Do you know any famous games made by one person? Well, we’re here to educate you on some! These games are sure to tickle your brain, but you were probably unaware that they were by a one-man team.
In recent years, more and more one-man games have sprung up, especially amongst platforms that support indie games like itch.io and Steam. They vary in aesthetics and length, but there’s probably a one-man made game in every gaming genre out there.
With that said, here are some of the more famous games made by one person for you to browse through!
A Kickstarter baby, Undertale was crowdfunded in 2013 by Toby Fox. Toby is the brains behind the game, with Temmie Chang supplying some designs. Additionally, the Temmie character in the game is a small joke specifically to commemorate her. For the game’s development, Toby is in charge.
Every part of Undertale took inspiration from different games, but put together it created a uniquely humorous game. This had spurred a huge fandom circa 2015/2016 dedicated to the game worldwide. For instance, even the pope blared the Megalovania theme song from the game during one of his weekly audiences back in January 2022.
Needless to say, Undertale is one of the most famous games made by one person.
Undertale is an RPG bullet hell game, where you decide the fate of the monsters you come across in your attempt to escape the underground world. You can either kill them or have mercy on them, which determines the way the world reacts to you and which route you end up on.
Developed for five years by Daisuke Amaya, Cave Story drew inspiration from some of his favourite childhood games like Metroid and Castlevania. The game was released in 2004 and was continuously enhanced, ported and remade throughout the years. The latest release of Cave Story was on the Nintendo Switch back in 2017 with a favourable score of 7.9/10 on Metacritic.
Despite its humble and slow beginnings, Cave Story eventually gained traction and became one of the hallmarks of must-play indie games. The story revolves around a robot that wakes up in a cave without any memory. In order to get his memory back, he will need to find a way out of the cave and eventually defeat an evil scientist.
Cave Story is a Metroidvania action platformer where you can move forward or unlock powers by solving puzzles and discovering certain hidden areas in the game.
Number None, also known as Jonathan Blow is the brains behind Braid, with David Hellman helping out with parts of the artwork development after its release over the years. Braid’s creation is an attempt by Jonathan to use complex puzzles and storytelling in revealing some deep moral and philosophical questions.
And indeed, Braid’s twisted ending left everyone horrified by their actions, showcasing the game’s impressive plotline. In Braid, you take control of Tim on a quest to search for a princess kidnapped by a monster.
Tim’s motivations to save the princess were unclear in the beginning. You’ll slowly uncover his motives through small hints and clues as you get to the end.
Dust: An Elysian Tail
Dean Dodrill is the face behind Dust: An Elysian Tail’s design, programming and development. The only thing he wasn’t completely a part of would be the voice acting and soundtrack, which he outsourced. Dean is a self-taught animator and illustrator that formerly worked under Epic Games.
Dust: An Elysian Tail is a 2D side-scrolling action RPG in a world inhabited by anthropomorphic creatures. You play as Dust, as he comes across a sentient sword and its guardian. The two will continue to lead you throughout the world while you’re attempting to defeat a villain that has been leading a genocide.
The main protagonist, Dust, doesn’t have any memories or recollection of his past, so you unravel everything together on this journey as well. Killing two birds with one stone – unraveling memories and defeating evil.
Thomas Happ made Axiom Verge as a side project whilst working at Petroglyph Games as a developer, and it took him about five years to complete the game and officially release it in 2015. Thomas took inspiration from games like Metroid and Contra which resulted in a Metroidvania side scroller beloved by many.
Axiom Verge is a sci-fi Metroidvania where you take up the role of Trace, a scientist trying to save an alien world from a mad scientist. After a lab explosion, Trace awakens in an ancient yet high-tech environment where a disembodied voice leads him on and tells him to fight.
The game borrows elements from older games and combines them to make one entertaining gameplay loop. As a Metroidvania, you will unlock some cool power-ups, and exploring is a key part of the gameplay to advance.
Axiom Verge launched with universal critical acclaim, making it one of the most famous games made by only one person. For more Metroidvania games, check out our list of the best Metroidvania games!
Eric Barone, also known as ConcernedApe, is a multi-skilled developer and the force behind the worldwide sensation Stardew Valley. He started on the game in 2012, released it in 2016 and the rest is history.
As the game continued to grow and gain traction, Eric sought out help from another designer to sustain the game’s development, which is not uncommon.
Stardew Valley is part RPG and part farming simulator inspired by the Harvest Moon games, improving on the concept and adding features that the series lacked. As such, players can tend to a bustling farm with crops, animals, fruit trees, and more.
If you’re itching for an adventure, you can even delve into a cave or uncover all sorts of mysteries surrounding the town.
Evidently, the game is designed to interest everyone and cater to all sorts of people, receiving a considerably high score on Metacritic. It’s no surprise that Stardew Valley has evolved into one of the more famous games made by one person.
