2022 has been a year of massive hype, big names, and more than a few delays. However, it also saw several worthwhile releases by independent developers and smaller studios. They may not have the biggest budget, but their gameplay is too fun to ignore. Here are 15 weird but very good games you probably didn’t play this year and should make time for in 2023.
Launched in early access this year, Tiny Rogues is a dungeon crawler/rogue-lite/action RPG/bullet hell title with retro-style visuals. As minimalistic as the presentation feels, the combat is solid with several starting characters, tons of different weapons and spells, challenging and varied bosses, and great build variety. Want to become a tower shield-wielding magic wielder that rains down meteors? Perhaps a barbarian that inflicts poison arrows? You can do that and so much more.
Of course, you can’t mention excellent early-access titles without mentioning Brotato. Essentially a rogue-lite horde shooter with timed waves, it offers some unique mechanics like the ability to hold and use multiple weapons at once. Combine this with some crazy upgrades, weapon rarities, and tons of different builds, from the super lucky guy to the streamer, and you’ve got hours and hours of fun on your hands.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero
The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero has been a long, long time coming, having been available in Japan till now. Sporting the same old-school RPG look as Trails in the Sky, the Western release remakes these visuals in extraordinary fashion while still delivering an excellent plot, stellar combat, and some excellent world-building. While those who played the Sky trilogy will get more out of it, Trails from Zero capably stands on its own.
The Case of the Golden Idol
If a more thorough detective title is to your liking, The Case of the Golden Idol is worth checking out. It takes place over four decades, with the player detective attempting to solve 12 grisly murders by filling in the blanks with a select set of keywords. There’s plenty of conspiracy and intrigue, and the bizarre art style is appealing in its own right. More importantly, the story and characters are simply excellent and well worth the trip.
I will forever sing the praises of Beacon Pines, Hiding Spot’s gorgeous mystery that’s equal parts choose your adventure and visual novel. It sports characters that are likeable and incredibly fleshed out; a cosy setting brimming with secrets; and a story full of twists, turns, and interesting developments. There’s so much to like, and it’s a shame that more people haven’t played it.
Citizen Sleeper is great, and you can’t say enough about its brilliance. Erlin’s Eye is a melting pot of characters, culture, and intrigue, whether you’re conversing with NeoVend, the sentient vending machine or trying to piece together the motives behind Sabine, the slum doctor. Actions play out through dice rolls, with light resource management, but it’s the extensive (and excellent) dialogue, coupled with the overall plot, makes this a must-play title.
Nobody Saves the World
Guacamelee developer Drinkbox is doing a lot with its overhead action RPG Nobody Saves the World. It sports fun combat with multiple classes, each offering unique abilities and upgrades – like the Rat, Ranger, Horse, and much more – and the ability to mix and match these into killer builds. It offers a large world to explore with procedurally generated dungeons and fun bosses. If that weren’t enough, it supports two-player co-op and has a solid comedic bent. If any of that sounds like something you’d enjoy, it’s worth a look.
A short but sweet psychological horror set in a submarine navigating a strange Blood Ocean, Iron Lung has you traveling to locations and taking pictures. Seems simple enough, but you’re working with an iffy camera and relying purely on sensors and an incomplete map. Sometimes, you need to seal the submarine’s porthole because of depth pressure, but something is out there, waiting. Developed by David Szymanski of Dusk fame, Iron Lung is a claustrophobic and creepy experience.
A retro-Doom-style shooter with tons of gore and particle effects with stellar level design and action? That describes Prodeus in a nutshell, but the overall experience is so much more. Everything feels right, from the weapon feel and the overall pacing to the enemy design and difficulty. Plus, with a map creator and browser, hundreds of levels offer even more potential for slaying monsters.
Being a horticulturist in a video game sounds like a drag, but Bad Viking’s Strange Horticulture is anything but. It’s equal parts plant management and mystery as you identify and recommend plants to customers in the small town of Undermere. As the story progresses, dark events and secrets come to light, and you’ll venture to mysterious places, converse with cults, and frequently pet the cat. It’s a stellar gameplay loop and one that keeps you coming back.
From the minds of Anodyne 1 and 2, Sephonie is more of a 3D platformer set on Sephonie Island with Amy, Riyou and Ing-wen as the protagonists. Upon navigating its various caves using wall runs and vaults, memories and dreams of the trio manifest while a strange force seems to manipulate them. In addition to a beautiful and unique aesthetic, Sephonie also offers puzzles using a grid system, as you Link different creatures in your research. It’s an unorthodox mix of genres that works well and delivers a great story.
Touted as a classic survival horror, rose-engine’s Signalis tells the story of a Replika, Elster, who awakens in a wrecked ship and ventures onto a mysterious planet. What happened? That’s up to you to discover as you solve puzzles, manage your inventory and fight terrifying enemies. With gorgeous visuals and an aesthetic inspired by Stanley Kubrick and Hideaki Anno, Signalis is a surreal, terrifying experience worth playing.
Have you ever craved the days of grounded but not super hardcore snowboarding titles? FoamPunch’s Shredders may fill that avoid. It offers numerous pro riders and a massive open world to explore, with locations ranging from parks to the countryside. The sheer depth of the controls, combined with the smooth animations and plethora of content, including a story mode and online play, make this a worthy successor to the Amped series.
Far: Changing Tides
Much like Far: Lone Sails, Far: Changing Tides is a side-scrolling adventure game where you manage a ship constantly on the move in a post-apocalyptic world. The twist is that you’re sailing through a flooded world and can occasionally leave the vessel to either gather resources or clear the way forward. Maintaining and upgrading the ship opens up underwater excursions to progress further. It’s a melancholic experience without any chance of failure and a sense of wonder.
Similar to Minecraft’s Forestry mod, APICO is about beekeeping. You venture to Port APICO, manage bees, cross-breed them for over 30 different species, make products and sell them, and much more. It’s a relaxing game with a hefty amount of content, from different biomes to minigames, and co-op support for up to four players. The latest update added butterflies, new flowers, and much more for even more stuff to do.
Share Your Thoughts Below (Always follow our comments policy!)