“…no, you can have some water in the afternoon if you’re quiet.” I’m sorry, you’ve caught me just cramming the last of the Kotaku team in the Holiday Closet. As they rest and recuperate in tangled proximity, I have control of the site, and as such can write about indie games no one’s heard of yet. And use proper words like “cupboard” instead of “closet,” whatever those are.
Below is a randomly selected batch of forthcoming indie games, from the hundreds emailed in to me over the weekend. Unless otherwise stated, I’ve not played them, and so don’t vouch for them at all. But goodness me, look what a fantastic mix of intriguing ideas are coming up. Make sure to stick anything you like the look of on your Steam wishlist — this is one of the most practical ways you can support these games before their release.
I’ve made this a slideshow because it seems the nicest way to present them, rather than an over-long list. No whining.
Developer: ColePowered Games
I love going through the emails I receive when I do these indie call-outs, and reading a sentence like, “a procedurally generated open-world detective game in a sci-fi noir setting where the whole world is constantly simulated.” That’s Shadows Of Doubt, which is somehow almost all the work of one guy, Concrete Jungle creator Cole Jeffries. It’s a game about being a P.I. in a beautiful voxel city, populated by uniquely generated NPCs. And having watched the video above, which I implore you to do too, I want to play this so much.
Developer: Iván Ruiz Lozano
With a very welcome 2D Zelda vibe, Elementallis is a top-down RPG in which you use elemental abilities to fight enemies, solve puzzles, and work on stopping an apocalypse you set in motion. Honestly, you. There are dungeons to gain new elemental abilities, real-time fights with elemental spells, and, well, you know, it’s Zelda. And god knows we need more decent Zelda.
Developer: Pigeon Eye Games
Isn’t Crawlyard a fantastically inisious-sounding name? It’s tricky to marry it to the cheerful cartoon graphics of the game, but then that seems very much the theme here. This is a dungeon-battler, but played as a roguelite deck-builder, with elements of Dungeon Keeper! Developer Pigeon Eye Games calls it “a combination of Slay The Spire and action RPG,” with the rather sinister-sounding collecting of “puppet parts that augment your…style.”
To me this looks like Zelda meeting Animal Crossing, a 2D top-down RPG in which you play someone of so little substance that at the start of the game you don’t even have a corporeal form. What intrigues me here is the open nature of it all, letting you play through its story at your own pace, with the world expanding around you as you earn Thank You Points. Thank You Points! The whole game is designed to be presented simply, without an overwhelming UI, needlessly complex systems, etc. All in the name of making something that lets the player focus on adventuring.
Developer: Sam Stubbings
My ideal survival sims are those set in incredibly restricted spaces. Life Not Supported certainly seems to fit that bill, since you start stranded on an exploded space station, orbiting a planet that was potentially a new home for humans. So with the floaty bits of scrap, and some The Martian-like ingenuity, you attempt to build yourself a ship in which you can survive. In fact, solo developer Sam Stubbings says the game is inspired by one of my all-time favourite restricted survival games, Raft.
I highly recommend you watch the trailer for Lost Twins, just above these words. Firstly because it’s so very, very pretty, but secondly for the moment where a lovely-looking puzzle platformer becomes fascinating when the rooms of the house in which the game is played are moved around by the player, in order to solve puzzles. This, from Pakistani developers Playdew, is one of those single-player co-op games where you control two characters to achieve goals, and it looks just gorgeous.
Developer: Dramatic Iceberg
A shoe-in for Wholesome Games attention, Garden In! is a game about indoor gardening! Aiming for a peaceful pace and relaxing vibe, this is simply about caring for your seeds, cross pollinating your plants, and watching your potted plants grow, all inside a room of your own design and decor.
Developer: Flip Alive Games
A first-person time-manipulating room-escape puzzle game, set in a school, and also a love story. INDIE GAMES! DokiToki: Time Slows Down When You’re In Love is, implausibly given the title, is about freezing objects in time in order to reach a room’s exit in time. But then, that’s combined with a dating-sim VN, and, the dev promises, no sudden dark twist. Looks superbly bonkers to me.
Developer: Flannel Bear Games
The Amiga vibes of Gedda Cake immediately caught my eye, further improved on learning that this is a metroidvania in which you can switch between any of six dragon characters on the fly, each sporting their own unique abilities. Wife and husband developers, Flannel Bear, describe it as being a game about “dragons and cake,” the latter seemingly making up a lot of the land of Sugria, in a way that made me think of James Pond. Although there’s no sign yet that any of the dragons can stretch their tummies fifty storeys high.
Developer: Enchanted Works
Still very early in development, Nomori is a puzzle game in which you have to manipulate both time and space. This means a lot of walking on the walls, rotating the contents of portals, and getting really rather dizzy, in what looks to be a very cute 3D world.
Developer: Super Mega Team
Ready for some indie game bingo? The Knight Witch is a metroidvania adventure shoot ‘em up deckbuilder. HOUSE! It also looks bloody lovely. A bit bullet hellish, a bit Ori-like, somehow some Slay The Spire card action in there, and it even promises moral choices. Team 17 have nabbed this to publish, so it’ll maybe eventually get a bit more press than most listed here, but this is instantly on my wishlist.
Developer: Reclaim Interactive
Well it’s Pod Racer, isn’t it? And goodness knows, that’s no bad thing. DEATHGRIP, as it’s rather brashly styled, describes itself as “a sci-fi combat-racer focused on exhilarating speeds and challenging tracks.” So like I say, it’s Pod Racer. But new, and modern, and very shiny!
Developer: The Psychiatrist
Have you noticed that sometimes a game’s description reads like an accusation at a war-crimes tribunal? “Resuffer is an action rogue-lite where you venture through psychedelic cycles, try to survive crushingly difficult, ever-changing chambers, fight hallucinatory bosses, and smooth-talk your inner demons into reshaping your entire experience.” Good gravy, and then I’m waterboarded? But looking at the video above, this incredibly oppressive-sounding experience appears properly interesting. There’s a demo if you’re intrigued, too.
Developer: Cat Floor Studio
Since Portal there have of course been dozens of similar puzzle games, where you have a tool designed for manipulating objects in the world, and a bunch of puzzle chambers from which to escape. And yet, I don’t tire of them. The GoD Unit is by a one-person team based out of Kyiv, Ukraine, which frankly is more than enough reason to throw money at him right now. But others include this being a game in which you manipulate the mass of cubes, combined with other abilities, in order to solve tricky puzzles in a world about to reach apocalypse.
Developer: Doctor Shinobi
Out: Q3 2022
Oh this looks so spectacularly messed up. A game that appears to live on your Windows desktop, using pre-installed Windows apps to solve puzzles, where you’re tasked with recovering a female character’s missing memories by finding files on your PC. One of my all-time favourite games, OneShot, did an amazing job of meddling with Windows to incredible effect, so I’m really intrigued to see how much farther Outcore can take this. Although looking at the trailer… Also of note: the game’s store page mentions, “Experience a story with the worst characters ever written.”