Giving some small indie games a chance
In recent years, I haven’t branched out as much as I’d like when it comes to my gaming taste. I did venture away from exclusively playing AAA games, but the indies I played were the huge titles that may as well be AAA at this point just based on their ubiquity, like Hades, Disco Elysium, Stardew Valley, and so on.
I really love AAA games, but when I sit down to play one, I pretty much know right away what to expect in terms of the overall experience. When I got to thinking about everything that’s releasing in 2022, I found myself feeling less enthused than usual. Don’t get me wrong, there are some huge, genuinely really exciting games coming out this year, like Horizon Forbidden West, Elden Ring, and God of War Ragnarok, but none of them have me counting down the days until their release.
That got me thinking, is there anything I’m excited about when it comes to games this year? Well yeah, of course there is. I wouldn’t write about them for a living if that wasn’t the case. As I started thinking about it, I realized I’m more excited for the games I don’t know about than the ones that I do.
There are so, so many games out in the world, and a vast majority of them won’t get a fraction of the attention even lesser-known indie games will receive. The thing is, though, these super small indie games are often the ones doing some of the most unique and interesting things to push games forward. They tell the stories we wouldn’t otherwise hear, and they incorporate experimental mechanics that would never make the final cut of a triple-A game. Without all the corporate red tape, small games really get to shine, and show off the endless potential of what the interactive medium can do.
Most of these super-small games won’t even get trailers — you kind of have to hear about them through word of mouth, or just actively seek them out. While I wish many of these types of games would get more of a chance, there is something cool about coming across a passion project someone worked really hard on but didn’t expect anyone to see. When you take away the business side of any art, you know you’re getting someone’s vision, pristine and undisturbed, for better or for worse.
My plan this year is to just be on the lookout for anything and everything that piques my interest. When I see someone post about their game on Twitter that’s finally out, I want to take a look, or really listen when my friends tell me to check out a game they liked.
There are tons of amazing indie festivals and conferences that showcase these types of projects. Reddit is home to some great indie communities where devs post their progress, so I’ll be scouring those, too. Organizations like WINGS and GLITCH are invested in funding and publishing diverse indie voices. I also have one of those massive itch.io bundles that I bought last summer that I haven’t even looked through yet, so I know there’s gonna be a lot of good stuff in there, too.
With all of the huge games that are constantly coming out of bigger studios, it can be easy to forget how much of the gaming industry is little games made by single people or small teams, simply because they love them. Open source tools, and websites like itch.io have made it easier than ever for people to share their work, so at this point I really have no excuse. Now I’m looking forward to 2022 being the year that I really immerse myself into the indie scene, because although indies make up most of my “favorite games of all time” list, there is still so, so much to see. Looking forward, I think it’s a pretty safe bet to say that my favorite game of 2022 will be one I haven’t even heard of yet.