As always, we wanted to spotlight the indie games in 2023 that caught our attention and our hearts. To round up our top indie games of 2023, we looked at writers’ personal favorites as provided by their lists and scores across our site to pick our top 15. Whether it’s roguelikes, the occult, or just something cozy, we’ve got you covered.
To make our top indie games of 2023 list, the game had to have had a release in the calendar year of 2023 – this does not include ports, only games having their first outing for general audiences. While the publishers could be from AA publishing studios with indie arms, an independent or small team of developers must have developed each game on this list. Without further ado, here are our top indie games of 2023.
Developer: Toge Productions
Publisher: Toge Productions, Chorus Worldwide, Serenity Forge
“Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus and Butterfly succeeds in what it primarily sets out to do. It gives the player a chance to peek into an intriguing world where people mingle with members of fantasy races and shows what their lives are like as they stop in at the coffee shop that is always open when they need it to be. And while it has its bumps, just like the lives it explores, the journey is ultimately worth it.” – Charles Hartford
14. Cobalt Core
Developer: Rocket Rat Games
Publisher: Brace Yourself Games
“Cobalt Core provides a memorable story with fun characters, tense gameplay moments, and a payoff that is nearly unmatched. Despite the characters’ best attempts to escape the loop, it’s a game that you should play over and over.” – Eddie de Santiago
Developer: Strange Scaffold
Publisher: Strange Scaffold
“El Paso, Elsewhere offers a remarkable fusion of narrative depth and engaging gameplay. It’s a testament to Xalavier Nelson Jr.‘s unique approach to game development, and despite a few minor flaws, it stands as a memorable entry in the world of neo-noir shooters that infuses supernatural elements. As James Savage inches closer to the climactic showdown with Draculae, players too will be inexorably drawn deeper into the dark and introspective heart of this captivating tale. The tragic love story at its core, exceptional voice acting, and varied combat make it a game worth experiencing for those seeking a narrative-driven gaming experience that goes beyond the ordinary.” – Adrian Ruiz
Developer: Black Salt Games
“Dredge is an indie horror game that teeters on the edge of cozy and unsettling. What starts as a seemingly simple fishing game slowly starts to unravel into a deeply engaging mystery. It is an atmospheric marvel that allows players to feel a part of the world as everything unfolds around them, and the attention to detail makes it all so much more satisfying.” – Kyle Foley
11. Ghostrunner 2
Developer: One More Level
Publisher: 505 Games
“In many ways, Ghostrunner 2 is a massive step up from its predecessor. Bigger setpieces, new locations, and the introduction of the motorbike led to the creation of an even more epic experience. Plus, adding new challenge levels within each map adds a good amount of replayability for people who want more out of this highly linear experience. But the high highs, like the epic bosses, are brought down by odd pacing issues through some of the larger open area levels and between-level chats, which slows the game down to a snail’s pace for some not-so-needed story moments. Regardless, Ghostrunner 2 is a fun time that you will not want to miss.” – Mick Abrahamson
Developer: Visai Games
Publisher: Visai Games
“By the end of the game, I found myself wishing there were more. More recipes. More expansion on anxious situations. They were brief but served the purpose of telling the timeline of a bigger picture. It gave me space to reflect on similar scenarios, being a child of refugee parents. Looking at lost recipes and trying to restore them, I would find myself thinking about them. I thought about meals my mother would make that were unique to our culture and how challenging it was to tackle new cultural norms and customs. While players often reconvene in the kitchen, there is so much more Venba has for its players to experience.” – Katherine Kong
9. Chants of Sennaar
Publisher: Focus Entertainment
“Chants of Sennaar bursts with visual richness and vibrancy that equals its gameplay. While strikingly catching in its creative design, it smartly combines puzzles with cultural immersion, where players decipher various languages through observation. Each new area explored presents a different color scheme representing its environment, which continues to awe and challenge the player. Glyphs, movements, and any previously learned languages build off one another that create a deep world building that feels gratifying in understanding this unknown culture you awaken to that will have players feeling like a linguistic and cultural anthropologist.”
Publisher: Devolver Digital
“The beautiful pixel art style, with its choice of bewitching color palette, carries across in its narration and through its card designs. With its cast of diverse witches and the conversations held, I couldn’t help but desire more. I wanted to see beyond the walls that Fortuna has had to endure for two centuries. The life and community of witches felt entirely intriguing. More so, once the story starts to lean into the politics surrounding the coven.
