Diving into the Steam and Kickstarter collections of new games by independent developers is my favorite thing to do this time of year. Luckily, there’s a surge of talented studios and solo projects ready to hit the ground running. These are my top 10 indie games to watch in 2024.
10 Upcoming Indie Games to Look Forward to in 2024
10. All Quiet in the Trenches
Kicking off my list is All Quiet in the Trenches by Totally Not Aliens, a somber turn-based strategy RPG set in World War I. It’s a game about humanizing and giving identity to soldiers on the Western Front in 1915.
You’ll play as an officer of your own platoon of soldiers in charge of their survival and morale. It’s a beautifully narrative game with plenty of interaction and junctions where your choices matter. Will you make decisions that benefit the demands of your superiors? Or will they cater to the needs of your soldiers, which you’ll get to know extensively?
All Quiet in the Trenches is about duty and empathy as you face the inescapable fate of the war in contrast to the lives of your fellow men. It helps that the game has a decently in-depth turn-based combat system focused on playing around cover, status effects, and customizing your soldiers with RPG elements. If you enjoy realistic narratives about war and strategy games, this one should probably be on your radar. It’s out on January 17.
From the minds of Hadoque and El Huervo (yes, that El Huervo, who worked on Hotline Miami) comes Ultros. This neon-infused colorful Metroidvania has you exploring a psychedelic world filled with mystery. The combat and platforming aren’t as fast-paced as some 2D platformers, but instead, they’re more tactical as you approach each fight like a puzzle.
Furthermore, I find that the main attraction of the game — for me — is the worldbuilding, as you uncover more with each sequence. That’s right: there’s a roguelite element to the game where you can replay important points in the story and discover different elements about the game. I fell in love with the visuals and the game overall the first time I saw the neon cosmic horror Dia De Las Noches-inspired aesthetic. It’s coming out February 13.
Alright, time to dive into medieval Hungary and traverse the land affected by the plights of Ottoman conquest. Felvidek by Jozef Pavelka is such an evocative and nostalgic game that makes me remember the gritty and crunchy days of 90s first-person RPGs. It’s a turn-based medieval adventure where you’ll take on various bandits and knights with a slew of martial, magical, and gunpowdery abilities.
You can build out your party with knights, priests, and sellswords as you attempt to stop those who would dare conspire against the king. The entire world is illustrated in this grimy surreal style and set in an isometric perspective as you explore through the linear story. On your way, you’ll gather better gear, meet new interesting NPCs, and complete various quests as you immerse yourself in an alternate version of the Slovak Highlands. It’s coming out on March 29.
7. Paper Trail
On a much lighter note, we have a charming top-down indie puzzle adventure called Paper Trail by Newfangled Games. What drew me to this game is the fairytale book-like art style and atmospheric music. You’ll join Page, who’s leaving home to pursue her studies, and through her perspective, you’ll explore an almost hand-drawn world filled with puzzles.
They’re structured to be solved with clicks and drags of your mouse. You’ll merge two paths to cross, rearranging platforms, dragging and dropping stepping points, and uncovering new ways to interact with your environment. Exploration and story are also important aspects of the game, and each adventure takes you through a new area that makes the game feel like an interactive art book. I love projects like this. They’re great for a cold day with a cup of tea.
6. Mossfield Origins
Speaking of cozy, if you like city builder titles, then be on the lookout for Mossfield Origins by Studio Any Percent. It’s a colony builder game with accessible mechanics and a unique idea that all buildings are based on the same foundation. The reason Mossfield piqued my interest is the relaxing Autumnal atmosphere, no time pressure, and plenty of reaction time.
You can unlock various upgrades through tech trees to enhance your structures and redefine your colony. Unlocking new technologies for sustainability and rebuilding a world harmed by those before you is the key aspect of the game. Repurpose ancient abandoned facilities toward a better eco-friendly future. Also, the sci-fi story and character art during dialogue looks gorgeous.
Do you like watching or playing high-school dramas with a fantasy twist, like Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Persona? Demonschool by Necrosoft Games is just that but on demon-hunting steroids. It’s a turn-based tactics type of game played on a grid with your party being high school misfits with class-based devil hunter powers. This means you’ll experience a visual novel-like light horror story, plan school activities, fight monsters, and develop relationships. Ahh, yes: the usual experience.
