Modern, yet minimalist: 15 best minimalist games on current consoles | GAME3A

Modern, yet minimalist: 15 best minimalist games on current consoles

Minimalistic games can convey a lot without saying much, utilizing simple gameplay and vibrant visual elements.Minimalistic games like Solar Ash and...

Ashley Bardhan Sept 07, 2023
Modern, yet minimalist: 15 best minimalist games on current consoles

Minimalistic games can convey a lot without saying much, utilizing simple gameplay and vibrant visual elements.

Minimalistic games like Solar Ash and Hollow Knight offer incredibly captivating gameplay without overwhelming the player with excessive information.

Indie gems like Journey can provide unique and immersive gaming experiences through simplicity and innovative storytelling.

Games nowadays continually set new standards when it comes to graphics and visual representation. With each new release, characters, environments, and textures become increasingly lifelike, almost as if playing a movie while having control over the actors. It's an impressive ambition to pursue, but sometimes the old motto of "less is more" proves to be a bit more effective.

Not all games require the visual enhancements of 4K. Some only need a few well-placed pixels or polygons, a captivating story, or addictive gameplay to achieve absolute success. By catering to these needs, these minimalist games ensure that players keep coming back for more.

Updated on September 7, 2023, by Gary Kay: The popularity of minimalist games has not waned in recent years; instead, it has gained momentum as more and more games with a minimalist style find success. While it can be enjoyable to indulge in the technically impressive games, it can be equally rewarding to have a more relaxed gaming experience. So, if you're looking for a game that doesn't bombard you with information and allows you to enjoy at your own pace, we have more entries that fit this description!

14 Abzu

Modern But Minimal 15 Best Minimalist Games on Current Consoles

One of the most impressive aspects of minimalist games is how much they can convey to the audience without saying too much, and this is perfectly exemplified in Abzu. The basic idea of Abzu is simple: you play as a diver exploring a colorful and vibrant underwater world. The game offers straightforward controls and gameplay that is easy to understand, yet still provides a certain level of challenge.

The sensation of controlling Abzu is incredibly satisfying, and the simple visual elements are stunning. The game also manages to tell a story without relying on lengthy explanations or extensive dialogues – a refreshing departure from other narrative-driven games.

13 Solar Ash

Modern But Minimal 15 Best Minimalist Games on Current

A common characteristic of some minimalist games is how satisfying they are to control, and an outstanding example of this is Solar Ash. Gliding and sprinting through the colorfully delineated environments of Solar Ash is a captivating yet relaxing experience. Although there are also combat elements, they are not overly challenging to impede the momentum.

Solar Ash manages to tell an impressive story through well-timed, sporadic dialogue scenes that effectively convey the themes of Solar Ash. You have the option to absorb as much of the story as possible or ignore it altogether as you race through breathtaking landscapes.

12 Hollow Knight

Modern But Minimal 15 Best Minimalist Games on

A misconception about minimalist games is that they lack depth, and while this may be true for some games, it is not a universal statement. Hollow Knight offers many opportunities for exploration and gameplay, yet it doesn't waste any time. The environmental storytelling and brief moments of dialogue carry the majority of the narrative.

This allows the game to focus on challenging yet rewarding gameplay, supported by a simple art style. This style creates an atmosphere and a detailed world that enables players to explore it at their own pace and experience joy in doing so.

11 Thumper

Modern But Minimal 15 Best Minimalist Games

When most people think of minimalist games, open-world explorations or relaxing life simulations usually come to mind. A psychedelic rhythm game is not usually considered. However, that's precisely what Thumper is.

Thumper is an intense and quite challenging rhythm game, but with its straightforward gameplay and a narratively simple plot conveyed solely through gameplay, it would be hard not to call it minimalist. If you're a fan of rhythm games or enjoy being immersed in abstract game environments, Thumper will be an unforgettable experience.

10 Tunic

Modern But Minimal 15 Best Minimalist

The Legend of Zelda set the standard for adventure games in the 80s and has dominated the genre ever since. However, only a few games in the series can truly be considered minimalist. So, if you're looking for something similar to Zelda but with a minimalist twist and still surprisingly deep, then Tunic is a great option.

