‘Best Indie Games 2023’? Technowize welcomes you to the cute little world of some of the most interesting indie games you can play right now. These are really beautiful experiences, crafted by many gifted talents that the indie games industry has been always blessed with.
Indie games are the places where you will always find refreshing ideas, brilliant craftsmanship and at times, top-notch execution. Games are also a mode of storytelling and even in 2023, we realize that people still love stories. A good storyline at the heart of a game can actually make you stay hooked to it. And in this regard, indie games really stand out.
When it comes to experimenting, most of the indie games get the better of the big releases of the year. Games coming out from small independent studios with so little resources at their disposal, more often than not surprise us with awe-striking gameplay or an out-of-the box storyline.
Pretty recently, the latest Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, also showcased some cool, standout indie games. Hence, our list also features notable mentions from the GDC 2023. We have tried to incorporate the best indie games on PC along with the top ones from Nintendo Switch too.
Therefore, without much ado, let’s dive into the amazingly beautiful universe of indie games, created with passion, love and sheer hard work. Here we start!
Best Indie Games 2023: The Lovelies You Can’t Resist to Try
At the very onset, we must admit that creating a list of the best indie games 2023 is a hard nut to crack. We get puzzled with the scenario, as there’s no dearth of quality options. However, we have considered an array of important factors and tried to make the list as diversified as possible.
Indie games lack funds, lack resources. But at the same time, these aspects actually work in their favor. How? See, firstly, there’s no such truckloads of pressure that comes inevitably with the grand releases from the top guns of the industry. Secondly, we all know that necessity is the mother of invention. Hence, limitations give birth to innovative ideas, which often propel an indie game to come out with flying colors and scale great heights.
Let’s unfold the list and explore the best indie games of the year. Fasten your seatbelts for a gaming mad rush! Get, Set, Goooo!
The name might flash a few memories at once. Memories which are etched in pure gold, laden with purest emotions. For, Cart Life made the headlines more than a decade ago, when it bagged the grand prize at the prestigious Independent Games Festival.
But after making it big, having won the coveted ‘Seumas McNally Grand Prize’ at the Game Developer Conference in 2013, this smash-hit indie game sort of vanished in thin air. In 2014, Richard Hofmeier, the one whose brainchild was Cart Life, decided to take it down from Steam.
Hofmeier, who wrote, designed, developed and produced the game, didn’t expect such a hue and cry among the gamers in the aftermath, as much as he didn’t expect it to be a blockbuster indie game — “It feels pretty absurdly lucky to have ever made something that people played even once.”
Cart Life, which happens to be a retail simulation for Windows, allows you to play one of the three street vendors, who sell bagels, newspapers or coffee. You have to take utmost care of the character’s health, family and interests while running their respective businesses. Cart Life is a brilliant take on the difficult balance of work and life for working class Americans.
Cart Life seems straight outta life itself. And as it happens in life, in this grayscale sim too, you can’t save the progress. The gameplay is bound to evoke empathy, a human trait which is dwindling fast these days and something which ChatGPTs or Midjourneys lack.
But after a loooong hiatus of almost a decade, this lost gem is finally on its way to a phoenix-like revival. Thanks to Hofmeier partnering with Adhoc Studio, Cart Life has got a second life. Hofmeier has finally finished his unfinished business — unresolved problems and bugs, which prompted him to pull the game off a decade ago, and now its revamped publication is on the cards.
AdHoc cofounder Nick Herman firmly believes that the game, which first made it to the charts in 2010, hasn’t dwindled a bit in terms of relevance — “What’s been weird about coming back to the game 10 years later is you kind of realize no one’s really picked up the baton. No one came after Richard and built their own version of it, so it’s still a really unique experience.”
This gem of a survival game comes with rare acumen which make it an obvious choice for the ‘Best PC Indie Games’ of 2023. Released originally in 2016, Inside is a brilliant follow-up to the blockbuster indie game, Limbo. This single-player video game is developed and published by Playdead.
Set in a dark, gloomy world, Inside made almost a clean sweep at all the leading game award shows — The Game Award, BAFTA Games Award, British Academy Games Award. It’s not another fancy little world with beautiful animations. When we have a close look at it, we manage to realize that painstaking efforts have been made to ensure it looks uncomfortable.
In the world of Inside, you have to step into the shoes of a child who is running with desperation, running for his life — much like the Uncharted 4 ‘Prison Escape’ scene, where Drake brothers Nathan and Sum run with all they have. This award-winning game has a gripping narrative as the crux of its entire scheme of things, which actually champions this [yet another] masterpiece from Playdead.
Here, you [the child] is being hunted and has to dodge the fall (similar to The Fall?) with razor-sharp moves and some other instinctive traits along with ultimate precision. Tragedy seems to have struck upon him, badly. All odds are against him. But he must solve the puzzles and get the better of gruesome obstacles that come time and again on his way, which keep his life hanging on a balance.
