Well, it’s that time of the year. Those weird few days between Christmas and New Year where nothing happens, you’re not sure what day of the week it is and you’ve been living off leftover turkey and chocolate for the last three days. It’s also when I like to do my (newly) annual indie game roundup. My second Indie Game Roundup after last year. Now, not all of these games were released in 2022 but they are all titles that I played and reviewed in 2022 and I’m presenting them in the order that I played/reviewed them, no best to worst or anything. I’ll also be including links to my original reviews should you care to give them a read.
Lacuna – A Sci-Fi Noir Adventure
Dark, gloomy and utterly drenched in atmosphere. Lacuna – A Sci-Fi Noir Adventure was a very stylish adventure title with a really detailed 16-bit art style. Choices that you made had a major impact on how the story panned out and the replay value was high with multiple different endings to discover. The short 3-4 hour playtime really was a plus here too as it made going through the game more than once feel less of a chore and more of a pleasure. 12 months after first playing this and I’ve still not found all of the endings. Writing this quick roundup has got me wanting to get back into it now too.
This was a game that my pal Badger at Stoffel Presents got me into. He kept talking about it through most of 2021 and I just had to check it out. RPGolf Legends was a sequel too, so my review covered both the first game and the sequel. Both games are great and well worth purchasing. A retro-styled RPG that felt very SNES-era, but with the interesting twist of throwing in some golf. I also said that perhaps RPGolf Legends could be my indie game of the year, even as early as January when I reviewed it. Now, looking back, it’s certainly a strong contender and I would definitely put it in my top 5. You can get both of the games pretty cheap now and I recommended that you do.
I still remember when the awesome Troglobytes Games told me about this a couple of months before it was released. Just from the brief description and one single screenshot, I knew this was a game that I wanted to play. A Sweeny Todd-inspired title where you kill and cook people, to serve to customers and use the profits to help build your business. The gameplay was simple but engrossing and even though it was a very short title, the amazing low price made this a must-buy. I did say in my original review that it was very much a ‘one and done’ type game though. However, the devs added some free DLC and extra content that actually drew me back in. In fact, I reviewed that too. Now, I do find myself delving back into Ravenous Devils for a play now and then. The whole ‘one and done’ thing is no longer relevant. It’s cheap and packed with gameplay, buy it.
CHANGE: A Homeless Survival Experience
This was another game recommendation from my friend Badger and it is, without a doubt, the most emotionally draining game that I have ever played. As simple to understand that CHANGE: A Homeless Survival Experience was, it was just as difficult to play properly. A survival game that is harsh and bleak and one that you will see the ‘Game Over’ screen dozens of times before you ever see a real ending. A very sobering title with a real and worthy message behind it.
Arise: A Simple Story
I don’t think that I’ve played a game with a better implemented and told narrative this year than I did with Arise: A Simple Story. The basics of the game are nothing to shout about and what you get is a casual platforming experience with all the gameplay mechanics that you come to expect. But then it throws in a time manipulation thing and a story told with zero dialogue but bucketloads of gravitas and emotion. Playing as a recently deceased old man, you find yourself in the afterlife and reliving important moments from your life. From childhood to parenthood and eventual death. Wonderfully poignant and a title that still plays on my mind, several months after experiencing it.
From a brilliantly told tale of the fragility of human life to a game about smashing shit up. Starting out with nothing more than a crowbar, you destroy your environment and earn experience points to level up. Learn new skills, upgrade your weapons and kill a load of zombies along the way. Crammed with tons of missions and sub-missions, a varied and decently sized map. DYSMANTLE boasts that 99% of the objects and scenery in the game can be destroyed, it’s great fun too. A survival/crafting game with a ‘destroy everything’ mentality that works as a great way to relieve some stress and tension.
I detest decorating, DIY or anything connected to home improvement. I’m just really shit at it and have zero interest. Still, I seriously got sucked into the whole House Flipper phenomenon as it became massively popular when it was on Game Pass a few months back. It was just such a great ‘chill-out’ game, relaxing and calming. Hugely repetitive and redundant and yet, the game just had this power to make you lose many hours when playing it. You can quite easily waste several hours just decorating a single room, converting an entire house can take so much longer. I just found House Flipper an utterly fantastic way to unwind at the end of a rough day. I’m really looking forwards to the sequel next year.
