The Best Family Friendly Indie Games
It’s natural to want to share your love of gaming with the next generation. Whether they’re your children, your siblings, or even your friend’s kids that you babysit from time to time, it can be fun recommending cool indie games for them to try out.
Over the last decade, consoles have improved dramatically, as have PCs and mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. Now, kids have a wealth of platforms and games to choose from, and the opportunity to be exposed to games at an earlier age. Seriously, it’s not uncommon to see a toddler swiping through a tablet with shocking proficiency, watching Peppa Pig and playing educational games.
As kids get older, you naturally want to expose them to all types of games from puzzles and platformers to narrative adventures and everything in between. That said, it can be hard knowing where to start.
When gaming for yourself, nothing is off-limits. When suggesting a game to a 5 or 6-year-old, a lot is off-limits. As much as kids love the Five Nights at Freddy's characters as plush toys, they probably shouldn’t be playing the actual FNAF game.
Outside of what's appropriate, you’ll also want to try and recommend something that’s approachable and will make them want to keep playing, rather than something too hard for them. With these things in mind, I thought it’d be a good idea to put together a list of some of the best family friendly indie games.
I’ll be including games across a multitude of platforms, so even if you lack a gaming PC, you should still be able to find something on this list that you can play on an Xbox One, iPhone, iPad, etc.
The Best Family Friendly Indie Games
- Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch
Let’s start with the most obvious choice, Minecraft. You may or may not know this, but Minecraft was created as an indie game. It’s since gone on to become one of the best selling games of all time, period. It’s also available on every platform imaginable.
Including the ones listed above, you can also get Minecraft on Nintendo 3DS, PS Vita, Wii U, Kindle Fire, and so on. No matter what you own, it’ll play Minecraft. As for what to expect from Minecraft, its concept is wonderfully simple in that it’s a giant sandbox game.
As you explore, you’ll collect materials that you can use to build anything you want. A tower? Sure. A farm? Also cool. It’s notorious for being a game that kids love, and it’s not hard to see why. Minecraft is one of the best indie games for kids of all ages. If you have a kid who loves building and using their imagination, you can’t go wrong with Minecraft.
- Platforms: PC, Mac, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch
Next up, we have Untitled Goose Game. As one of the best indie games of 2019, Untitled Goose Game is full of mischievous charm. In the game, you play as a goose that’s on the loose. Waddling and swimming along, you’re free to explore your surroundings and create chaos and mayhem wherever you go.
You can steal food from a picnic basket, run off with a farmer’s rake, and get chased by a shopkeep armed with a broom. Untitled Goose Game is great as it lets you play at your own pace. Yes, there are objectives for you to complete, but the game doesn’t guide or force you into completing them.
It also doesn’t hold your hand, letting you figure out the best way to approach each task. I’ve seen several parents play Untitled Goose Game with their kids and the kids genuinely seem to enjoy the game. I mean, how can you not love a troublemaking goose? Well, in a video game, the ones in real life are massive jerks.
- Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
"Ground Control to Major Tom."
Do you know a kid who loves outer space? Maybe one who’s always wanted to be an astronaut? If so, Astroneer is the perfect game for adventurous space explorers! Similar to Minecraft, Astroneer is a sandbox game where you explore, collect materials, and build whatever your heart desires.
What's nice about Astroneer is that you aren’t limited to one particular world as there are multiple different planets and biomes to explore. You also have a bit of a LEGO building thing going on when you snap together different components to create vehicles and pieces of a base. Personally, I find the construction element to be one of the most satisfying aspects of Astroneer.
Taking an empty section of planet and turning it into a sprawling base with cool vehicles is an absolute blast. Astroneer offers co-op as well, so if you have two kids who love space, they can work together to build things from scratch!
- Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch
Speaking of working together, another game to keep multiple kids and family members entertained is Overcooked and its sequel, Overcooked 2. Offering couch co-op for 1-4 players, Overcooked is a crazy cooking sim where everyone scrambles to whip up orders for impatient customers.
