The Most Unique Turn-Based Indie Games

Written by Harry Ted Sprinks


Although the turn-based genre offers a variety of experiences, unique tropes, and fun game mechanics, it is one of the oldest genres of video games. Because of this, as with most genres, certain standards and cliches have cemented themselves in the genre to the point that players expect a certain feel and look from turn-based games. However, some games break the mold in new and interesting ways while simultaneously managing to stay true to the genre.


Release DateJune 15, 2021
DeveloperWorldwalker Games
PublisherWorldwalker Games,
Whisper Games
Available OnSteam, GOG, Epic

This party-based RPG focuses primarily on procedural, organic story-telling in which characters dynamically come into their own through player choice. Wildermyth features a wild amount of variety, tactical turn-based combat, and thematic mechanics that make it a truly unique experience.

Although Wildermyth’s combat is fairly standard and easy-to-learn, it does feature a few unique twists. Combat encounters revolve heavily around walling and flanking mechanics, encouraging teamwork and discouraging one-man armies. Furthermore, the game features mechanics that allow the player to use the environment to their advantage.

However, although combat is a frequent occurrence in Wildermyth, it’s not the most unique part of the game. What makes Wildermyth so special is the deep and personal character progression and customization, making each playthrough feel personal and unique.

Star Renegades

Release DateSeptember 8. 2020
PlatformsPC, Xbox, Playstation,
DeveloperMassive Damage, Inc.
PublisherRaw Fury
Available OnSteam, GOG, Epic,
Xbox One, PS4, Switch

This unique combination of rogue-lite and strategy RPG features a well-crafted pixel-art aesthetic, a mechanized science fiction theme, and deeply tactical turn-based combat. Star Renegades centers around a procedurally-generated campaign of missions, made unique through the game’s distinct adversary generation.

Combat in Star Renegades plays out on a timeline, allowing players to know exactly when every character is going to act. This timeline system also allows for interrupts and counterattacks, allowing players to push enemies further back in the timeline or be pushed back themselves if they make a mistake. The combat system of Star Renegades allows for fast-paced and unforgiving gameplay that takes time to learn, but its abundance of systems keep it engaging throughout.

Star Renegades also distinguishes itself from other turn-based games with its unique adversary system that will be familiar to fans of games such as Middle Earth: Shadow Of Mordor. As players progress through the game, Star Renegades uses this adversary system to generate both enemies and bosses that gradually move up the ranks.


Release DateJune 1, 2021
PlatformsPC, Xbox, PlayStation,
DeveloperKlei Entertainment
PublisherKlei Entertainment
Available OnSteam, Epic, Xbox One,
PS4, Switch

This rogue-lite from Klei Entertainment, the indie giant behind games such as Don’t Starve, fuses the well-trodden genre of deck-builders with RPG elements and a unique combat system. In Griftlands, players explore three unique campaigns that follow the escapades of three distinct characters, each with their own set of cards, gimmicks, and areas to explore.

Griftlands is unique for its combination of rogue-lite deck-building mechanics and RPG systems, featuring well-written dialogue and interesting characters to meet and work for. The game also sees players managing two decks, one for negotiation and the other for violent combat. Killing important characters in Griftlands can and will affect how a run plays out, while sparing them could also prove inefficient, and negotiation lets players avoid violence altogether.

By allowing players to be pacifists while also allowing them to kill off major characters, Griftlands offers a lot of freedom. This freedom helps to make the world feel alive, making each run of the game feel dynamic and unique. For fans of unique turn-based games that don’t enjoy deck-builders, Klei Entertainment’s turn-based stealth game, Invisible Inc, also offers a unique experience.

Darkest Dungeon

Release DateJanuary 19, 2016
PlatformsPC, Xbox, PlayStation,
Nintendo, IOS
DeveloperRed Hook Studios
PublisherRed Hook Studios
Available OnSteam, GOG, Epic,
Xbox One, PS4, PS Vita,
Switch, App Store

Although Darkest Dungeon features plenty of standard turn-based mechanics and systems in its gameplay, its unique combination of a grim-dark setting, rogue-like structure, and RPG mechanics allow it to stand out from the crowd. Furthermore, its unique systems for stress, light, and camping distinguish it even further.

Darkest Dungeon tasks players with gathering a party of deeply flawed characters from a variety of distinct classes and venturing out into one of several unique dungeons. The game’s dungeons are appropriately dark, and players must spend valuable torches to keep spirits high and prevent ambushes. Darkest Dungeon keeps a steady focus on resource management and careful planning throughout, and when players fail to plan ahead the game can be brutally unforgiving.

It’s for these reasons that Darkest Dungeon stands out so well, and its sequel even tries admirably to innovate and distinguish itself from the original. For players that are looking for a harsh and unforgiving experience packed with tough decisions, and don’t mind restarting their game when their best party members get wiped out in one battle, Darkest Dungeon is a uniquely strategic experience.

SteamWorld Heist

Release DateDecember 10, 2015
PlatformsPC, PlayStation,
Nintendo, IOS
DeveloperImage & Form Games
PublisherImage & Form Games
Available OnSteam, GOG, PS4,
PS Vita
, 3DS, Wii U,
, App Store

This fast-paced, turn-based RPG adventure features a unique Steampunk theme and a swashbuckling, adventurous atmosphere that fans of Firefly-adjacent science fiction are sure to appreciate. SteamWorld Heist tasks players with leading a robotic pirate crew, battling it out in a variety of sci-fi interiors in often intense shoot-outs.

