I recently made a post about a bunch of the Indie Games that have released this year, of who’s demos I had played over the years. Since I didn’t cover all the Indie Game Festivals as comprehensively as I would have liked at the time, I decided to do the same thing again except this time, for games that got their releases last year. This still feels relevant as thankfully, the games havent gone anywhere. In fact, now may be better than ever what with updates and such.
This games striking art style grabbed my attention almost as much as the premise. We play as a sort of wildlife watcher. Our job is to place cameras and watch them each night, in order to track the movements of Squirrels. I really enjoyed both the puzzle of the tracking and the potential of the story that is being told through it.
Lemon Cake is an especially cute bakery management game. The adorable art and the cozy vibes made this a pleasant experience all around. Eloise from Cozy Bee Games is also very open with her development, sharing her designs and progress on Twitter and Twitch!
26th February 2021 – Tiny Room Stories: Town Mystery – Kiary Games
I love escape room games. Tiny Room Stories: Town Mysteries features escape rooms – or escape buildings/areas – each in their own little dioramas, connected by an ongoing story. The difficulty was perfect for me to make it an enjoyable experience that I want more of.
The Song of Farca Prologue is still available to play for free at the time of writing. This game is set in an apartment, but it is easy to forget as you are interacting with the story through different panels, experiencing the world beyond. It is fun making use of the tools given to you and working your way through mysteries in a way that only a private detective could.
TOEM is a black and white adventure game where our goal is exploration and taking photographs. I had a lot of fun scouring every area for things to snap to fill up my compendium. Best of all, the game has just had a big update, including new areas and more. So even if you have already played there is every reason to go back and take another look.
When I first started this demo I had no idea what to expect. I had never played a game that looked or played like it. I ended up really enjoying it and being sad when I reached the end. In this game you will play through your characters life, shaping their personality and experiences through the choices that you make. Balance their needs and life decisions and see how you turn out.
18th October 2021 – Sacred Fire: A Role Playing Game – Poetic
I loved this demo. I have never played anything like it and I got really into it. The art style is somehow simple and complex at the same time. It is a game full of choices and you are in a lot of control of how to deal with situations. Or at least, you are in control of how you intend to deal with them, as long as the dice roll goes your way.
The game is currently in Early Access with a free demo here.
19th October 2021 – Escape Simulator – Pine Studio
Escape Simulator is an escape room experience specifically designed for multiple players. The rooms themselves are fun and well themed, and another selling point is that you can create your own rooms, as well as play rooms others have created.
Here is the Steam page if you would like to check it out.
21st October 2021 – Growbot – Wabisabi Play
Growbot is an adorable point and click adventure. While art style can play a huge part on whether I enjoy a game, that isnt the only reason I liked it. Upon solving the puzzles and reading every bit of lore I could find, I was fascinated by this world that I was learning about. From what I can tell, this game is fairly short. I would love to stream it sometime.
There were so many unique games released in 2021 and Moncage is no exception. This is a puzzle game in which you need to manipulate objects within an environment, in order to alter the perspective. It is very satisfying when you solve a puzzle and everything lines up the way it should. It is also telling a story throughout. I would say it is comparable to a 3D Gorogoa, all be it in a totally different style.
There were of course many more Indies released in 2021, but I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed the demo of every game above. It is so great to watch a game go from releasing a demo to releasing the full game, rooting for them and seeing how they do. Now, I will get back to playing more demos, scouting for more of these delights!
Over the last couple of years since the very first Steam Game Festival, I have spent a lot of time playing the demos of Indie Games. The idea of these festivals was fantastic to me. Games get the chance to showcase what they are, and I get the chance to try games that I may not try otherwise. Since then, I have covered festivals on my blog, on my YT channel and in my discord. It is something that I enjoy very much and would like to continue for years into the future. Seeking out the Indie gems is like panning for gold and when you find it, it makes you want to shout from the rooftops.
I got the idea to look back over the demos I have played back in July when 4 of those games released in one month! It is so nice to see games that I first tried back in 2020 finally get their release. So here are the demos that I enjoyed that have released this year, and some more to watch out for in the coming months. I haven’t played them all but I am itching to!
March 19th – Eternal Threads – Cosmonaut Studios
I prioritised playing this demo, not only because it looked up my alley but it is set in the North of England. I was not disappointed. Taking place within a house, this narrative based walking sim absorbed me, flashing between the past and the present, piecing together what happened. This is a game that I would love to stream sometime.
Cat Café Manager is a very chill, cute, management game. The problem with management games is that you don’t know whether there will be a difficulty spike, or equally, whether it will stay engaging for long. As far as I can tell, this is a nice, easy going game that would be a good entry to the genre for anyone intimidated by management sims or looking for something that isnt too taxing on the brain.
