When people think about gaming, oftentimes it is a big budget AAA blockbuster title like Call of Duty or God of War that comes to mind. These games are the mainstream top of the line experiences that everybody knows and loves (or loves to hate) for a reason. Beneath that mainstream, however, is an underappreciated treasure trove of indies. Sure, every now and then you’ll have your Hades or Vampire Survivors that really stands out and garners the attention it deserves. But for every Celeste that sweeps up at an awards show, there’s a Cozy Grove that many gamers never realize they missed out on.
Personally, I have a soft spot for indies. I find that oftentimes these are the games that allow their teams — no matter how big or small — to really cut their teeth on creative passion projects that give players unique experiences that big budget studios can’t take the risk on developing. Dozens of these indies are released every week across all available platforms at all different price points, however, and it can be difficult to find a starting point on which ones are worth your time and money. From the cozy to the sinister, here are a few of the indies launching in March 2023 that are not only at the top of my wishlist but worthy of finding a spot on yours, as well.
Not for Broadcast
Not for Broadcast, developed by NotGames and published by tinyBuild, is an editor’s fever dream come to life. Players will need to carefully curate the National Nightly News in order to keep the audience entertained but the oppressive political regime at bay. Don’t forget the need to take lucrative, albeit shady, sponsorships in order to balance the books. The game embraces full motion video (FMV) clips that players cut and piece together to tell the story. Multiple endings and editing possibilities will keep you coming back for more. If you’re primarily a PC gamer already familiar with Not for Broadcast, you may be thinking “That came out a year ago!” However, the title is just now making the leap into the console space with a release on Xbox and Playstation alike on March 23. The console release will also line up with the release of the game’s first DLC, Life & Spooky.
Have a Nice Death
Source: Gearbox Publishing
While it has been in early access for quite some time now, this beautifully hand drawn 2D roguelike puts you, the player, in the shoes of the CEO of Death, Inc — a woefully dysfunctional corporation that is suffering from the weight of mismanagement by your underlings, The Sorrows. On the cusp of burnout, Death is left with no choice but to put on their cloak, pick their favorite scythe, and go show the Sorrows who is the real boss of the afterlife. Travel throughout the different floors of the underworld via elevator and cut down the minions until you reach the Sorrow where you will put your spells and weapons to the test. Careful, though, as this is a roguelike and should you be bested by one of your own minions you’ll have to start at the bottom of the corporation and work your way back through the eight different departments all over again. Have a Nice Death is developed by Magic Design Studios and published by Gearbox Publishing.
Have a Nice Death will be launching as a full release on PC and Switch on March 22.
Source: 2124 Publishing
Love doesn’t have to suck, even if you’re Dracula. In this comedic side-scrolling romancer developed by The Deep End Games and published by 2124 Publishing, players take on the broody and lovelorn Drac who is still recovering from a century old heartbreak only to find themselves thrust into a reality style dating show hosted by none other than the Grim Reaper. Customize your Drac’s body type and voice before setting across Transylvania’s sprawling countryside to take out baddies while recruiting assistance from monsters and ultimately romancing or eliminating the 12 fully-voiced supernatural contestants including the incredibly smashable P.S. Elle.
Romancelvania released March 7 on PC and consoles alike.
Source: Devolver Digital
Free Lives may have burst into indie game notoriety with Genital Jousting but their latest title could not be more of a pivot. Partnering with publishers from Devolver Digital again, Free Lives’ next game is a city “debuilder” titled Terra Nil. Unlike many city builder strategy simulators, the goal in Terra Nil is to turn decaying and polluted wastelands back into thriving, peaceful ecosystems. There is no endless cycle of building more and more to expand and grow your city. Instead, players are given a level that features a procedurally generated environment where they must utilize their resources to purify the soil, create biomes, clear pollutants, and reintroduce wildlife. The end goal here is peacefulness and serenity so that the player can leave behind a lush environment without a trace.
Terra Nil launches March 28 on PC. Preordering the game will give players a free deluxe upgrade which includes the digital artbook and soothing soundtrack. Free Lives will also be making a real world impact with Terra Nil, as a portion of the profits from the game will be donated to The Endangered Wildlife Trust.
Developed by Black Salt Games and published by Team17, Dredge is a seemingly wholesome fishing simulator where players explore various islands of The Marrows, a beautiful archipelago teeming with deep sea wildlife and a colorful cast of characters who all need your help. Fish for unique wildlife then head to a neighboring island to sell your catch and upgrade your boat so you can scour the ocean depths for its forgotten treasures. Some things should stay buried below the sea’s surface, however, and it won’t take long before you discover that this idyllic fishing adventure is harboring a story that’s quite a bit more sinister than you may have expected.
Dredge will be available across PC and consoles on March 30.
Cole Martin is a writer and artist living out in the absolute middle of nowhere who has a love for obscure indie games and also Call of Duty. You can find her posting occasionally on Twitter @eternalrhage