While there was little diversity up alongside Geoff Keighley on the Summer Game Fest stage, the Day of the Devs 2023 showcase afterward (broadcast by Double Fine and iam8bit) featured 15 promising games that highlight the breadth of what the video game industry has to offer. This show, in particular, does a really good job of focusing on the games, but is also a reminder of who makes games — it’s not just flashy trailer after flashy trailer. Day of the Devs is not only about the games and their trailers, but lets the developers themselves introduce the world to their art.
The indie games shown come from the likes of Chicory: A Colorful Tale developer Wishes Unlimited; Die Gute Fabrik, the team behind Mutazione; and Phantom Coast, a new studio making a roguelite skateboarding game called Helskate.
Day of the Devs, a collaboration between Psychonauts developer Double Fine and media company iam8bit, has highlighted the beautiful world of indie games since 2012. For most of its history, Day of the Devs has taken place across in-person and online events.
Greg Lobanov and the team behind Chicory: A Colorful Tale and Wandersong debuted Beastieball, a volleyball role-playing game starring very cute creatures to recruit to the team. The goal is to create a team and build relationships to move your way up in the Beastieball League.
Beastieball is expected out in 2024.
Hyper Light Breaker
Hyper Light Breaker extends the Hyper Light Drifter universe, and it’s set ahead of that original game. The 3D roguelike is designed for cooperative multiplayer action across “endless open worlds,” according to developer Heart Machine.
Hyper Light Breaker is set to be released in early access in 2023.
Stone Skip Studio presented Simpler Times, a quiet game about a person named Taina moving out of her childhood home. Each item looks to be a meditation of Taina’s life, spanning 10 years. It’s a game that’s without pressure to advance a story, letting the player do things like paint with watercolors and listen to music.
Simpler Times is slated for 2023.
Viewfinder is an architectural puzzle game that reminds me of Manifold Garden, Gorogoa, and The Witness. The puzzles require the player to take or find photos and add them to the world to open up new areas and explore further.
From Sad Owl Studios, Viewfinder will be released on July 18.
Hauntii, from Moonloop Games, is a stylized “twin-stick” game that’s all about ghosts. You’ll have to haunt the world and its residents in a series of puzzles and challenges — a stunning peek into the afterlife.
Moonloop Games has not announced a release window for Hauntii.
Richard Hofmeier’s Cart Life returns in collaboration with Adhoc Studio. The indie darling will once again be playable, nearly 10 years after Hofmeier pulled the game. It’s been celebrated across the industry for its intimate look into the lives of people who are intertwined with their communities, but are often overlooked — especially in games.
Helskate is described as a roguelite skateboarding game, something akin to a Tony Hawk game with supernatural tendencies. In a sea of skateboarding games trying to replicate the feeling of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater — all of which are quite good — Helskate stands out for its unique, monster-fighting take on the genre.
Henry Halfhead is a game that fans of Untitled Goose Game might enjoy. Developer Lululu Entertainment describes it as a “quirky sandbox adventure game” that focuses on the ordinary items in Henry’s life, letting the player “progress through Henry’s no-so-ordinary life.” No release date just yet.
Annapurna Interactive is publishing Geometric Interactive’s Cocoon, a puzzle adventure that focuses on the worlds within worlds. The puzzles require you to switch between realms to mash together puzzle solutions. It’s the next game from Jeppe Carlsen, the gameplay designer of Limbo and Inside, so you can expect Cocoon to be trippy.
Été is a game about painting — in particular, a painter that’s traveled to Montreal for the summer to practice their art. It combines a whole bunch of lovely activities: exploring the city, painting in watercolor, and collecting stamps in your sketchbook. Été is being developed by Montreal-based studio Impossible.
Alto’s Adventure developer Land & Sea debuted Summerhill, a puzzle game about a shepherd and their dog. The two travel together through their world, which is rendered in a beautiful style that Alto’s Adventure fans will likely recognize.
Eternights is part dating simulator, part hack-and-slash adventure. Cool combination, right? In this game from Studio Sai, you’ll have to date your way through the world while fighting demons threatening your fellow humans. Schedule management is particularly important; you’ll need to choose between scavenging for tools or smooching a cutie.
Retro Gadgets, in early access now from developers Licorice ehf and Studio Evil, is a game for tinkerers. You poke and prod at a bunch of different gadgets — like a Game Boy! — to bring your inventions to life. Yes, you get to solder circuit boards and create code for your devices.
Mars First Logistics
Shape Shop’s Mars First Logistics is a physics-based game where you build rovers to transport cargo across Mars. Not only is the art incredible, but Mars First Logistics is also a multiplayer game, which means you can create and transport with friends.
Mutazione developer Die Gute Fabrik announced its next game, Saltsea Chronicles. We got the chance to play the game earlier this year. Here’s what we saw:
The initial appeal of Saltsea Chronicles, like so many cozy games, is the vibe. Die Gute Fabrik has put a great deal of effort into the ways the cats swat at butterflies and coyly curl their tails. Objectives (little dots hovering over certain people and places) will guide you to the narratively critical bits, but they’re just one of many things to do. You can try to solve local problems, though some are unsolvable. Or you can just collect stickers for your almanac. Either way, people rest around Los Gatos, waiting to chat, though who you spark up conversation with is entirely up to you.
It’s scheduled to launch in 2023.