If you make a purchase after following a link on our site, we may earn a small commission. Learn more.

Summer Game Fest: 10 Indie Games We Can’t Wait to See More Of

Best indie games from Summer Game Fest 2023

With the showcases of Summer Game Fest 2023 over and done with, we’re left to mull over everything we’ve seen over the last few days. There have been multiple showcases, all with great games to show: we’ve absorbed hundreds of trailers and some have stuck out to us more than others. As always, there’s been a fantastic showing of games from indie and small developers. And here, we’ve rounded up 10 indie games shown off during Summer Game Fest that we can’t wait to see more of.

Our favourite indie games from Summer Game Fest all caught our attention for very different reasons. We’ve got RPGs, horror games, thrillers, narrative-driven adventures and super-cosy, feel-good games. But these are the games that have left us eager to play them and find out more – and we think you should keep them on your radar, too.

Baby Steps

Who cares if Devolver doesn’t exactly count as ‘indie’ in this day and age. But the team of developers behind the ludicrous-looking Baby Steps certainly do. There’s talent here from Ape Out and QWOP, and the result is something that looks like Manual Samuel meets Elder Scrolls.

Baby Steps puts players in control of Nate, an “unemployed failson”. In other words, he’s a thirty-something still living in his parents’ basement. Nate can’t do anything for himself, not even walk, it would seem. And so as you move him through the world of Baby Steps you’ll be manually controlling each of his steps. Expect hilarious physics fails, rude NPCs to meet (if the trailer is anything to go by at least), and painstakingly slow treks through picturesque scenery.


Baladins

It’s the delightful art style of Baladins that really won us over. It’s adorable! Its characters look like stickers placed on top of a beautifully-designed 3D cartoon world. We could look at it all day. But more than that, the gameplay sounds right up our street, too. It’s an RPG inspired by classic tabletop games: a choose-your-own story game, if you will. The decisions you make will shape the outcome of your experience with the game, making multiple playthroughs sound not only possible, but appealing.

You can tackle Baladins completely by yourself, but if you’d rather play with others, it’s geared up for multiplayer too. You can team up locally or online, with a single gameplay session taking around one hour. There’s a demo of Baladins available right now on Steam if you want to test it out.


Critter Cove

  • Release date: PC early access in 2023; consoles in 2024
  • Platforms: PlayStation, Xbox and PC
  • Developer/publisher: Gentleman Rat & tinyBuild
  • Revealed during the PC Gaming Show

Critter Cove just has to be one of the prettiest games we’ve seen over the course of Summer Game Fest. Just look at its colourful, vibrant visuals: how can you see that and not instantly smile? Admittedly, the premise of Critter Cove isn’t all that original: finding yourself in a new island town, it’s your job to rebuild it, all the while making friends with the townsfolk. It’s very My Time at Sandrock, but honestly, can we ever really have enough cute life sim/adventure games?

The answer to that is no, and Critter Cove has lots going for it that elevates it above being another cookie-cooker farming sim type adventure. Its world is inhabited with animals for one, all of which you’ll meet and help settle into your town as it grows and thrives over time. There’s also plenty of exploration to be done around the game’s beautiful world, with mystical relics to be found along with shipwrecked critters to be rescued. We just can’t wait.


Dungeons of Hinterberg

Dungeons of Hinterberg doesn’t look like your typical game about traversing dungeons, and that’s perhaps why it’s stuck out to us. Its unique art style is just beautiful, and it paints a world that’s ripe to be explored. It helps that it’s based on the real-world location of the Austrian Alps: a place that’s equally as beautiful in real-life.

In Dungeons of Hinterberg, players will take on the role of Luisa. She’s a law trainee, but the corporate life has her feeling a little burnt out. And so, to take a break from the grind, she sets out to adventure to Hinterberg, a place filled with dungeons for her to explore and overcome. There are monsters to kill, and from what we’ve seen of the combat, it looks slick and fast-paced. But it’s the traversal and exploration that has us most excited about Dungeons of Hinterberg: snowboarding, zip-lining and mountain climbing is all on the cards.


Islands of Insight

We’re really surprised to see Behaviour Interactive’s name attached to Islands of Insight. Behaviour is most known for bringing Dead By Daylight to life, and this “shared world puzzle-adventure” couldn’t be further removed from the asymmetric horror of Dead By Daylight.