The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood crafts a story that encapsulates the feelings of being restricted while nudging players towards a place that may feel uncomfortable yet relatable.” – Katherine Kong
Publisher: Kepler Interactive
“Tchia was a grand adventure that I couldn’t put down. Exploring these islands renewed my love of deep and well-realized open-world exploration games, all thanks to Soul-Jumping. Exploring the numerous land, sky, and sea creatures made what could be a long hike a joyous adventure… All highlighting culture in a package you can tell was made with all the love, reverence, and appreciation by the developers for their home. Tchia isn’t for everyone. But for those who give it the time, you’ll find one of the most heartfelt stories told in one of the most beautiful locations made for a video game.” – Mick Abrahamson
Developer: Bedtime Digital Game
Publisher: Bedtime Digital Game
“Figment 2: Creed Valley never tries to get too philosophical or preachy, which is another thing I appreciated. Trying to tell a story of optimism and hope runs the risk of appearing fake at best, but I never once felt anything but authenticity. Stress, anxiety, and fear all play just as vital a role as hope and determination, and that balance is critical to making a game like this work so well. The surreal art direction helps bring those emotions to the forefront, and the music completes this perfect combination.
I was genuinely moved by my experience with Figment 2: Creed Valley in a way few games have ever moved me. I was expecting a cheesy, overly optimistic tale, but instead felt like I was diving deeper into my own mind.” – Kyle Foley
Publisher: Toge Productions
“A Space for the Unbound gently reminds us of the value and importance of human connection through our words with dream-like, mindful storytelling. It’s a slow burn that will have you sit with your feelings. Maybe even reflecting on people in your life closest to you or those in mere passing. Perhaps even you as the player. It is a story well worth experiencing until the very end.” – Katherine Kong
Developer: Black Tabby Games
Publisher: Black Tabby Games
“Slay the Princess is a straightforward choice-driven visual novel that slowly breaks at the seams revealing a rabbit hole of possibilities that prey on player anxieties and paranoia. Its seemingly simple approach crafts an experience that will feel maddening and holding. Trust the Narrator and aim to complete the task or side with the Princess and trust her words? The result may not be the storybook ending you’d expect.” – Katherine Kong
Publisher: Armor Games Inc.
“At first glance, In Stars and Time seems like a simple turn-based RPG. It uses very upfront rock-paper-scissors combat mechanics that all takes place in one dungeon. But the game becomes so much more through its amazing story, worldbuilding, memories mechanic, visuals, and explicit placement of everything in this self-contained world. Its story of acceptance, identity, what a family means to anyone, and societal/self-imposed pressures is beautiful and masterfully told. While the gameplay can sometimes get repetitive, it finds ways to keep you involved. In other words, do not miss out on In Stars and Time.” – Mick Abrahamson
Developer: Geometric Interactive
Publisher: Annapurna Interactive
“If you’re like me, you will not be able to put Cocoon down. Every step forward is followed by a “one more section” until you beat the whole thing. Where Cocoon shines is in its creativity. Bosses, level design, and use of puzzles, all through its use of orbs, are extremely fun. Plus, every section ends without overstaying its welcome. The true fun, though, is how the game never feels too difficult yet never tells you what to do. You earn every “a-ha” moment, and for that, Cocoon has raised the bar to be the best puzzle game of the modern generation.” – Mick Abrahamson
1. Sea of Stars
Developer: Sabotage Studio
Publisher: Sabotage Studio
“While the world the story travels through is rich and beautiful, the animations that depict the characters’ journeys and battles bring much of the personality of the cast to life. How each character shimmies along narrow ledges, balances on tight ropes, and leaps through the air builds up their personality. Every decision about the cast, every boisterous laugh or shoulder-shaking chuckle, feels intentional and deliberate to further shape each personality in the game.
Sabotage has crafted a unique and engaging game that any fan of the genre will enjoy playing. Its polish and innovation make it not only a Game of the Year contender but also makes it deserving of being added to the pantheon of indie games’ greatest right up there with the likes of Celeste and Hades.” – Charles Hartford
So that’s it for our top indie games of 2023! It’s been a long cozy, adventurous, action-packed, and so much more year in indie games. Picking our top indie games of 2023 wasn’t easy, so if we missed one of your favorites this year, let us know on social media: @butwhythopc.
Synopses for the Top Indie Games of 2023 were taken from our writers’ previous reviews.