I spend over a year pestering the publisher and developer of Arcade Paradise for a review code. Exchanged quite a few (often) amusing Tweets and messages and so on. I’m pretty sure the only reason that they did send me a review code was to just get me to shut the fuck up. I fell in love with this game the moment that I saw the teaser trailer in early 2021, it just ticked all the right nostalgic boxes for me. An 80s and 90s vibe with over 30 playable games, with you managing a launderette that you slowly turn into a full-blown arcade. Since its launch, Arcade Paradise has had several updates to fix bugs, etc. As well as having some new arcade cabinets added via DLC. The game just keeps getting better and it was already pretty damn amazing anyway. For a while, this was my game of the year… for a while.
The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe
I did play the original The Stanley Parable when it was released on PC and I loved it. It got a ‘sequel’ update/special edition this year though and for more platforms too. The trouble with The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe is that is simply impossible to review, unless you really want to delve into spoilers. I even freely admit in my review that I did a bad job of reviewing the game. This is a walking simulator, a genre I’m really not much a fan of, but with one of the most refreshing and unique narratives in a game. That narrative is key here and this most certainly would not be anywhere near as great a title if it didn’t have it. A narrative that looks at and even (pretty much) breaks what it means to be a video game. In fact, The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe is less a game and more an experience, a great one too.
Blind Fate: Edo no Yami
I’ve been a fan of developer/publisher Troglobytes Games for a few years now. Their utterly awesome HyperParasite is coming up to being 3 years old in a few months and I still have it installed on both my Xbox and PC, to have a little cheeky play now and then. They are the only team to have two games on this very list too, Ravenous Devils (as publisher) and Blind Fate: Edo no Yami (as developer). Essentially, what Blind Fate: Edo no Yami is, is a scrolling beat ’em up. But there is so much more going on that elevates it over other games in the genre. The fact that you play as a blind character being one of them and how the game’s mechanics use senors (senses) to convey your surroundings is really quite unique. A tough game, but one that offers a fair challenge with a great and rewarding combat mechanic too. The fact that my name is in the credits is completely inconsequential, this is a top (but hard) game regardless.
Brewmaster: Beer Brewing Simulator
I’ve really been getting into these sim-type games recently. When they are good, they can be relaxing, rewarding and really interesting. Brewmaster: Beer Brewing Simulator is one of those relaxing, rewarding and interesting titles. I have been known to have drunk my fair share of beers over the years and yet, I’ve never really put much thought into how they are made. This game does a great job of teaching you about home brewing, without making you feel overwhelmed with all that there is to take in and do. As I said in my review, this may not be a 100% accurate simulation of brewing beer, but it makes for a far more interesting game than I was expecting.
This is my favourite indie game of 2022 because it encapsulates everything that I love about indie gaming. Simple, addictive and hugely playable. I had heard a few whispers of this game before I played it, but I didn’t pay it much mind at the time and did manage to avoid pretty much everything to do with it. I played it for the first time when it was on Game Pass and I was not really sure what to expect. As I mentioned in my review, just from the way the game initially came across, I thought I was playing a twin-stick shooter. It took me a while to realise this was not the case. I died in about 1 minute and really thought that the game was shit. But, I was intrigued and started again. Long story short and I played Vampire Survivors, off and on, for about 2 weeks and finished it 100%. Then I bought it on Steam and finished it 100%. Then, it was released on mobile (for free too) and I downloaded it for my phone… and finished it 100%. The game just keeps throwing new content and more unlocks at you. It has a really low price point too. By far, the most generous game for your money and for me, the most playable of 2022. It’s also had some DLC recently… and I’ve been pulled back into it once more.
One of the last games that I reviewed this year and a wonderful surprise it was too. A shoot ’em up without the shooting. The devs call this a dodge ’em up as you have to risk putting yourself in danger, to then quickly dodge out of the way and cause the enemies to destroy themselves with their own weapons. The gameplay is simple as you whizz around the stages, dodging enemy fire and trying to nab containers that can be used for upgrades and such. Tough, very tough but with a difficulty curve that feels quite rewarding.
There you go folks, my top indie games of 2022. It’s been a great year for indies and even though some of the games I played and reviewed didn’t make this list, that doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy them. For me, these here are just the best of the best of the best. I already have a handful of games on my radar for 2023, I even have a review for a new game coming in January that I have half-written already. Though, that’s not going to be my first post of 2023. As I write this, it is just after Christmas and just a few days ago, a legend of the gaming industry sadly died. So, I’ll be opening 2023 with an article of remembrance.
Anyway, that’s it from me for this year. I’ll be back in a few days for the start of 2023 and plenty of more articles through the year.
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