The gameplay is reminiscent of a classic 2D Zelda game but distinguishes itself through a unique storytelling approach that employs fourth wall-breaking instructions you collect throughout the game to tell the story.

9 Hyper-Light Drifter

Modern But Minimal 15 Best

With very little exaggeration, one could say that Hyper Light Drifter is likely the visually most complex game on the list. 16-bit graphics will always resonate with retro gamers, but it's the highly minimalist story that secures its place.

In this peculiar hybrid of Dark Souls, A Link to the Past, and Metroid, the story is left for the player to discover on their own. There is no definitive answer, only theory upon theory derived and concluded by the player. It's a bold move for such a simple style.

8 Ashen

Modern But Minimal 15

Creating a Souls-like game with such a minimalist style is no easy task, but it is possible. Ashen embodies all the characteristics of a Dark Souls-inspired title, albeit with very simple polygonal art.

It has the dark and mysterious atmosphere, the challenging combat, the difficulty, and everything that made its inspiration iconic, but there's something else in the game. Something organic and strange that sets it apart from other games of its kind.

7 Journey

Modern But Minimal

Journey is magnificent. That is a fact agreed upon by both gamers within and outside the indie circle. There is certainly an adventure in the game, albeit without a concrete story. However, there is no grand or majestic narrative; the art style is simple yet vivid and distinct. There is a particular emotional element throughout the entire experience that only a few games can replicate.

It's about exploration, visual storytelling through environments and music, as well as a peculiar spiritual quest to find one's own kind. There is more to the game than just getting from point A to point B.


Modern But

At first glance, one would not realize that this game is actually about a spaceship captain trying to save their crew from a malfunctioning transportation device. Who would have thought stick figures lead such interesting lives? Deceptively simple would be an understatement.

In the game, the player controls the flow of gravity to explore a variety of rooms in the spaceship, rescue crew members, and avoid traps. Its inherent captivating power and simple gameplay are what keep its fanbase alive and well.

5 Thomas Was Alone


Platform games generally don't require much complexity, but when the graphics of the game are literally rectangles in different colors and the title brings an award-winning narrative, people take notice.

The mentioned rectangles represent AI programs set in a dark, geometric mainframe world, and the story is phenomenally narrated by Danny Wallace, giving it massive creative support. Suggestion is a powerful tool, but the amount of imagination that must have gone into realizing this game is quite impressive.

4 Limbo

Sometimes, a simple approach is enough to create a truly eerie horror game, and no title embodies this concept better than Limbo. This shadowy puzzle-platformer generates its horrors and intensity without a single drop of blood or even a saturated color.

Death is frequent and brutal in this game, and it takes more than just knowledge of physics to escape the clutches of the darkness that surrounds the player. At this point, the shadows and limited visual representation work incredibly in favor of the game.

3 Superhot

A first-person shooter might seem like the last game to work with a minimalist aesthetic, but Superhot manages to make the player feel like they're in a scene from "The Matrix" with its chunky graphics and faceless enemies.

The time manipulation combined with the shooting element of the game creates a rather interesting and unconventional puzzle experience. Additionally, it's practically impossible not to feel like an action hero as you dispatch the red, shattering enemies with a variety of weapons.

2 Geometry Wars Series

One of the biggest stars of Xbox Arcade is the Geometry Wars series. The foundation of the series literally revolves around shapes shooting at other shapes. Easy to grasp, easy to animate, and easy to portray. All with a touch of Atari-like simplicity and style.

This series was a modern-retro title long before the genre even truly existed. There are serious Arkanoid and Asteroids vibes in these games, and with three popular titles that are still being played, the fanbase remains strong for this game.

1 Tetris

There is no gamer on the planet who hasn't come into contact with Tetris or at least played some kind of clone or spin-off of it. Although the formula has undergone some variations since its existence, the core game has remained steadfast and simple.

Different colors and layouts came and went, but the falling of different blocks with various shapes has remained the same since 1984. Ultimately, it's a simple case of "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."