The controls of Overcooked are extremely straightforward and shouldn’t take too long to pick up. That said, there are plenty of challenges in Overcooked as well, especially when it comes to coordinating and communicating with your fellow players. At times, you’ll have to put out fires both literally in the game, and metaphorically when it comes to trying to figure out what to do next as you’re laughing too hard to focus on gameplay.
Have no one else to play with? No worries, Overcooked is just as fun to play alone!
- Platforms: Apple Arcade (iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple TV)
If you have an iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple TV, you need to download Sneaky Sasquatch. At first glance, Sneaky Sasquatch feels a little bit like Untitled Goose Game. However, instead of a troublemaking goose, you play as sasquatch. An incredibly sneaky… sasquatch. You get the point.
Sneaky Sasquatch is wonderfully casual in that you can do a little bit of everything. You can work your way into campsites, you can snatch food from picnic baskets, fish, and even golf. Yes, golf. Sasquatch has a lot of hidden talents, he can even drive!
The game is recommended for players 4 and up which makes it great for younger gamers, though gamers of all ages can appreciate Sneaky Sasquatch. It’s adorable, silly, fun, and surprisingly fleshed out for a game that can be played on-the-go with an iPhone or iPad!
- Platforms: Android, iOS, PC, Mac, Nintendo Switch
Another “mobile” indie game that I highly recommend is The Big Journey. We can all agree that cats are adorable, and no cat is more adorable than The Big Journey’s main character, Mr. Whiskers. All Mr. Whiskers wants to do is eat food, particularly dumplings.
Unfortunately, his dumplings have gone missing, forcing him to roll his chunky body through different bright and colorful maps to satisfy the rumblin’ in his tumblin’. The Big Journey is what you’d expect from a platformer with the added benefit of being easy and approachable.
The main thing is world rotation and trying to get your bearings as you roll and bounce through different biomes. If you’ve ever played LocoRoco, it’s a lot like that. Overall, the game feels exactly as its name suggests... like a big journey. If you have a kid who loves cats, they’ll love this game.
- Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, iOS, Android
Stardew Valley is more than a farming sim where you grow crops and interact with friendly NPCs, it’s a pure, wholesome gaming experience. Playing Stardew Valley feels a lot like coming home after a long day, kicking off your shoes, and plopping yourself down on the sofa for some quality relaxation time. It’s that good.
In the years following the game’s 2016 release, Stardew Valley has gone on to sell over 10 million copies. Not bad for an indie game created by one guy, Eric “ConcernedApe” Barone! Stardew Valley is a game that’s great for just about anyone. Although, there is a degree of strategy to parts of the game that may prove to be difficult for kids in the 4-6 age range.
However, if your kid is particularly advanced or you play together with them, there’s no harm in giving Stardew Valley a try. You may be surprised to find that you like it as much as your kid does!
- Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch
Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles is an adventure game that’s 100% free of combat. Yes, you read that right, there’s no combat in Yonder. Instead, you explore the island of Gemea and clear mysterious clouds of murk. You can also fish, farm, craft items, talk to friendly NPCs, and search Gemea for collectibles if you like.
The game doesn’t force you to follow a linear path, but instead lets you decide where you want to go and what you want to do. After exploring Gemea for an hour, you’ll find that combat in a game like this just isn’t necessary. Yonder is a perfect, wholesome, family friendly adventure for kids of all ages. It’s especially fun on Nintendo Switch, so if you’re wondering what platform to purchase it on, my recommendation is the Switch.
Other Family Friendly Indie Games
Aside from the games listed above, there are a lot of family friendly indie games out there, and it’s difficult to list each and every one. That said, here’s a bulleted list of more than a dozen more indies that are all worth checking out!
- Slime Rancher
- Human: Fall Flat
- Lost Ember
- Bee Simulator
- My Time At Portia
- Rocket League
- Golf Story
- Hidden Folks
- Unravel + Unravel 2
- Donut County
- Crossy Road
- Tiny Bubbles
If you have family friendly indie games that you want to recommend, but didn’t see in this article, leave them down in the comments below. Additionally, if you want me to go into detail about the games listed above, let me know!