Day Of The Devs and its indie game festivities returned for this year's Summer Game Fest, once again proving that indie games are good and cool. Quite frankly, it was an hour or so of straight bangers ranging from mind-bending puzzlers to Pokémon-likes to emotionally charged shepherders.
While there's some familiar names in the pack like Hyper Light Drifter and Cocoon, there's a whole host of surprises in there. And that's thanks to the folks over at Double Fine Productions, iam8bit, and PlayStation's indie champion Greg Rice who put all of this together for us to enjoy each year. Below, I've rounded up all the announcements so you can absorb them through your eyeballs and let them rattle around your head until launch.
Wishes Unlimited, the folks behind Chicory: A Colorful Tale, are developing Beastieball, a turn-based volleyball RPG where you coach a team of adorable beasts. You're able to explore a "huge open world", recruit cute Beasties to your team, then challenge rival teams to a game of volleyball that's… not quite volleyball. Form a solid team and apparently your Beasties will become mates with each other, unlocking cool combo moves unique to their pairings. I like the look of the big racoon, personally, so they'll be straight on my roster. With Tem Tem, Cassette Beasts, and now Beastieball, the Pokémon-likes are really having a moment. This one comes out sometime in 2024.
Land & Sea, a new studio from the UK whose devs are best known for previously making Alto's Odyssey, are taking a step in a pretty different direction. Summerhill sees you play as a caped shepherd who rounds up sheep with their collie in tow. There's not much to go on right now, aside from the fact it looks bloomin' gorgeous and will definitely have a crushing emotional impact on us. I mean, it's a folktale about "life, loss, and livestock", so there's absolutely going to be tears shed as you lead some wooly boys through supernatural gates. No release date or year on this one, but you can find out more on Steam.
Italian Icelandic developer Evil Licorice are behind Retro Gadgets, a virtual gadget creation station where people can build, solder, code, and share their own gadgets with other people. What's really neat is the ability to take apart someone else's gadget to see how they've built it, or even learn from how they've coded things. I will be absolutely dreadful at this, but man, what an absolute treat for folks who enjoy a bit of electrical engineering. It's currently in early access over on Steam.
Die Gute Fabrik are behind Saltsea Chronicles, a beautiful seafaring adventure where you guide a crew of survivors through a post-flood world known as "Saltsea" to uncover the mystery of your captain's disappearance. You'll send folks on expeditions, explore islands, and have chats with crewmates and islanders which'll no doubt have lasting consequences. There's also a bespoke card game within it called Spoils. Damn, Saltsea Chronicles looks good and thankfully there's not too much longer to wait as it's out later this year. Katharine has more about it right here.
Aside from being yet another gorgeous looker, Hauntii is a hand-drawn action adventure where you play as a ghost who can haunt (take control) of all manner of things, whether that's to solve puzzles or defeat baddies. It plays a bit like a twin-stick shooter and over the course of the story, you'll piece together your past life before you were a spooky ghost. Alice0 clocked the game a little while ago, too, so it's great to see it get more momentum behind it. The game's due out in 2024 and you can read its Steam page for more info.
Montreal-based studio Impossible are making Été, which is French for "summer". You play as a budding painter who moves to Montreal for the summer and has the magical ability to slap paint about the gaff to give it colour. What's super impressive is that you're able to build a collection of things you've slapped paint on, then plop them onto a canvas to create bespoke watercolours for locals who'll commission you. Another one for the 2024 pile here, but its Steam page is up right now.
Inspired by Tony Hawk-era skating games, Helskate is a skateboarding roguelite where your ultimate aim is to defeat the skate gods of Vertheim. As with all roguelites/likes, you'll get stronger by dying, except that getting stronger involves learning new tricks that'll buff your attacks or unlocking tattoos to permanently upgrade abilities. I'm all up for an interesting twist on both skaters and roguelites, so count me interested. This one's coming out in early access in early 2024.
We'd covered Cart Life's return to Steam earlier this year, but hey, it's still nice to see it. It's a retail sim from 2010 which features three street vendors who struggle to make ends meet. Richard Hofmeier removed the game from Steam almost a decade ago, and now he's working together with AdHoc Studio to update the game with new story bits, new art, and updated controls for release in 2024. Here's a link to its Steam page.
Katharine was impressed by Sad Owl Studios' perspective-based puzzler Viewfinder, when she had a sneaky peek of it at GDC earlier this year. And yep, it still looks fantastic going off the latest footage. The devs describe it as a bit of a mixture between Portal and Superliminal, in the way you're able to solve problems by inserting slices of one world into another. There's no release date just yet, but you can find out more on Steam.
Hyper Light Breaker
Developer Heart Machine dropped in to remind us that, yes, Hyper Light Breaker is still a co-op roguelite they're making, and yes, it's a follow up to Hyper Light Drifter. To be totally frank with you, I worry that the move to an open world 3D affair may dilute interest. That's not to say it doesn't have the potential to be fantastic, I just didn't feel much of anything as I watched what sure looked to be a video game, all right. Well, there's certainly more time for it to cook in the oven as there's no still no release date. In the meantime, you can keep an eye on it over on Steam.
We saw Cocoon's debut at Microsoft's notE3 conference last year and it went straight into our most anticipated games of 2023. You play as an insect lad who picks up different orbs and uses them to solve puzzles. But surprise! The orbs are home to entire worlds. The new footage shows off perhaps the fanciest dodge I've ever seen in a game, where the insect lad avoids a laser by simply phasing into an orb and back out again - sublime. It's got Limbo and Inside's lead gameplay designer Jeppe Carlsen, and Inside's audio programmer Jakob Schmid behind it, so you know it's in safe mandibles. It's due out later this year on Steam.
There's always one for the anime-likers isn't there? (of which, I am one). Eternights comes courtesy of Studio Sai and is a singleplayer RPG mingled with a dating sim. You play as a fella with a glowy arm that can transform into a sword, and you'll fight monsters using said arm, in what looks like some pretty flashy hack n' slash combat. In between all the scrapping, you've got a "calendar system" and visual novel style interactions where cute anime girls blush and lean back nervously on school furniture. It's coming in September on Steam.
Again, we've known about puzzler Henry Halfhead for a little while now, but some new footage showed off how he goes about his daily routine: with great difficulty. He makes his bed by possessing duvets and pillows, then runs a bath by possessing a rubber duck he's found in his toilet's cistern?! Again, no release date for this one, but you can have a peek at its Steam page for more.
Mars First Logistics
Another pick from our most anticipated games of 2023 list, Mars First Logistics was first revealed all the way back in 2021 as a physics-based, open world sim where you build contraptions to shuttle awkwardly shaped objects around Mars. Well, nothing has changed on that front besides it being further along in development and looking like an absolute must for fans of anything builder related. It's coming to Steam early access this month.
Developed by Transylvania-based dev Stoneskip, Simpler Times sees you step into the shoes of Taina as she prepares to move out of her childhood home and begin a new chapter. The game takes place entirely in her bedroom, as you take photos, browse books, and solve puzzles. It looks remarkably chill and is coming to PC in 2024.
NotE3 and Summer Game Fest 2023 is over for another year. You can find out all the latest news by visiting our E3 2023 hub, or you can catch up with our round-up posts of everything that was announced at Summer Game Fest, the Xbox Games Showcase, the PC Gaming Show, Day Of The Devs, and our top highlights from the Wholesome Direct.