Upcoming Indie Games [March 2023]
A List With The Hottest Upcoming Releases .
Read Time 8 minutes
*Much of the content you'll find written here is available on the game's Steam pages, so no spoilers were included.*
If you're a fan of the indie scene, you'll be pleased to know that we have yet another month shaping up to be an exciting time to be alive for gamers worldwide, with a slew of indie game releases that promise to deliver unique and engaging experiences represented in a diverse range of genres. Fortunately, we've got you covered with a list of some of the most anticipated games that are set to release this March 2023, and that you should definitely be keeping under your radar if you haven't heard about them already.
That said, today we'll be taking a closer look at four of the most exciting indie games set to drop sometime soon — from atmospheric RPGs to challenging roguelikes, there's something for basically everyone to sink their teeth into. Whether you're a die-hard fan of the genre or simply looking for some new casual fun to try, these upcoming releases are sure to appeal to players of all tastes, independently of experience. As usual, we'll be taking an in-depth look at their features, gameplay mechanics, and unique selling points to help you get a better understanding of what each title has to offer.
For starters, as we'll see later, one of the games you should be particularly excited about is a roguelike that promises to be one of the most challenging and immersive experiences of the year. With its procedurally generated levels and unpredictable enemies, this game has a clear commitment to delivering its own unique gameplay mechanics, stunning art styles, and gripping narrative that sets it apart from the rest of the pack. Another title that's generating a lot of buzz is a hauntingly beautiful adventure game that takes place in a ruined world. With its stunning pixelated visuals and thought-provoking storyline, this game is sure to be a large hit among fans of atmospheric storytelling.
In brief, players can look forward to exploring fantastical worlds, battling fearsome foes, and immersing themselves in engaging stories. We're fairly confident that you'll enjoy reading about these upcoming indie games and why they're so very worth adding to your gaming library. So, for now, just sit back, relax, and get ready to discover some of the most exciting indie games to come out in recent years. Whether you're a seasoned gamer or just getting started, you're sure to find something to love in this roundup of March 2023's best indie game releases.
“ 9 Years of Shadows ” No More: Saving The World With Style .
First on our list is the highly anticipated 9 Years of Shadows, a 2D side-scrolling action-adventure Metroidvania developed by Halberd Studios and published by Freedom Games. The game's story revolves around Europa, a young girl armed with a halberd, and Apino, a tiny magical bear who can heal and cleanse corruption in order to protect its allies. The game is set in a world without color, joy, or hope, with the objective of Europa and Apino being to work together to restore color and bring back hope to the world as they venture into Talos Castle, the source of the deep darkness that engulfed the world for nine years.
To enhance Europa's battle abilities, the player can acquire special sets of elemental armors to bring our character's combat prowess up a notch. In short, they basically enable us to use the elements' might to our advantage in activities such as traveling the map much more dynamically than usual, surprising bosses by equipping different armor sets and performing flashy combos. Other than the obvious, hidden locations and secrets can be accessed by using special skills such as swimming against waterfalls, traveling through underground tunnels, and gliding through warm air currents.
Something of note is that music imparts a significant role in the game other than being a mere background feature. Now, NPCs are brought to the spotlight for being able to use notes to perform healing lullabies to restore health both in-game and in real life, as the music they make is said to be tuned to a frequency used in healing music (not my own words), with it also being described as the "binding thread that brings gameplay and storytelling together", meaning that it is supposed to have a far greater effect on gameplay than usual.
Don't get things twisted - the game is far from being purely black and white...
Aside from that, 9 Years of Shadows has not only impressed me with its gameplay, but also with its visuals. The game features a visually pleasing pixelated art style that adds greatly to the overall experience, with its graphics being colorful and vibrant, which is a clear nod to the game's "fight against dark premise". Not to mention, the animated cutscenes add yet another layer of flavoring to the game and the attention to detail in them is also admirable, showing even more so in the different environments and landscapes that are designed with a blend of Japanese and Western influences for us to explore.
A captivating storyline that promises challenging boss fights and a deep, intricate world full of alluring secrets to find and mysteries to uncover. Needless to say, the game's "fight with purpose" is what got me hooked the most, as the idea of a world shrouded in darkness and a young adventurer on a mission to bring color and hope back to her homeland was far too intriguing to give it a pass. The inclusion of a fluffy companion with magical abilities was merely the cherry on top, adding a unique twist to the gameplay and story, and also providing a companion for our character that is not only helpful in combat but is also integral to the story's progression.
To wrap up, 9 Years of Shadows is an incredibly engaging and interesting game that has a lot to offer players. The mix of action, exploration, and soundtrack creates an immersive gameplay loop that is hard to put down, and even background aspects such as music and sound design are also of the highest quality, adding a bunch to the overall experience. If you enjoy action-adventure games with compelling stories, music, and exploration that is full of character, then 9 Years of Shadows is definitely worth checking out.
“ DREDGE ” - To The High Seas: A Not-So-Swimmingly Adventure .
