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The 14 Most Anticipated Indie Games of 2022

2022 may be one of the best years for independent games yet. Here are 14 highly anticipated indies you’ll want to keep an eye on.

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Planet of Lana

The Most Exciting Indie Games to Watch in 2022

As 2021 comes to a close, it’s mind-boggling to reflect on just how many quality indie games released over the course of the year. Death’s Door took critics and audiences alike by storm, delivering one of the most polished packages of 2021 (and one of the best soundtracks). Meanwhile, more niche titles like Inscryption and Toem proved that there’s still plenty of room for experimentation and innovation across genres. From deck builders to roguelikes to metroidvanias and everything in-between, there was at least one memorable release that catered to that type of player.

Looking ahead at 2022, however, it’s clear that the bar is continuing to be raised. Be it games from established names like Drinkbox Studios and WayForward, or newcomers like Sabotage Studios and FoamPunch, it’s hard to remember a time where there’s been as much independent development power on display as there is right now. Arranged in alphabetical order for your reading pleasure, here are 14 of the most anticipated indie games of 2022.

Note: This list is only featuring titles confirmed (formally or informally) to be releasing in 2022, so ever-elusive picks like Sports Story, she dreams elsewhere, and Hollow Knight: Silksong have been omitted.

Afterlove EP
Image courtesy of Fellow Traveller

Afterlove EP

Fellow Traveller has been on a roll when it comes to consistently publishing strong story-driven indies, and Afterlove EP looks to continue the trend. Taking place in the capital of Indonesia, Afterlove EP is about the incredibly complex process of trying to move on after the death of a lover. Players will swap between city exploration and rhythm gameplay, all the while making choices that will lead protagonist Rama down branching narrative paths. Not only does developer Pikselnesia seems to be approaching the subject in an emotionally sensitive manner, but Afterlove EP also looks to be one of the rare chances to experience Jakarta through the lens of a fully Indonesian team, including visuals from local artist Soyatu and a soundtrack by the Indonesian band L’alphalpha. Tears will surely be shed when Afterlove EP releases this summer on Switch and PC.

Card Shark
Image courtesy of Devolver Digital

Card Shark

There are very few ideas in gaming that haven’t been attempted yet, but Card Shark may just be the first of its kind. Instead of being proficient at playing cards, Card Shark is all about deceiving your opponents and getting away with it. Deck switching, false shuffles, using reflective surfaces to peek at the cards of others; if you can think of a way to cheat, Card Shark seems to be incorporating it. All of this is presented in an 18th-century French wrapper where master gamblers are able to move up in society if they play their cards right. Players will be able to bet it all when Card Shark releases in 2022 on Switch and PC.

Little Devil Inside
Image courtesy of Neostream Interactive

Little Devil Inside

Little Devil Inside has been one of the most anticipated indies ever since its eye-catching debut during the PlayStation 5 reveal event. Originating as a Kickstarter project back in 2015, it’s a unique exploration-focused title that follows a courageous adventurer and his butlers (?) as they brave varying conditions and threats to complete quests and make it home safely. The drastic shift between the toy-like art style of the overworld and the rather stunning up-close presentation may take some getting used to, but its recent showing at Sony’s October 2021 State of Play hints at some serious potential. If this reel on PlayStation’s official Instagram is to be believed, Little Devil Inside should hit winter 2022 on PS5, PS4, and PC.

Nobody Saves the World
Image courtesy of Drinkbox Studios

Nobody Saves The World

Drinkbox Studios cemented themselves as one of the most capable indie teams in the industry with their severely underrated Guacamelee! series, so it’s no surprise that their newest undertaking, Nobody Saves The World, is just as creative and mechanically sound. It’s a unique take on action RPGs that juggles player transformation, progression, and quest management in a way that constantly delivers little dopamine hits through a steady stream of accomplishments, similar to the Forza Horizon series. The more quests you complete as one form, the faster you’ll unlock both more abilities for that form as well as entirely new transformations. The fact that each transformation has its own gameplay mechanics is staggering, and was likely part of the reason why Nobody Saves The World was pushed to an early 2022 release window on Xbox and PC.

