Five Overlooked Indie Games (and Five to Keep an Eye On)


In the lead-up to The 2023 Game Awards, the topic of Indie Games became somewhat of a hot-button issue. In fact, even CGM’s Brendan Frye and I had several engaging discussions about it on the Pixels & Ink podcast. With all this talk of what does or doesn’t make an indie game, I thought I would take some time to share some love for the whole scene. There were a lot of solid indie games this year, but a few of them flew a bit under the radar, so I decided to compile a list of the top five overlooked indie games and five to keep an eye on in 2024!

Have a Nice Death

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When Have a Nice Death debuted at the 2022 Game Awards, I thought it was going to be Hollow Knight starring Death, and I was immediately on board. However, this indie game both shattered and exceeded my expectations, being its own unique side-scrolling rouge-like with some incredible theming, solid gameplay, and a seriously dark sense of humour. And while it wasn’t perfect when it launched on Switch, some post-release patches have really brought the game up in quality!

“But Have a Nice Death definitely deserved more of a spotlight for being an incredibly fun and inventive take on the indie game genre.”

It kind of broke my heart that no one really talked about this one, and it quickly fell off the radar. Maybe it was released in March and quickly got swallowed by other, higher-profile games—releasing less than a week after Bayonetta Origins and two days before Resident Evil 4 Remake. But Have a Nice Death definitely deserved more of a spotlight for being an incredibly fun and inventive take on the rouge-like genre. Maybe if it had been released closer to Halloween, it would’ve done a bit better.

Darkest Dungeon II

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The first Darkest Dungeon was an indie game phenomenon, becoming one of the defining games in the rouge-like genre for its brooding atmosphere, tense gameplay mechanics, and punishing difficulty. I remember almost everyone was talking about it, especially following hot on the heels of Bloodborne—and closely behind Dark Souls III. When I first played it, I was completely enraptured by its twisted world and incredible challenge after it found its way to the Nintendo Switch. 

Its sequel, which not only captured that original challenge but found ways to streamline it into a more direct, action-focused was equally as inspired, which was why it was such a shame that it too seemed to fall off the radar pretty fast. Unlike its predecessor, Darkest Dungeon II didn’t really seem to dominate the conversation and was quickly forgotten—releasing mere days away from The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. But I would encourage any fan of the original or the rouge-like genre to take on this freshed-up version of a true classic. 

Bombrush Cyberfunk

Five Overlooked Indie Games (And Five To Keep An Eye On)Five Overlooked Indie Games (And Five To Keep An Eye On)

Bombrush Cyberfunk had been on my radar for a little while and not just because of its absurd name. In fact, it seemed like a lot of people were excited about this spiritual successor to Jet Set Radio, so much so that SEGA had to cobble together footage of a remake to get in on the action—that’s a joke of course. But despite critical praise, people just seemed to move this indie game very quickly—it probably didn’t help that it released in the same month as Baldur’s Gate 3 (for PC, at least) and Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon

“But despite critical praise, people just seemed to move past this indie game very quickly—it probably didn’t help that it released in the same month as Baldur’s Gate 3….”

But you’d be doing yourself a massive disservice to overlook Bomb Rush Cyberfunk. It’s not only an evocation of a bygone era, but it excels far past its arcade inspirations—taking everything that was fun about Jet Set Radio and creating a unique experience around it. It’s art style, music, fast-paced movement, and counter-culture flair pay loving homage to one of the very best Dreamcast games, and it definitely deserves more love!

Gravity Circuit

Five Overlooked Indie Games (And Five To Keep An Eye On)Five Overlooked Indie Games (And Five To Keep An Eye On)

I had a lot of interest in Gravity Circuit primarily because it looked somewhat Ninja adjective—and as CGM’s resident Ninja and lover of Indie Games, I have an interest in anything that adapts Ninjas in a cool way. What caught my eye most of all was Gravity Circuit’s fast-paced movement based around punching and kicking. I picked it up during a Switch sale and had an absolute blast playing it—not only evoke a style and aesthetic similar to Mega Man X, but its fast and fluid gameplay makes it immensely enjoyable to play. 

Which is why I can’t for the life of me understand why no one talked about this game. I only really knew about it since I had seen it on the Switch eShop’s “Coming Soon” section, but let’s face it, Nintendo’s complete disregard for quality control on there means most people probably wouldn’t see it buried under all the slop. But if you’re reading this list now, do yourself a favour and check out Gravity Circuit!

The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood

Five Overlooked Indie Games (And Five To Keep An Eye On)Five Overlooked Indie Games (And Five To Keep An Eye On)

When I became CGM’s weird potion guy, I took an oath to always watch for any witchy and weird games. The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood piqued my interest with its unique plot and gameplay—you play as a fortune-telling witch and can create your own Tarot deck and read fortunes to the game’s many colourful characters. It’s a literal deck builder with some truly beautiful and interesting designs, and an intriguing story ties the whole thing together. And yet…this one went completely unnoticed. 