Regardless, this is a trailer we haven’t been able to get out of our heads. Not only does it look fantastic, but we’re captivated by the wealth of puzzles on offer. Islands of Insight intends to offer a “peaceful journey rich in exploration”. There will be no time pressure or no set way to approach how you play: it’s entirely down to you where you go and what you tackle first.

As for the “shared world” element? We’re not quite sure how that’s going to work, but you won’t be alone in Islands of Insight’s world. Other players will be sharing the space with you, and it sounds like you can either go it alone, or team up to work together.


My Friendly Neighborhood

  • Release date: 18th July 2023 (later on consoles)
  • Platforms: PlayStation, Xbox, PC
  • Developer/publisher: John Szymanski, Evan Szymanski & DreadXP
  • Revealed during the PC Gaming Show

My Friendly Neighborhood is Sesame Street meets first person horror. Sure, puppet scares aren’t all that original now thanks to Five Nights at Freddy’s, but there’s something about My Friendly Neighborhood that has us itching to jump in. In this first person survival horror, you take on the role of Gordon, a handyman working in a broadcast studio. The long-running children’s TV series My Friendly Neighborhood has just been taken off air… and, well, it seems the puppets haven’t taken lightly to it.

As Gordon, you’re going to have to protect yourself from a cast of puppets out for your blood, keeping yourself safe and solving puzzles as you go. We have absolutely no idea how the narrative of this barmy premise is going to pan out, but we’re excited to see more. There’s a demo available right now on Steam.


Nivalis

Of all the games we’ve seen at Summer Game Fest 2023, Nivalis is probably the one that’s intrigued us the most. It’s also the biggest unknown. It promises to be a huge open world life sim set in a neon-soaked cyberpunk city, and on paper, it sounds absolutely incredible. It’s also hugely ambitious, and so we’re curious to see how the finished product turns out. One thing is for sure, though: the absolutely gorgeous voxel graphics of the trailer were enough to win us over.

In Nivalis, you can be whoever you want to be and do whatever you want to do. How you spend your days and nights are up to you. Manage a restaurant or night club, and grow your business empire. Or be something of a nomad, spending your days exploring the city, heading out onto the water and going fishing. If you can afford it, buy your own home and decorate it however you like. Make friends, and maybe fall in love.


Simpler Times

The impression that Simpler Times’ trailer gave us was a combination of Unpacking and What Remains of Edith Finch: a game of adventure, exploration, and sorting. And honestly, that sounds absolutely fantastic.

Simpler Times tells the story of Taina over the course of four seasons, exploring her life over the last 10 years. The entire game takes place from her childhood bedroom as you revisit moments from her past and explore the person she’s becoming. Take photos, browse Taina’s belongings, solve puzzles and more. The key here is that Simpler Times is designed to be relaxing and contemplative: you’re never up against a timer, and there’s no way to fail. Sign us right up.


Still Wakes the Deep

We only needed to see the developer name “The Chinese Room” to get excited. The developer of Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is back with another narrative experience, but this time, it’s upping the horror. Still Wakes the Deep is set on an oil rig off the coast of Scotland. If the image of thick fog and the murky, choppy North sea isn’t enough to send shivers down your spine, perhaps the premise of the game will.

You see, in Still Wakes the Deep, you take on the role of a lone rig worker. Something terrible has happened: all lines of communication to the rest of the world have been cut off, and there’s no way out. And, it seems, you’re no longer alone: something horrifying has come aboard. We absolutely cannot wait to see more of this, and we’re not sure how we’re going to contain ourselves while 2024 rolls around.


Tiny Bookshop

Outside of writing about video games, we sometimes dream of running our own bookshop. It seems absolutely idyllic: live amongst books all day, smelling their musky jackets, smiling at customers and talking about the latest bestsellers. Ah, perfection. Alas, it’s just a dream, and we’re instead trapped behind our keyboard prisons, writing about games forevermore so you, dear reader, have something to look at on the internet. Nevermind: enter Tiny Bookshop, a game about running, well, a tiny bookshop in a quaint seaside town.

It’s a management game – you’ll need to ensure your bookshop thrives – but there’s also a heavy focus on narrative. You’ll explore the town to collect second-hand books and decorations for your shop, and befriend the town’s eclectic cast of characters. You’ll also spend time decorating your shop, arranging your stock and making sure everything is just right. It sounds perfect.

Editor in chief // Kim's been into video games since playing Dizzy on her brother's Commodore 64 as a nipper. She'll give just about anything a go, but she's got a particular soft spot for indie adventures. If she's not gaming, she'll be building Lego, reading a thriller, watching something spooky or... asleep. She does love to sleep.