooked makes this list for the same reason Monopoly makes it onto Board Game lists. It’s a superb game with a simple premise that’s executed well, but wow, is it infuriating! Overcooked challenges your team of would-be chefs to face the horrors of kitchen work. Cooking burgers, frying fish, washing dishes, dealing with rats?… You’ll be doing a bit of everything.

The core of Overcooked is so straightforward that even a newcomer could wrap their head around it. The gameplay loop is simple; prepare and cook the ingredients, assemble them on a plate, wash the dishes, and repeat. 

The frustration comes in when you’re doing all these things simultaneously and relying on each other. One mistake can ruin the flow of the kitchen, or worse, set the place ablaze! It won’t take long before you’re multitasking and barking orders at each other, and if you want those coveted gold stars, you’ll have to work in perfect harmony. That’s not easy to do when you’re all running around the kitchen like headless chickens.

Viscera Cleanup Detail

Viscera Cleanup Detail
Image by Anthony Yates
  • Metacritic Score: 78 (User score only as critic reviews are not available for this title)
  • Platform: PC
  • Players: 1-32!
  • Couch Co-op: No

Viscera Cleanup Detail is starting to show its age and has a few long-standing issues, but it’s still a brilliant, unique, hilarious Co-op game.

Have you ever wondered who cleans up the mess after a bloody battle or firefight? Well, in Viscera, that’s you! You’ll have to work as a team to mop up puddles of blood, fill in bullet holes and meticulously collect every bullet case and body part you find strewn across dozens of creative levels. I mean it, the place better be spotless by the time you’re done if you want a good rating!

This game is best enjoyed with friends you goof around with in real life, as there are plenty of opportunities for friendly trolling (like knocking your friend’s bucket of body parts over and laughing at them). One of the best things about Viscera is the pacing, you don’t have a time limit, and the levels only end when you’re ready. If you don’t mind getting your hands dirty (or blown up on the odd occasion), there’s plenty to love in Viscera Cleanup Detail.

Moving Out

Moving Out
Image by Anthony Yates
  • Metacritic Score: 79
  • Platform: All
  • Players: 1-4
  • Couch Co-op: Yes

Hot take; I think Moving Out surpasses Overcooked and is one of the best Co-op Indie games on the market! Here’s why.

In Moving Out, your team takes control of adorable house fitters as you’re tasked with removing furniture from ever more challenging venues and loading it all into a van. You can do plenty of lifting solo, but larger objects like sofas will require 2 of you to work together.

Moving Out offers multiple ways to approach each stage, and the wildly different areas keep things fresh instead of frustrating. If you’re a strong player, you can accomplish a lot on your own, and if you have a weak link in your team, you can support them instead of impatiently waiting for them.

There’s something wonderfully light-hearted about Moving Out, and rather than tensions rising, you’ll giggle at the chaos unfolding in front of you. This is a massive game too, with a mode dedicated to placing furniture instead of removing it if you play long enough.

KeyWe

KeyWe
Image by Anthony Yates
  • Metacritic Score: 73
  • Platform: All
  • Players: 1-2
  • Couch Co-op: Yes

KeyWe may not be the ‘best’ game on this list, but it certainly wins in the cute department.

KeyWe is a fun 2-player experience tasking you to complete objectives as 2 Kiwi birds (Debra and Jeff!) in a post office. You’ll be running around typing messages out on typewriters (using your butt to press the keys, naturally), assembling delivery crates, and sorting letters. Every task in KeyWe will require solid communication with your teammate, and You’ll have to work in perfect harmony if you want a shot at the top medals.

KeyWe has a few technical issues that mean it barely scrapes over the Metacritic requirement. These problems don’t sully an otherwise enjoyable Co-op title, but this is one you should test before inviting a friend over. You can always try KeyWe out on Steam and return it if needs be.

Streets of Rage 4

Streets of Rage 4
Image by Anthony Yates
  • Metacritic Score: 82
  • Platform: All
  • Players: 1-2
  • Couch Co-op: Yes

Streets of Rage 4 is a faithful addition to the original trilogy with tasteful new mechanics that respect the series’ roots and catapult it into the present.

Beat ’em ups always lend themselves well to a great fast-paced Co-op session, and Streets of Rage 4 has a genius combo system that rewards aggressive play as long as you don’t get hit! Surprisingly, there’s a lot to think about in combat as different enemies have wildly different fighting styles and abilities to watch out for. Mindlessly mashing the attack button will only get you so far, as each character has attack sequences that are far more optimal. You’ll learn them all with practice!

