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!
It is slightly late but upon looking back over my Indie Showcase so far, I thought it would be fun to pick out some favourites. I originally planned to do this when I reach 100 videos, but picking out the 10 best is already proving to be difficult so I am going to go ahead and do it now!
For those who don’t know, during my weekly Indie Showcase series I try out an indie game for give or take an hour. It started as short, free to play games but evolved into demos, bundle games and games that I received a code for. I wasn’t sure how long it would last but as it turns out, I already have over 50 more games lined up! So, here are my top 10 highlights from my first 50 weeks, in alphabetical order so that I don’t actually have to rank them.
The Cast of the Golden Idol [Demo]– Color Gray Games
I love being a detective. I love murder mysteries, figuring out the order of events, solving deaths, and this game is chock full of that. Recommended by Lucas Pope (Papers, Please and Return of the Obra Dinn developer) for people who enjoyed Obra Dinn, I agree that this is very worth playing. Each case had references and call backs to the other cases I worked, leading to a feeling that the full game is going to have a larger overarching story. Based on the demo this is going to be a fun game for logic puzzle enthusiasts and budding detectives alike.
This one is a short, simple walking sim set at the end of an apocalyptic world. The atmosphere, setting and story were all enjoyable to me from the start and I would love to see more of this world. The unique art style only added to the experience, making me explore every nook and cranny of this small world. A solemn experience that I think is worth having.
Dagon: by H.P. Lovecraft [Free to play] – Bit Golem
I played other games that I enjoyed that were more involved than this one, but I just couldn’t bump it from the top 10. While the reasons are really subjective, I may not be the only one to have this experience and I would love to encourage others too. I am not familiar with Lovecraft’s works. I know of Cthulhu. I know that it is supposed to be mind-bending horrors. But the only experience I have had with any of his work is through games that have shared themes. This game is a short, point and click version of one of his stories, Dagon. In this visual novel, the story is told through a stunning set of scenes where the player can look around and click on interactable objects. Not only is the story presented to you, but there are collectibles that give you some insight into the history of Lovecraft himself. I had a great time getting to know some background about the guy who inspired so many works for so many years beyond him. It’s not the most interactive game or the longest, but what it does, it does really well and I encourage anyone who doesn’t know where to start with Lovecraft to give it a try.
Firework is a Chinese horror puzzle game. Wait.. Horror you say? And Noob played it? This game had the perfect amount of horror for me. It was spooky, I was filled with dread about what might happen next, but none of it was too much. I managed to not only complete the demo, but wish to finish the rest of the game too. Playing games with a different culture to your own will always introduce a new flavour and it left me wanting more.
The full game is available on Steam now for £7.19.
Inscryption [Demo] – Daniel Mullins Games
I can’t believe I still haven’t played the full game. Not only is this a mash-up of a spooky escape room amongst other things, the card game presented in this demo was so much fun. Everyone that I know that has played the full game has recommended it. The only thing I am aware of is that there might be some surprises. But what they are.. I have absolutely no idea. Though, the demo hooked me well enough that I would like to find out.
Inscryption is available for £16.79 on Steam here.
Larry The Unlucky [Free to play] – Strongshell Software
I am so glad that I stumbled upon this game. Heavily inspired by the Rusty Lake series, the first two games in this series are free and they both contain three chapters each. I enjoyed them so much that I will definitely be buying the third. In case you don’t know Rusty Lake, think – weird and morbid but humorous point and click puzzles, comparable to escape rooms. I don’t have a lot else to add except if that sounds appealing to you then they are definitely worth a playthrough.
You can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here on Steam, completely free!
Storyteller [Demo] – Daniel Benmergui
This charming puzzle game was really fun to play. It is a game where the wrong answers can be even better than the right ones. The game tells a selection of short stories through storyboards. Your job as the player is to fill these storyboards with the correct characters and scenarios in order to complete the story. It is simple but deep, as placing the wrong person can change the entire course of the story. This was a very fine demo and I would love to play more. The release date is TBD and there has been no news for a long time, but it is being published by Annapurna Interactive so we can trust that it will be release when it is ready.
In the Strange Horticulture demo, I really enjoyed having an adventure and a business from the comfort of my own workspace. You can organise it how you see fit and have different panels for you desk and your shelves that you can see at nearly all times, as well as drawers to hide things in. It is a fantasy botany identification simulator with an overarching story. I enjoyed the balance of ‘exploration’ and figuring out which plant was which, hoping you got it correct so you don’t poison your loyal customer.
The full game released in January and is £12.99 on Steam here.
SuchArt: Creative Space [Free stand-alone demo] – Goose Minded
Considering this is basically a demo, it contains so much content. Use the paint physics and tools to fulfil commissions and decorate your studio in literally any way you see fit. I had a great time playing around with paint, seeing what all the different tools do, and completing my masterpiece with absolutely no disasters at all. Just take a look at the steam page to see the type of art people have made. It really is a sandbox for the imagination. This demo is so packed full of stuff that it makes the prospect of the full game very exciting.
They managed to turn the classic snake (I am just realising that we are past the generation that grew up with snake being their first portable game) into a puzzle game with moving parts. Not only that, but they have done it with style. Part rhythm puzzle game, part dungeon escape game, you can gladly bob your head as your Snek swallows her foes whole, growing into the goodest, long, fiercest mama. Since I played they have added decorating your Snek too – ‘Mek-a-Snek’ – you can’t go wrong with some wonderfully customisable Snek fashion. I would love for more people to see this game becasue it really is a cool one. Just be careful not to touch your Snek with your Snek. Snek only knows what the consequences would be. Snek is such a great word. Snek.
Currently in Early Access, it is £9.99 on Steam here.
It was so difficult to narrow this down. There were games that I really liked that just didn’t make it onto the list. There is so much fantastic Indie content out there and it is all thanks to creative developers that take that step to turn their visions into reality. I thank them so much, and ask them to keep up the excellent work (but only at a healthy pace of course). All being well I will be back in another year to evaluate the next 50 and showcase some more highlights!