Ten Upcoming Indie Games That Are Wishlist Worthy

If your gaming wishlist is looking a little weedy, we've assembled ten indie titles set to release this year that are sure to be bangers.
Jonathon Valenzuela
February 23, 2024

If there's one thing that's true in this life, it's that you've got to look forward to something. Maybe it's a nice sandwich you packed for lunch. Maybe it's a tropical getaway you've booked a couple of months down the track. Or maybe it's a slate of potential indie game releases over the course of the year, a constant drip feed of dopamine to last through to December. For this writer, as you may have guessed, the latter is the way to go.

Before we dive in, it's worth reflecting on the nature of game development for a moment. While most of the following titles have set their sights on a 2024 launch (source: their Steam pages), and two have confirmed launches over the next few months, game release dates are notoriously slippery beasts. Sometimes teams just need a little extra time to squash bugs and polish – it happens, and it's for the best, but it makes writing lists like this a little fraught.

So let's just say we're sending our best to all the developers and hope that they hit their launch windows without too much crunch.

And now, without any further ado, here's 10 indie games you should wishlist and eagerly wait for.

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PEPPER GRINDER

Movement can make or break a platformer, so stepping out of the classic run-and-jump formula comes with risks and rewards. In Pepper Grinder, the upcoming title from Oregon-based team Ahr Ech, the payoff for breaking from tradition is, thankfully, huge.

You play as Pepper, a swashbuckler washed up on the shores of a mysterious island. Your treasure has been stolen so you grab Grinder, your trusty conical drilling device, and set out to get it back. It won't be easy but it will be fun.

The use of a drill for traversal is inspired, allowing you to essentially swim through terrain and perform dolphin-esque leaps and dashes as you fight enemies and collect your wayward riches. It's the type of movement that puts you in a flow state, supported by level design that rewards setting up perfect lines without punishing you too much when you stumble.

Thankfully you won't have to wait too long to explore and excavate this bright tropical world, with a confirmed release date of March 28th for PC and Switch.

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ANOTHER CRAB'S TREASURE

Ocean pollution is bad. That's not really something you can argue against. But… who's to say it can't lead to good things, such as Another Crab's Treasure?

The sophomore game from U.S. dev team Aggro Crab has you scuttling around as Kril, a small hermit crab whose home has been repossessed from his back. You must don a variety of different pieces of rubbish as temporary shells, each with their own special strengths, and fight against the other denizens of the deep to find a treasure that will let you pay off your debt and reclaim your property.

It's a Souls-like so prepare for unrelentingly difficult combat, unless you are a newcomer to the genre in which case there are a number of thoughtful assists available to help you on your journey.

It has a confirmed release date of April 25th, so only a couple of months to go until you can battle across the bottom of the ocean on Xbox, PlayStation, Steam and Nintendo Switch.

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SKATE STORY

Skateboarding has a long history in the realm of video games but, for such a radical sport, developers have generally played it fairly straight. That makes Skate Story, developed by NY-based solo dev Sam Eng, a big breath of fresh air in a genre seemingly locked in permanent X-Games adolescence.

What really sets it apart is the narrative. You play as a demon made of glass and pain, to whom the Devil has given a skateboard and an impossible task: devour the Moon to earn your freedom. Already way more enticing than the standard 'get a high score to prove you're the raddest around'. So you set off through the Emptylands, grinding, flipping and ollieing to destroy demons and rescue lost souls on the way to your goal of cosmic consumption.

With minimalist graphics depicting the Underworld as a moody, woozy space, and a soundtrack composed by mysterious indie outfit Blood Cultures, Skate Story is set to be a guaranteed GOTY list entrant for 2024 when it launches.

Wishlist now on Steam

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BROKEN ROADS

The first Australian entry on this list, Broken Roads puts a uniquely Australian spin on the CRPG genre. Developed by Drop Bear Bytes out of Victoria, it's a post-apocalyptic trek across a desolate (well, more desolate) outback, searching out settlements, helping fellow travellers and tackling enemies both human and otherwise.

CRPGs are currently having a moment (thank you Baldur's Gate 3), and while Broken Roads will definitely scratch your itch for turn-based combat, it's adding a new wrinkle to the genre with its Moral Compass system which shapes both your character and the wider story based on the decisions you make. No wussing out of an evil run with this mechanic in place.   

Fans of the early Fallout games, as well as the modern reincarnations of Wasteland, will definitely want to keep an eye out for the (hopefully imminent) release of this one.

Wishlist now and play the demo on Steam

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DEAD STATIC DRIVE

The open road. The purr of the engine. The shrieks of eldritch horrors that are getting closer and closer in your rear-view mirror. This is the world of Dead Static Drive, a road trip simulator described as Grand Theft Auto meets the Cthulhu mythos.

