The fun of gaming is hardly restricted to AAA titles anymore. The indie games scene is beautifully alive and pumping out awesome titles from developers all over the world, and 2023 looks to feature a cornucopia of excellent titles. We certainly have some favorites we’ve been eyeing, too. It was very hard to whittle down a list that represented our absolute most anticipated indies, but we managed to do it! Without further ado, and in no particular order, here’s our rundown of expected indie games in 2023 that you simply can’t miss!
Shacknews Most Anticipated Indie Games of 2023
Hollow Knight: Silksong
As has been the case for quite some time, we hope to hear news of the much-anticipated follow-up to Hollow Knight, and Team Cherry has us believing Silksong could finally arrive this year. The last we heard of the game was a gameplay trailer during the Xbox and Bethesda Showcase back in June 2022, but even then, getting to see something was a delight. Yes, it’s been quiet since, but we’re keeping hope alive that Hollow Knight: Silksong may finally make an appearance in 2023. If that happens, we'll be ready and waiting for it.
Bomb Rush Cyberfunk
The spiritual successor to the Jet Set Radio series, Bomb Rush Cyberfunk has been on our radar since it was announced and we are hyped to finally get our hands on it later this year (hopefully). This game looks like it’s going to bring all the rollerblading, graffiti-spraying, anti-authority fun of the original JSR series to a whole new generation. It’s got style to spare with its throwback cel-shading aesthetics and the soundtrack is already grooving thanks to veteran Jet Set Radio composer Hideki Naganuma lending his talents to at least a few different jams. We can’t wait to make our funk the Bomb Rush Cyberfunk!
Have a Nice Death
In the afterlife, you could be headed for some serious strife, especially if you have to deal with middle management. In the upcoming Have a Nice Death (HAND for short) players will take control of the big boss himself, Death, as they battle their way through the office building of the dead and try to get the company running like a well-oiled machine again. Fans of roguelikes such as Rogue Legacy and Dead Cells should keep their eyes peeled for HAND in 2023 as the game is slated to leave early access later this year.
Turnip Boy Robs a Bank
Turnip Boy is back and “ready to commit more felonies in this comedic action-adventure game with roguelite elements,” as noted in the game’s Steam page. Turnip Boy Robs a Bank is another title included in our Shacknews Indie Showcase last year and one we’re looking forward to not only for its comedy but also for its quirky assortment of weapons and assortment of foes including veggie swat teams.
Rift of the NecroDancer
Good news for Crypt of the NecroDancer fans as Cadence returns for a brand-new rhythm game spinoff. Here, Cadence will need to navigate the modern world “while repairing the rifts that have torn her life apart.” Like its predecessor, Rift of the NecroDancer will feature engaging rhythmic battles, a wealth of different modes, minigames, and powerful boss battles, along with a new soundtrack from composer Danny Baranowsky.
Blooming Business Casino
Blooming Business Casino presents a very interesting premise: Run a casino, keep your guests happy, keep the cops from thinking you’re doing illegal stuff, and keep the mob from thinking you’re stopping them from doing illegal stuff. Oh, and everyone is animal people. You thought a mob boss could be intimidating? Well, it’s even more so when that boss is a temperamental grizzly bear. Nonetheless, your job is to make sure everyone has a good time and the money flows. Blooming Business Casino looks as charming a business management sim as we’ve ever seen and we can’t wait to try our luck.
Hyper Light Breaker
The folks at Heart Machine surprised fans at last year's PAX East with the reveal of a sequel to Hyper Light Drifter. The upcoming Hyper Light Breaker promises to explore an entirely new world within Hyper Light. More than that, friends will be able to explore it together. The mighty Abyss King awaits within the Overgrowth and we look forward to not only attempting to take him on, but do so with a coalition of willing players. If it's anything like the gorgeous Hyper Light Drifter, we're also expecting to be dazzled by a wealth of beautiful new biomes.
Lies of P
Lies of P has arguably one of the best elevator pitches of any game coming out in 2023: Pinnochio, if it was a gritty Soulsborne game. That alone was enough to secure it a spot on a lot of Steam Wishlists, and we're curious to see how Neowiz adapts this age-old fairy tale in a way we've never seen. With some impressive early trailers and screenshots, Lies of P could end up being one of the pleasant surprises of 2023.
Mina the Hollower
Yacht Club Games sure knows how to take retro gaming ideas and squeeze the most fun gameplay and charm possible out of them. That looks to be the case again with Mina the Hollower. Announced in 2022, this game takes inspiration from Game Boy Color adventures like The Legend of Zelda, as well as Castlevania and other fun ideas to spin them into what looks to be a compelling and spooky journey. Mina and her fellow cast of characters look vibrant and fun, and the weapons and abilities we’ll wield to thwart the powers of evil and darkness make it look like Mina the Hollower has all the makings of another Yacht Club Games smash hit.
