There’s something wonderfully hopeful about a new year. It’s a fresh slate just waiting to be filled with amazing experiences. With that in mind, I’m looking out over 2023’s horizon to find the brightest indies gems and share my excitement with you all. Each entry sparks my imagination and promises to make next year an amazing adventure.
This Sekiro-inspired title is being developed by Red Candle Games. If you recognize the name, that might be because the studio’s last title, Devotion, ran afoul of the Chinese government, causing gaming platforms to drop it. (You can buy it here). Red Candle’s follow-up, Nine Sols, is a smooth-as-silk action platformer with anime sensibilities and perhaps the most dazzling art style in this list. I recommend checking out the Steam demo before the game’s Q2 2023 launch window.
A Space for the Unbound
The only game on this list with an exact release date — knock on wood we get more soon — A Space for the Unbound caught my attention a couple of years ago. I picked up the game’s demo totally blind and came out mystified and excited. On the surface, the game is a slice of life pixel delight set in rural Indonesia. It follows a young boy as he deals with navigating his first relationship, mental health struggles, and unearthly powers. You can look forward to invading people’s mind with a book and life-threatening supernatural forces when the game comes out January 19.
We just got the exciting news at Wholesome Snack: The Game Awards Edition that Spirittea is coming to Game Pass alongside the Switch and PC in early 2023. Microsoft’s program will extend the otherworldly bathhouse management title to hordes of indie fans, and I can’t wait to pick it up. If you’re looking for a game that blends concepts from Stardew Valley and Spirited Away, you might want to put this on your watch list.
Is it just me, or does it feel like this breathtaking watercolor game has been on the horizon forever? Luckily, Dordogne is just around the corner as it’s officially confirmed for this year. They can’t take it back now. Besides its distinctive style, the game promises a thoughtful narrative as we help Mimi relive memories of visiting her grandmother in the French countryside.
We’re going to need a bigger boat. I truly can not wait to spend hours fishing in this unsettling title. With its day/night cycle, players who want to relax and enjoy hauling up their catches, managing the Tetris-like inventory, and selling the pick of the day to upgrade their vessel can do that. However, venturing forth at night puts you in peril of the sea’s murky expanse. Monsters rising from the depths of your mind grow more vicious as your sanity decreases.
OXENFREE II: Lost Signals
The original Oxenfree released in 2016, and seven years later, fans can look forward to returning to the unnerving world of radio waves, creepy occurrences, and self-discovery in Lost Signals. I went hands-on with the sequel before it was delayed to 2023, and walked away thrilled with how the studio captured the vibe of the first title. My short playtime highlighted Lost Signal’s new protagonists with the developer’s signature snappy dialogue and eerie, time-jumping gameplay.
Snufkin: Melody of Moominvalley
I didn’t expect to put Snufkin on my most anticipated list until I recently got a chance to preview the adventure. The endearing world from the trailers was just as lovely as I’d hoped, but I was taken back by how enthralling its gameplay was. I scoured the map for lost ducklings, woke up a monster with music, tricked a police-like organization out of the wilderness, caused a little property damage, and more. And when I was done, I wanted to jump back in to find everything I’d missed the first time around.
It’s a gun. It’s an umbrella. It’s a wildly good time. The story behind this buttery action-adventure is still a bit of a mystery — as the recent demo merely introduced players to the game’s world. However, as I observed a few months ago, “Gunbrella is not a mindless shooter with some platforming thrown in. There is definite a story here. Its tone and scope is only hinted at in the demo, but with NPCs along the path to throw news quests my way, the game looks like it offers something to snag those narrative-focused players.” However, there’s no doubt the umbrella-centric action is on point.
Another Crab’s Treasure
You know that dream when you do something amazing and the whole room cheers? I got to experience that in real life, and my dream-come-true revolved around Another Crab’s Treasure. Aggro Crab Game’s latest adventure has players take control of Kril as the crustacean fights its way through the sea’s hostile inhabitants and increasingly-polluted depths. The Souls-like combat is a wonderful juxtaposition to the title’s cheery look, and I suspect there’s a deeper story than the art style suggests.
In the most hype moment among the many great reveals of The Game Awards, Supergiant Games announced it is making a direct sequel. As an intersection between ancient mythology, satisfying gameplay, and jaw-dropping art, nothing could be more alluring than the idea of getting a follow up — especially as the studio has never done one before. Much of what’s in store remains a mystery, but the developers promised more news in 2023. I’m hoping for at least an Early Access build sometime in the new year.
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