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Essays 28 December 2023, 16:00

2023's Best Obscure Hits and Hidden Gems - A List of Year's Best Indie Games

Games were, are and will be missed – and in a year as loaded with big hits as 2023, their number is greater than usual. Let's try to commemorate at least some of the "gems" that had fewer people play them than they deserved.

Table of Contents

Some games can be put into the category of " unnoticed and unloved" games. This category was created by us for the purpose of this text, with the aim of presenting you with a compilation of games that didn't necessarily gain popularity but are definitely "gems" of 2023.

Of course, trying to discuss all the titles released in the last twelve months is doomed to failure. In short, there will likely be a shortage of one or two – or maybe five or ten – gems that shouldn't be missing. Therefore, feel free to use the comment section to add to this list.

One more word about methodology. The main criterion for selecting games for this text was the number of reviews on Steam – I omitted everything that received more than a few hundred opinions. So don't expect to find titles like Dredge, Jusant, Terra Nil, Season: A Letter to the Future, or Cocoon here. This is pretty much mainstream among indie games and I wouldn't consider them overlooked. If you want to find out more about the games mentioned in this article, and you consider the information I provided here as insufficient (even after watching the trailers), I encourage you to click on the blue hyperlinks. You'll be taken to our game encyclopedia, where you'll find much more detailed descriptions (and other materials) waiting for you.

Thirsty Suitors

  1. What is it: a mix of narrative adventure and RPG with a bit of... skateboard?
  2. Platforms: PC, PS5, XSX/S, PS4, XOne, Switch
  3. Game Pass: yes
  4. Release date: November 2
  5. Number of reviews on Steam: 98 (98% positive)
  6. Average rating (via OpenCritic): 79% (25 reviews)
  7. Price on Steam: $29.99

I will start with a game that shouldn't be here at all. I don't understand how, despite having strong support from Annapurna Interactive's publishing power, impressive trailers showcased at major industry events, and a demo version available for an extended period, such a unique game failed to receive even a hundred positive reviews on Steam in a month and a half.

What is Thirsty Suitors? To quote one of the reviews – "a stunning, chaotic, aesthetic, comical, intense, heart-rending, and heartwarming rollercoaster ride with a complex narrative." The trailer must tell the rest. If that fails to make you love this game – or at least deeply intrigue you – then nothing else will. Unless you happen to have Game Pass...

Fall of Porcupine

  1. What is it: Perhaps the only heir to Night in the Woods that we have left
  2. Platforms: PC, PS5, XSX/S, PS4, XOne, Switch
  3. GamePass:
  4. Release date: June 15
  5. Number of reviews on Steam: 362 (80% positive)
  6. Average rating (via OpenCritic): 68% (26 reviews)
  7. Price on Steam: $19.99

In November, we only learned about The Glory Society studio suspending its activities and canceling the Revenant Hill project. So, the opportunity to get the only game that we could describe - for want of a better term - as a sequel to the slowly gaining cult classic Night in the Woods has been lost.

Fortunately, there's still an heir to the spiritual legacy of Night in the Woods – or an imitator, if you prefer. Just watching the trailer for Fall of Porcupine is sufficient to understand the source of inspiration for the German studio Critical Rabbit. From the graphic style, through pseudo-animal characters, to the way of conducting dialogues and the adventure-arcade gameplay in 2D side view – the similarities are undeniable.

So is this plagiarism? Fortunately, the similarities don't go too deep. Above all, the protagonist's perspective is different – he is also young, but deeply embedded in the midst of small-town realities, particularly in the role of a doctor in the local hospital. Although the developers of Fall of Porcupine didn't manage to infuse their work with the spark of genius that Night in the Woods has, it is still a title worth attention.

The Last Worker

  1. What is it: Anti-capitalist walking simulator... without walking
  2. Platforms: PC, PS5, XSX/S, Switch
  3. GamePass:
  4. Release date: March 30
  5. Number of reviews on Steam: 50 (78% positive)
  6. Average rating (via OpenCritic): 67% (27 reviews)
  7. Price on Steam: $19.99

Another game with powerful marketing support, which appears to be a significant failure in the market. Perhaps this is how it should be when we're discussing a title targeting capitalism. In any case, it's unexpected that a cast including names like Jason Isaacs and Zelda Williams didn't attract more attention to this game.

The Last Worker is officially classified as a "walking simulator," but instead of walking, players navigate a levitating platform equipped with various gadgets for working in a massive non-Amazon warehouse. Let's add stealth elements, and we'll get a game that's a bit more mechanically varied than, for instance, Invincible.

Figment 2: Creed Valley

  1. What is it: An enchanting and melodic action-adventure within the mind
  2. Platforms: PC, PS5, XSX/S, PS4, XOne, Switch
  3. Game Pass: yes
  4. Release date: March 9
  5. Number of reviews on Steam: 425 (97% positive)
  6. Average rating (via OpenCritic): 72% (17 reviews)
  7. Price on Steam: $25

Do the game Figment ring a bell? It's possible that you have this game in your collection, even if you're not aware of it, as it was being distributed on Steam and GOG in March (as part of promoting the sequel). If you have received this title, it's worth giving it a chance – and enjoying it enough to go for the sequel.

There's not much to say about the gameplay: it's just a simple mix of sword swinging and puzzle solving. The exceptional style, musicality, and intellectual atmosphere are what make Figment 2: Creed Valley stand out from the crowd of similar titles. Watch the trailer and you'll get the gist of it. However, if you don't understand, you have the option to play the free prologue on Steam.

The Troop

  1. What is it: Tactical second-war turn-based battles
  2. Platform: PC
  3. GamePass:
  4. Release date: October 18 (leaving Early Access)
  5. Number of reviews on Steam: 410 (89% positive)
  6. Average rating (via OpenCritic): – (2 reviews)
  7. Price on Steam: $39.99

I'm venturing into the unfamiliar territory of war strategies with this game, so I'll defer to our expert – here's his take on The Troop:

The Troop is one of several games this year that I was convinced to buy only after playing the demo version. The seemingly grey and crude turn-based strategy game about World War II turned out to be quite interesting. After leaving Early Access in October 2023, the game is packed with content – featuring four campaigns for German and Commonwealth forces fighting in Normandy, and a diverse list of units that includes many obscure vehicles.

Giant Flame Studio values the player's time, so in The Troop there's no distinction between shooting, moving, or retreating phases, as in some board games or the competitive Second Front. The gameplay is smooth, and long animations can be skipped by pressing space. RNG? Randomness has been reduced, consistent firing increases the percentage chance until the hit becomes guaranteed.

It's true that the battlefield in The Troop is flat and lacks serious caliber artillery support, but it is still one of the best war strategies of the year.

Intrigued? Because I am. I can only add that the demo is still available on Steam.

Christopher Mysiak

Christopher Mysiak

Associated with GRYOnline.pl since 2013, first as a co-worker, and since 2017 - a member of the Editorial team. Currently the head of the Game Encyclopedia. His older brother - a game collector and player - sparked his interest in electronic entertainment. He got an education as a librarian/infobroker - but he did not follow in the footsteps of Deckard Cain or the Shadow Broker. Before he moved from Krakow to Poznan in 2020, he was remembered for attending Tolkien conventions, owning a Subaru Impreza, and swinging a sword in the company's parking lot.


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