biggest upcoming indie video games of 2022 - Afterlove EP Bomb Rush Cyberfunk Card Shark Endling FAR: Changing Tides Goodbye Volcano High Have a Nice Death Haunted Chocollatier Hollow Knight: Silksong Kerbal Space Program 2 Little Devil Inside Loot River Martha Is Dead Neon White OlliOlli World Oxenfree II: Lost Signals Planet of Lana Replaced Sea of Stars Selfloss Shady Knight Sifu Somerville Sons of the Forest Sports Story Stray Tchia Thirsty Suitors Trek to Yomi Tunic Weird West Witchbrook

It’s January 2022, and the new year has a lot more than just Elden Ring waiting on the horizon for gaming fans — though it does look pretty good. The indie scene especially is bustling with oceans of wild ideas this year despite the high bar set in 2021. For every sequel to a classic on the way, there is an equally unique new IP dying to “wow” players with fresh ideas and new perspectives. We love indies here at The Escapist, so much so that we put together an entire show just to prove it. So, to celebrate the dawn of another exciting year for gaming, we’ve compiled a list of some of the biggest indie games we’re looking forward to in 2022.

Afterlove EP

Release Date: Summer 2022

Platforms: PC, PlayStation, Switch

Afterlove EP is a visual novel with rhythm game and dating sim elements, all supporting a heartfelt story. Rama is a budding musician who is haunted by the voice of his recently deceased girlfriend, Cinta. The game is about moving on, but what that looks like will be determined by the choices you make in a month of Rama’s life. Set in Jakarta, Indonesia, it’s a quiet but charming project that seems emotionally authentic in the little we’ve seen of it.

Bomb Rush Cyberfunk

Release Date: 2022

Platforms: PC, Consoles

Indie games can also present new opportunities to revisit familiar concepts that may not have received the attention they deserved before. Enter Bomb Rush Cyberfunk — a funky fresh rollerblading game with cel-shaded graphics and a bumping soundtrack from Hideki Naganuma. It’s a spiritual successor to the massively underappreciated Jet Set Radio, but this time around developer Team Reptile is doubling down on substance and style. Making a name for yourself by stringing together death-defying tricks with explosive graffiti combos is at the core of the experience, so as long as you feel cool, you are cool.

Card Shark

Release Date: 2022

Platforms: PC, Switch

Card Shark is designed for anyone who has ever wanted to cheat their way to the top but been too afraid to try. The game is set in 18th century France and centers around a gambler improving their station through card games. It’s not about being the best player, though. Instead, Card Shark challenges you to be utterly unscrupulous in your dealings with the aristocracy, using every trick in the deck to swindle them, from card marking to false shuffles and far more intricate and imaginative tactics. At the same time, you’ll be working hard to avoid being caught — while simultaneously exploring a conspiracy during your rise through the ranks.

Endling – Extinction Is Forever

Release Date: Spring 2022

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

Where some indie titles will attempt to rip players out of their lives and into new, exciting, unimaginable worlds, Herobeat Studios’ Endling – Extinction Is Forever asks you to reflect on your ecological impact. The story introduces the last fox mother on Earth as she struggles to survive in a world becoming ever more polluted thanks to the human race. Explorative 3D sidescrolling means you’ll weave in and out of ravaged forests and dried-up rivers, with stealth often being the only hope for survival. Surviving is everything in this too-real moody adventure, as, without you, your fox cubs will surely fall victim to the harsh environments that surround them.

FAR: Changing Tides

Release Date: March 1, 2022

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

Propped up as a meditative sequel to Okomotive’s FAR: Lone Sails, FAR: Changing Tides looks to double down on what many felt made the 2018 original special. However, the sequel ditches the views of barren deserts in favor of a world eaten by the sea, with players tasked with sailing across an endless ocean to find a home for its lost protagonist, Toe. Dense atmosphere coupled with an array of changes to the formula seeks to make the sequel a standout in 2022, but the most exciting element might be the promise of Toe’s relationship with his versatile old boat.

Goodbye Volcano High

Release Date: 2022

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5

Originally planned to release last year, a narrative reboot pushed the whimsical, queer narrative adventure Goodbye Volcano High into 2022. The game follows Fang and their group of friends through the turbulence of their last days in high school. It seems as if themes of friendship and love beat at the heart of the game, and it should strike a chord with fans of Life is Strange or Oxenfree. Oh, did we mention that Fang and their mates are dinosaurs living in the late Cretaceous period? Yeah, that might add just a small extra layer of urgency to the choices you make.

