20 Cool Indie Games You Won’t See At The Game Awards

20 Cool Indie Games You Won’t See At The Game Awards

We are now blessed with not one but two annual Day of the Devs indie game showcases, and the latest one lives up to the event’s reputation. A roughly 90-minute stream yesterday highlighted some awesome-looking games from developers around the world, and I want to play all of them right this minute.

Produced by DoubleFine and iam8bit, Day of the Devs: The Game Awards edition is an end-of-year counterpart to the one hosted in June as part of Geoff Keighley’s Summer Game Fest. Like that showcase (which was great this year), this week’s event spotlighted a ton of indie games, from ones we already knew about like the psychedelic metroidvania Ultros to newly revealed ones like the jazz-punk detective thriller Nirvana Noir. It’s hard to go a few weeks now without running into another new gaming showcase, but the curation and presentation of the Day of the Devs stuff remains second to none.

It’s also nice to have another annual antidote to all of the blockbuster gaming hype to cap off the year. The Game Awards is packed full of big names and new trailers, mostly backed by big publishers all chasing the same new trends and previous GOTY hits. Everything shown in Day of the Devs is accompanied by brief stories from the creators themselves, highlighting not only the unique styles and mechanics of their projects, but also the highly personal histories motivating their creation.

Anytime I start to feel a little down about the capital-G Game Industry, showcases like this remind me of all the terrific developers out there working to pursue their intimate and original creations. You can click through the slideshow above to see each game highlighted in the presentation, or watch the entire livestream below, complete with a beautiful and haunting lo-fi intro from the Oxenfree II: Lost Signals soundtrack and bookended by a mini-cozy showcase from the Wholesome Games group. Enjoy!


Gif: TALLBOYS / Kotaku

This previously revealed surreal immersive runaway simulator is about exploring a town where a giant cop is always watching you. He mumbles in an otherworldly voice while you navigate environments that feel like something out of a Dishonored game. Every character in Militsioner is even governed by a Tamagotchi-like mood system. The devs describe it as “basically like a dating sim where instead of a romantic relationship you can go to jail.”

Developed by: TALLBOYS

Release date: TBD

Nirvana Noir

Gif: Feral Cat Den / Kotaku

Nirvana Noir is the next game from the makers of Genesis Noir, 2021’s jazzy detective adventure about exploring surreal cityscapes as if you were inside an animated movie. Nirvana Noir continues that style with new visual flare and has you reprise the role of No Man, a watchmaker straddling the divide between various cosmic existences. The urban conspiracy you unravel will take you from the jazz-infused film noir world of the earlier game into a parallel one inspired by ‘70s psychedelia.

Developed by: Feral Cat Den

Release date: TBD

Thank Goodness You’re Here

Gif: Coal Supper / Kotaku

Thank Goodness You’re Here is an incredibly British 2D animated “slapformer” about helping town residents with their weird odd jobs while waiting to meet the mayor. Think Untitled Goose Game meets Monty Python. The devs even worked with actual comedians for some of the voiced dialogue. It looks like the perfect thing to finally get that Britbox subscriber in your life into gaming.

Developed by: Coal Supper

Release date: 2024


Gif: Hollow Ponds and Richard Hogg / Kotaku

In Flock you ride through whimsical landscapes collecting strange creatures by singing to them and guiding them around the world. Some come willingly. Others will hide. There’s even a Pokémon-like Pokédex for discovering and categorizing new wildlife. The more you learn, the more you’ll be able to win the creatures over and increase the size of your flock. Also, there are sheep you can harvest wool from to make clothes.

Developed by: Hollow Ponds/Richard Hogg

Release date: TBD

Kind Words 2

Gif: Popcannibal / Kotaku

A sequel to 2019’s lovely Kind Words (lo fi chill beats to write to), Kind Words 2 expands on the original’s premise with a whole new world to explore and new activities to take part in, from poetry readings to wishing on stars on mountain tops. The first game let players write letters to one another about whatever was on their minds, and it sounds like Kind Words 2 will offer more curated ways for written interaction and social connection, like “social media but it’s not awful.”

Developed by: Popcannibal

Release date: TBD

Hermit and Pig

Gif: Heavy Linch Studio LLC / Kotaku

A mushroom-infused RPG, Hermit and Pig is a top-down lo-fi 2D game where a man and his pig are searching for a legendary fungus. The exploration and combat pulls from games like Undertale, mixing its Earthbound inspirations with mini-game puzzles to overcome enemies and other obstacles. The mushrooms you collect each have different uses and can aid you in these encounters.

Developed by: Heavy Linch Studio LLC

Release date:

Dome-King Cabbage

Gif: Cobysoft Co. / Kotaku

How to even begin to describe this one. According to its developer, Dome-King Cabbage is a short visual novel set in a monster-collecting RPG. It looks like a mixed-media Adult Swim short combined with an SNES pixel art game. “Each interlocking memory is showing itself one final time, like little colorful building-blocks being excavated from the crust of my being,” reads a piece of text from the trailer. It makes me think of the free-associating state your mind goes into right before you fall asleep during an afternoon nap, where imagined scenarios and familiar memories fuse together. Everything about Dome-King Cabbage looks and sounds incredible.

Developed by: Cobysoft Co.

Release date: TBD


Gif: Hadoque / Kotaku

Acid metroidvania Ultros continues to look trippy as hell. A new trailer showed off a trimmer tool the player can use to cut through colorful 2D foliage and reveal the secrets beneath, while a thruster lets you fly up to reach higher platforms. Acting as the world’s gardener, you can harvest plants to increase various stats or find hidden pods to sleep in an recover lost abilities from, sort of like Dead Cells in a greenhouse full of LSD.