OlliOlli World
Image courtesy of Private Division

OlliOlli World

Aside from the excellent Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1+2 remake in 2020, there’s really been a void when it comes to great skateboarding titles. Enter OlliOlli World, the natural evolution of the fantastic OlliOlli games originally released on the PS Vita. The masterful team at Roll7 is going all out for the next title in their acclaimed series, including full character customization, branching paths, refined controls, actual characters, and a completely new art style that ushers the franchise into the modern age. Heck, there are even side quests to tackle for those looking to test their skills. OlliOlli World launches on all platforms February 8th.

Planet of Lana
Image courtesy of Thunderful Publishing

Planet of Lana

Planet of Lana is subtle and unsuspecting, but it made its way onto larger and larger stages in 2021. Perhaps the most high-profile third-party game on Thunderful’s slate, Planet of Lana is a beautiful side-scrolling adventure about one child’s journey to keep her planet healthy and beautiful. Though specific gameplay details are still under wraps, watching the lush, hand-painted vegetation gently sway with life is simply breathtaking, as is seeing that juxtaposed with the disturbing metallic invaders threatening the planet. How satisfying the puzzle elements and sci-fi narrative will be remains to be seen, but from an art and music standpoint alone, Planet of Lana will be worth experiencing when it releases this year on Xbox and PC.

River City Girls 2
Image courtesy of WayForward

River City Girls 2

The first River City Girls kicked off a small beat ‘em up resurgence back in 2019. Its vibrant pixel art, stellar soundtrack, and charismatic dual protagonists helped it stand out from the larger Kunio-kun franchise and cemented it as a spin-off with staying power. Since then the beat ‘em up space has gotten significantly more competitive, and developer WayForward seems to be going all-out to ensure River City Girls 2 is a satisfying sequel. This means new locations, multiple routes and secret areas, a deeper combat system, four additional playable characters from the start (including newcomers Marian and Provie), and the return of Megan McDuffee to compose the soundtrack. Between River City Girls 2, TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge, and Young Souls, 2022 should be one of the best years for the beat ’em up genre in a long time. River City Girls 2 is slated to be out on all platforms this summer.

Sea of Stars
Image courtesy of Sabotage Studio

Sea of Stars

Out of all the titles shown in Nintendo’s relatively underwhelming December Indie World Showcase, Sea of Stars stood out like a shining beacon of hope. This was the first significant look at the game we’d seen in quite a long time, and it showed spectacularly. Gorgeous art bursting with detail and color; a turn-based combat system that incorporates timing mechanics à la classic Paper Mario; fun side activities like fishing and cooking; and all of this to the plucky backing of legendary composer Yasunori Mitsuda. Then there are the things we didn’t see, such as god-sent features like no random encounters and no necessary grinding. All of this is culminating in one of the most promising RPGs of the last few years. Sea of Stars will hit all platforms when 2022’s other star-based RPG does: in the holiday season.

Shredders
Image courtesy of FoamPunch

Shredders

Just like how OlliOlli World is filling the gaps of the skateboarding video game market, Shredders is looking to do the same for snowboarding games. Pitched as more of a sim than an arcade experience (or rather, more Skate than Tony Hawk Pro Skater), Shredders is aiming to be a showcase for next-gen with realistic snow physics, beautiful and expansive mountain vistas, and a custom animation system dedicated to proper movement when carving up the slopes. Not much is known about the campaign except that there is one, but multiplayer is confirmed, as is the involvement of several pro snowboarders. This love letter to classic snowboarding series like Amped is expected to drop on Xbox and PC in February 2022.

Sifu
Image courtesy of Sloclap

Sifu

Following the somewhat mixed reception of their last release, Absolver, Sloclap went back to the drawing board and returned with what is easily the most hyped indie of the first half of the year. Sifu is mechanically similar to Absolver but structurally different; it’s a martial arts title that puts combat first while paying homage to classic Kung Fu tales. On the hunt to avenge his family’s murder, the young Kung Fu student at the heart of the story will fight his way across the city to find their killers. If incapacitated, players will be able to resurrect him…for a price. Every resurrection makes him older and stronger, but also shrinks his health bar. It’s a fascinating system that plays right into the “old powerful martial arts master” trope and incentivizes playing smart instead of approaching fights haphazardly. If the combat is as satisfying as the previews say, Sifu might just be a must-play when it hits PC and PlayStation systems on February 8th.

