The indie game market is a strange place. It is here you’ll find some of the best, worst, and craziest video games you’ll ever see. But that’s really what’s so great about it. Triple A game studios are often so focused on making profits that they’re too afraid to try something truly new. Most indie developers don’t have this problem however.
Most of the time they consist of small teams working on a collective passion project. They make their ideal video game because it’s what they want to do, and aren’t so easily blinded by thoughts of riches or fame. And funnily enough, it’s this same mindset that has spawned some of the most successful video games to date. Here are ten more examples of inventive indie games I believe every gamer should have their eyes on going into 2023.
Sea of Stars
I don’t know about you guys, but I absolutely adore a good turn-based RPG. Retro games like Chrono Trigger and Earthbound just have a certain beauty about them that’s hard to replicate. Many have tried, and failed. Sea of Stars however looks like one of the few games that might actually be able to recreate some of that same magic. Beautifully captured in a pixel artstyle, this title sees you adventuring across a diverse world as “Solstice Warriors” – fighters with the power to control the sun and the moon.
This game’s turn-based RPG elements are everything a fan could hope for. It shows a diverse range of enemies and abilities that promise depth and a satisfying challenge. The game also features a classic levelling up system, but with an innovative twist. On reaching a new level, you get a choice for the stat boosts you give your character. This freedom will give players full control in how they want to build their party, making each person’s playthrough unique. All-in-all, this title looks like a must-buy for turn-based RPG fans and could be one of the best indie games we’ll see in 2023.
Another Crab’s Treasure
There’s some games that sell themselves based off its concept alone. Another Crab’s Treasure looks like one of these games. It’s Dark Souls, but instead of controlling some vaguely named human (eg. the Ashen One), you play as a crab with ocean garbage armour. It’s unique, colourful, adorable, and I’m annoyed that I can’t play it right now.
On a more serious note however, this is game is a lot more than just a pretty face. Gameplay shows promising looking boss-battles and many deep-sea environments to explore. The game’s protagonist also looks pretty fun to play as. This crustacean can gracefully dodge attacks, climb walls and shoot across gaps with a grappling hook.
The shell-changing elements of the game are definitely worth noting too. Not only is it a funny and creative visual, but as is seen with the use of the lantern shell, they may make for a quirky gameplay mechanic as well. This title will be developer Aggro Crab’s second release, the first being the critically acclaimed Going Under. Both the developer’s reputation and the previews for Another Crab’s Treasure look solid. I hope you can agree that this is certainly one of the best indie games to look forward to in 2023.
I doubt there’s many of you out there who haven’t heard of this amazing game yet. Following on from the masterpiece Hollow Knight, Silksong is looking to take everything about its predecessor to the next level. The gameplay looks fluid, the soundtrack sounds amazing, and the boss fights are looking better than ever.
This title has been long awaited by the Hollow Knight community, and for good reason. The first game was not only a breathtaking work of art, but also a great game with some amazing lore. This sequel will give players a chance to control fan favourite character Hornet from the original. With her completely new combat style and arsenal of gadgets, it’s possible that this title may even surpass the brilliance of the first game (a very difficult achievement indeed).
I get hyped about a lot of game releases. After all, that’s what promotional material and trailers are for. But while a lot of ads can make me look forward to a game, not many can make me genuinely excited. Tchia’s teasers however, most certainly have. Where to start with this game? Firstly, it’s taking inspiration from New Caledonian culture is quite cool. This community has definitely been overlooked in popular mainstream media, and I’m always open to new experiences and ideas.
On top of this the game’s visuals strike a lovely balance of cutesy, yet beautiful. It really captures the spirit and wonder of a young child exploring the world around them. But in my opinion it’s the spirit-jumping that really steals the show. The ability to possess and control practically any animal and object you see? Sounds pretty dope to me. This game looks incredible, and if it is anywhere near as amazing as it appears in its gameplay reveal, then this will certainly be one of the best indie games available next year.
Coming to PS5, PS4 and PC in early 2023.
Many of the finest works of art you can find in the video game medium can be found within the metroidvania genre. Who can forget classics like its founder, Metroid, or the iconic Castlevania series? With any luck, Spiritfall will soon find itself ranked alongside these brilliant titles. Spiritfall’s main focus seems to be on its combat. On the surface level, the gameplay looks quite simple.
