The top 30 indie games to look out for in 2013

But you knew these already, right?

Everyone’s always talking about their radar. “Definitely adding this to my radar” or “This kind of flew off my radar after a while.” Well, I’m about to bombard your radar with so many bleeps, sweeps, and creeps that you won’t know where your free time went.

So here it goes, 30 indie titles that all look like they’re going to be an absolute blast to play, in one way or another. Not including SpyParty, of course. You already know how excited I am for that one.

A Hat in Time (PC)
Release: Q4 2013

Official Website 
Greenlight Page 

I’ve already talked about how awesome this game looks. Spoilers: really awesome. If you were to go back and play Donkey Kong 64, your time might not be as pleasant as you remember. Those N64 3D platformer are bit rough around the edges. Imagine though, if those edges were smoothed and brought into a modern day. Could be monumental.

Obviously from the footage that is currently available things look a bit clunky. I really hope everything gets ironed out by the time this releases because I really hope this game lives up to its high expectations.

Age of Decadence (PC)
Release: October 2013 (Demo available)
Official Website 
Greenlight Page 

If you’re like me and grew up on games like Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter Nights, any isometric fantasy looking game is likely to make you sit up in your computer chair. Age of Decadence is one of those games, except it throws one more beautiful spice into the mix: SRPG battling system.

It’s like this game was made for me. I think they’ve been spying on me, wiretapping my headset and somehow observing my dreams. SRPG gameplay within a traditional isometric RPG with an in-depth character creation system? So wonderful. There’s a demo (“public beta”) available on the official site if you’re somehow, in some way, still on the fence about it.

Among the Sleep (PC, Mac)
Release: 2013 (“later this year”)
Official Website

When it comes to horror games, I’m a goddamn scaredy-cat. I get frightened playing Minecraft on a pretty regular basis. Amnesia spooked the CRAP out of me, and I have never finished it. 

So why am I excited for Among the Sleep? Well, considering you play as a baby, it’s got an extra level of meta-narrative that, while playing it, I will almost certainly be a baby, scared to turn each and every corner. 

Dead State (PC)
Release: December 2013
Official Website 

Zombies! Tired of them yet? I’m sort of getting there, but there are two games on this list that are keeping me excited about them.

Dead State is one of them Kickstarter dealies that I actually went ahead and backed. An interview with RPS forever ago originally spurred my adoration, so I was happy to help fund the title. It seems to focus more on tactical gameplay rather than running and gunning, and I like that.

Forging relationships, finding shelter, gathering supplies, all enveloped in some turn-based gameplay sweetness? You bet your bippy I’m excited! Zombies or not, this game has serious potential. 

Distance (PC, Mac, Linux)
Release: Summer 2013
Official Website 
Greenlight Page 

Although I haven’t yet played Nitronic Rush, I am still very excited for Refract Studios’ next game Distance. The game’s more than just a racer, it encourages exploration, allowing cars to jump and fly around to “ find hidden paths, as well as find secrets that reveal the city’s past.”

Is this game going to have some lore surrounding it?! I hope it comes with a Beastiary! Well, probably not but I’m still pretty darn excited!

Else { heart.break() } (PC)
Release: 2013
Official Website 

Hey there, I know programming code when I see it. You can’t sneak nothin’ past me, videogame. Not much is known about Heart.break() but the little information that we know has me very intrigued. I’m not sure I’ve heard of a game with more potential before, and I’ve seen game pitches on Kickstarter!

With a persistent world, Heart.break() aims to have the user actually writing code to solve puzzles and deal with situations. If I’ve learned anything from my computer science days, it’s that there are so many ways to approach one simple task, leading me to believe that people will come up with very interesting ideas while playing this game.

Hammerwatch (PC, Mac Linux)
Release: Q2 2013
Official Site
Greenlight Page

Imagine if the old Gauntlet games had online coop and mod support. That’s essentially what you’re getting with Hammerwatch. The old Gauntlet games had a certain charm to them, since raiding dungeons with your buddies will probably never get old or stale. It could be the most mindless gameplay in the world, but if you were lootin’ corpses with some friends, it didn’t even matter.

Hammerwatch is bringing that formula into the new century with online coop, which is great since I no longer live near my closest friends. The mod support will make sure that, providing there is a community around it, Hammerwatch will never get boring and will consistently have new content. Hooray!

Intruder (PC)
Release: 2013
Official Site 

Other than Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, I don’t really remember the last time I was actually excited for a first-person shooter. I grew up playing Team Fortress Classic and Counter-Strike, but the popular FPS games these days don’t strike the same chord. 