However, SteamWorld Heist’s theme is not its only unique aspect; combat in SteamWorld Heist is turn-based, but every shot the player takes must be manually aimed. Furthermore, bullets can bounce off of walls and ceilings, allowing the player to pull off impossible trick-shots to take out enemies. This interactive flow of combat is truly unique, allowing for combat that’s engaging and rewarding.

Overall, SteamWorld Heist is an action-packed turn-based adventure that fans of light-hearted science fiction, Steampunk themes, and manual aiming are likely to enjoy. Furthermore, the game’s relatively low price point makes it an easy game to pick up, especially during sale events.

Into The Breach

Release DateFebruary 27, 2018
PlatformsPC, Xbox, Nintendo,
Android, IOS
DeveloperSubset Games
PublisherSubset Games
Available OnSteam, GOG, Epic,
Switch, Google Play,
App Store

From the developers of the indie darling, FTL: Faster Than Light, Into The Breach offers a tactical turn-based experience that constantly asks players to make tough decisions as they puzzle out the best move to make.

Into The Breach is made unique through its puzzle elements; the game constantly provides the player with all the information they need to make the best decision, removing much of the RNG that plagues turn-based games (see XCOM). Into The Breach also features a unique fail-state in which players must defend buildings from a variety of over-sized monsters; if these buildings are destroyed, civilians are killed, and the player loses “health”.
Into The Breach features an undo-move button, and even a reset-turn option that players can use once per mission, but it remains a relatively challenging game. Despite this, its generosity and lack of RNG ensure that the game is rarely frustrating.

Dicey Dungeons

Release DateAugust 13, 2019
PlatformsPC, Xbox, PlayStation,
Nintendo, Android, IOS
DeveloperTerry Cavanagh
PublisherTerry Cavanagh
Available OnSteam, GOG, Xbox One,
Xbox Series X|S
, PS4,
, Switch, Google Play,
App Store

This game from Terry Cavanagh, developer of VVVVVV and Super Hexagon, is a turn-based rogue-like about – as the title suggests – rolling dice. The game puts players in the shoes of one of several anthropomorphic dice, each representing a unique class. It’s these classes, as well as its theme and unique dice combat, that make Dicey Dungeons so unique.

Due to its nature, Dicey Dungeons features a hefty amount of RNG. However, the game is designed around this, with the challenge being to make the most out of every dice roll. Dicey Dungeons features several “cards” in the form of equipment and unique character abilities, each of which have unique slots for the player to place their dice. When the right dice are placed in a piece of equipment, its effect is triggered. However, Dicey Dungeons features a large variety of unique and interesting equipment cards and character abilities that make each run feel unique.

Although Dicey Dungeons features a familiar rogue-like structure, its unique deck-building elements, equipment, and dice-based combat make it a distinctive package. Furthermore, the game’s charming theme and unique art style help to further distinguish it in a relatively over-saturated market.

Ring Of Pain

Release DateOctober 15, 2020
PlatformsPC, Xbox, Nintendo
DeveloperSimon Boxer,
Twice Different
PublisherHumble Games
Available OnSteam, GOG, Epic,
Xbox One, Switch

Ring Of Pain is a rogue-like dungeon-crawling game that dubs itself a “card-crawler” in which players must make their way through a ring of cards, each representing a unique encounter. This ring format allows Ring Of Pain to inject puzzle elements into its gameplay by broadcasting enemy actions and allowing players to plan their route around the ring.

Although players traverse a ring of cards in Ring Of Pain, players don’t play cards or build a deck. Instead, players move from left to right around the ring, collecting equipment and passive upgrades to improve their statistics. Ring Of Pain features a lofty dose of RNG, RPG mechanics, and puzzle elements. Combat is a turn-based slug-fest that fans of traditional rogue-likes will be familiar with, and the game’s strategy revolves more around tactical positioning and careful planning.

Ring Of Pain offers a distinctive take on the dungeon-crawling genre, and its well-telegraphed hazards ensure players always have the information they need to make the right decision. Furthermore, its turn-based nature means that players have as much time as they need to deliberate over their next action.


Although these examples don’t encompass all unique turn-based games on the market, they are among some of the most distinctive turn-based experiences players can have, both visually and mechanically.
With so many games releasing every year, it can be easy for unique and innovative titles to get lost in the cracks, despite this list containing some highly popular examples. So, if there’s a unique turn-based game that didn’t make it to this list, especially if it slipped under the radar,  be sure to let us know on Discord, Twitter, and on our YouTube channel.


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Harry Ted Sprinks

With a deep love for strategy games that began when he first played Stronghold as a kid on his parents’ home computer and a passion for linear narrative games like Telltale’s The Walking Dead and old-school shooters like Blood and DOOM, Harry loves video games of all shapes and sizes. His knowledge of games new and old is broad, but Harry’s biggest passion is indie games, which he loves to champion in his writing. Harry’s favorite games include old-school rogue-likes like Caves Of Qud, older RTS titles such as Red Alert 3, modern classics like Halo 3, and survival-horror games like Resident Evil. When he isn’t writing or playing games, Harry can likely be found developing small games of his own or making music. Although Harry enjoys the occasional AAA game, his attention is primarily focused on representing indie games.