Summer is a great time of year for gamers. Between all the different conferences and showcases throughout the season, there can be an overwhelming amount of titles to keep track of. Whether you’re an indie enthusiast or just venturing into indie territory for the first time, this list is sure to have something that entices you! Let’s take a look at 10 indie games that should be on your radar.
Sable is an open world exploration game developed by Shedworks and published by Raw Fury. You can guide Sable on her hoverbike across vast deserts and mesmerizing landscapes dotted with ancient wonders. Explore a unique and rich world while solving puzzles and discovering who Sable really is behind her mask.
What instantly caught my attention about Sable was its unique art style. The bright and flat colors, thin linework, and simple shading captivated me and filled me with the same sense of awe I feel when looking at Jake Wyatt illustrations. It evokes a feeling of traversing through an epic graphic novel. Sable looks absolutely jam packed with ancient areas to explore, colorful characters to interact with, and peculiar puzzles to solve. I’m looking forward to losing myself investigating every inch of this gorgeous game, all while enjoying an original soundtrack by Japanese Breakfast. If you’ve enjoyed games like The Pathless, GRIS, or Journey you should keep an eye out for Sable releasing on September 23. Wishlist it now on Steam.
Solar Ash is a 3D sci-fi action adventure platformer developed by Hyper Light Drifter creators Heart Machine and published by Annapurna Interactive. Journey through a surreal, vivid and highly stylized world filled with mystery, wild high-speed traversal mechanics, endearing characters, and massive enemy encounters.
Solar Ash looks set up to be as stylish and fantastic as its award winning pixel art predecessor. I’m excited to see what Heart Machine can create in such an expansive 3D environment. There’s a lot of potential to build upon the sense of scale and grandeur from Hyper Light Drifter. From what we’ve seen so far of the game, I don’t think it will disappoint. The environment of Solar Ash looks absolutely breathtaking! Even though moving through the world is meant to feel fast paced, I’ll certainly be stopping to take in the sights as often as I can. Solar Ash is set to release later this year on the PlayStation and Epic Games stores.
Unbeatable is a narrative focused rhythm-adventure game developed and published by D-Cell Games. Music has been outlawed and it’s up to you and your band to bring it back in this action arcade styled, old school anime inspired, bursting with attitude adventure.
The stylistic influence for Unbeatable is clearly pooled together from a variety of recognizable media, but it undoubtedly stands out as a unique experience. This game feels like staying up late watching Toonami with friends on a hot summer night after a long day of adventures. It’s the Fooly Cooly vibes that drew me in with the energetic animation style and absolute banger of a soundtrack. Unbeatable boasts a ton of accessibility options that will help you enjoy the game regardless of your ability to stay on beat as well as online multiplayer for those high score chasers out there. You can continue to support the game via their Slacker Backer page and play the episodic, side story demo [white label] on Steam and itch.io now.
Death’s Door is an action-adventure role playing game developed by Titan Souls creators Acid Nerve and published by Devolver Digital. You are a Crow working for the Reaping Commission who becomes entangled in a quest to open the titular Death’s Door by vanquishing powerful souls long overdue to be collected.
I’ve been playing Death’s Door on my stream since its release and I have nothing but praise to offer it. If you like engaging and fast-paced combat mixed with classic environmental puzzles in a hauntingly beautiful environment packed with ruthless enemies, then you’ll want to pick up this game. It’s filled to the brim with witty and quirky NPCs, mesmerizing landscapes, challenging but satisfying battles, and mystery. I find myself trying to explore every nook and cranny to discover hidden caverns and maybe a few shiny collectibles. I am constantly surprised by how densely packed the game is while feeling satisfied that there’s so much left to explore and conquer. The vibes are a delightful blend of Dark Souls, Legend of Zelda, Below, and Hyper Light Drifter. It feels familiar while providing its own unique flair which makes this game an instant indie classic in my book. You can pick up Death’s Door today on Xbox and Steam.
The Artful Escape
The Artful Escape is a surreal narrative-driven adventure platformer developed by Beethoven + Dinosaur and published by Annapurna Interactive. Play as teenage guitar prodigy Francis Vendetti on his multidimensional journey to inspire his stage persona.
I first discovered The Artful Escape of Francis Vendetti after their initial 2016 Kickstarter campaign had already failed its funding goal. I was devastated because this was one of the most jaw dropping games I had come across for a while. The art style was so complex, stimulating, and vibrant, and I loved the idea of playing as a David Bowie inspired rock star. When it was announced years later that Annapurna had picked it up and that it was still in development I was ecstatic. I’ve had the game wishlisted on Steam for over a year, and I’m hoping for a release date and more details at the upcoming Annapurna Interactive showcase on July 29th.
Jett: The Far Shore
Jett: The Far Shore is a cinematic action adventure developed by Superbrothers and Pine Scented, with an original score by Scntfc. Embark on an interstellar trip as Mei, a scout for a unit of aviator scientists deployed to a mythic ocean planet in hopes of securing a future for their species.
