Though barely two months into 2023, indies have already made a remarkable showing. A Space for the Unbound dove into many indie fans’ top ten contender lists, Season: A Letter to the Future swept me away, and, most recently, Blanc took players on a shareable journey.
And even more games beckon from my ever-growing backlog. I’m still venturing through the wonderfully pixelated world of 8-Bit Adventures 2 and constructing an unrivaled superpower by the Nile in Pharaoh: A New Era. With such a glut of fantastic indie offerings, missing out on great titles is a real danger.
However, I recently caught up with three games indie fans shouldn’t let slip through their fingers. From black-and-white dungeons, myth-soaked lands, and a kiosk in the middle of nowhere, be sure to explore these 2023 gems before the next wave of releases hit.
Across a ravaged battlefield two mighty foes lock eyes. An invincible-seeming dragon and mighty hero fight with the destiny of the land in the balance. The hero grips the legendary sword, preparing to strike. Then my alarm goes off and the dream fades.
UnderDugeon employs familiar fantasy tropes but turns them on their head in this humorous take on the old-school Zelda formula. I play as a cat in a world were even mages and warriors need to pay rent. On my first day at work, I follow my trainer — an actual fairy — through the slime-infested sewers battling monsters to complete my orentian and grab a broom for another department. So far, I’ve enjoyed UnderDungeon’s fun call backs, whimsical mood, and retro look.
Interference: Dead Air
Tension is the name of the game in this adventure thriller. As a newly hired security guard for a secretive research facility in the middle of nowhere, the job has been mostly uneventful. One perk is being able to chat via radio with a close friend who works inside the lab. But the night begins to go downhill with a relationship-straining confession. It gets even worse when the compound comes under attack from an enigmatic group.
This game won’t be for everyone. The action takes place entirely in a small security booth, and there are periods of time where you’ve nothing to do but wait. But for me, those moments had me biting my nails. Attempting to remotely guide my friend through the chaos while cursing the outdated room’s technology and my inability to do anything more kept me glued to my seat.
Atone: Heart of the Elder Tree
A night of revelry — friends drunkenly boasting around a fire, musicians strumming joyous melodies, lovers whispering sweet nothings — transforms into a horror scene. Death strikes villagers down with no mercy. The chief runs through the destruction to find his daughter at the foot of Yggdrasil. He urges her to flee before a shadowy warrior cuts him down.
Atone’s beautiful art style caught my eye initially. The stylized, minimalistic aesthetic makes me want to admire every passed rock, tree, and building. However, the game’s signature element is really its musical combat. When I enter a fight, a rhythm game-like prompt appears. The notes take on an electric appearance as I successfully strike the beat, and my attacks hit home.
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