Have a Nice Death

Release Date: March 2022 (Early Access)

Platforms: PC

There are a few pieces of media like Dead Like Me or “Hell” that link death and office jobs for comedic effect, and Have a Nice Death slips right into that oddly specific subgenre. In it, Death Incorporated’s middle managers have been a little too efficient in offing humans, and players step into the cloak of Death to bring the uppity blighters back into line. The game features an evocative, washed-out aesthetic a little reminiscent of Hollow Knight, while the fast-paced 2D action and roguelite trappings are more akin to Dead Cells. Whatever the inspiration, Have a Nice Death is hitting the right mix of absurd and awesome, and it’s one of the more curious indie games to watch in 2022.

Haunted Chocolatier

Release Date: TBA

Platforms: PC

Haunted Chocolatier is the new game from Eric “ConcernedApe” Barone, the creator of Stardew Valley. Announced in October last year, Haunted Chocolatier has you running a chocolate shop, as its name might suggest. It’s not just about keeping customers happy though. Your character lives in a haunted castle, and you’ll have to venture into a fantastical realm to gather the ingredients you need. The game leans heavier into action RPG gameplay than Stardew Valley did and is currently planned to be single-player, but Barone wants the game to be uplifting and positive like Stardew was. This is definitely one of the biggest and most anticipated indie games, even if it may not actually release in 2022.

Hollow Knight: Silksong

Release Date: Eventually, probably

Platforms: PC, Nintendo Switch

Team Cherry became a premier indie game developer after Hollow Knight’s infectious Metroidvania gameplay and haunting visuals were a smash hit, so now it faces the mountainous task of making another game that’s just as good, if not better. Luckily, from the glimpses we’ve seen so far, Hollow Knight: Silksong might just live up to the expectations built since its early 2019 reveal. On the surface, this full-fledged sequel seems to have it all – more gorgeous hand-drawn visuals, brand new enemies and kingdoms to conquer, an evolved take on the original gameplay, etc. Playing as the Knight’s more agile counterpart, Hornet, looks familiar but different in all the best ways, so it’s a shame that the wait has been so long. But we put Hollow Knight: Silksong on this list, so that means it has to launch this year… right? Well, whether released in 2022 or 2033, Silksong will still be one of the biggest and most anticipated indie games.

Kerbal Space Program 2

Release Date: 2022

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Kerbal Space Program redefined space travel in video games in 2015, and with Kerbal Space Program 2, developer Intercept Games is looking to do it all over again. Promised to be “the next generation of space exploration,” the sequel is targeting the final frontier with new parts, fresh visuals, enhanced modding, and multiplayer. Physics-based space travel will also allow for colony building and interstellar travel this time around as players reacquaint themselves with their disposable little green Kerbonauts. There will be lots of experimentation (and failure) on your quest to colonize undiscovered planets, but in Kerbal Space Program 2, that’s half of the fun. That makes this one of the biggest indie games of 2022.

Little Devil Inside

Release Date: Winter 2022

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 (Switch, Xbox One later)

Little Devil Inside was one of the many games to ride the crowdfunding wave way back in the mid-2010s. For the long-term supporters, following the development process has been a roller coaster of long silences and an unexpected timed exclusivity deal, but it all seems to have been worth it. Little Devil Inside is shaping up as an experience unlike any other. It’s an action RPG, a slice-of-life sim, and a survival game all rolled up one, characterized by its uniquely charming, hyper-stylized aesthetic. You’ll explore an overworld, chase down monsters, happen upon chance events, and then return to your safe home to prepare to do it again. The game eludes easy description, but if your interest is piqued, be sure to check out the video linked above.

Loot River

Release Date: TBA

Platforms: PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X | S

Fight your way through procedurally generated dungeons. Die. Fight some more. Collect new gear and permanent upgrades. Etc. So far, so roguelike, right? Loot River puts a novel spin on the genre by giving you a degree of control over the alignment of the environments. This ability will give players an edge in combat by allowing you to zip away from danger at a moment’s notice, but that’s not all. Its bigger role is to present progression in Loot River as a series of environmental puzzles. The game aims to combine the addictive quality of roguelikes with the brain-tickling joy of puzzle platformers, which is nothing if not an intriguing mix.