It’ll take many runs (which last about 90mins) to master Streets of Rage 4, but with plenty of characters to unlock and those coveted S ranks to earn, you’ll be happy to rid the streets of crime over and over again.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge
Image by Anthony Yates
  • Metacritic Score: 85
  • Platform: All
  • Players: 1-4
  • Couch Co-op: Yes

If you like your Beat ’em ups with that authentic ‘retro’ feel, the latest Turtles game may be right up your alley!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge is Dotemu’s (Streets of Rage 4 developers) take on the Turtles franchise. Rather than attempt to modernize the formula, Dotemu has opted to keep everything looking and sounding like it’s fresh out of the 90s. 

This game may exude an old-school vibe, but everything feels wonderfully snappy and responsive. There’s so much attention to detail with environments brimming with life; if you’re a Turtles fan, this game is a dream come true.

Every character has a unique fighting style with satisfying special moves, and there are dozens of subtle nods to the franchise. 

Unrailed

Unrailed
Image by Anthony Yates
  • Metacritic Score: 77
  • Platform: All
  • Players: 1-4
  • Couch Co-op: Yes

Unrailed is a wonderfully simple game where your group has to build a track for a train that can’t stop. You’ll be mining materials to make track segments, dousing the steam engine to keep it cool, and carving through the landscape so the train can get through! All this is done on a beautiful block world reminiscent of Crossy Road, and if you last long enough, you’ll visit loads of varied biomes, each with unique hazards. 

Unrailed bridges that difficult gap of being approachable for casual players while offering a challenge to veterans. There are tons of unlockables and modes to explore and enough content to keep any team busy for a long time. If you’re like me and grab the free games on the Epic store, you may have this one already, as Unrailed recently ended up on there.

Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime

Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime

  • Metacritic Score: 84
  • Platform: All
  • Players: 2-4
  • Couch Co-op: Yes

Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime is a stunning, stylish 2D Space Shooter where your group pilots a spaceship on a journey to rescue captured space bunnies… yup!

Your ship has several different stations your team needs to manage, but it’s all done in such a simple, intuitive way that even young or casual audiences can enjoy it. If you’re standing by the wheel, you’re steering. If you’re by a gun turret, you’re shooting, and if you’re by the shield controls well, you get the idea. You’ll have to share the load with your team if you’re to survive this crazy neon universe, and every accomplishment feels like something you all contributed to. It’s an incredibly rewarding game.

Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime shines in just about every aspect, from the difficulty curve to the art direction. It’s a phenomenal team game and one of the best in a full group of four.

Gunfire Reborn

Gunfire Reborn
Image by Anthony Yates
  • Metacritic Score: There is no score at the time of writing, but there is a ‘Very Positive’ rating on Steam with a 94% approval rating.
  • Platform: PC and Mobile (Coming to Consoles October 2022)
  • Players: 1-4
  • Couch Co-op: No

Gunfire Reborn is a superb Roguelite FPS and might just be one of the best Co-op titles in the genre right now. 

In Gunfire Reborn, you play as one of several animal heroes, each with fantastic unique abilities such as orbs that freeze enemies or the ability to dual-wield massive guns. You’ll find dozens of different weapons and scrolls in each run to enhance your character. The real skill comes from learning what skills synergize with your guns and character.

There’s a generous selection of items available from the get-go, but one of Gunfire Reborn’s strengths is how it showers you with unlockable items as you play. After a couple of decent runs, you’ll unlock so much new stuff to play with it can be pretty overwhelming!

Just one of over 150 different skill scrolls! – Image by Anthony Yates

As is typical of Roguelites, you start underpowered, but each run will earn you currency to spend on permanent upgrades. This loop of constantly upgrading and unlocking new gear keeps Gunfire Reborn addictive. Naturally, this does make it a slow starter, but if you have a few sessions to spare, this is a superb shooter to get into with a friend. 

Spelunky 2

Spelunky 2
Image by Anthony Yates
  • Metacritic Score: 91
  • Platform: All
  • Players: 1-4
  • Couch Co-op: Yes

Many regard Spelunky 2 as the best Roguelike that exists right now, and with a friend, it’s even better! Spelunky 2 tasks up to 4 of you to journey into an incredible subterranean world whilst stuffing your pockets with riches.

As Spelunky 2 is a Roguelike, the layout of each floor changes every time you play, and there are a phenomenal amount of rewarding secrets to unravel if you’re brave enough to explore. You’d never expect a game that looks so simple to be so technical, and you can pull off some very stylish tricks once you know how. There are so many clever interactions and systems in this game, and once Spelunky 2 gets its hooks in, you’ll want to master them all.

A word of warning, Spelunky 2 is probably the toughest game on this list. Hard games can be incredibly rewarding, but other games on this list may be more suitable if you’re playing with a casual group.

Raft

Raft
Image by Anthony Yates
  • Metacritic Score: 80
  • Platform: PC
  • Players: 1-8
  • Couch Co-op: No

Raft recently had its 1.0 release and offers a remarkable survival and exploration experience that’s 10fold better with friends.