Moving Out 2
The original Moving Out was absolute chaos in the best kind of way. It was the tedious exercise of moving, but in the way all of our inner children wished to do so. Who hasn't wanted to simply chuck boxes through windows or play hot potato with fragile packages in heavy traffic? Moving Out 2 is promising more of the same, and also tossing in online play, so that we could enjoy this long distance with all of our friends.
World’s Worst Handyman
World's Worst Handyman is a game that will take a typically mundane career choice and then make it anything but. As the titular handyman, players will maneuver through laser-laden hallways, dodge dinosaurs, and avoid an angry grandmother. It's got shades of Untitled Goose Game with the level of hijinx it'll let players get into, and we can't wait to check it out later this year.
Size matters in gaming. That's the principle behind Increment, the debut solo effort from developer Mark Pil. Everything happens at the press of a button or the pull of a lever. Make things bigger and keep the momentum going. The bigger things get, the better. We can't wait to see how big everything can get in this VR world.
In-between all of the wackiness happening during June's Devolver Direct, players were also witness to a different kind of skateboarding game from Sam Eng. An almost-ethereal underworld is home to a departed skater, who must use kickflips, ollies, and other tricks to overcome demonic forces and avoid total destruction. We were hooked by the tagline "You must skate... skate through the underworld" and now we're dying to see what awaits us down below in the upcoming Skate Story.
Thirsty Suitors has had us thirsty for more ever since we got our first look at this bizarre and interesting modern RPG. From the creators of Falcon Age comes an altogether different story about reconciling with exes, overcoming family pressures, and becoming the you that makes you happy. Jala has a lot on her plate if she’s going to get out from under the crushing demands of her family’s matriarch and make sure she’s ready for her sister’s wedding. Hearts will swell and break, flip-flops will be weaponized, and relationships will mend as we play through this unique story in 2023.
We've seen games pay homage to a bygone era of professional wrestling, but never anything quite like WrestleQuest. We continue to be amazed by this turn-based RPG that tells the story of an up-and-coming superstar who looks to live up to the legacy of the all-times greats like "Macho Man" Randy Savage and Andre the Giant. The typical JRPG-style combat mixed together with the mechanics of pro wrestling make WrestleQuest stand out like nothing else. We're ready for the bell to ring and walk down that aisle later this year.
Darkest Dungeon 2
Darkest Dungeon is still a legend in our hearts with its mix of rogue-like dungeon crawling, disturbing cosmic horror, and gritty art and visuals. Darkest Dungeon 2 looks like it’s going to push that to the next level and then some. The new wagon traversal system taking us through branching paths of a desperate journey is combined with even more refined combat and decision systems that will see your adventures come together or drown in despair. With evil looming and so much riding on your success, we can’t wait to rise to the challenge Red Hook Studios has in store for us.
Kerbal Space Program 2
It's been over a decade since Kerbal Space Program wowed us with its humorous sci-fi sandbox. While its sequel has been one of the more elusive games of the past several years, 2023 is (hopefully) the year we'll finally get our hands on Kerbal Space Program 2. With how well the previous game still holds up, we're confident that Squad and Private Division are going to deliver one of the year's most memorable titles.
The Wandering Village
What if the place you called home was a living creature? What if said creature was not only your main source of food and shelter, but also your only defense against an inhospitable world. The Wandering Village has always looked like a very odd duck settlement management sim, and by all accounts, we should see it this year. Whether you co-exist with the beast whose back your village rests on, or you simply greedily use it for its resources, we feel like some tough and intriguing choices lay ahead in this game.
Sea of Stars
For their next trick after their successful first outing, the creators of The Messenger are looking at the world they created through an entirely new lens. Travel back centuries before The Messenger's original story and explore a new island tale with the upcoming Sea of Stars. The Children of Solstice must combine the powers of the sun and the moon to save their island and defeat the evil forces of the Fleshmancer. Unlike Sabotage Studio's debut title, Sea of Stars is a turn-based RPG heavily inspired by Super Mario RPG, one that's been in the works since before the first COVID lockdowns happened. You can read more about that in our 2020 preview. After such a lengthy development cycle, Sabotage Studio is ready to put its vision forward and is aiming to release Sea of Stars later this year.
Dyson Sphere Program
Space games look like they’re going to have a big year in 2023. Between Kerbal Space Program 2 and Dyson Sphere Program, we’re excited to launch, fly, and terraform where we see fit. Where Kerbal is about breaking free from orbit, Dyson Sphere is about making astral bodies into highly efficient industrial machines. As you unlock bigger and better technology and figure out how it fits together, your planetary bodies will become bristling with production. This game has already been a delight in early access. We can’t wait to see if it finally gets it Version 1.0 in 2023.
Planet of Lana
Planet of Lana is another game that catches your eye with its beautiful hand-painted art and stunning sci-fi setting. In the game, players will follow the journey of a young girl and her loyal companion who embark on a rescue mission through a world full of dangerous machines and mysterious creatures. When the game releases in 2023, you can look forward to puzzle-solving, stealth and action sequences, as well as a rich story “that stretches across galaxies and centuries.”
