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The Best Games You Might Have Missed In 2023

We’re only a few short days away from 2024 but before we close out the gaming year what were some of your favourites? We can unanimously agree that Baldur’s Gate 3 was a masterpiece. And that The Legend of Zelda is heading off in amazing directions. But 2023 had an amazing selection of other smaller games that might have missed out on some of this hype. We recently played A Highland Song which was a short game but was a lovely visit to the Scottish highlands. Other games that we enjoyed this year were Chants of Sennaar, Sea of Stars and Coral Island. Given the nature of a smaller indie studio, they will have less marketing budget than that of the bigger studios so you might be more likely to miss out on some of these excellent titles.

On this list, we’re shouting out all the games you might have missed in 2023, but definitely shouldn’t have! On a side note, this is going to be my last post of the year so Happy 2024 everyone!

 

Goodbye Volcano High

KO_OP

In this coming-of-age narrative game, Fang is just figuring out life and deciding where they want to go when they get the news – the world is about the explode. Fang attends Volcano High with a group of other Dinosaurs trying to survive their final year of school while a giant meteor heads toward Earth.

Goodbye Volcano High is a story-driven, choice-based cinematic adventure game about personal growth, acceptance, and the power of community. What will you do at the end of the world? Your choices shape who Fang becomes, and determine your gameplay experience. Discover what the future holds as you play through your final year at Volcano High. Get close with friends, family, acquaintances, frenemies, crushes (crushes!?!). Figure out how you’re gonna be there for your loved ones when it matters most. If you’re a fan of emotional, somewhat dark, immersive animation like Bojack Horseman, then you’re going to want to get into Goodbye Volcano High.

Platforms: PlayStation 5|4, PC – Steam

 

Cassette Beasts

Bytten Studio

If you love Pokemon then you’re going to want to check out Cassette Beasts. More than just another creature-collecting sim, Cassette Beasts changes the classic formula. With the standard being a double battle and the fact that you’re able to now transform into a creature and battle alongside your beasts. You’ll also be able to combine your strengths with your beast to get great synergy between attacks. Cassette Beasts has a flood of new mechanics that don’t just stop there. There’s a pretty unique elemental system that uses chemistry to apply extra buffs or debuffs alongside your attack, and even alter your opponent’s elemental type. Not just combat you should also enjoy the open-world RPG and there are plenty of sidequests and puzzles to keep you entertained for hours.

Platforms: Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC – Steam

 

Chants of Sennaar

Rundisc

This is one of those games that has slipped under the mainstream radar but is way too good to miss. At its heart Chants of Sennar is a game about communication and fits nicely in the narrative-puzzle genre. But it’s much more than that, in Chants of Sennaar you play the role of a translator making their way up a tower. Divided since the dawn of time, the Peoples of the Tower no longer speak to each other. But it is said that one day, a Traveler will find the wisdom to break down the walls and restore the Balance. 

Explore and discover an enthralling world in a colourful, poetic setting inspired by the myth of Babel, where men have forgotten their past. Travel the endless steps of a prodigious labyrinth, uncover an ominous truth and unveil the mysteries of this fascinating universe where ancient languages are both the lock and the key. You will encounter different people on the tower who each have their own language. You learn each language and then work as a moderator between the different tribes.

Observe, listen, and decipher ancient languages in a fascinating universe inspired by the myth of Babel.

Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC – Steam

 

Jusant

Don’t Nod

If you’re a big fan of the Life is Strange series then you probably follow their developers – Don’t Nod and would not have missed Jusant. However, if you have and you’re a fan of peaceful cosy games, then this is your sign to check it out. Jusant is a simple game about climbing, climbing a massive tower to be specific. Along the way, you’ll reach various checkpoints, explore the remnants of civilization as well as solve some creative puzzles. The whole premise doesn’t feel like it should be able to grip you as hard as it does, but Jusant definitely is able to.

Enjoy meditative vibes in Jusant, an action-puzzle climbing game. Scale an immeasurably tall tower and ascend to new heights alongside your watery companion. Master your climbing tools, find your way up through diverse biomes, and piece together the tower’s past.

Platforms: PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, PC – Steam

 

Sea of Stars

Sabotage Studios

I debated whether to put Sea of Stars on this list because I think it was released with a relevant amount of hype. And it won a couple of trophies at this year’s Game Awards. In any case, this was my ‘Game of the Year’ and therefore deserves its place on all the lists! If you’re an ’80s/’90s child you’ll be immediately drawn to the SNES RPG look and feel of Sea of Stars. More than just its visual design it tells a compelling story and puts a fresh spin on the classic turn-based combat system. It is filled with charming characters and a narrative that can hold its own against any AAA RPG title.

