If you’re as sick of AAA development practices and staff treatment as you say you are, then you really ought to be looking a lot deeper into the world of indie development. And wouldn’t you know it, along with nine from earlier today, we’ve another 10 unknown or under-known indie games that are well-deserving of your attention.
Supporting independent development is about as close as to being Jesus as most humans can ever be, and this is an excellent opportunity. Stick anything that stands out to you on your wishlist, buy it when it’s out, then tell your friends. These games are only obscure if you let them be.
Let’s get going.
OK, listen, secret time: if you want me to definitely write about your game, feature octopuses. It’s the direct route to my heart, and Chasing the Unseen went right there. It’s a game about climbing giant creatures, and it only looks a bit like Shadow Of The Colossus.
Aside from the slightly janky running animations, this looks gorgeous, and scaling a vast octopus, or trying to leap between the sliding sections of a snake? It could be so much fun! Best of all, developers Strange Shift Studio just released a demo so we can find out.
Developer: Strange Shift Studio
Well here’s pretty. The idea of managing railways has always seemed like far too much pressure to me, even in the days of Chris Sawyer. But Station To Station’s voxel-packed trailer makes the whole thing look so incredibly relaxing.
Look at those chuffing steamies! I usually find trains about as interesting as carpet samples, but this makes them look so charming that I want to play it! Which is hopefully something we’ll be able to do this year.
Developer: Galaxy Grove
If you’re old like me, then Super Catboy’s trailer (above) will send you flying back to the ‘90s in ways you might not have entirely wanted. It’s the most tremendous pastiche of how games were advertised back then, even funnier given the incongruity (then and now) of furious metal and over-excited players with a 2D pixel platformer.
Created by “two German dudes,” it’s not just the promotion that reminds me of the era. This has Fire & Ice/Lion King vibes to its art, and all that sliding about. There’s a demo on Steam if you want to check it out.
Release: July 2023
Islands of the Caliph is immediately reminiscent of the late 1980s SSI and FTL games on which my reality was built, and I’m into it already just for that. It’s the modern thinking of Legends of Grimrock, but the 2.5D aesthetics of the era.
Inspired by the games of that time, and based on Middle Eastern folklore and Islamic spiritual traditions, one-person developer Schmidt Workshops suggests it will have an open-ended storyline based player choices. A demo is coming up in the next Next Fest, and I cannot wait.
Developer: Schmidt Workshop
I’m not entirely sure what it says about me (I am), but there’s something about incredibly isolated survival sims that really appeals to me (it’s because I’m a misanthrope). Life Not Supported is about as remote as you can get, set on a destroyed spaceship orbiting an uninhabited planet. Mmmm, my number one holiday destination.
By gathering debris, and using duct tape, you need to fashion together equipment and shelter that’ll see you outlive your current oxygen supply, all with the goal of investigating the cause of your accident. Subnautica in the vacuum of space? Yes please. There’s a demo out already, and its Early Access release is only four weeks away.
Developer: Sam Stubbings
Release: 26 June, 2023
A two-to-four hour RPG, packed with puzzles, with its focus on being chilled and welcoming. That sounds rather lovely, eh? Set in what developer Sunny Demeanor Games calls an “open town” instead of open world, it’s all about gentle exploring during a weekend getaway, with threat of enemies or world-ending catastrophe.
The game came out in February, but has so far gone under-the-radar, so if you fancy some gentle, genteel puzzling, this might be just the thing.
Developer: Sunny Demeanor Games
Release: Out now
I have to be careful with these Indiegeddons not to just have lists of visual novels—by far the most submitted genre. But oh my goodness, when your cast includes BOOM-voiced British actorrrrrrrrr Simon Callow, that’s quite a boast.
In fact, it’s replete with boomy voices, also featuring narration by The Green Knight’s Ralph Ineson. Then there’s House of the Dragon’s Savannah Steyn, and crikey, what a line-up. With strong Watership Down vibes, rabbitkind has been cursed with “The Great Culling,” and you play as a young girl called Fern who is charged with getting her kin through this purge.
Release: TBA (but a demo in August)
Um. Wow. You want to see ambitious, check out this trailer for Grand Emprise. This is a survival game that’s set during the time of the dinosaurs, but also in the Middle Ages, but also in the industrial revolution, but then also in the present day, and also in space in the future. What now?
There’s crafting, right, but also time travel. And this is apparently all created by one person? Bonkers. It’s to be single-player, and more linear than the genre usually offers, but then it’d have to be, wouldn’t it?
Release: August 2023
In top-down action game Evil Wizard, you play as the recently defeated final boss of a game, now trying to remove all the heroes from his castle. Which is a lovely idea, and delivered with the sort of bright, excellent art you might expect from a Devolver game.
If you want to find out more, you can play it right now, as it came out only last week.
Developer: Rubber Duck Games
Release: Out now
An “immersive fantasy treasure hunter simulator,” Bridgebourn is an ARPG that’s been hand-painted by developer Bamboo’s Bazaar, with an emphasis on exploration.
It looks like it will offer quite an elaborate set of abilities, with the—er—ability to combine them to create new skills. And given the paucity of indie ARPGs, it’s lovely to see one looking so distinct.
Developer: Bamboo’s Bazaar