But the variety of abilities and different attacks available shows there’s a lot of room for players to practice and master the game’s mechanics. Somewhere down the line, I can see skilled Spiritfall players pulling off insane and satisfying combos almost like they’re Neo from The Matrix movies. If developers are able to branch out enough on power-ups and the game’s story, then this title could really be something special. I wouldn’t be surprised if it ended up being one of the best indie games to release in 2023.
Coming to PC, Early Access launching in March 2023.
Is any gaming listicle really complete without a solid monster-tamer title? Though we sadly won’t get to experience Kindred Fates next year, there is still plenty of exciting things happening in the monster-tamer genre. And Creature Keeper is a great example of this. This game is a rare instance of a monster tamer game having real-time combat. This means its battles will let you fight alongside your monster companions in fast-paced and dynamic scenarios.
Creature Keeper seems to be doing a lot more than just focusing on its monster tamer aspects however. There are quite a few classic RPG elements too, what with a detailed crafting system and a means to level up and unlock new abilities. This indie game strikes me as the most unique monster-tamer that we’ve gotten in some time. I hope you’re as excited as I am to give it a bash in 2023!
Coming to PC.
Stick it to the Stickman
Stick it to the Stickman is a game that gives you everything you need for a great night-in: comedy and buckets of nonsensical violence. Describing itself as “just another day at the office”, this game is a metroidvania-esque rogue-lite brawler. Previews are making beating up stickmen look so satisfying that it’s a wonder there aren’t more games about wars in the workplace.
What makes this game extra special however is its little extra touches. To start, your character can unlock a variety of excessive abilities to unleash throughout the game. These range from firing the infamous Hadouken to whipping out a rapid-firing mini-gun. The stages also look pretty clean and show a good bit of variation. Stick it to Stickman isn’t likely to win any awards for its story or ingenuity. But I’ll be damned if this isn’t one of the funniest indie games to release next year.
Coming to PC.
The Plucky Squire
I find the biggest differentiator between indie games and Triple A titles is their visuals. Indie developers often don’t have the luxury to dump buckets of resources into making their game look perfect. For this reason, it took me a while to believe that The Plucky Squire was, in fact, an indie game. You can see for yourself, but this is honestly one of the smoothest looking new releases I’ve seen in a long time. All of its design, from its 2D stages and beyond, appear beautifully animated and painstakingly detailed.
The funny thing about it is that this game probably would have sold based on the concept alone. A storybook knight on a noble adventure, jumping in and out of 2D environments? I’d play that. But the fact that it also looks really smooth and creative with brilliant gameplay mechanics makes it the complete package. This title is going to be one of the best indie games on the market in 2023. No question about it.
How about one more monster-tamer for the road? Similar to Monster Keeper, Cassette Beasts is also mixing up the monster-tamer genre. This time however its focus is on traditional turn-based combat. In this game, you aren’t catching monsters – you’re becoming them. Once players are able to get a recording of a creature in the wild, they can then play that back to take on their form in battle.
This game allows you to control multiple characters in combat, as well as temporarily fuse your monsters to create powerful new creatures. Monster typings are also much more dynamic, being able to change mid-battle and adding more variables for players to consider. As a big fan of the monster-tamer genre myself, I love seeing that developers are still finding ways to spice-up the standard formula. I look forward to checking out this indie game in 2023 to see what other new twists it brings to the table.
Sons of the Forest
The original The Forest was a pretty cool horror game. Building a makeshift shelter and weapons in the woods to protect yourself from bands of cannibals and mutants was a lot of fun. Plus it was creepy, tense, and had a lot of really detailed survival mechanics. You could also play this game with friends, which was an absolute blast. There’s something quite thrilling about you and your friends taking on a horde of mutants with nothing but DIY weaponry.
Sons of the Forest looks like a complete improvement in every regard. Gameplay shows graphical improvements, new gadgets, increasingly varied enemy AI, and more building mechanics. It’s keeping up its multiplayer functionality too, which is key. Whether you’re looking for chill Minecraft vibes, or an intense horror gaming session, Sons of the Forest is probably your best bet. This indie game is definitely one to keep an eye on in 2023.
Coming to PC on 23rd February (with expected PlayStation ports later).
There you have my list for the best indie games releasing in 2023. Hope I was able to point out a new title to everyone! Narrowing down this list was pretty tough, so there’s undoubtedly many other amazing indie games I haven’t covered. So get hunting! 2023 may just be one of the best years we’ve ever had for promising indie game releases. I hope that everyone finds the perfect title for them!