Lucas Pope published Papers, Please through his own production company 3909 LLC back in 2013. Formerly a developer for Naughty Dog’s Uncharted series, Lucas decided to strike out on his own. His vision is to create games that are not as formulaic as the typical games he is already familiar with. The creation of one of the most famous games made by one person is what he got as a result.
Inspiration for this comes from movies where secret agents get to sneak past immigration officers like the Bourne series and Argo. Admittedly, the game can be a little grim and stressful but serves as a great reminder of how much more terrible life could be for us all.
Papers, Please is a puzzle simulator where you work as an immigration officer at the borders of a fictional dystopian country. Aside from that, your job is to review the paperwork of immigrants attempting to enter your country, determining whether they get accepted, detained, or rejected.
There’s a quota you must reach, and any mistakes will result in getting a fine. And so, the stress is on, for you and the immigrants who hope to pass.
Probably the most recent game on this list, Iconoclasts was developed by Joakim ‘Konjak’ Sandberg and released in 2018. This is a 2D Metroidvania platformer developed for about 8 years. The game takes inspiration from the detailed world-building, story narrative, and passionate characters of Metroid Fusion, Monster World IV, and Final Fantasy IX.
Iconoclasts’ gameplay is a mix of exploration, solving environmental puzzles, battling enemies, and boss battles. You’ll be filling in the shoes of the main character, Robin! As a mechanic, her tools are her weapons.
Along the way to taking down the government, she befriends some cool party members. And yes, you can take control of them during boss battles to make things more fun!
Lastly, the game does look and feel like an old-school Metroidvania, which is a great plus point!
Overall, the game is warmly received by the community, with an average 8.0 rating on Metacritic.
One of the oldest and most iconic games that have yet to fail generations of gamers. That’s right, it’s Tetris! Throughout the years, Tetris has been remade, thrown around and merged into multiple different games. However, the original version of stacking colourful blocks together remains a treat to play.
Tetris was created by Soviet software engineer Alexey Pajitnov way back in 1984. It was an attempt for him to recreate his favourite childhood puzzle game. What ensued was a hit game amongst his colleagues and subsequently, the world.
Now, the game is currently available on every single device and platform out there in one form or another. We can all continue the legacy of Tetris as one of the most famous games made by one person!
One of the more prominent names when it comes to games that were created by one person – we have Touhou Project by ZUN Soft, now known as Team Shanghai Alice. This game evolved into a huge bustling franchise of games, albums and all sorts of print media. Touhou Project has a huge cult following, even outside of Japan.
Touhou Project currently has a total of about 18 games under its umbrella! It doesn’t look like it would be stopping anytime soon either. Although most of them are bullet hell shooting games, some of the games do branch off to other genres. This was evident throughout the years.
A common factor that all of these games have is that their characters are all cute bishojo-style characters. Touhou Project does have a strong doujin fanbase that enjoys these adorable characters and continues to keep the game alive. Pretty amazing as one of those games made by only one person!
Fez is by the infamous game developer Phil Fish that ended up leaving the industry altogether. This means all the plans for a Fez sequel were thrown out the window. But that’s alright. As one of the most famous games made by one person, replaying Fez over and over should tide everyone over.
Phil was working with Shawn McGrath on the idea and mechanics of the game at some point. Alas, they both went separate ways due to some creative differences. Even so, Phil continued to work on Fez on his own for about 5 years.
The game is a 2D puzzle platformer that went on to inspire the creation of other games like Monument Valley, Crossy Road and more. You play as a character that witnessed a break in the space-time continuum. This led him to see the world from various rotating angles, like a puzzle. This creates new paths for you to cross and move around.
With all the random codes, signals and secret rooms, you are sure to find yourself in a head-scratching situation. Fez is loved by many for the challenge and uniqueness of its mechanics. It received high scores from sources all across the gaming industry.
Return of The Obra Dinn
From the same guy that made Papers, Please we have Return of The Obra Dinn by Lucas Pope. What started as an experimental game in 1-bit graphics turned into this vintage-styled 3D-like game. This game holds a complicated narrative and mechanics that make it worthy of the praise and awards it has received.
Return of The Obra Dinn takes place in the 1800s. It is an adventure puzzle game with an interesting take on the whodunit concept. Players investigate a ship full of dead people, in an attempt to reconstruct their deaths and/or their current locations.
This investigation uses an object known as the Memento Mortem. It’s a pocket watch that transports its users to the moment of death for any corpse that the player encounters. With a pocket watch and a journal, you will transport into different lives and timestamps of the dead.
Additionally, taking into account that it is one of those famous games made by only one person, it’s pretty impressive!
You’ve reached the end of our list for now! May this list enlighten you on the efforts put into creating some of your favourite games. It takes years to create something amazing, so give some props to these game developers! And, make sure to support to those who are still diligently working on their games!