Coming up next, Dredge is an immersive adventure game of soothing visuals and clean aesthetics that takes players on a captivating journey to explore a remote archipelago and its neighboring island regions. As the captain of a fishing trawler, players must study their craft in order to upgrade their boat and equipment to navigate increasingly treacherous waters while ensuring to keep it afloat. With each island offering a unique array of inhabitants, wildlife, and stories to uncover, players must rely on selling their slimy discoveries to the locals as to obtain new components for their vessel and learn more about each area to reach even more secluded locations.
The game's storyline is shrouded in mystery, with players being tasked with digging up the past while unraveling the secrets of the Marrows, a seemingly serene collection of islands that is where the game happens to take place. Offering a great deal of survival elements, the game puts us in a situation where danger lurks around every corner, forcing us to be wary of our surroundings at all times, and even more so as the ever-present fog that cloaks the nighttime seas pushes us to navigate through sharp rocks and shallow reefs while having to fend off submerged threats from below.
The game features unique gameplay mechanics that blends fishing, survival, and RPG elements alongside a soundtrack that set the mood perfectly to create a horrifying nautical adventure that manages to somehow get players interested into what's arguably the most boring activity there is out there: taking trips offshore to wait for fish to voluntarily decide they're done with life and bite the hook through interactive mini-games. What impressed me the most about the game is how well they make you think it's a calm, relaxing game, when in reality its entire aura can change in a flash.
Fishing into the sunset is always a peaceful, laidback activity until it isn't...
On the topic of progression, players can expect to obtain special equipment and invest their sweet savings into upgrading their boat's core navigational capabilities as time goes on to enable them to catch increasingly rarer fish as well as turn the collection of hidden deep-sea curios/treasures slightly easier. The further down we go in the path of a true mariner, the more abilities we get to unlock, but we also can expect foes to start ramping up in terms of difficulty, growing more voracious until the point a bucket full of worms is no longer enough to catch their attention.
However, it's for that exact reason that we need to be extra patient and attentive while exploring open waters to avoid being eaten that the game can be slightly more challenging than average, and players who prefer a more laid-back experience might want to steer clear from this one. Still, its premise and features seemed promising enough from the little I played, and from the perspective of other users it also received a ton of positive reviews online, which should signify that reeling the fishing line does have its favors.
Overall, DREDGE is a unique and thrilling fishing simulator that thinks slightly out of the box with a touch of horror that offers an exciting and immersive experience for players who are willing to explore the depths of the sea and unravel its dark mysteries. And before we are able to set sail, I would ideally only recommend this game mainly to players who enjoy serene games that display hints of fantastical elements, as well as those who aren't faint of heart.
Prepare To “ Have a Nice Death ”: Being The Bossman Is Never Easy .
Following onto the trend of monstrosities made into unassuming, cute plushy-like balls of fluff, next up we have a game that coincidentally takes us to death's door, but in a good way. In short, Have a Nice Death is a procedurally generated, action-packed roguelike that puts you in the body of the angel of death to embark on an adventure through the various departments of Death Inc, a company that... let us just say is unlike any other. In there, you will play as a bony, scythe-carrying character to meet and possibly end the life of a wide range of interesting characters, including your pumpkin-headed assistant, Pump Quinn, who will keep you entertained with office gossip.
As you progress through the game, you will need to hone your soul-sucking skills with several unique weapons besides your ol' trusty scythe and even spells that you can upgrade to create powerful combinations to aid you in battle against life itself. The game's fast-paced hack-and-slash combat aided by procedurally generated content will keep you on the edge of your seat as you face off against numerous minions and bosses localized within the company's innards. As the CEO of such a massive enterprise, it will be your mission to ensure the good functioning of the entire business, which means sleep is out of the equation, so you will need to rely on coffee to keep you awake and use what you learn and earn to overcome the challenges that await you at each turn.
While there is no debate on whether combat is the game's main focus, that's not the only thing it has in store — not even by a long shot. In fact, I'd argue that, while the fluid animations, responsive controls, meticulous movesets, and extensive arsenal of abilities don't come close to letting us down, believe it or not, the thing that attracted me the most about it was the story, as not only is it incredibly rare for similar games to have such a huge amount of dialog (even though a lot of it is conveyed through grunts and similar sounds), the game's world was truly beyond amazing and super fun to try and connect the dots.
Although unnable to "die", don't expect immortality to make up for a lack of skill...
Another thing I really enjoyed was how charming and quirky the retro-inspired art style was, as it made wonderful use of a surprisingly colorful palette despite the game's theme and the smooth-edged visuals also had an amazing effect, being rather easy on the eyes, which, by the way, is in no way a lowly compliment. To be completely honest with you, besides the story that I've just mentioned, what really convinced me the game was absolutely worth the try was how absurdly beautiful it looked in the trailers and promotional images.