Despite being published by Devlolver Digitial, I couldn’t find a single person who was talking about this one—perhaps we’re reaching a point where Devlovler puts their Seal of Quality on so many good games they’re all starting to blur together. I’m sure, much like Bomb Rush Cyberfunk, The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood wasn’t helped by its August release date—the two having only released a few days from each other. But if you like creative games with deeply engaging narratives, not unlike VA-11-Hall-A or Coffee Talk, then you’ll find something great here. 

Five Games To Keep an Eye on

I think it’s sometimes easy to forget that the indie scene still produces many interesting and unique indie game. Over the course of the year, I made it somewhat of a mission to focus my reviews on interesting indies, since the “AAA” scene really wasn’t exciting me anymore. It’s hard because, in a lot of ways, internet algorithms bury a lot of the cool upcoming stuff and the business disincentives covering it. But I wanted to finish this list with five indie games that are worth keeping an eye on.

Little Witch in the Woods

Five Overlooked Indie Games (And Five To Keep An Eye On)Five Overlooked Indie Games (And Five To Keep An Eye On)

Well, I ended the first five with a Witch game, so I may as well start this list with one. Little Witch in the Woods appeared on my radar a little after I reviewed Potion Permit—the double-edged sword of our technology constantly collecting information about us, I suppose. But I was enraptured with its adorable aesthetic, cozy-sim gameplay, and overall chill vibe. It’s been in Early Access since 2022, but SUNNY SIDE UP has continuously been adding and making fixes. The team planned an unspecific 2023 launch of the full version, but it seems it’s getting pushed into 2024, so keep an eye on it!

Tiny Glade

Five Overlooked Indie Games (And Five To Keep An Eye On)Five Overlooked Indie Games (And Five To Keep An Eye On)

When I initially saw this on TikTok, I thought it was an indie dev showing off a new indie game engine. When I found out it was a game…well, first I thought, “Huh…neat,” then I immediately showed it to CGM’s Dayna Eileen because I knew it would be her kind of thing. But with “cozy games” becoming more and more popular, Tiny Glade looks like the quintessential cozy game.

A chilled experience where you build castles in a meadow, with the game engine doing the lion’s share of the lifting seems like the perfect cure for a stressful day—just get a warm blanket, a cup of camomile tea and you’re ready to go. Tiny Glade is planned for a 2024 release, though no specifics have been given yet.

Bloomtown: A Different Story

Five Overlooked Indie Games (And Five To Keep An Eye On)Five Overlooked Indie Games (And Five To Keep An Eye On)

Bloomtown: A Different Story is attempting to be a lot of different things and I’m really hoping it can pull it off. While it initially grabbed me with its Earthbound/Westward aesthetics, the game’s Steam page describes it as a “ narrative JRPG mixing turn-based combat, monster taming and social RPG set in a seemingly pleasant 1960s Americana world.” With such a robust amount of gameplay, there’s an incredible amount of potential for Bloomtown: A Different Story to be something really special, and I’m really hoping to be surprised by it. It’s slated for a Q2 2024 release, so hopefully, it gets the attention it deserves in the new year.

Moonlight Peaks

Five Overlooked Indie Games (And Five To Keep An Eye On)Five Overlooked Indie Games (And Five To Keep An Eye On)

Moonlight Peaks is exactly the kind of farming sim I like—one with a twist. Granted, if you’re at all familiar with my writing then you’ll know I’ll play just about any farming sim, but it’s better when it was a unique gimmick. Moonlight Peaks’ gimmick? You play as the child of Dracula out to prove that vampires can coexist with humans without sucking them dry.

While it doesn’t seem that Dracula’s Curse will play a factor in this game, you can unlock powerful vampiric abilities to assist you in your daily routine. With a chibi art style and a unique night-farming gimmick, this one could be a real standout in the genre—although no release date has been announced.

Oddventure

Five Overlooked Indie Games (And Five To Keep An Eye On)Five Overlooked Indie Games (And Five To Keep An Eye On)

Oddventure was another game that showed up on my radar, specifically for how visually inspired it was by the Mother series, specifically Mother 3. But that’s honestly where the comparisons end, Oddventure goes in a radical direction with it’s gameplay, perhaps borrowing some elements from indie icon Undertale, but implementing them in its own unique way.

With an interesting “Mood” system that can affect the flow of battles, a quirky sense of humour, and choices that will affect the outcome of the story, Oddventure looks to take everything that’s good about subversive RPGs and put its own spin on it. I actually backed the Kickstarter for this, which is something I rarely do, so that should say something about my hopeful optimism around this game. There’s a demo available for the game now, so don’t take my word for it, go check it out and keep a watchful eye on it!



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