Plenty of hidden gems brimming with style that may have snuck under your radar.
2022 was a great year for gaming, with games like “Elden Ring” and “God of War Ragnarök” collecting multiple awards. However, if you take a look aside from what made the rounds, you will find a plethora of indie games made by smaller developer teams, just waiting to be discovered.
One of the things that so many love about indie games is that there’s something for everyone, be it deeply story-driven, fun with friends, or just plain cute. Developers from all over the globe are making niche little experiences that very well might cater just to your tastes.
To save you some time and narrow down some of the things I had the great pleasure of playing, here are five indie games from last year to try out.
Out of all the games on this list, “PlateUp!” is definitely the one I sunk the most time into. Created by a solo developer, Alastair Janse van Rensburg, this game is an extremely fast-paced rogue-lite cooking game, where a player can slowly upgrade their kitchen and fight to keep up with customers’ orders.
Things start off simple, but as the game progresses so do your customers’ demands, ramping up the challenge by adding multiple dishes to juggle between customers and other various restrictions to your kitchen.
With ongoing development and an ever-expanding modding workshop, this game continues to grow with more and more replayability. You can take that even further with its seamless two to four-player online and local co-ops, which adds another layer of hectic chaos to the mix. The game is available on Steam, with a free demo to boot!
“Lil Gator Game”
If you’re looking for something so overwhelmingly cute, look no further than “Lil Gator Game,” made by the three-person MegaWobble team. In this adorable adventure game, you are a playful and adventurous little alligator who wants nothing more than to hang out with their work-ridden sister, just like they used to as kids. Players are able to run around the local islands, filled with interesting characters that help you along your grand journey. You can play “Lil Gator Game” on Steam or Nintendo Switch!
Now, for a bit of whiplash from the last game; here is “SIGNALIS,” a game made by the two-person team Rose-Engine, which is captivating in a way unlike anything else I’ve ever played. This is a sci-fi survival horror game with controls similar to games like “Resident Evil,” and has deeply rooted themes of despair and isolation as you struggle your way through decrepit military bases looking to save a lost lover.
The aesthetics and visual style of this game are phenomenal. Scenes with 3D models are thrown through obscuring low-resolution pixel filters, gorgeous art panels and animation throughout the cutscenes. If you’re a fan of horror, don’t hesitate picking this one up; it’s available on PC, consoles, and Switch!
For those of you who appreciate a good sandbox experience, look no further than “Core Keeper”, a wonderful little caving adventure game made by Swedish game studio Pugstorm.
This game has players stranded underground, exploring the vast cave system beaming with life and enemies. You farm, build, and gear up to fight massive bosses to power some mysterious technology. There’s plenty of underground biomes to explore, filled with resources that allow you to upgrade your tools and make the perfect little base. “Core Keeper” draws a lot of noticeable inspiration from other indie games, like “Stardew Valley” and its mining system; that’s an extra bonus to those of you who are looking for a farm game fix. Give it a shot, it’s available on Steam!
This game is technically a little bit of a cheat. “Solar Ash” was made by the acclaimed studio Heart Machine, and was technically released at the tail end of 2021 on PlayStation for consoles and Epic Games Store for PC exclusively. However, the game was released on Xbox consoles and Steam for PC late 2022, where I finally got a chance to play and enjoy it. In the sci-fi high-speed platformer, players take control of Rei as she fights for the fate of her planet from a malevolent blackhole, known as the Ultravoid. Players can skate around otherworldly neon clouds, explore dungeons, and fight off the Ultravoid’s massive wormlike creatures.
As someone who finds themselves immersed in the style, vibrant colors and foreign planets, this game hits all my personal notes. Aside from the aesthetics, the gameplay itself is also phenomenal; being zipped around these massive environments is incredibly satisfying. If you like the sound of it, I highly recommend you pick it up! It’s available on PC and consoles!