The developer of the game, Magic Design Studios, is a small indie studio that focuses on creating high-quality, engaging games for players who love to be challenged, and, in my opinion, they are totally deserving of every bit of recognition they can get. Needless to say, it's super impressive to see such top-tier work done like this from a team that, although of very little experience, managed to encapsulate so well what makes the best roguelikes.
A challenging game of unrestricted fun that is perfect for players who enjoy roguelikes with unique mechanics and interesting storylines. The game's strengths lie mostly in its fast-paced combat system, diverse character cast, and intriguing upgrade system, using all of those as its bread and butter. However, it goes without saying that the game's repetitive nature may not appeal to everyone, and the procedurally generated levels may lack the depth and refinement of a fully handcrafted experience. Nevertheless, if you're looking for a challenging, enjoyable experience that will keep you on your toes throughout its entirety, then Have a Nice Death is beyond worth your time.
“ Tainted Grail - The Fall of Avalon ”: If It Moves, Burn It In A Stake .
We'll round today up with a The Elder Scrolls-inspired game that began gaining some motion in the last couple of months. For starters, Tainted Grail: The Fall of Avalon is a first-person dark fantasy open-world RPG that offers the usual — a plethora of quests, loot, dungeons, and many, many monsters. The game takes place on a bleak island that is on the brink of calamity following the death of its king, and the people are now trying to find new ways of life while facing a deadly plague that is rapidly spreading. As is to be expected, we start as a random nobody who, for some odd reason, has the capacity to be the one who brings change to the decaying lands by completing quests and piecing secrets together.
If what you care about is gameplay, then worry not, for the mechanics it has on display are flexible and varied, as players may choose to face their enemies in several different ways, including striking from the shadows using bows and daggers, fighting in melee range using brute force, or loudly using forbidden ritualistic magic. Its systems allow us to create our own unique builds that reflect our particular fighting style with tons of armor and weapons, adding greatly to the expression and customizability aspect the game promises and successfully delivers.
Regarding the foes we can encounter, players should expect simple pitchfork-carrying commoners, battle-worn soldiers, mythic creatures as well as gods of old who may be in need of some mortal assistance. There is a ton of lore to find out in the open and to the several questions the game offers, none come with an easy answer, plus, if you enjoy the idea of being in control, do know that the choices we have to make on our journey can and will greatly impact the game's final outcome.
Featuring heavy themes, the game isn't really meant to be seen by everyone...
Akin to every other open world, another thing players should be able to expect to see is an exorbitant amount of things to collect as they go about their daily lives. To make good use of our time spent picking up random stuff off the ground, the game features many supporting systems that allows us to use these gathered ingredients to transform them into useful items like life-saving potions or food. Since going into combat as prepared as one can be is key to survival in this misty land, crafting becomes so prevalent that the sooner you delve into it, the greater will be your chances of making out on top of every situation.
Since the game's main selling points lie no doubt in a combination of a vast and intriguing storyline with little to no guidance or hand-holding, as well as lots upon lots of exploration and decision-making being involved, it should be no surprise that the game also boasts multiple factions with their own plans for the future of the island, each contributing to the complexity and richness of the world. To expand on the topic a bit, those factions can be either neutral or hostile from the get-go, plus our actions can also have some short or long-term effect on how we develop our relationship with specific settlements.
For players who enjoy dark fantasy RPGs with complex stories, exploration, multiple combat styles, and supporting systems to create unique items, then there's a great chance Tainted Grail might be worth the try. Personally, if you're on the fence due to the game's sheer size, I'd advise against underestimating an Indie game developer's capacity to deliver a seamless open-world experience, since even I was immensely surprised by how well the game managed its limited resources to craft such an intriguing gameplay that doesn't fall short in as many aspects as some triple-A studios' titles do nowadays. So yeah, you can totally go ahead and try it out without any worries.
Conclusion: For The Light, Against Both Death And Plague, Ahoy .
In conclusion, March 2023 is looking to be an amazingly exciting month for releases of all sizes and budgets, with a variety of unique titles already being put into motion as we speak. From dark and challenging roguelikes to atmospheric adventure games, this month really had something for every type of gamer to enjoy.
While the games we've discussed in this article offer a range of different experiences, they all share one thing in common: they represent the creativity and innovation that is characteristic of the indie game development community. These developers have proven time and time again that they are capable of producing games that are not only innovative but that can also compete with the big players in the industry, and that their passion for their craft can result in some truly remarkable experiences.
As gamers, we owe it to ourselves to support these indie developers and the unique perspectives they bring to the medium. By doing so, we can help ensure that the gaming industry continues to thrive and evolve, and that we as gamers will have a wealth of new and exciting experiences to look forward to in the future.
So mark your calendars, folks, and be sure to keep an eye out for these amazing releases of the beautiful month that March 2023 is turning out to be. Who knows, you might just as well be en route to discover your new favorite game of all time. And don't forget to look forward to April, as we'll have even more amazing titles to share by then!
Written by: Caius | Date - 23/03/2023