Sea of Stars tells the story of two Children of the Solstice who will combine the powers of the sun and moon to perform Eclipse Magic, the only force capable of fending off the monstrous creations of the evil alchemist known as The Fleshmancer.

Platforms: PlayStation 5|4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC – Steam

 

Cocoon

Geometric Interactive

Just another indie puzzle adventure game? Well, Cocoon is most definitely not just any game. In this gorgeous game, you play with the ability to travel through alien worlds through the use of coloured orbs. Hopping between these worlds through the orbs is how the player can manipulate the environment and avoid obstacles in their path. Cocoon is about ecosystems working in tandem to reach a balance, including more modern mechanical systems, and how tricky it can be to have them all integrate naturally.

It is a beautiful game visually with each world featuring strikingly different environments. The game as a whole challenges expectations and utilizes world-jumping and storytelling in new ways.

Platforms: PlayStation 5|4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC – Steam

 

A Highland Song

Inkle

Just like Jusant, A Highland Song is all about the journey and not the destination. On this journey, you play as Moira McKinnon, a young girl who lives in the wilds of Scotland. She sneaks out of her house in the Scottish mountains to make her way to the edge of the highlands out into the sea, where her Uncle Hamish is waiting. Each night as she sleeps, she recalls letters to and from Hamish, while interacting with the world occasionally prompts anecdotes about him too. An eccentric old chap who knows a lot about the history of nature and myths. To reach the sea, Moira must first cross the Scottish Highlands—a wilderness of paths, peaks, shortcuts, dangers, and song.

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC – Steam

 

Coral Island

Stairway Games

If you’re a fan of farming and life sims, do not sleep on this game! I know this year we’ve gotten a lot of farming sim games, and next year even more so. But Coral Island still stands out of the pack as one that is rich in world-building, storytelling and has a clear message on environmental awareness. It’s a beautiful game and I’m probably biased because I live in Southeast Asia but it has tons of little cultural nuggets that I can’t help but delight in finding. It is a reworked farming sim that’s full of fantastic views, intriguing characters, discoveries and even Mermaids and Giants. Any cosy gaming fan won’t be disappointed with this one.

Platforms: PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, PC – Steam

 

Laika: Aged Through Blood

While a lot of indie games push the boundaries of difficulty, few do it while incorporating a refreshing new take on combat. Laika’s motorbike-based encounters are really hard to get used to, but once you get into the flow of things, it’s hard to put down. If you’re a fan of Metroidvania platformers, then this unique one is definitely not to be missed.

Laika: Aged Through Blood is a Western-inspired motorvania set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. It is the story of a tribe oppressed by occupant forces, and the personal story of a mother coyote warrior who descends on an endless path of vengeance to take back what her people lost. Drive, jump and fight your way through the huge hand-drawn world on your trustworthy motorbike. Race through the wasteland and perform dangerous jumps, shoot enemies in slowmo and reload your gun by performing a backflip.

Platforms: PlayStation 5|4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC – Steam

 

A Space For The Unbound

Mojiken, Toge Productions

Small narrative games may not make the Top 10 lists for AAA games, but some of them tell a story so deep and so impactful that it stays with you for years. That’s something you can expect from A Space For The Unbound.

A Space for the Unbound tells the story of two high school sweethearts set at the end of their school days – and the end of the world. Explore a crumbling town and help friends face their inner demons, which could be the key to stopping reality itself from disintegrating. I know we’ve had a lot of apocalypse now games but A Space For The Unbound stands apart with its perfect balance of humour and emotional story as you experience Atma and Raya’s journey.

The game begins on a relatively normal note, but strange things begin to happen as you progress, and it eventually evolves into a surreal exploration of the human psyche.

Platforms: PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, PC

 

Season: A Letter to the Future

Scavengers Studio

Do you remember that time in 2020 when the world went into lockdown and it felt like the end of the world? Well if it was the end of the world what would you do? In Season: A Letter to the Future you play as Estelle, a young woman who sets out to document the final days of Earth before it’s wiped away. Leave home for the first time to collect memories before a mysterious cataclysm washes everything away. Ride, record, meet people, and unravel the strange world around you in this third-person meditative exploration game.

As Estelle, document, photograph, and record the last days of Earth. Collect memories, make recordings and capture the most important moments from the current season to preserve them for future generations. Along the way, you’ll meet a diverse cast of characters, learn about their lives and spend a moment together with them at the end of the season.

Platforms: PlayStation 5|4, PC – Steam