Somerville
Image courtesy of Jumpship

Somerville

If you’d been hungering for more Inside-like experiences, chances are your eyes lit up when Somerville debuted on the Xbox E3 stage last year. The first project former Playdead CEO Dino Patti has worked on since his departure from the developer, Somerville looks like it’ll hit all those same atmospheric tones that made Limbo and Inside so thrilling and memorable. Players will be tasked with journeying through dank caverns, eerie seas, and dilapidated cityscapes in an attempt to make their family whole again following a massive alien invasion that’s ravaged the world. It’s unclear if family members can permanently die or if there are other variables like multiple endings, but what we’ve seen so far points to a heavily cinematic experience that should be worth playing firsthand when it releases on Xbox and PC later this year.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge
Image courtesy of Dotemu

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge

Shredder’s Revenge has a lot going for it. It’s being developed by Tribute Games, the masterminds behind the criminally underplayed Flinthook and Panzer Paladin. It’s being published by Dotemu, one of the most consistent publishers in the industry that’s most recently coming off the gem that is Streets of Rage 4. It’s also having its soundtrack composed by Tee Lopes, the genius behind the top-tier scores of Streets of Rage 4 and Sonic Mania. The culmination of all of this is a simple yet highly-polished tribute to the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles TV show and classic arcade cabinet. Featuring four-player co-op, a range of iconic TMNT characters, and a brand new story, Shredder’s Revenge should make a massive splash when it hits all platforms later this year.

Trek to Yomi
Image courtesy of Devolver Digital

Trek to Yomi

Samurai games have had something of a resurgence in the last few years between titles like Nioh, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, and Sucker Punch’s stellar Ghost of Tsushima. Trek to Yomi looks to continue this trend, albeit in a much more focused, stylized manner. Everything from the revenge-driven plot to the breathtaking black and white presentation is clearly inspired by classic samurai films, while the side-scrolling design gives developers Leonard Menchiari and Flying Wild Hog the bandwidth to get creative with its cinematic presentation. The combat is described as being “streamlined” so it remains to be seen just how engaging cutting into enemies is in and of itself, but if the goal is to allow players to essentially play through an interactive samurai film, Trek to Yomi should certainly scratch that itch when it releases on Xbox, PlayStation, and PC platforms in 2022.

Tunic
Image courtesy of Finji

Tunic

Tunic is the adorable little Zelda-like that’s been six years in the making. Deceptively cute despite its no-nonsense encounter design, Tunic captured hearts almost immediately due to a soft, warm visual style that’s still quite unlike anything else on the market. Thanks to recent demo events, we also now know that Tunic feels just as good as it looks, with weighty character movement and one of the best dodge rolls I’ve ever experienced in any game. Careful enemy balancing results in tough but fair combat that’s satisfying and thrilling to execute. Though it’s been a long time coming, the light is at the end of the tunnel; Tunic will finally hit Xbox platforms and PC on March 16th.

Honorable Mentions

Brent fell head over heels for writing at the ripe age of seven and hasn't looked back since. His first love is the JRPG, but he can enjoy anything with a good hook and a pop of color. When he isn't writing about the latest indie release or binging gaming coverage on YouTube, you can find Brent watching and critiquing all manner of anime. Send him indie or anime recommendations @CreamBasics on Twitter.

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Matt

    January 3, 2022 at 12:50 am

    Stray?

    • Brent Middleton

      January 3, 2022 at 2:35 pm

      Stray looks cute for sure! Looking forward to learning more about it.

  2. Santiago

    January 4, 2022 at 9:01 am

    Hollow knight silksong?

    • Brent Middleton

      January 4, 2022 at 9:33 am

      I specifically address Silksong in the introduction of the article. It’s not confirmed for 2022 so it’s not included.

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