Martha Is Dead

Release Date: February 24, 2022

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X | S

World War II is the backdrop against which the horrors of Martha Is Dead take place. The game is set in 1944 as a Tuscan town is shaken by the discovery of a young woman’s mutilated body. You play as that woman’s twin sister in what promises to be a deep, disturbing story about grief and relationships. Martha Is Dead seems much broader than many similar first-person narrative adventures, as you’ll explore the Tuscan countryside, take and develop photos, unearth repressed memories, and do much more on Giulia’s quest to discover the truth.

Neon White

Release Date: 2022

Platforms: PC, Nintendo Switch

Angel Matrix’s Neon White gives “breakneck” a whole new meaning. Here’s the pitch: You play as a suited-up assassin tasked with exterminating demons as fast as possible, and if you do the job right, you’ll get a shot at living in heaven permanently. Gameplay looks like that of a first-person shooter with parkour and speedrunning elements, and a “Soul Card” system rewards creativity and quick thinking. Combining and discarding Soul Cards is only part of the battle, though, as Neon White promises a story brimming with mysterious assassins from your past. It’s got style, it’s got speed, and it should absolutely be among the indie games on your radar in 2022.

OlliOlli World

Release Date: February 8, 2022

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

After seven years, Roll7 is coming back to and shaking up its highly acclaimed skateboarding series with OlliOlli World. The most immediately apparent departure is the visual style, which abandons the pixel art in favor of something that wouldn’t look out of place in Adventure Time. With that comes a more lively setting, as you skate through the various locales of Radlandia alongside a group of friends. The gameplay has also been expanded, with tracks now featuring multiple routes and additional tricks being added. It all adds up to what should be a great 2D skateboarding experience that’s kind to newcomers while also being as intricate as series veterans remember.

Oxenfree II: Lost Signals

Release Date: 2022

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Switch

Oxenfree II: Lost Signals is a loose sequel to Night School Studio’s breakout debut. Returning features include a dialogue-driven story that deals with supernatural goings-on, the fabulous watercolor-esque art style, and an experience focused on player choice. That last element is hugely expanded, though, with more sidequests, more agency in initiating conversations, and more instances where your actions rather than your words impact what happens. This sequel follows a new, older protagonist whose job sees her investigating mysterious radio signals five years on from Alex’s adventure in the earlier game. With Afterparty, Night School Studio proved that Oxenfree wasn’t a fluke, and Lost Signals looks to expand and better its predecessor in all the ways that matter.

Planet of Lana

Release Date: Late 2022

Platforms:PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X | S

Games can take us to worlds unknown, and that’s exactly what Wishfully plans to do with its debut title, Planet of Lana. Laced with a soft visual style, this hand-painted adventure set a tone of intensity and serenity with its otherworldly reveal trailer from last year. Players who pick up Wishfully’s cinematic sci-fi puzzle adventure will take control of a young girl — along with her small, trusted companion — as she trudges through overgrown ruins, lush jungles, dry deserts, and enough unfriendly entities to make your skin crawl. We’ve only seen a small taste from Planet of Lana’s rescue mission through alien landscapes, so there’s no telling what the full experience has in store. This is definitely one of the most interesting indie games to watch in 2022.

Replaced

Release Date: 2022

Platforms: PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X | S

An AI finds itself trapped in the fleshy prison of a human body in Replaced, a gritty cyberpunk action platformer. The game is set in an alternative version of the 1980s, where history took a very different course, leading to a near complete breakdown of society. Sad Cat Studios has revealed a few details about the game to us, and what we have seen oozes atmosphere and the gameplay looks as slick as anything in the genre.

Sea of Stars

Release Date: Holiday 2022

Platforms: PC, Nintendo Switch, more platforms to be announced this spring

Sea of Stars is an anticipated turn-based RPG from Sabotage Studio that serves as the unexpected prequel to critically acclaimed action sidescroller The Messenger. The story sounds to be a bit more whimsical this time around, as players follow two children outfitted with the powers of the moon and sun. The gameplay takes pronounced inspiration from Chrono Trigger, even featuring music from CT composer Yasunori Mitsuda. Time will tell if Sabotage can craft as memorable and well-received an RPG as it can a visceral sidescroller.

Selfloss

Release Date: Q1 2022

Platforms: PC

Few video game trailers can so effortlessly evoke an emotional atmosphere as that of Selfloss. The ethereal visuals and haunting, understated soundscape offer a sense of profundity. By the sounds of it, that will carry through to the player experience. Selfloss is an adventure game that’s shot through with a theme of kindness. Players take the role of an old man who sets out to help a strange creature, which puts him on a journey that involves sailing, platforming, and using a magical staff to overcome challenges in a fantastical world that draws from Slavic mythology.