The combat system in Demonschool is based on movement, interacting with the environment, and planning synergistic moves with your party. You can rewind attacks and movement if you make a mistake, so you can take all the time you want to plan out your perfect round.
Furthermore, there is a combo system to produce elemental attacks with your party and also plenty of ways to buff allies and debuff enemies. When you’re not fighting, you’ll explore the school, your relationships, and uncover the story. It all seems to be structured quite neatly in a great blend of pixel and stylized art.
Été by Impossible is a beautiful and relaxing game about exploring your creativity and becoming a painter. You play as a young artist moving to Montreal for the summer and developing her career as an artist. You don’t actually have to be a painter, as the game guides you through the story and the canvas system that allows you to create effortless watercolor artwork. That’s a good thing since I can’t paint for the life of me IRL.
Furthermore, NPCs will commission your work, and you’ll get to interact with them in first-person through a dialogue system. You can work toward scoring expositions and creating your very own art studio. I love the idea of gathering experience through different paint droplets and finding rare pigments for those truly unique hues, reflecting your developing skill as an artist. It’s essentially a social-based painter’s sandbox and a labor of love from a small indie team in Montreal.
3. Raw Metal
From a cozy painting game to a diesel-punk industrial beat ‘em up. Variety is the spice of life. In Raw Metal, you’ll take the role of a lone wolf scavenger on a barren planet in search of equipment, gear, and supplies. It’s a mixture of a dungeon crawler, stealth game, and brawler as you sneak through the mines and fight your way out if need be.
Use various equipment like the taser dart to slip past enemies or the noisemaker to draw their attention. Then when it’s time to fight, use breakneck combos and improvised weapons from the environment — similar to Sifu — to take heavily armored foes down.
I was drawn to the Payday-style gameplay choice put in the player’s hands of whether you want to approach the game quiet or loud. Take a tactical, calculated approach with no victims, or smash into a level and master the combat system as you emerge victorious. As developer Team Crucible points out, the game will even feature a story at full release on March 19.
Hauntii by Moonloop Games LLC is an indie game about discovering who you are and exploring the world. You’ll play as a ghost searching for answers. More specifically, these ghosts are called Eternians and seem to accompany lost souls to the other world (they’re similar to angels). As you play as Hauntii, seemingly one of the Eternians, you’ll unravel the story of these entities.
Furthermore, the game is, before anything else, a puzzle title disguised as a twin-stick shooter where you use your ghostly powers to traverse the world. From the footage I’ve seen, I really like how Hauntii uses its camera to enhance exploration, shifting around and zooming in and out to focus on certain scenes. Lastly, the mesmerizing soundtrack and the hand-drawn art style are characters in and of themselves. You can try this game out in Q2 2024.
1. Sons of Valhalla
Last but not least, I present you with Sons of Valhalla by Pixel Chest, a 2D action roguelike that mixes hack-and-slash elements with real-time strategy. Take control of a Viking community as you build out your settlement, recruit warriors, and raid across Europe. While base-building and managing your economy is an important aspect of the game, exploring the world moves the story forward.
You’ll conquer villages, gather resources, and interact with important allies. As for the combat system, it reminds me a lot of Kingdoms Two Crowns, where you’re on the frontlines with your troops fighting alongside them but also giving them strategic commands. You can order your army to form a shield wall, tactically retreat, or press the advantage and charge the enemy.
Best of all, you can craft various siege engines to help you conquer a fortified stronghold. The game’s pixel art style isn’t to be looked over, either. Just standing in your forest village next to a windmill and looking at the sunset is a gameplay element in and of itself.
Honorable Mention: The End of the Sun
I just had to fit this one onto my list of indie games to watch in 2024 due to my love for Slavic Mythology and my Slavic roots. The End of the Sun, by a team of the same name, is an atmospheric first-person adventure game based on the mystery of one seemingly abandoned village.
You’ll solve it using your Ashter druidic powers, which allow you to travel through time back and forth and review events before they happen. You can save, but your actions may alter events in the future. It’s a game where you’ll enjoy the beauties of nature and the medieval Slavic culture and aesthetic but also deal with the darker sides of Slavic Mythology.