As the rest of Team Kotaku are off chasing turkeys through their local Macy’s (I’ve done more research about what a Thanksgiving is this year), once more I have the keys to the site, have locked everyone out, and then immediately lost those keys. While I’m stuck here, I figure I should tell you about some awesome-looking indie games that are coming soon.
Look, it could be worse. I was trying to work out some sort of feedline for the phrase, “May Seize Day Per Raid.” [Ghost of Ari sweeps through Kotaku HQ’s dusty halls] A better use of all our time would be if I let you know about a whole bunch of ace-looking indie games that you’d be in danger of not hearing about otherwise. Let’s get them on wishlists, push up their YouTube views, and then tell all the other kids about them at recess.
As always, I am not personally vouching for these games. These are randomly selected from a vast pile of emails that I’ve received following a clarion call, and unless I say so, I haven’t played them. It’s all about grabbing the opportunity to use this huge platform to highlight the sorts of games the gaming media usually ignores. So let’s get going!
See, this is what it’s all about. House Of Muriet is a voxel-based RTS, which entirely eschews micromanagement in favor of strategic play. It’s about wizards, building settlements, researching magical abilities, and making stuff explode. Also, OMG, watch that trailer. Normally when I read “voxel” I worry, but not this time. It looks like someone made a stop-motion film in Minecraft, and the result is absolutely spellbinding.
Release: Aug 2023
A Cold War-era spy sim, that lets you pick a nation’s intelligence agency, and then play as them from 1946 to 2020, across a world map. The video above is an absolutely incredible example of how to present a game that’s otherwise primarily a picture of a map, making it look thrilling. With 74 playable countries, and the claim that it’ll let you rewrite history Paradox-style, this is enormously ambitious.
Developer: Ex Vivo Studios
Released last month, I’m most annoyed with myself for still not having made time for Harmony’s Odyssey. Just based on colorfulness alone, it qualifies for anyone’s attention. It’s a gorgeous-looking action-adventure, packed with puzzles where you rearrange reality in a series of dioramas. I’m so glad MythicOwl emailed, because it’s the reminder I needed to finally get on and play this.
Release: Out now
No, you can’t move for “roguelike deckbuilders” right now, so it’s something that Jupiter Moons caught my eye, and for a second time! We’ll be a mecha pilot, fighting off pirates and bandits from the moon colonies of Jupiter, but because it’s now, we’re using cards to do it. This is a case of the trailer really selling it within a crowded market, that combination of intricate build-outs for your mecha, and then the fast pace of action, despite being done by flinging cards around the screen. Also, I really like the look of the art. And it was already wishlisted.
You can immediately see why Wholesome Games recently got excited about Gourdlets. It’s a city-building sandbox, except, it really means it. So many city-building games that say “sandbox” just mean, “you can put the buildings where you want, while ticking off this list of objectives.” Not this: there are apparently no goals, no objectives, just the pleasure of building a cute little city, and then watching the gourdlet vege-people move in, and interact with what you’ve created. Which sounds just so very lovely.
I will be honest: When I read Luis G. Bento’s blurb for the apparently yelled CORPUS EDAX (which I think is Latin for Body Eater...), claiming he was making an immersive sim in the vein of Deus Ex and Fallout, my out loud response was, “No you’re not.” Because a person can’t do that. And then I watched the trailer, and...blimey. He might be. Now, that footage above is described as “pre-pre-alpha,” and it’s not just you, it has no sound, but come on! It looks impressive, right? Also, you’ll note there are no guns in this “retro-futuristic” (no) RPG, where instead you fight only using objects you find lying around. Like in real life.
Developer: Luis G. Bento
Release: September 2023
If you’re of a certain age (it’s called: Old) you’ll remember the heyday of 2D Disney platformers. There was Aladdin, The Lion King, and er that’s it. But both were adored, combining a half-decent platform game with Disney’s animation style. That’s what developer Valhalla Cats aims to do with Stars In The Trash. You can see in the footage that it looks lovely, if more ‘80s Euro-animation than Disney. I really don’t like that title, but the game itself looks like it could be lovely.
Developer: Valhalla Cats
Release: Q4 2023
Developer Spritewrench has two projects on the go, the first for next year being the brilliantly named On the Peril of Parrots. It looks to be an intriguing puzzle game, where the trailer’s familiar-looking puzzle type then rather surprised me with the menu option to “Destroy all humans.” But grabbing me further is 2024's Duppy Detective Tashia, a Caribbean-set detective game in which you’re helping the titular Tashia to find her stolen phone and, well, shadow. It’s based the region’s folklore, where “duppy” is a form of ghost, sometimes a malevolent spirit, and the basis for many an excellent tale.
Another bellowed game name, although this time a word that requires it. This is a tower defence (remember them?) with FPS elements! Goodness me, there was a time in the last decade where I wrote, “a tower defence with XXX elements” so many times, but it was never “FPS.” The trailer is bloody brilliant, and makes the whole thing look spectacularly bonkers, even if I’m most confused about how the genres overlap. We’ll find out in a couple of months!
Developer: Hangry Owl Games
Release: Jan 11, 2023
You could argue I randomly picked this game because it’s called Chicken Journey, and on most other days you’d be right. But after watching the footage, I discovered a pixel platformer that reminded me of when I was a boy, and sprites clung to vines properly. The whole thing looks adorable, with a bunch of puzzle solving and amiable chatting, and really looks like a thing I wish I were playing right now.
Release: March 2023