In a time when 2D/3D RPGs have become a much-beloved genre thanks to games like Octopath Traveler, developer Pixelated Milk looks to bring its own flavor to the table with SacriFire. This game puts players in a new fantasy fiction universe in which they will explore a rich story with intriguing characters and a unique combat system that reminds slightly of games like the Tales series or Xenogears. It’s also got prolific JRPG composer Motoi Sakuraba on the soundtrack, making this one a much-watch for role-playing fans.
Anger Foot absolutely stole the show during the Devolver Direct in June 2022. Described as a "foot-person-shooter," Anger Foot does its title justice by allowing players to kick the hell out of all their problems. We imagine it'll be a deeply cathartic experience, and we can't wait to get our hands (feet?) on it sometime this year.
The Plucky Squire
Right off the bat, The Plucky Squire grabs your attention with its unique blend of 2D and 3D aesthetics which players are able to jump between. The action-adventure game follows Jot and his storybook pals, who Jot will work to save from the evil Humgrump. Not only is the concept intriguing, The Plucky Squire also sports a refreshing variety of activities to keep players busy from puzzle-solving and surprise mini-challenges to badger boxing and jetpack flying.
The Last Worker
The Last Worker first impressed us when we went hands-on with it at PAX East 2022. The game wears its social commentary on its sleeve, and its commentary on capitalism and automation feels more poignant every day. It's also got some impressive talent lined up, with Jason Isaacs lending his voice to the robotic companion Skew.
Little Kitty, Big City
No one needs to tell the Shacknews staff how great and adorable pets are. And we are so here for what seems like a rising trend in cat-sim games. Take for example the upcoming Little Kitty, Big City, which will have players take control of an adorable lost kitten as they leisurely make their way back home. Right now, it’s looking like it’s going to be the bright, cheerful Yin to the dark, dystopian Yang of last year’s Stray. Either way, we can’t wait to make another digital feline friend!
If you love rhythm games, Rhythm Sprout is absolutely one that should be on your radar in 2023. We were able to demo the game at PAX East last year and immediately fell in love with its fun concept paired with its surprising level of difficulty. With Rhythm Sprout, players can expect to run through a colorful assortment of hand-crafted 3D levels and environments to the beat of a catchy original soundtrack, and fight memorable bosses in an attempt to put a stop to the evil King Sugar Daddy.
Tape to Tape
In an era where most AAA sports simulators are stuck in a limbo of mediocrity, indies are where the most unique sports game experiences are. Tape to Tape is looking to take the inherent intensity of hockey and crank the dial to ten. This roguelike take on the popular sport will allow players to recruit athletes, upgrade stats, and unlock unique rewards on their path to being a phenom on the ice.
Big Boy Boxing
Another sports adventure on our indie list is Big Boy Boxing. Coming from the folks at Soupmasters, we've rarely ever seen a game that captured both the combat of boxing and the hijinks of games like Punch-Out!! so well. Between its cartoonish art style, the sheer amount of gimmicks in opponents, and some pinpoint punching, Big Boy Boxing looks like it’s going put an awesome spin on the Sweet Science in 2023.
If you tuned into our Shacknews Indie Showcase last year, you’ll likely have spotted a unique, charming-looking tactical RPG called Arcadian Atlas. Set to release later this year, Arcadian Atlas takes inspiration from titles like Final Fantasy Tactics and features over 12 custom character classes, strategic battles, a rich story for players to explore, a racoon named Poncho, and much, much more.
There aren’t enough platformers that let you play as a villain out there. Well, to be honest, we’re not sure if Dynamite Anton is a villain, but he sure does remind us of Wario. Moreover, his game, Antonblast, reminds us of Wario Land and we’re here for it. The pixel art in this game looks zany, the soundtrack has electric energy, and the explosions are very explosive. If Anton is up to no good, it just might be the type of no good energy we’re going to thoroughly enjoy.
In light of the fact that Nintendo seems to be making everything but a new F-Zero, it seems it’s up to indie developers to fill that role. Thankfully, devs like Aaron McDevitt seem more than up to the task with games like Aero GPX. This cel-shaded sci-fi racer wears inspiration from F-Zero on its sleeve and oozes with style as players are treated to fast-paced racing action. It’s amazing to think that Nintendo still hasn’t capitalized on this style in years, but with Aero GPX on the horizon, fans of the F-Zero franchise may at least have a chance to eat well in 2023.
There it is, our most anticipated indie games of 2023. What are you looking forward to the most? Did something you’ve been watching not make our list? Sound off in the Chatty section below! Meanwhile, if you want to see these games in action as they come out, be sure to keep your eyes on the Indie-licious ShackStream every Monday afternoon!
Shack Staff posted a new article, Shacknews Most Anticipated Indie Games of 2023
Good list! Hopefully we'll see some indie gems this year
Great list... added a few games I hadn't heard of to my wishlist thanks to this.
Maybe we’ll get Factorio expansion this year if we’re lucky.
I'd buy that fast the SPM would go up on its own!