It’s pretty great, then, that Intruder has my interest. It’s in such an early stage that nothing really has any textures, making the progress videos nothing short of endearing. I mean, just look at these screenshotsIntruder is focusing more on gadgets and environment in what looks to be a slower-paced FPS team game. Looking our for trip wires, unlocking doors, and avoiding security cameras are all taking place in what otherwise looks like a classic FPS.

Legend of Dungeon (PC, Mac, Linux)
Release: March 2013
Official Website 
Greenlight Page 

Such a pretty game! Let’s run down the checklist of things that make games awesome, shall we? 

• Co-op – CHECK 
• Permadeath – CHECK! 
• Dynamic music and lighting – CHECK!! 
• Randomized dungeons – CHECKITY CHECK 

I’m a big sucker for roguelike-likes, so this game is going to please me greatly. Sounds good, looks good, let’s just hope it….plays good.

Lifeless Planet (PC, Mac)
Release: 2013, February for Alpha
Official Website 

Somehow, the Kickstarter for Lifeless Planet flew right over my head and I hate myself for it. I’m a huge fan of outer space, so exploring an unknown planet sounds right up my alley. It, in a way, reminds me of the first time I played Red Faction: Guerrilla. It doesn’t have the destruction, the terrorism, or the economical plot, but I had a genuine blast exploring Mars in RF:G. My character knew the area well, but I sure didn’t.

Unlike RF:G though, Lifeless Planet is, well, much more lifeless. Creepy, mysterious, and haunting environments turn this from a basic exploration game into one that is likely to scare the pants off of me.

Monaco (PC, Mac, XBLA)
Release: Soon! Not soon enough?
Official Website

Monaco is pretty much tied with SpyParty as my #1 most anticipated game of next year. Playing the beta with my girlfriend is so exhilarating. Sitting in vents while I draw out a plan on my monitor with my finger feels freakin’ fantastic. 

Once you realize that this isn’t a game in which you sneak past everyone, things just snap into view. It’s okay to be spotted occasionally, in fact sometimes you want to be! Causing distractions for your partner(s) so they can make a move is wonderful! There’s even challenge levels that unlock for those of us who love to ramp up the difficulty without some arbitrary slider. 

New Game+ (PC)
Release: 2013
Official Website 

When Jasper Byrne, creator of Lone Survivor, says that he’s thinking about making a dungeon crawler that’s a mix of The Legend of Zelda and Demon’s Souls, you don’t just get excited, you get mondo-excited.

When Jasper Byrne announces that he is no longer working on the project, now titled New Game+ you don’t just get sad, you get turbo-sad.

But then, when Jasper Byrne announces that he’s going to resume working on New Game+ again, you don’t just approach with cautious optimism, you approach with an unhealthy amount of hysteria.

Overgrowth (PC, Mac, Linux)
Release: 2013 (Playable build with preorder)
Official Website

Lugaru, like Braid, was a very important game to me. It was one of the first legit indie games I ever played. When I was told it was made by one guy in high school, my mind was all “no way!” Then when I was told he made them bunny people because regular-ass people were hard to model it made me realize that developers know what they’re doing. So many things are done on purpose, and not by coincidence or chance. 

Overgrowth is the big-boy sequel to Lugaru, and that’s sort of all I need to hear. The first game was brutal in its difficulty, ramping up ever so perfectly from its already difficult beginning. It was all about mastering the controls and thinking clearly. From what I’ve played of Overgrowth, this will be even better. 

Owlboy (PC)
Release: 2013, or maybe never
Official Website 

This game! You might remember your parents talking about how much they were looking forward to playing Owlboy once they got home from fighting overseas in the Vietnam War. 

Alright, so maybe that’s a bit of hyperbole, but this game has been in development for some time now. Every once and a while we get a little nugget of information to remind us that hey, this still exists, but it definitely isn’t as steady as I would like. I want this game!

At least there’s a (out of date) demo to hold us all over for now.

Path of Exile (PC)
Release: Late 2013
Official Website 

I am not a fan of Diablo III. I won’t get into it, but Blizzard made some really dumb design decisions that turned me away. Torchlight II is great, but it still hasn’t compelled me to finish it yet. Path of Exile may very well also fall a bit flat. I’m skeptical of the ARPG genre more than ever, yet Path of Exile still has my interests piqued. 

The Final Fantasy-esque systems at play are what really get me. The sphere grid from FFX is the passive skill grid in Path of Exile, allowing you to completely customize your character. There are some great videos out there of people making extremely weird characters that simply manage to work. There’s also a FFVII materia system at play with the skills and items, creating even more customization! 