Developed by: Hadoque/El Huervo

Release date: Feb 13, 2024

Loose Leaf

Gif: Kitfox Games / Kotaku

The newest game from the makers of Boyfriend Dungeon, Loose Leaf is a “tea witch simulator” where you brew tea for troubled guests with precision while also doing tarot card readings with them. The physics look pretty complex, with options to precisely control each step of the brewing process, and it reminds me a lot of VA-11 Hall-A. “The world can be a dark place and there are so many things to be afraid of but in this world maybe monsters would like a cup of tea too,” said Kitfox designer Tanya Short.

Developed by: Kitfox Games

Release date: TBD


Gif: Sonka / Kotaku

A perspective-shifting survival horror game, Holstin takes place in a ‘90s Polish village where everyone seems possessed. In exploration mode, the game is presented in an isometric view as you talk to residents and ruffle through their stuff, while in combat it switches to over-the-shoulder for more of a modern Resident Evil feel. But the whole thing is rendered in pixel art and unmistakably retro in its eerie vibes. The story will take you deep inside a corrupt public healthcare system but it’s not above throwing oozing zombie cows at you too.

Developed by: Sonka

Release date: TBD


Gif: Sven Ahlgrimm and Mathilde Hoffmann / Kotaku

Oddada is a music-making roguelite where you use environments, objects, and machines to create various snippets of sound. Each run offers a random diorama of possibilities, letting you collect the music you orchestrate as you go. Like the musical toys from your childhood, the game is full of buttons, colors, and strange objects that produce unlikely noises. The game even lets you combine the music on a cassette to make an album of your journey.

Developed by: Sven Ahlgrimm/Mathilde Hoffmann

Release date: TBD


Gif: Akupara Games / Kotaku

Communicate with a brooding dungeon master by typing or speaking in Cryptmaster. Collecting letters on your adventure gives you new skills with which to defeat enemies. There’s conversation trees and riddles and the whole game is black and white. There’s apparently fishing too.

Developed by: Paul Hart/Lee Williams/Akupara Games

Release date: 2024

Llamasoft: The Jeff Minter Story

Gif: Digital Eclipse / Kotaku

Retro revival experts Digital Eclipse are back with a new Gold Master series on designer Jeff Minter. This latest video game documentary will take players through the Llamasoft designer best known for mashing together challenging arcade action with sci-fi animals. Many might know him for Tempest 2000, originally released on the Atari Lynx. Llamasoft: The Jeff Minter Story will follow the release of Digital Eclipse’s excellent The Making of Karateka earlier this year.

Developed by: Digital Eclipse

Release date: 2024

Drag Her!

Gif: Fighting Chance Games / Kotaku

Are you ready to duke it out to “discover who the one true top is in a world of bottoms?” Drag Her is a 2D fighting game featuring real-world drag performers that the developers describe as a “less gay” Mortal Kombat. In addition to traditional fighting gameplay there’s also auto-combos, campy cinematic specials, and assist characters.

Developed by: Fighting Chance Games

Release date: Out now.

Braid Anniversary Edition

Gif: Thekla / Kotaku

A remaster of one of the original Xbox Live Arcade indie darlings, Braid Anniversary Edition features 4K resolution, enhanced sound, and new developer commentary from creator Jonathan Blow. The time-manipulating puzzle platformer has had its visuals “hand re-painted” with additional flourishes and more animated brush strokes.

Developed by: Thekla

Release date: April 30, 2024

Open Roads

Gif: Open Roads Team / Kotaku

Open Roads follows a single monther (played by Keri Russell and her daughter (Kaitlyn Dever) as they explore their family’s past. The narrative road-trip adventure explores the two characters’ relationship and the troubling history that binds them together. It’s presented with a mix of 2D art and 3D environments that looks like an HBO drama by way of FX’s Archer.

Developed by: Open Roads Team

Release date: February 22, 2024


Gif: Long Way Home / Kotaku

Resistor is an anime-styled CarPG that takes place in 2060 and has you play an aspiring racer exiled to The Wastes who needs to win a high-stakes tournament to get a pass back into the city. Off the track, your choices further a narrative of class warfare and political unrest. There’s vehicular combat and the world has a bit of Borderlands’ cel-shaded spin on sci-fi westerns.

Developed by: Long Way Home

Release date: TBD

Home Safety Hotline

Gif: Night Signal Entertainment / Kotaku

Have you ever wanted to live inside an old Windows desktop PC? Home Safety Hotline has you covered. The game has you diagnose customers’ home safety concerns via phone calls and a retro computer operating system. The lo-fi horror game has you navigate the demands of your supervisor and the cryptic messages you receive to arrive at what I suspect will be something much weirder and more shocking than just clocking out after another quiet shift. There are also accessibility options to disable depictions of spiders and other pests.

Developed by: Night Signal Entertainment

Release date: Q1 2024

Janet DeMornay Is a Slumlord (and a Witch)

Gif: Fuzzy Ghost / Kotaku

A horro game about renting, Janet DeMornay Is a Slumlord (and a Witch) is a first-person 3D game about property-based power relations and creepy apartments. It’s set in a dingy rental with tons of issues that’s also magical, a place where rooms can suddenly shift or swap places because your landlord is a witch. Objects scattered around the place reveal more about Janet’s past while the apartment itself functions like David Lynch’s AirBnB.

Developed by: Fuzzy Ghost

Release date: 2024

The Mermaid’s Tongue

Gif: SFB Games / Kotaku

The Mermaid’s Tongue is a point-and-click murder mystery. It follows sleuths Detective Grimoire and Sally from SFB’s previous releases (including Tangle Tower) as they search for clues in an abandoned submarine to find out what happened to its crew. Fully voiced with animated characters over pre-rendered backgrounds, you piece together the mystery by combining characters and objects Clue-style.

Developed by: SFB Games

Release date: 2024

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