As we get closer to 2023, it’s time to start looking ahead to some of the best indie games of the coming year. Indie games are a great way to experience video game worlds without having to deal with the hefty budgets and large teams that often go into AAA titles.
1. Sea of Stars
Sea of Stars is a turn-based RPG from Sabotage Studio, makers of breakout 2018 hit The Messenger. The game features stunning pixel art visuals, guest musical compositions from Chrono Trigger and Xenogears composer Yasunori Mitsuda, and a hearty slice of retro JRPG nostalgia that is bound to appeal to fans of classic SNES-era RPGs.
The game follows the fated journey of two Children of the Solstice, Valere and Zale, as they become Solstice Warriors and use their Sun and Moon powers to perform Eclipse magic to fight against an evil alchemist. They’ll build a team of six party members in a turn-based RPG system, using pre-emptive attacks and timed strikes to change the course of battles and prevent enduring the same encounters over and over again.
As you progress through the game, you’ll unlock new battle styles and character skills to make your party even more formidable and increase their strength in battle. You can also swap out active and reserve characters in a battle without sacrificing your turn, allowing you to switch heroes at any time to boost their damage or attack pattern.
While you’re not in the midst of combat, you can explore the world freely with many traversal options including swimming, climbing, and jumping across different landscapes. You can also find several side activities like cooking, fishing, and a card game called Wheels to add more variety to your adventures.
Ultimately, Sea of Stars looks like a proper successor to classic SNES-era JRPGs and it’s likely to be one of the best indie games to play in 2023. If you’re a fan of the genre, we can’t recommend it highly enough!
2. Hollow Knight Silksong
Among the most popular indie games of 2017 was Hollow Knight, a Metroidvania that combined precision platforming with brutal boss battles. Fans were blown away by the dark and stylised graphics, and challenging levels that would keep you coming back for more. The game also had a haunting atmosphere that really added to its overall appeal.
As well as the main story, players were also able to explore the game’s vast caverns and find new areas and items. This is one of the things that really made Hollow Knight stand out from other Metroidvanias, and it’s something that we’d love to see return in Silksong.
The first gameplay trailer showed Hornet thwacking enemies with her weapon, and it’s clear that this will be a huge part of the game. There’s even a grappling hook tool that looks like it could be used to get across ledges and into areas that wouldn’t be possible in the original Hollow Knight.
Another thing that will be different in Silksong is that Hornet can speak, so she’ll be able to strike up conversations with NPCs. This is a massive change from the first game, where most of the NPCs were simply there to help you complete quests or provide you with items.
There’s also going to be a lot more sidequests in Silksong than the original. These will be more detailed and fleshed out, so they’re likely to add a lot more depth to the story.
As a result, we’re looking forward to seeing a lot of new content in Silksong. It’s still early days for the title, but so far we’re very impressed with what we’ve seen. It’s certainly a very exciting game that’ll be worth checking out when it releases in 2023.
Paralives is the latest life simulation indie game that’s set to challenge EA and Maxis’ long-running The Sims franchise. It’s been in development for almost four years, and features a small team of developers, funded through Patreon.
Despite its minuscule size, the Paralives development team has managed to build a vibrant community that is helping them develop their game in every way possible. This community is constantly sharing ideas, suggestions and requests for new features. The team are also very transparent about their progress with the community, publishing the entire development roadmap on their website and Twitter.
They are taking the feedback from their community seriously and are working hard to bring it into the final product. In addition, they have an active Discord server where you can submit your ideas and discuss anything that you want to see added into the game.
The game combines a realistic and lifelike gameplay with creative and customizable build tools. This makes it easier than ever to create your dream house, but is still incredibly powerful for experienced builders.
In addition to building, Paralives also focuses on day-to-day life simulation, letting players build a town and interact with the people they meet. This is a hugely popular feature in the Sims franchise, but one that has yet to be realised in any other simulation game.
Unlike the grid-based structure of The Sims, Paralives has an innovative building mechanic that allows objects to be easily stacked and resized. This is especially helpful for changing a bed from a single to a double, as well as changing a picture frame or window to a different size or color.
As a result, Paralives is bringing a fresh take to life simulation, while at the same time addressing some of the most common complaints of The Sims 4. It’s no surprise that it has received such a positive response from fans, and that its unique features have made it stand out from other indie games in this genre.
4. Bomb Rush Cyberfunk
Despite being a small-scale release, Tango Gameworks’ Hi-Fi Rush proved to be one of the most popular first-party games to hit Xbox and PS4 in 2023. With a colorful art style, original soundtrack from Jet Set composer Hideki Naganuma and a strong focus on music throughout the game’s progression, it was no surprise that players were drawn to this rhythm-based game.
If you’re looking to play a similar style of rhythm-based game, Team Reptile’s Jet Set Radio spiritual successor Bomb Rush Cyberfunk is the game for you. The game is a mashup of skateboarding, rail-riding, dancing, spray painting and more. It’s a one-of-a-kind title that takes the graffiti-style aesthetic of Sega’s Jet Set Radio series and turns it into an exciting adventure.
In the game, players control a member of a self-styled graffiti crew called a cypher. The crew is equipped with a personal boostpack that increases their performance and allows them to reach new heights of graffiti in this futuristic cityscape.
As a member of the crew, you’ll paint graffiti, dance to reflect your unique style and challenge other crews to get their name up. The main objective is to string together enough tricks and graffiti combos to unlock Bomb Rush Mode, which will transform your score into boost power that will allow you to zoom through the city at top speed.
While the release date has been delayed, this isn’t the end of the road for the title; Team Reptile is still posting lots of in-game visuals to keep fans engaged and excited about the game. Hopefully, this delay will allow them to create a game that satisfies all of the demands of the genre and fans alike.
Necrosoft Games’ Demonschool is a unique SRPG that reinvents the turn-based tactical genre with a surprising twist. The game strips out the faff of most games in the genre, and instead focuses on a more fluid gameplay experience that’s accessible to newcomers while also being fun and engaging for experienced players.
You’ll play as Faye, the last living heir to a family of demon hunters, as she fights with her friends Nanako, Dustin, and Knute to uncover supernatural mysteries on an island college town in the 90s. Creative director Brandon Sheffield says the decision to go with this particular time period was one that felt right for the story, and that it was a specific choice that felt appropriate for the world of Demonschool.
Its combat is a joy to play, with small numbers and big hits that make battles feel epic and uncomplicated, even when you’re fighting against tough enemies. It’s also very responsive, allowing you to rewind any action during the planning phase while creating combos to dispatch your foes.
The character design is also very appealing, with a variety of characters based on both human and demon traits. Some of them look like a mix of lions, owls, and dragons, while others have horns and pointy ears.
Each character has a range of abilities, and you’ll want to strategically stack them for a bigger impact. For instance, anxious Namako can stun an enemy if they move in her direction while brawling Destin can punch multiple enemies provided they’re lined up correctly.
You can chain these up to create powerful combos, but you’ll need to take into account the fact that your heroes only have a certain number of action points at any given time. This means it’s important to plan out your moves in advance and to make sure you can use all of them before the timer runs out.