As a fan of the indie cult classic Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP, I was beyond ecstatic when Jett was revealed in the summer of 2020. I was instantly mesmerized by the expansive space exploration and smooth traversal. Jett’s most recent gameplay trailer showcases just that, and more! While you are investigating a foreign planet, combat and resource management won’t be core mechanics. Instead you’ll rely on your jett’s tools and your own resourcefulness to conduct research and come out of potentially dangerous encounters unscathed. Superbrothers also promises some narrative intrigue with Mei’s past. If it’s anything like Sworcery, I know this game is going to get me deep in my feelings. If you’re into interstellar exploration with maybe a dash of existential dread, then you should have this game on your radar. Jett: The Far Shore will be available later this year. Wishlist is now on the PlayStation and Epic Games stores.
Behind the Frame: The Finest Scenery
Behind the Frame is a narrative-driven puzzle game developed by Silver Lining Studio and published by Akupara Games. As an aspiring artist you will collect, fix, and of course paint your way through this panoramic world filled with beautiful hand-crafted visuals and a smooth, elegant soundtrack.
If you like games with a cozy feel, this one is definitely for you. Behind the Frame radiates with all the charm and comfort you’d associate with a classic Studio Ghibli film. There will be puzzles to solve, secrets to uncover, and art to create — all at your own pace. If you enjoyed games like Akupara’s other story rich title Mutazione, Assemble with Care from Ustwo Games, or the recently released Chicory: A Colorful Tale published by Finji, then Behind the Frame would be a great fit for you. The game is set to release later this year, and you can wishlist it now on Steam.
Loot River is an action-roguelike with puzzle elements developed by straka.studio and published with the help of SUPERHOT PRESENTS. Explore procedurally generated labyrinths using unique Tetris-like platforms to slide around ancient ruins, face gruesome foes, and of course collect some loot.
I was instantly mesmerized by Loot River’s gritty pixelated art style and multi-faceted gameplay. Between the fast paced combat, spatial block-shifting, and enchanting water animation, Loot River is a feast for the eyes. The concept of moving pieces of the dungeons with you as you explore is enticing, providing a unique layer of gameplay to balance while fighting to stay alive. If you enjoy dark fantasy settings mixed with tense, action-packed combat, then you should add Loot River to your wishlist on Steam.
Season is an atmospheric adventure game developed and published by Scavengers Studio. Immerse yourself on a solitary bicycle journey through a surreal and poetic mid-twentieth century world on the brink of collapse. Discover a new world for the first time while collecting artifacts and making memories.
I came across an unassuming booth at PAX East 2020 with a faded rug, a leather briefcase, and a small banner that showcased the protagonist of Season tucked into a corner of the exhibit floor. I was pulled in, but unfortunately their demo schedule was booked that day. I took a picture of the setup, hoping to remember the game later. I was pleasantly surprised when Season was announced for PlayStation 5 during the 2020 Game Awards. The world looks absolutely stunning and immersive, and I eagerly await exploring the vast and unknown, yet familiar landscapes on bicycle. I even passed on the opportunity to playtest the game as I wanted to go in to the full release as raw as possible and experience a pure sense of wonder. You can wishlist Season on the Steam store now.
We Are OFK
We Are OFK is an interactive series about an indie pop band developed and published by Team OFK. Experience the making of the band and Interactive EP about dreaming, dating, and paying rent in Los Angeles.
Director and co-writer Teddy Dief had tweeted vaguely about an upcoming “project palm tree (using the palm tree emoji)” a while back which had first put OFK on my radar. When We Are OFK was finally revealed to be a pop music based interactive experience, I was incredibly excited, especially after the impact that Sayonara Wild Hearts left on me. OFK has a dreamy pastel style, cute and diverse LGBTQ cast, and catchy music to match. If you like visual novels with modern romance, relatable characters, and upbeat tunes then wishlist We Are OFK on Steam and stream their debut song Follow/Unfollow while you wait for the full release later this year.
Honorable Mention: Laundry Game
I want to mention a game I have had on my radar for a while that wasn’t officially showcased this summer but deserves a look. Max Turnbull (@beakfriends on Twitter) is a queer indie game developer and 3D illustrator working on a game set in a perpetually picturesque laundry mat. In Max’s game you hang out with a sassy skeleton and maybe attempt to do laundry. There aren’t many other details about the gameplay or plot available now, but I love seeing Max’s updates on Twitter and look forward to finally getting to play this cozy hidden gem.
These titles are only a drop in the bucket of the wealth of indie games we have to enjoy and look forward to. If you’re hungry for even more indies to add to your list then check out the list of games featured during the Wholesome Games Direct from June.
Skittzi is a variety streamer, cosplayer, and video game enthusiast. She loves indie games, RPGs, and many things in between. You can catch her live streaming more games like the ones featured on this list on Twitch at twitch.tv/skittzipoo.