This is another management game, but instead of serving food you are breeding bees! The simplistic art style is easy on the eyes, giving way to the addiction of repopulating the island. I really enjoyed trying to breed them all, and the demo is still available so you can try bee-fore you buy.
Escape Academy is a delightful escape room puzzle game. If you enjoy escape rooms then you are sure to like it. With a fun story between and silky smooth gameplay, I can’t recommend this one enough. This is the only game on the list that I have played in full, and you can too right now if you have Game Pass!
July 15th – The Final Earth 2 – Florian van Strien
This is a great city builder. Easy to pick up, but so difficult to put down. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with it. The graphics are simple but clean and clear, making a visually unique game that you can get creative with. Definitely a recommend from me.
Hazel Sky is one of the earliest demos that I played and I was very happy to see it recently get a release. I can’t speak for the rest of the game, but the demo made me laugh out loud, and contained intrigue that made me want to see the rest of this world.
I am seeing a trend here. And the trend is lovely, laid back management sims. In this one, you play as a bear running a bed and breakfast. I really do have a spectrum of management covered! You can explore while gathering resources to make your business the best that it can be and meet the people(?) around you, all with minimal stress!
July 28th – Lord Winklebottom Investigates – Cave Monsters
I really want to play this game! Lord Winklebottom is a classic, point and click murder mystery adventure game. I love the style, it feels so nostalgic and has charm. The people are animals (obviously), fully voiced, and British. As someone who loves playing detective.. Yes please to all of the above!
September 13th – Deadwater Saloon – Creative Storm Entertainment / Tanglefoot Games
I was so mixed about this one. On one hand, I had problems with it. But on the other, I couldn’t stop playing. Two hours in and I finally forced myself to stop. At the time of writing the game has just released, so I will be interested to see if the problems have been fixed!
All of the above have released so far this year. But wait.. There’s more! September and beyond are full of releases.
September 22nd – Beacon Pines – Hiding Spot
I really enjoyed this one. The mixture of its really unique art style, and the contrast of cute but eerie makes me want to continue. The closest tone I can think of is if Night in the Woods, except younger characters. The gameplay however is a story book narrative puzzle. You collect terms that you can add to the story in certain places to alter the sentences and as a result, branch the paths. I have seen similar mechanics in Fate of Kai, and Indie Showcase demo Storyteller, and I have loved them every time. If this couldn’t be better, it is, because it will be available day one on Game Pass! I’m really looking forward to see how this one does.
Wishlist on Steam here to be notified when the game releases!
September 26th – Monorail Stories – Stelex Software
This is another demo that I played a long time ago. It was short but sweet, telling a story and building a world through rides on a monorail. You only need to look at the screenshots to see how much care has gone into the art. I wish them all the luck for a successful launch!
I played the Dome Keeper demo earlier this year as recommended by a few friends. They were right, it was a blast! In this roguelike your time is split between mining for resources and defending your base, using upgrades gained from said resources. It is fast paced, easy to learn but I imagine not so easy to master, and has that ‘one more try’ appeal. I hope this one blows up!
September 28th – The Excavation of Hobs Barrow – Cloak and Dagger Games
I am generally not a fan of horror so I avoid it, but for whatever reason this is one of the demos that I played. And honestly? I was so glad I did. I played this one on my own without recording and I remember having a great affection for it. But – my memory being my memory – I can’t remember exactly what happened or how it played. What I do know, is that it immediately went on my Wishlist, and I would love to stream it sometime after it releases. The art is gorgeous and I want to be back in that atmosphere.
Previously known as Incantamentum, you can wishlist on steam here.
2022 – Nobodies: After Death – Blyts
I loved the demo for this one and it is still available now! The best comparison I can make is that this is like a point and click, escape room style game. You are cleaning up after murders and trying not to get caught by solving the puzzle of the area you are in. The art is gorgeous which sounds like a contrast to the concept of the game, but it makes it even more fun to see where you might end up next. I hope this one finds its audience because the demo is a strong recommend from me!
Finally, Organs Please doesn’t have a release date except 2022. Despite the dark humour in the dire world that we are living in, it is easy to forget the horrors of what you are actually doing as you enter a flow state of maximum efficiency. The mechanics are introduced at a satisfying pace, building you up from rookie to mega multitasker in no time. I really enjoyed the gameplay of this one and would definitely like to play more upon release.
And that is it. Apparently this has been a quiet year for games. While that may be true in the AAA spaces, new indie games are coming out every day. It can be hard to know how to filter through the volume of games, so hopefully someone will not only find this list useful, but also give these ones a chance! Some of these games were created solo and they are absolutely excellent. Let me know if you give any of them a go!