A journey to visit estranged relatives takes a sinister turn when it becomes apparent that the world is coming to an end, bringing forth all sorts of monsters. Sneak, steal and slaughter your way across a stylishly rendered version of 80s America. You can team up with people along the way but when the chips are down can they be trusted? Can you?

It's been a long labour of love for the developers Reuben Games, based in Melbourne. Work started back in 2014, but with a projected release window of Q3 this year, the headlights at the end of the tunnel may be nearing.

Wishlist now on Steam

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BABY STEPS

Walking is perhaps the most taken-for-granted mechanic in video games. You push your joystick/WASD keys and your character moves – simple, right? In Baby Steps, the script gets flipped and each wobbly footfall is taken at your peril.

The game puts you in the bare feet of a onesie-clad schlubby failson called Nate, whose couch-bound existence is turned upside down when he is suddenly transported to a mysterious location in nature. The only way out is through, so you take charge of his feet and do your best to help him navigate the terrain as he hikes his way up a mountain.

It's the product of a trio of developers – Gabe Cuzillo, Maxi Boch and Australia's own Bennett Foddy – who previously released the sublime Ape Out (seriously, stop reading this and go play it). There's shades of Foddy's viral hit QWOP in Baby Steps, along with the meditativeness of Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy, and a healthy dose of absurdism to boot.

Wishlist now on Steam

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JANET DEMORNAY IS A SLUMLORD (AND A WITCH)

If you've had any dealings with the Australian rental market over the last few years, then firstly we see you and we're sobbing alongside you. Secondly, there's a game coming out this year that will definitely strike a chord.

Janet DeMornay is a Slumlord (and a witch), developed by Australian duo Fuzzy Ghost, sees you setting up a queer-friendly share house in a Sydney terrace. There's mould, creaking pipes, decaying fixtures – the classic rental experience. There's also your landlord, Janet DeMornay, who just wants to pop by, why won't you let her pop by, it's her house, she has a right to know what you are doing in there, answer the door, why won't you let her in?

From pedestrian beginnings blossoms an unsettling escape-room horror experience shot through with dark humour about the realities of tenant life in a society geared towards landlords. Special marks go to Janet's South African accent, a detail that will send chills down the spines of anyone who has tangoed with signing a lease in Sydney.

Wishlist now on Steam

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THE PLUCKY SQUIRE

For many of us, children's storybooks were our first taste of the hero's journey. The Plucky Squire, by Brisbane studio All Possible Futures, puts a meta spin on these early forays into the battle between good and evil.

You're Jot, the titular plucky squire who has been kicked out of his book by the villain Humgrump. And when I say 'kicked out', I mean literally - the protagonist is flung from the 2D pages into the surrounding 3D world. This obviously won't do, so you set out to reclaim your place as the hero.

Jot's ability to leave the page gives the game scope to craft satisfying puzzles that involve manipulating the book itself, as well as setting off on genre-bending adventures with the objects on the surrounding desk. Mix in a truly delightful design aesthetic, and you've got a perfect experience for gamers both young and young-at-heart.

Wishlist now on Steam

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LITTLE KITTY, BIG CITY

If you're a diehard dog person, you might want to skip to the next entry in this list. If, on the other hand, you're a feline fan, then the perfect game for you is set to release this year.

The title Little Kitty, Big City has a does-what-it-says-on-the-tin straightforwardness – you are a small kitten who has tumbled from your owner's apartment into the streets of a big city. You have to make your way back home, an adventure that involves dealing with a plethora of other urban wildlife, completing tasks and generally being a cat. You'll hop in and out of boxes, pounce on birds, chase your tail, knock items off shelves and ledges, and wiggle into nooks and crannies to discover the many secrets of the neighbourhood.

At this point, it would be remiss of us not to mention the hats. You can collect a number of different hats for your kitten to wear, from froggy bonnets to tiny top hats to sunflower manes. Honestly, that alone should have you smashing the wishlist button.

Wishlist now on Steam

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THE RISE OF THE GOLDEN IDOL

It was only two years ago that The Case of the Golden Idol was released, a sleeper indie hit that saw you solving strange mysteries about a gold statue and the chaos and corruption it caused during the 18th century. Now the Latvian team Colour Gray Games are back with a sequel, something that should put a smile on the dial of every pseudo-sleuth.

Set during the swinging 1970s, The Rise of the Golden Idol has you hunting once more for the elusive relic, which has seemingly disappeared since the first game. Against a backdrop of disco, fax machines and TV chat shows, you'll need to solve 15 mysteries to crack the case, using the tried-and-tested 'madlibs'-style mechanic from the first game.

The developers are playing things close to their chest in terms of details about the game, but it's worth noting the graphics, which have seen a big upgrade while maintaining the essence of pixelated grotesqueness of the first one.

Wishlist now on Steam   

Published on February 23, 2024 by Jonathon Valenzuela
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