It’s quite radical on the part of Inside to present you with a moody art style, ambient soundtrack and an unsettling atmosphere, things which have fetched critical acclaim over the years. There are abstract setpieces dipped in terror, which you have to deal with in an intense action-packed thriller.
With the atmosphere being haunting, foggy and monochrome in nature, it becomes all the more dreadful for a gamer than it was in Limbo. It goes without saying that this is something which you can only expect from such finest indie games. In the case of the big guns of the global gaming industry, a game like Limbo or Inside, is not even a distant dream.
Inside is certainly one of the ‘Best Indie Games on PC’ at the moment and appears as a slice of life, which picks up right from where Limbo left. Get ‘inside’ for a surreal gaming experience, laden with traits of existentialism, despair and most-importantly, desperation.
There are millions of gamers across the world, who still prefer the classic Nintendo Switch over Valve’s all-new Steam Deck. For them, Dordogne, which is indeed one of the most exciting indie games to watch out for, this year, brings an air of freshness.
It’s not always that we come across a game which not only grabs our eyeballs at the first glance, but also wins our hearts, all thanks to its beautiful color palette. The beautifully hand-drawn watercolor panels go live as we enter the blissful world of Dordogne.
Developed by UN JE NE SAIS QUOI, UMANIMATION and [about to be] published by Focus Entertainment, the single-player adventure game, is releasing worldwide in Spring 2023. The trailer and the first-look images of its gameplay have made it a hot property among the ‘Best Indie Games on Switch’.
Dordogne, which shares its name with a beautiful river that flows in Southern France, allows you to explore the endless sides of a happy summer, which is a thing of beauty itself. You don the hat of a girl named Mimi who traverses the Dordogne landscapes of a thousand summer colors.
Relying on an immersive unique narrative experience, this gem of an indie game has already bagged a couple of awards like the ‘10 Best Narrative Games for 2022’. Here you have — young Mimi, her grandmother Nora and adult Mimi. While playing Mimi, you can turn the clock back and go back to your past, which was predominant with numerous interactions with your grandmother.
It feels like recollecting pebbles in the form of fond memories, from an introvert river, which has no urgency and hence, flows gently. During your voyage to the alleys which move through the intersection of past and present, you can collect sounds, snap photos and even preserve scents — all of which help you to pen your thoughts in your personal journal.
In a nutshell, Dordogne is a fascinating journey, which evokes nostalgia, makes you brush your shoulders with the delicate memories of your childhood and your grandmother, which remains one of your safest places to take refuge in, when you are hurt and when you don’t tell anyone that you are hurt. It’s a game which reminds you of life, which allows you to relive one of your most favorite phases of life — your good old days of childhood.
The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe
If we choose to say that the indie game scene didn’t remain the same after the original The Stanley Parable was released in 2013, it won’t be an exaggeration. It was blessed with loads of love from the global gaming community, which was reflected on Twitch and later on Discord, too.
Developed by Crows Crows Crows and Galactic Cafe and published by the former, The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe happens to be a first person exploration game. It appears that the award-winning indie game has been reimagined in an expanded time-space.
The first part fetched huge critical acclaim and bagged awards. Therefore, the expectations were sky-high around this follow-up. And quite expectedly, The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe blows you up with a page-turner narrative, coupled with stunning artworks and top-notch gameplay.
It starts in a sort of dystopian setting, where Stanley, a simple professional, discovers to his wit’s end that all of his co-workers in the office have suddenly disappeared. He begins his quest for answers to solve the mystery.
But wait for a moment. There’s something which might make you go absolutely crazy or absolutely numb. The most uncanny thing about The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe is the fact that rules of the game are meant to be broken. Here, you play as Stanley and you also play not as Stanley. You can make choices but at times, you will be stripped of the choices you made. The modus operandi is not winning. For, the statutory warning reads — ‘The Stanley Parable is a game that plays you.’
Now, the maze becomes even more beautiful, even more critical, even more mysterious, as there’s new content, new choices and new secrets to unravel. Visual upgradation has come into effect to reflect modern technology while managing to faithfully retain the ethos of the original game. Another major addition is accessibility features, which also include localization of in-world text, colorblind option, and content warnings.
But in life, certain things don’t change. Here too in The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe, which is a masterful take on life, through a rare looking glass, the impeccable voicework of Kevan Brighting accompanies you in every step, just like the 2013 version. Just to remind you, The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe says that “The game will end, the game will never end.”
You can try these best indie games 2023. All of them are clear standouts for their own set of USPs. If you are a gamer at heart who is fond of beautiful storytelling and out-of-the box gameplay, then these indie gems are what your dreams are made of.
Stay tuned with us. We will get back to you soon with more exclusive stories on gaming and tech. Until next time, happy gaming!