Raft has all the usual survival game tropes; you constantly need food and water, and you need to craft weapons to defend yourself. You’ll also need to deal with a hungry shark that’s forever chomping bits out of your makeshift boat! Where Raft differs from the norm is its mysterious overarching story that you and your friends will uncover as you sail across the unknown. You’ll always be discovering new things, and once you have basic survival taken care of, you can focus on making an incredible raft you’ll all be proud of.

If you’re put off by the speed of other Co-op games, this is one you can enjoy at your own pace, and the shenanigans you’ll get up to with your friends are things you’ll laugh about long after you’ve switched the game off.

Deep Rock Galactic

Deep Rock Galactic
Image by Anthony Yates
  • Metacritic Score: 85
  • Platform: All
  • Players 1-4
  • Couch Co-op: No

Deep Rock Galactic is a Co-op phenomenon, having held its ‘Overwhelmingly Positive’ rating on Steam since launch. If you’ve seen people write ‘Rock and Stone!’ on forums and wondered what on earth that’s about, you’ve got this game to thank for it.

Everything in Deep Rock Galactic is focused on team play. You play as a squad of Dwarves tasked with mining in the most dangerous dig sites across the galaxy. There are 4 Dwarves to pick from, and they all bring something unique to the team. Deep Rock Galactic is a shooter at heart, and giant bugs are just as dangerous as falling to your doom.

It’s not all about guns blazing. There’s plenty of downtime for exploration, and traversing caves requires a skill set of its own. There are several mission types, from building pipelines to collecting alien eggs, and each will demand a new approach from your team. Your hub ship even has a bar you can drink at with your buddies, and there are so many little details that make the whole world feel alive. Deep Rock Galactic is a massive game with content still being added to this day. If you want a long-lasting Co-op experience, this is a rock-solid choice!

Cuphead

Cuphead
Image by Anthony Yates
  • Metacritic Score: 88
  • Platform: All
  • Players: 1-2
  • Couch Co-op: Yes*

Contrary to popular belief (caused by poor wording in press releases), Cuphead is an Indie game and can be enjoyed with a friend from start to finish.

Cuphead is one of the most visually striking games on the market, adopting a 1930’s art style where most of the artwork you see was created by hand. That beautiful art becomes a platform for a fiendishly unforgiving 2D platformer and a true test of skill.

It’s worth suffering through the difficulty to enjoy Cupheads tremendous boss battles. To put it lightly, they are masterpieces and a joy to play through alone or with a friend. Needless to say, the challenge may put off young or casual players, but for the right audience, there’s nothing else quite like Cuphead.

*Cuphead offers local Co-op only with no settings for online play.

Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince

Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince
Image by Anthony Yates
  • Metacritic Score: 81
  • Platform: All
  • Players: 1-4
  • Couch Co-op: Yes

The Trine series has been around for ages, with each game offering fantastic physics-based platforming against stunning fantasy backdrops. The latest game in the series, Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince is the best of the lot, so much so that it can be hard to go back to the earlier games.

Trine is a 2D platformer at heart, and you’ll share the screen with your friends. There are a few different heroes to pick from, and each has unique skills. There’s rarely one rigid solution for puzzles, and figuring them out as a group is where Trine truly shines. This is puzzle platforming done right, and this series is beloved by many for that reason.

Trine 4 is on this list because it’s the most polished of the series, but if you’d like to try the Trine games from the start, you can usually get the original trilogy for a fraction of the price. Trine 3 is the weakest due to some frustrating 3D sections, but they are all excellent Co-op games.

Castle Crashers

Castle Crashers
Image by Anthony Yates
  • Metacritic Score: 83
  • Platform: All
  • Players: 1-4
  • Couch Co-op: Yes

Castle Crashers is one of the oldest games on this list, but even today remains a crowd-pleasing brawler that’s perfect with friends.

If you like your 2D Beat ’em ups with a goofy, fantasy lick of paint, you’ll love what’s on offer here, and out of every game on this list, Castle Crashers is genuinely funny! Like many of the best Co-op games, Castle Crashers is easy to pick up and play, and there’s just enough nuance in combat to keep it engaging.

Your quest to save the princesses will take you across exotic locations, each with a unique assortment of baddies and bosses. You’ll fight everything from angry teddy bears to necromancers, and Castle Crashers never shies away from throwing incredible set pieces at your group (like a giant cat with a snorkel!).

If you’re still not convinced, there are dozens of pets to unlock, and they are so cute they should come with a health warning!

Terraria

Terraria
Image by Anthony Yates
  • Metacritic Score: 83
  • Platform: All
  • Players: 1-8
  • Couch Co-op: Yes 

Terraria is a gaming juggernaut and one you can point to if anyone questions the quality of Indie games. When it came out, it was lovingly referred to as 2D Minecraft, and with constant updates, it’s become so much more!