I know it’s free-to-play, which is more often a bust rather than a boon, but from what I’ve played in the open beta so far, the model is anything but intrusive. Please get this one right, guys.

Prison Architect (PC, Mac, eventually Linux)
Release: 2013 (Playable build with pre-order)
Official Website

Introversion Software, the developers behind Darwinia and Uplink are at it again with Prison Architect. A simulation game about managing a prison just sounds like it is ripe with hilarious potential. Judging from the trailer, that is absolutely the case.

Prison Architect is available to play if you pre-order the game, giving you “exclusive access to game breaking bugs.” What’s not to like about that?!

[Video courtesy of YouTuber user MayaTutors]

Project Zomboid (PC, Mac, Linux)
Release: 2013 (Demo available)
Official Website 

This poor game. So much love, then some dismay, some hate, and now people seem to be just fine with it, though some may have all but forgotten about it. Project Zomboid has overcome its problems and is still, in fact, going to be a videogame. Gotta love that can-do spirit.

Survival is emphasized in this, the second zombie game to still have my attention on this list. People who are already playing the early builds of the game seem to really be into it, challenging each other to try and outlast them. Combined with great aesthetic and diehard developers, this is game I look forward to getting my hands on. 

Quadrilateral Cowboy (PC)
Release: 2013
Official Website 

Remember all those nice words I said about Heart.break()? Well, double that for Quadrilateral Cowboy. Blendo Games, the developer behind both Gravity Bone and Thirty Flights of Loving is also behind this game, which utilizes an in-game laptop for you to code objects in to solve puzzles. 

It looks pretty smooth, throwing down the computer and quickly writing a line of code. Hopefully you don’t need any experience with programming so I can continue to recommend every game Blendo Games puts out to everybody I know. I have a lot of faith in Blendo Games to make this live up to the potential. 

Routine (PC)
Release: 2013
Official Website 

Another horror game that will scare the butt off me and I’ll probably never finish, Routine said the magic words: randomized content and one life. 

Oooooh yeah, that’s the way I like it. 

Space is such a perfect setting for this game, and hopefully this game can capitalize of the absolute fear of the endless void that I think most of us have. 

Runner 2 (PC, Wii U, XBLA, PSN)
Release: SOON!
Official Website 

Runner is my favorite of the BIT.TRIP series. I’ve beaten it twice, gotten all Perfects (not double), and still play it from time to time. Naturally then, I’m really excited for Runner 2. While I think that the new aesthetic is a step backwards, that hasn’t deterred my excitement for this sequel.

After playing it at Pax East last year and speaking with Gaijin Games was a great experience. The game plays exactly how I want it to, complete with intense challenge and beautiful music. If Gaijin Games only makes one sequel, I’m glad it’s to Runner.

Scale (PC, Mac)
Release: 2013
Official Website 

I saw this game being played at E3 while I played the equally awesome Moonlighters (more on that later). Basically, you have a gun that can scale things larger or smaller in order to reach certain areas of the map. Unfortunately I didn’t get to play it myself, but from what I saw I could tell that this game would be one to keep an eye out for.

Like the gun from Portal, this has incredible potential. 

Sportsfriends (PC, Mac)
Release: Summer/Fall 2013
Official Website 

Local multiplayer, what’s that? In the Age of the Internet, many people grow up not know what it’s like to physically push someone after they womp you in a competitive multiplayer game. Or to place bets on who is going to win as it happens right in front of you. Sportsfriends is bringing all of that back with some of the most deviously simple competitive games.

J.S. Joust is a great game, though it’s a bit unfortunate it requires so many PS Move controllers to play. Most people don’t have one, let alone 5. I mean, it’s not like you can do much else with them. The other games like TENNNES, BariBariBall, and Hokra have already proven to be extraordinary competitive games, since they’ve released early builds to the Kickstarter backers.

Simple, complex, local multiplayer at its best.

StarForge (PC, Mac, Linux)
Release: Late 2013

Official Website

Hmm? Oh, here’s that boatload of potential I ordered. Thanks, StarForge

When I first played the early demo of StarForge I definitely thought it was cool, but it was hardly representative of what the game aimed to be. The videos on the site make a much better case than that demo ever did. Terraforming, base building, aliens, super physics, space, this game aims to have it all. I just hope that they don’t aim too high and fall short.

If anything, StarForge should allow for some pretty silly fun with buddies.

