While action games still rule the world, the casual, laid back experiences have their place too. I love to kick back and get my farm on in things like Stardew Valley or Graveyard Keeper (that tried and true gameplay loop of reaping, sowing, and reaping again). Puzzles are another go to, some of my recent favourites being Hidden Folks or Dum-Dum. With that in mind, here are some more casual indie games with a tentative 2021 release date. Keep in mind, especially in the current landscape, that dates are never set in stone. If you like something, don’t forget to Wishlist it or follow the developers! It really helps out. [Editor’s Note: I saw “Wishlist it” a lot during the Game Awards last week, and had no idea that it was a thing. Thanks, Lor!]
Luna’s Fishing Garden
Look at this art style! And that capybara peeking out! By developer Coldwild Games, you play as Cassie, who wakes up and is tasked with creating a garden for the fox spirit, Luna. Plant trees, catch fish and bring animals to your island in this little game. The best part is there are no time limits so you can kick back and relax. I’m a sucker for ocean-centric games so this immediately piqued my interest. Plus I loved their last game, Merchant Of The Skies.
Luna’s Fishing Garden will be available on March 2nd, 2021.
Named after the region in France, Dordogne sports a gorgeous watercolour style I can’t get enough of. You’ll explore two different time periods as Mimi, who is visiting the house of her late grandmother and reconnecting with her childhood memories. It’s always a treat to see games go all out with a concept like this, creating a truly unique adventure.
Dordogne will be available in 2021.
Date Night Bowling
I know it doesn’t really count as a sport, [Editor’s Note 2: Hey, hey, it’s a sport. Technically.] but I’ve always enjoyed bowling. An added twist to this is you’ll also be trying to impress your date with various minigames, including giving them a backrub! Date Night Bowling is going for a retro style with lots of bright and fun colours, and who knows, maybe I’ll score a turkey and a second date!
Date Night Bowling will be available in spring 2021.
Pack your bags and head to a small town. The mayor’s daughter is sick and they need your help. As a young Chemist, you’ll assist townsfolk with various tasks and heal their illnesses. Gather materials and fight monsters to brew potions in your cauldron to aid in your tasks. Mixing ingredients together looks like a Tetris-style puzzle which seems fun! You’ll also be able to upgrade the town and area. Gives me some Moonlighter and light Trauma Center vibes.
Potion Permit will be available in 2021.
I seriously cannot get over that name, it’s simply adorable. Totally fits the theme too, as you’ll be taking over an abandoned bakery and creating delicious pastries. This will have a bit more management to it, as you’ll need to serve customers while also making sure your sweets don’t burn. Bring that extra handcrafted feel to your food by raising chickens, cows, and growing fruit in your own greenhouse.
Lemon Cake will be available in February 2021.
Everybody loves dinosaurs—myself included. Spinosaurus rules. So the idea of raising them on an adorable ranch is a no brainer. Care for them and creature custom enclosures to make them happy and explore the island with your Parasaurolophus named Lucky. I originally saw this game on Twitter, where the devs regularly post concept art and updates. Give them a follow!
Paleo Pines will be available in 2021.
There are games out there for almost every kind of simulation. Running a zoo? You got it. A prison? A little weird, but there’s a few of those. What about a museum? Mondo Museum has got you covered. There seems to be a large variety in exhibits, from dinosaurs to scientific discoveries to classical art pieces. It will also feature modding which sounds perfect for this! Can’t wait to see what kind of wonderful (and ridiculous) things the community will create.
Mondo Museum will be available in 2021.
I would have never expected ‘you’re a cute little spider going to save her boyfriend from a bird’ to be one of my most anticipated games, but here we are! It looks like Webbed is using the spider idea in some interesting ways, like swinging from your webs like Spider-Man to creating paths to traverse. Also, you can do that cute little spider dance.
Webbed will be available in 2021.
Yes, okay, it’s called Nuts. And I love it. Set up your cameras, explore the forest, and find out what those pesky squirrels are up to in this unique game with a vivid visual style. Gameplay revolves around capturing footage, including reviewing it on your VCR after night falls. Will you find out what the critters are up to?
Also features full voice acting!
Nuts will be available in 2021.
The idea of a game where you play as a programmer, making a game within a game is an interesting one. Diving into some of the more grueling aspects of game design including bug fixing and programming objects, translated into puzzles. I’m a big fan of this really simplistic sprite art style, where the characters have like 1 pixel arms. There’s something super charming about it. Also, check out the Free to Play prologue available right now as well!
One Dreamer will be available in 2021.
So many exciting smaller releases are on the horizon in the coming months, so stay tuned in the future for a part 2. Is there a game coming out that I missed? Let me know in the comments!