I could write an essay on why you should play Terraria with your friends, but to summarise it, your group plays in a 2D sandbox spanning dozens of impressive biomes. You’ll be doing a mix of exploring, village building, and combat. There are tons of different weapons to use, armor sets to craft, and giant bosses to battle. There’s also plenty of mining to do through an unforgiving underground world in search of rare materials if that’s more your speed.

Of every game on this list, Terraria will demand your time, so this one will suit a group that can play together regularly. There’s plenty to love if you’re in it for the long haul.

Check out the following guide on how to get started in Terraria.

Badland: GOTY Edition

Badland: GOTY Edition
Image by Anthony Yates
  • Metacritic Score: 79
  • Platform: All
  • Players: 1-4
  • Couch Co-op: Yes

Vying for the title of ‘Weirdest’ game on the list, Badland is a wonderfully strange 2D adventure where you play as ‘clones’ (blobs with faces) and try to get them to the end of each level in one piece. 

The weirdest part of all is you only use one button for the most part. Clones float to get around, and you control their motion up and down. If you’ve ever played ‘Flappy Bird’, it’s like that! The obstacles you’ll come across range from deadly spinning blades to trap doors that will require a team effort to open.

Sometimes you’ll need to make calculated sacrifices for the greater good; basically, it sucks to be a clone! All of this is going on against one of the most beautiful Sci-Fi backdrops I’ve ever seen. It’s a shame that focusing on it will usually spell certain death.

Badland’s controls aren’t meant to be precise, but this also makes some deaths a little frustrating. This is purposeful but might annoy a hot-headed group! For the budget-conscious, Badlands is perfect as well. It frequently goes on sale (at the time of writing, it’s £1.04!).

Grim Dawn

Grim Dawn
Image by Anthony Yates
  • Metacritic Score: 83
  • Platform: PC, Xbox One
  • Players: 1-4
  • Couch Co-op: No

Action RPGs are fantastic for Co-op. Slaying swathes of enemies whilst grinding for loot with a friend is weirdly addictive and, at times, almost therapeutic!

Grim Dawn is one of the best in the genre and strikes a tidy balance between simplicity (like Diablo 3) and complexity (like Path of Exile). As with most Action RPGs, Grim Dawn is a little slow initially, with plenty of dialogue to sift through. If your group is into world-building and can play together regularly, there’s a lot to love here.

One of Grim Dawn’s biggest draws is the superb Mastery system. Masteries are basically classes, but each can be combined to make a unique ‘Dual-Class’. There’s a class combo to suit anyone, and it’s a ton of fun trying to bend them to suit your own playstyle. If Grim Dawn gets you hooked, you won’t be looking at a few hours of playtime. You’ll be looking at hundreds.

Honorable Mentions

Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet

Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet

  • Metacritic Score: 76
  • Platform: Xbox and PC
  • Players: 1-4
  • Couch Co-op

Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet is a fantastic game with friends, but as Co-op is limited to a separate mode called Lantern Run, it lands a spot here in the honourable mentions.

In Lantern Run, you and your team pilot flying saucers and attempt to get as far as you can through an ever-changing gauntlet as you possibly can. A single lantern must be dragged through the run, and each ship has a claw to grab it or anything else for that matter. It’s a team effort to protect the lantern bearer as many enemies are attracted to its light. Every ship can shoot, and the claw can be used to hold enemies in place and move debris out of the way.

Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet is a superb game and one that I’ve got dozens of hours out of exclusively from multiplayer, but most of the game’s content is in the single-player mode. If you like how it sounds, I recommend checking it out, but its Co-op offerings aren’t as complete as other games on this list.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Why Overcooked instead of Overcooked 2?

Answer: Overcooked 2 is arguably more polished, but it’s much harder. The difficulty makes sense as if you’ve beaten the first, you’ll want something more difficult in the sequel, but as the first game is no slouch, I’d 100% recommend that first.

Question: What’s the best platform for Co-op Indie games?

Answer: PC, without a doubt. Consoles may catch up eventually, but PC marketplaces like Steam offer the most flexibility for indie devs and the ability to release games in early access.

Question: What game would you recommend for very casual players?

Answer: I’d recommend Moving Out. It’s suitable for players of any skill, and the gameplay loop is wonderfully simple. On top of that, the controls are intuitive, and it’s available on any platform. As long as you have enough controllers, you’ll all enjoy yourselves.

Conclusion

The Co-op gaming scene is alive and well if you know where to look! If I missed your favourite, the chances are I’ve not played it myself, and I’m sure there are many hidden gems I’ve never heard of. Still, no matter what games you enjoy, nothing beats playing through one with friends, and whether you’re casual or competitive, there’s a title to suit everyone.

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