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Our favourite indie games from the 2024 summer games showcases

The team selects their favourite indie titles from the past week that deserve more attention

A number of headlines on other sites have declared this year's array of showcases as 'The Year of the Indie' – and they're not wrong.

The titles seen across the likes of Guerrilla Collective, Wholesome Direct, and Day of the Devs were superb, with indie titles even turning up during Summer Game Fest and Xbox Games Showcase. Across the week, there were dozens if not hundreds of titles from smaller or solo developers bringing original and innovative ideas to the table, or telling stories from underrepresented cultures, or simply tapping into a sense of fun and imagination that few AAA titles manage with their push for realism or intense action.

As with last year, the team wanted to highlight some of the titles we believe deserve more time in the spotlight given that most of the attention typically goes on the latest outing from established developers and franchises. Below are our picks from the summer games showcases of 2024.

Christopher Dring, Head of

I was very privileged to be out in LA during the period of summer games showcases, so I couldn't watch every one of the seemingly endless announcement videos that were put on. Apparently there were over 700 games shown, with 70+ games announced in a few of the events... There's the games industry's discoverability problem represented in a single weekend.

But while I couldn't watch all the videos, I was able to play a couple of the games. And there were two that I want to call out.

First is Fear the Spotlight by Cozy Game Pals, and being released under the new Blumhouse Games label. It's a game that looks like it was made in the late 1990s, with flat faces and low polygons, but doesn't play like one (thankfully). The demo portrays two friends, Vivian and Amy, as they sneak into a school to grab a Ouija board from the library and conduct a séance. Things go wrong, Amy disappears, and the world goes all Silent Hill.

The opening segment we played involved dodging school security cameras, finding a key to a locked door (Resident Evil-style), and then fleeing from an encroaching fire. The best part was the sound, which really ramped up the tension, with the wind and rain battering the windows outside and the footsteps echoing around the deserted school. The experience felt like a cross between Goosebumps and Silent Hill, which is right up my alley.

Sticking with the theme of game publishers who aren't traditionally games publishers, I also popped over to Netflix's chilled room at Play Days to check out its line-up. There was a lot of interesting stuff here, but the one that fascinated me the most was Harmonium: The Musical.

This is a sign-language puzzle game for mobile, and I played through a series of fantastical challenges where I had to convey or receive information without the benefit of sound. It was a delightful game by The Odd Gentlemen, and written by Matt Daigle. The game is inspired by some of the communication challenges that Daigle, and other deaf and hard-of-hearing people, have encountered. It was accessible, educational and fun and clearly a lot of love had gone into making it. It will be available to Netflix and Game Pass users, so hopefully a lot of people will give this one a go.

Marie Dealessandri, deputy editor

The more things change, the more they stay the same: my favourite indie game from the showcases this year is one I already mentioned last year: Neoludic Games' Tiny Bookshop is (still) sky high on my Steam wishlist and seeing it again at this year's Wholesome Direct was a joy.

While I wait for its 2025 release, being able to play the demo has been such a treat; gorgeous art, lovely writing, management aspects more advanced than I anticipated, plus the arduous task of recommending real-life books to customers… Sign me in, I'll be there in 2025, Tiny Bookshop!

But looking at new games that clicked with me this year, three really hit the spot: While Waiting, Winter Burrow, and Wanderstop. (The fact they all start with a W is pure coincidence, but I love an alliteration moment.)

Wanderstop is the latest project from Stanley Parable developer Davey Wreden, under his new studio Ivy Road. While this debut trailer initially lets you think this is just your typical cosy sim, it comes with a twist as lead character Alta deals with the complicated feelings stemming from her life changing from fighter/adventurer to tea shop employee.

Wanderstop looks like it'll tackle the paradoxical emotions of missing a life you don't have anymore even if you were happy to leave it, with some anger bubbling up in there that could lead to interesting gameplay and narrative. Either way, it was definitely my most favourite trailer of all the showcases and I can't wait to unravel this one.