Super TIME Force (XBLA)
Release: 2013
Official Website 

I played this at PAX last year and it was easily one of the best games there. Insane difficulty and a absolutely amazing concept make Super TIME Force one of my most anticipated titles of the new year. 

Once I fully understood how the base mechanics worked, things just naturally clicked. If one of your characters dies, your next character is able to save them by eliminating whatever killed the first character. If you do that, it acts as a checkpoint for when that second character dies. 

Wonderful premise, great marketing, and a solid studio make this one of the best. Expect to see this on top 10 lists in December. 

The Iconoclasts (PC)
Release: 2013 (Demo available)
Official Website 

Some games look good. Some games, on the other hand, look like The Iconoclasts. Everything is just so refined and beautiful. Playing the demo allowed me to see things in motion, proving that rainbows can actually shoot out of your eyeballs if you see something beautiful enough. 

This game is probably (hopefully?) already on many radars, so now that I’ve reminded you, I’ll move on. 

The Magical Realms of Tír na nÓg: Escape from Necron 7 – Revenge of Cuchulainn: The Official Game of the Movie – Chapter 2 of the Hoopz Barkley SaGa (PC, Mac)
Release: 2013
Official Website 

If you haven’t played Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden then you really should go and do that now. It’s pretty much the best Space Jam related game to date. Chapter 2 of the Hoopz Barkley SaGa looks to keep the insanity of the first game going while simultaneously changing the genre and continuing the story.

Let me just take the synopsis from the official site:

The year is 666X. A powerful youngster, wise beyond his years, awakens from a B-Ball induced coma aboard the mysterious dwarf space ziggurat Necron 7, held captive by the Malevolent A.I. Cuchulainn. With no memory of who he is or where he came from, he adopts the identity of X114JAM9 and sets off into the Post-Cyberpocalyptic Wasteland in search of the enigmatic Cyberdwarf, the only one who can reveal to him the terrible truth behind his forgotten past and make sense of his harrowing future.

Face your destiny.  Find The Cyberdwarf.

There you have it. B-Ball induced coma. X114JAM9. Find the Cyberdwarf. Easy?

The Moonlighters (PC)
Release: 2013
Official Website 

I played this at the IndieCade at last year’s E3 and really fell in love with it. Telling the story about some out-of-work actors who decide to execute a real heist, this game is filled with humor, good looking art, and some great gameplay moments.

The level I played had me switching between the different characters in order to complete various elements of the heist. Certain characters are better at different things, so it’s imperative that the player knows where each person excels and uses them to their maximum efficiency.

The Witness (PC)
Release: 2013
Official Website 

Jonathan Blow made Braid. He is now making this. Need I say more?

I need’nt, but I shall. Braid was a very important game in my life, and taught me that big things can come in small (downloadable) packages. The Witness is a much bigger package, but I expect it to be just as important. 

The Witness is an exploration and puzzle game, set on a seemingly empty island. I suppose it’s a bit like Myst, except way prettier. I have faith in Jonathan Blow to make something memorable that will be the talk of the town when it is finally released.

Towerclimb (PC)
Release: 2013 (Playable build with preorder)
Official Website 
Greenlight Page 

There’s just something awesome about going upwards. Maybe it’s because we’re usually going down, into some dungeon or lair in order to eradicate an evil. TowerClimb, however, has us going the opposite direction, possibly escaping from something? Who knows, but it’s exciting.

It seems like it will not only reward patience, but also execution. The roguelike elements are what really get me into it, with random powerups and a difficulty meter that’s through the roof. This ain’t no Doodle Jump

Under the Ocean (PC, Mac)
Release: 2013 (Playable build with preorder)
Official Website 

Fact: I already know this game is wonderful. I’ve had the beta for a while and have really been enjoying myself. Here’s my ten second pitch: A game about resources and survival on a 2D plane with beautiful art. There’s a building element and way more to discover as you trek along, either through a predetermined story mode or through a newly added random terrain mode. 

The random terrain mode is what I spend most of my time in, since, if you couldn’t tell by now, I love me some random elements in games. Definitely keep an eye on Under the Ocean as we move through the year.

Patrick Hancock
During the day, he teaches high school kids about history. At night he kicks their butts in competitive games like Rocket League, Dota 2, Overwatch, and Counter-Strike. Disclosure: I've personally backed Double Fine Adventure, Wasteland 2, Dead State, SPORTSFRIENDS, Torment: Tides of Numera, STRAFE, and The Binding of Isaac: Four Souls. I have previously written for and continue to support them whenever possible (like HumbleBundle).