8 Games Coming Out in 2021 That Could Be Sleeper Hits

sleeper hits 2021

Ghosts ‘n Goblins: Resurrection

One of the most infamously difficult platformers of all time is back with a brand new coat of paint. Arthur is back in Ghosts ‘n Goblins: Resurrection to slay demons and save Princess Prin-Prin. Despite its classic roots, this game hasn’t gotten much attention and may end up being a sleeper hit in 2021.

It appears that much of Resurrection is still fairly similar to past titles in the sense that you play as an armor-clad Arthur equipped with lances.

However, there is so much that’s new in the reveal trailer. There are multiple new power-ups, we see the introduction of screen-clearing attacks, and now Arthur can take more than two hits before kicking the bucket. Best of all, the new art completely reimagines the sprites from the original in a beautiful hand-drawn style.

This game looks fantastic, but with it currently flying under the radar, it could easily be 2021 sleeper hit with old-school gaming fans.


If you’ve ever played any of the Sid Meier’s Civilization games, then Humankind will look extremely familiar. For those who aren’t familiar, this type of turn-based strategy game falls into the 4X genre which stands for explore, expand, exploit, exterminate.

Even though this genre has a solid fanbase that’s looking forward to the game, Humankind hasn’t broken through with the mainstream. A game like this usually doesn’t have a big ad campaign that you would see from other major titles that Sega publishes.

Humankind will likely have a hard time getting over with the general gaming public. But this game has a shot at being a sleeper hit since all of Amplitude Studio’s past games have been well-received by small audiences.

We recently previewed Humankind if you want to get at feel for what it’s like.

Rune Factory 5

Rune Factory is one of those franchises that fills a niche and has a solid base audience. But it could easily blow up with its next iteration. Since Rune Factory 5 is the first numbered game in the franchise to debut on a home console, it could possibly introduce Rune Factory to a whole new audience.

On top of that, there’s a remarkable comeback story here. Back in 2013, the original developers of Rune Factory, Neverland Co., closed up shop and declared bankruptcy. Then one year later, Marvelous hired a bunch of former Neverland employees and got them to work on this game.

This combination of increased visibility on the Switch and much of the original development team getting a second chance to keep this franchise alive seems like it might give Rune Factory 5 the extra push it needs to become a sleeper hit in 2021.

The Artful Escape

This long-awaited indie platformer from developer Beethoven & Dinosaur has been in the works since 2015. The Artful Escape has been featured at multiple events since then and its intense art style always steals the show. Yet, the conversation around this game always dies down quickly.

Even though The Artful Escape has been featured on multiple high-profile Xbox live streams, it has just taken too long to launch. But what they’ve shown of the game is unique and absolutely beautiful.

This game is either going to be stellar or brutal. We already know that the art and music in this game are stellar. If Beethoven & Dinosaur can nail down the gameplay side of things while offering a decent story, then get ready for this to be one of the biggest sleeper hits of 2021.

Windjammers 2

sleeper hit games 2021

All the way back in ye olde 1994, Windjammers captured the minds of all 10 owners of the Neo Geo. To be fair, Windjammers actually had an active competitive scene (pre-pandemic) with regular tournaments and even had a side event at EVO 2018.

This futuristic combination of tennis, frisbee, and handball pits two players against each other in a fast-paced competition to score 12 points before the timer runs out. It’s an intensely competitive game that draws an equally as intense bunch of fans.

Windjammers gameplay is incredibly addictive and its relative obscurity both contribute to the possibility of this game becoming a sleeper hit in 2021. We’ll just have to see if the development team at DotEmu pulls off this reboot 27 years in the making.

Goodbye Volcano High

sleeper hit games 2021

When we think of dinosaurs in video games, they’re usually nothing more than an enemy or a means to an end. Of course Goodbye Volcano High is going to stand out a bit with its highly relatable anthropomorphic dinos.

Even with the unique characters and exceptional art, it’s entirely possible that this game won’t reach a massive audience. These story-driven adventure games often review well but don’t always become major mainstream titles.

Even if it ends up having the best-written story of 2021, it’s likely that this game will be yet another sleeper hit in this genre.

Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin

sleeper hit games 2021

The Monster Hunter franchise is absolutely massive in Japan. And ever since Monster Hunter World released, it has been slowly creeping into the mainstream in other parts of the world. There was even a Monster Hunter movie released last year starring Milla Jovovich.

Still, Monster Hunter isn’t huge in the West, and a spinoff title like Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin is getting even less attention than the main series. Stories is typically talked about as being an entry point to a franchise that is notoriously difficult to get into.

And if the reviews of the last game are your evidence of how good Monster Hunter Stories 2 will be, then we’ll have another sleeper hit on our hands. However, this release on Switch could help the game reach a wider audience and pull it out of that sleeper classification.

Axiom Verge 2

sleeper hit games 2021

The original Axiom Verge which released on PS4 and PC back in 2015 and was an under the radar hit then. Now we’re months away from the sequel and right now Axiom Verge 2 is primed to be a sleeper hit in 2021.

This first game in this Metroidvania franchise received many positive reviews, including a recommendation from us here at Twinfinite. And from the little we’ve seen of the sequel, it’s hard to assume that Axiom Verge 2 will take any considerable steps down in quality compared to the original.

The biggest determining factor for Axiom Verge 2 becoming a sleeper hit in 2021 will surely be its ability to separate itself from the original game. If this new title can add enough while reminding fans of why they loved the original, then there’ll be no stopping Axiom Verge 2.

About the author

Omar Banat

Omar is a UofM Duluth graduate who is obsessed with Smash Bros. Video games are life, but life is not video games. Playing Games Since: 1991, Favorite Genres: Puzzle, Platformer, Action-Adventure (mainly Metroidvanias)