Shady Knight

Release Date: TBA

Platforms: PC

If Devil May Cry and Sunset Overdrive had a stripped-back baby, it would probably look a little bit like Shady Knight. This fast-paced combat platformer has you parkouring up massive towers while taking out enemies in the most stylish ways possible to achieve a high score. There’s an impressive array of traversal options, and the combat is much deeper than just swinging a sword. You also have a bow, an array of special abilities, and a huge number of environmental possibilities, from throwing enemies from the tower to setting them alight or bashing them with barrels. It’s combat distilled, and it’s sure to please fans of games like Boomerang X or City of Brass.

Sifu

Release Date: February 8, 2022

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5

Fighting off waves of capable opponents with kung fu has never looked this good. Sifu features devilishly quick combat across a wide variety of locations as players hone their skills as a master martial artist seeking revenge. You’ll dispatch foes with lots of personal hand-to-hand combat skills, of course, though you’ll have plenty of opportunities to use objects and weapons to your advantage, too. Developer Sloclap, the studio behind Absolver, has used Sifu’s stylishly snappy fights to draw eyes for nearly a year, but the real secret sauce lies in a unique aging mechanic. Thanks to a magic pendant, death is not the end, as players will get back up as an older version of themselves upon each defeat. Using your time wisely is key in Sifu, so expect to learn kung fu the hard way.

Somerville

Release Date: 2022

Platforms: PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X | S

One of Somerville’s most intriguing elements revolves around how little we actually know about it. Jumpship, a studio led by writer and director Chris Olsen and Playdead co-founder Dino Patti, has gone out of its way to make sure players know little about the project before it releases. This refreshing strategy means most will dive into Somerville’s War of the Worlds-inspired story knowing only of its dense atmosphere, exciting narrative, and Another World-like gameplay. We do know, however, that the adventure game is set in the more rural areas of England and follows a family that comes face to face with catastrophe. We spoke to Olsen about Somerville last year, and aside from promising a story-focused experience, he said that players who come in with an open mind “will be rewarded with something unique.” Indeed, this may prove to be one of the most unique indie games of 2022.

Sons of the Forest

Release Date: May 20, 2022

Platforms: PC

Cutthroat survival mechanics were The Forest’s bread and butter. Now, with Endnight Games’ hotly anticipated sequel, Sons of the Forest, it looks like everything has been turned up a notch to ensure those heart-pounding moments hit just a bit harder. You’ll spend your time in this first-person survival sequel by learning to gather materials and fend for yourself as the forest does everything in its power to make sure you don’t survive the night. Quite frankly, Sons of the Forest looks terrifying. If you want to see proof for yourself, look no further than the closing moments of the latest Sons of the Forest gameplay trailer, which kindly shows what it’s like to have a Resident Evil-like nightmare creature throw a barrage of infants your way.

Sports Story

Release Date: TBA

Platforms: Switch

In 2017, Sidebar Games shook up the admittedly niche golf game genre with Golf Story, and Sports Story is expected to do the same later this year for… well… every sport. This time, tennis forms the foundation, with player characters studying at a tennis academy, but the activities available also draw inspiration from cricket, baseball, soccer, and, of course, golf. If that still sounds dull, it’s important to note that Sports Story isn’t a sports game; it’s an RPG, with all the trappings that includes – dungeons, royalty, character relationships, fishing, and stealth missions. It’s wonderfully weird and may just change your mind about sports games, making it one of the biggest indie games of 2022.

Stray

Release Date: Early 2022

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5

Since exploding onto the video game scene with What Remains of Edith Finch, Annapurna Interactive has made a name for itself as one of the most consistent publishers in the business. Stray, developed by debut studio BlueTwelve, seems set to continue that legacy. Players will slip into the fur of an adorable ginger cat to escape a cyberpunk cityscape long past its glory days. The whys and wherefores of the decay will be teased out across the course of the journey, for which you will be accompanied by a drone. But for all the bells and whistles, the most appealing feature may simply be the chance to become a cat, as BlueTwelve is promising that you’ll get to be as playfully mischievous as our feline friends. This is for sure one of the biggest indie games of 2022.

Tchia

Release Date: Spring 2022

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5

Inspired by the lead developers’ home of New Caledonia, Tchia tells the whimsical, Ghibli-esque story of a child stepping beyond the familiar for the first time. Exploration sits at the heart of the game, and players will have a wide range of traversal options, including free climbing, sailing, and gliding across the archipelago. Those options are expanded even further by the character’s mystical ability to possess a huge range of animals and objects in the game world, using their unique traits either for specific gameplay purposes or simply to explore further in new ways. With its idyllic vibes, Tchia is sure to charm when it finally arrives.