Meanwhile, Winter Burrow describes itself as a "cosy take on the survival crafting genre," and appealed to me immediately due to its art style; it reminded me of illustrated books I read as a child and it instantly felt homely. The debut title of Pine Creek Games, it's expected to launch early next year.

Last but not least, Optillusion's While Waiting is my pick of the year when it comes to silly ideas that I'm so happy exist. I'm both very impatient and a completionist so a game where I have to wait to win? Excited to see my two personalities clash, bring it on!

Sophie McEvoy, staff writer

It may come as a shock to many, but there are games outside of Remedy that I want to play this year (... I say as I start my eighth playthrough of Alan Wake 2). There were plenty of indie games that piqued my interest during Summer Game Fest, and a dozen or so that went straight into my wishlist. But there were three titles in particular that I'm itching to play.

Beethoven and Dinosaur's Mixtape was the one that caught my eye the most, and can't come soon enough. A game with nostalgic vibes built around my favourite music coupled with skateboarding and a two-step animation style? Sign me up. And while it's said to be inspired by coming-of-age films of the '80s and '90s, the trailer makes it feel like its own thing which is refreshing to see.

There were a couple of games that pulled on my heartstrings, none more so than Nomada Studio's side-scroller Neva. The art style is gorgeous, and the idea of raising a wolf pup to become a forest deity has major Princess Mononoke vibes – especially with the heavy environmental storytelling. The art style took my breath away, and it's an adventure I can see myself being immersed in for hours and an emotional wreck by the end of it.

Lifeline Games' Deer & Boy also carries a similar tone, in which you play as a runaway young boy who meets a fawn that he tames to become his loyal companion. I can almost guarantee I will be crying my eyes out at that one, too.

One game that took me by complete surprise was Beyondthosehill's Albert Wilde: Quantum PI – not only in it being a game that truly encapsulates the film noir aesthetics I love, but that you play as an anthropomorphic cat. It's bizarre and absurd (in a good way), and hits the noir tones effortlessly. The gameplay also looks interesting, that being from a first-person perspective when walking around the streets of the city on the prowl for clues.

James Batchelor, editor-in–chief

Choosing standout indie titles was even tougher this year, but there were two from Day of the Devs that really grabbed my attention.

First up was Crescent Moon Games' Screenbound, a first-person puzzle platformer... although perhaps that's underselling what this game really is. As the player character explores 3D environments, they are also navigating a 2D version of their surroundings on a Game Boy-like device simultaneously. Objects and obstacles that appear on this device might be invisible in the 3D world, so you're essentially playing two games at once.

You have to see it in action to understand how it works (and even then, I imagine you need to play it to fully grasp the concept), but the idea is absolutely genius. Already I'm filing it away in my brain with Portal and Viewfinder; seminal titles that really make you think differently about how you're traversing your environment, the video game equivalent of thinking fourth-dimensionally. This is a day one purchase for me.

I'm a sucker for anything to do with time travel, so there was no way I was going to miss Soup Island's Hello Again, a top-down adventure that solo developer Dwight Davis described as "game about being trapped in the worlds cosiest time loop."

You play a postal worker raccoon (I'm pretty sure it's a raccoon) who delivers a package to an island, only to discover the island is stuck in a 12-hour time loop that affects everything from the tides to the weather. Only by exploring the island, solving puzzles and getting to know the natives will you work out how to escape. The hand-drawn art style is beautiful, but it's the free-form structure and island setting that appeals to me. This comes across as a wonderful mash of Majora's Mask and Link's Awakening (two of the best Zelda games), minus the dungeons and combat. Very much looking forward to this one.

Finally, a shout out to Magic Rain Studios' Ila: A Frosty Glide, which was shown during Wholesome Direct. Emanating similar delightful vibes to the wonderful A Short Hike, this follows a young girl who wants to become a witch and explores on her island home on a skate broom. A broom you skate on through the air. What more do you want?

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