With the Baileys running out, the cheese starting to turn blue, and our bank accounts looking worryingly empty, it must be the new year; luckily, there are loads of interesting indie games slated (or at least rumored) to come out this year, when they'll attempt to take our minds off the aforementioned impoverishment. Obviously, we cannot guarantee whether or not they will release this year (and we’ve been very wrong before), but regardless, here are the five indie games to keep you excited through these rough early months.
Tchia (Early 2023 - PC/PS4/PS5)
Indie games sometimes offer some incredibly stunning visuals. That's the case with Tchia, the gorgeous tropical open world adventure game in development at Awaceb. Its co-founders have been inspired by their native island of New Caledonia, borrowing from the local landscapes, cultures, music, languages, and folklore to create a fictional world.
The titular Tchia is on a quest to save her father from the archipelago's tyrant ruler. Luckily, she can exploit some truly unique abilities such as soul jumping, which lets her take control of animals or objects to explore or discover secrets. But that's not all, as the game features a free climbing system, gliding, sailing with a boat, and even playing the ukulele.
Hollow Knight: Silksong (1H 2023 - PC/PS4/PS5/XB1/XSS|X/Switch)
When discussing successful indie games, it's impossible to forget Hollow Knight, the side-scrolling Metroidvania game released in 2017 by Team Cherry to critical and commercial acclaim. The upcoming sequel, Hollow Knight: Silksong, builds upon the original foundation and adds even more speed while improving combat and platforming sections. The developers are also adding a quest system and a crafting system.
In an interesting twist, players will control Hornet, one of the bosses featured in the first game. Hornet uses silk instead of soul to heal and will feature an optional permadeath mode called Silk Soul Mode.
Oxenfree II: Lost Signals (TBA 2023 - PC, PS4/PS5, Nintendo Switch)
This game is slightly hard to place. It looks like a fitting sequel to a brilliant ghost story made by the same hands that designed the first, but with the injection of Netflix, which bought the studio after the success of Oxenfree. Regardless, it has a worthy place on the most anticipated indie games list as, so far, everything about it promises to recapture the same unnerving vibes and eerie setting as the first.
Following on from the first game's blend of personal drama, ghosts, and strange radio signals, players are once again set to explore the island once more as its haunted radio signals are seemingly spreading beyond its borders. The spooky environment, haunting soundtrack, and jarring yet beautiful art design made the game an instant classic, which seems to be handled and improved upon in the upcoming sequel.
But one thing that Oxenfree did fantastically was its use of realistic, sometimes overlapping dialogue to create a genuine sense of familiarity with characters. This made the scares and dangers all the more powerful, and Oxenfree II promises to do the same again later this year.
Bomb Rush Cyberfunk (Summer 2023 - PC, Consoles)
Before we talk about Bomb Rush Cyberfunk, I want you to say “Bomb Rush Cyberfunk” out loud. Bomb Rush Cyberfunk. Imagine saying that to friends when you’re recommending this game. Imagine the look on their face as their mind grapples with hearing the best named thing ever being said to them.
Bomb Rush Cyberfunk (okay, I’ll stop now) is the spiritual successor to Jet Set Radio, which is another fantastic name to say out loud. Embrace the unfettered spirit of rebellion as you bike, skate, and grind your way across a futuristic city and make it your own. This is one of those indie games created by the teenage notion of freedom, where you can tag whatever you want, go wherever you want, and outrun the police if you have to. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, but it does think it's serious, and if it can pull off that balance, it will be the perfect balm to an increasingly authoritarian world. It's an explosion of colour, sound, and the promise of something fun, earnest, and extreme.
Viewfinder (TBA 2023 - PC, PS5)
The only true puzzle game on this list and probably the only one you’ll need if it's as mind-bending and weird as the trailers promise to be. This is a game where you take photos, then place the photos back in the world to create paths, bridges, and solutions to the surreal landscape surrounding you.
It looks incredible from what we’ve seen, with the photos bringing with them their own style and colours even when placed in the world, much like copy+paste formatting, except it actually looks amazing instead of annoying. The scope of the puzzles on display in the trailer alone is amazing, and those who enjoy the strange puzzles that can only be found in games will be chomping at the bit to get their hands on this unique, unparalleled experience in 2023.
There are more indie games than we can reasonably count, with more small developers offering their unique perspectives and challenges every day and we simply cannot include them all here. We can’t even include them in this list of other games to pay attention to, but we’ve got some of the best we’ve found so far that are worth keeping on your radar.
And for those always looking for more, check out the hashtag #ScreenshotSaturday on Twitter for a great way of spying on new and interesting titles, provided that Elon Musk doesn’t destroy it in the next twelve months.