Thirsty Suitors

Release Date: TBA

Platforms: PC

This dreamy turn-based RPG has an almost comic book-like flair, but it couldn’t be more down to Earth. Thirsty Suitors – the next unapologetic charismatic title from Falcon Age developer Outerloop Games – sees players explore the ferociously romantic past of purple-haired protagonist Jala as she battles her exes and, maybe, disappoints her parents. Wonderfully colorful battles are only one of half of the equation, however, as Outerloop promises a bombastic, stylish narrative that tells a story of culture, relationships, family pressures, and expressing yourself. You’ll be armed with acrobatic cooking skills and skateboarding techniques to rival Tony Hawk as you level up Jala with upgrades, abilities, and a mood system that fits right with the game’s themes.

Trek to Yomi

Release Date: 2022

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X | S

Trek to Yomi is a loving homage to samurai cinema, making use of its monochromatic visuals and spectacular cinematography for a spellbinding presentation. The game tells the redemptive journey of swordsman Hiroki after he fails to protect his village. That journey will flirt with both realism and mythology as Hiroki travels far beyond the lands he is familiar with. And like in Ghost of Tsushima, combat in Trek to Yomi is based around precision and timing. If the experience of play matches the feelings you get just seeing Trek to Yomi in action, it’s bound to be one of the most entrancing, memorable indie games in 2022.

Tunic

Release Date: March 16, 2022

Platforms: PC, Mac, Xbox One, Xbox Series X | S

Take the top-down puzzle adventure formula from classic The Legend of Zelda titles, mix in a healthy dose of consistently adorable visuals, add a pinch of difficulty, and you’ve got Tunic. This polygonal indie romp sees players take on the role of an anthropomorphic fox who finds himself stranded in a land crawling with mysteries from an ancient world. Your wits and sword are your two primary tools, and you’ll have to use both with purpose to see every corner of what Tunic has to offer. Solo developer Andrew Shouldice has built upon this deceptively cute project for around six years now. From what we can tell, it looks like the time and effort was worth it.

Weird West

Release Date: March 31, 2022

Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Weird West is the next game from Arkane Studios co-founder Raphael Colantonio. He and his new team have brought the immersive-sim sensibilities of Dishonored and Prey to this new project in a big way. The five playable characters each offer a unique set of abilities and perspective on this dark fantasy version of the Old West, and you’ll play as each of them in turn before the end. However, the bigger draw of Weird West is the highly granular, reactive world, in which characters, story beats, and even locations respond to your actions. Having narrative even partly authored by AI has led to mixed results in the past, but this team has the pedigree to make non-linear systems sing.

Witchbrook

biggest upcoming indie video games of 2022 - Afterlove EP Bomb Rush Cyberfunk Card Shark Endling FAR: Changing Tides Goodbye Volcano High Have a Nice Death Haunted Chocollatier Hollow Knight: Silksong Kerbal Space Program 2 Little Devil Inside Loot River Martha Is Dead Neon White OlliOlli World Oxenfree II: Lost Signals Planet of Lana Replaced Sea of Stars Selfloss Shady Knight Sifu Somerville Sons of the Forest Sports Story Stray Tchia Thirsty Suitors Trek to Yomi Tunic Weird West Witchbrook

Release Date: TBA

Platforms: TBA

Harry Potter meets life-sim in this new game from Chucklefish, the team behind Starbound and Wargroove. Notably, it has no trailer yet. However, Witchbrook casts players as a witch-in-training as they try to make it through their schooling, although like any good magic school, this one has secrets to uncover. In addition to finding those out and getting through the school year, Witchbrook is tapping into the cozy vibes of things like Animal Crossing or Stardew Valley, as players will also be able to fish, farm, and forage for resources. But let’s not forget that a huge part of school is developing friendships, and those interpersonal relationships will also be explored during your time at Witchbrook. Like Haunted Chocolatier, this is one of the biggest and most anticipated indie games around even if it doesn’t arrive in 2022.

 

There you have it! There are hundreds of indie gems released each year, but we hope you found some new indie games to look forward to in 2022. If we missed any exciting titles, be sure to leave your suggestions in the comments below.

This article was written by Michael Cripe and Damien Lawardorn.

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