Indie Games Spotlight is Goomba Stomp’s biweekly column where we highlight some of the most exciting new and upcoming independent games. We’ve said goodbye to 2022 and outlined some of our most anticipated indies as we head into 2023—and there’s still plenty of independent excitement in the very near future. January is packed with promising indies, so whether you’re looking for dungeon crawlers, multiplayer racers, or musical mashups, this first proper spotlight of 2023 has a bit of everything. Let’s kick things off!
Win the Next-Gen Race with Tray Racers
Ray tracing has been one of the biggest talking points of the latest console gen, but one thing that hasn’t gotten much attention is tray racing. Enter Tray Racers, a free-to-play racer from the developers behind the 2020 puzzle hit PHOGS!. Taking place after the end of the world, Tray Racers sees players rising from the post-apocalyptic ruins, grabbing their trays, and racing through a series of empty, suspiciously racetrack-like biomes.
With support for solo play and multiplayer for up to 16 players, Tray Racers looks to offer a lot. Each map is procedurally generated, meaning no two matches are alike–and that’s not to mention he substantial options available for customizing your racer, from tray paintjobs to unique haircuts. Most importantly, Tray Racers promises to be a wholesome experience, offering an eco-positive take on a post-apocalypse world (and even more critically, it allows you to pet anything in the game with the press of a button). Tray Racers has no release date yet, but it won’t be long before it makes its debut on Steam.
Plug Into the Groove with Power Chord
Music can be a powerful thing, and in Power Chord, it might just save the day. Described as a “rock’n roguelite,” Power Chord is a deck-building game in which players assemble a team of Earth’s greatest rockers on an epic tour to take back a city overrun by a demon gang, one dive bar at a time. With turn-based combat, a vast array of unique cards for each band member, and a roguelike gameplay loop, no two tours will ever be quite the same.
Each playthrough of Power Chord comes replete with branching paths and challenging battles that task you to make the most of the hand you’re dealt. Developed by the team behind 2020’s excellent 2D action game Foregone, and taking potential from titles like Darkest Dungeon and Slay the Spire, Power Chord has the potential to please both hardcore rockers and deckbuilding fans alike. The show begins when Power Chord releases on January 26 on PC.
Rise Up with Gatekeeper: Eclipse
Gatekeeper is a roguelike of cosmic proportions: the Heart of the Universe is at stake, and given the role of the “Observer,” it’s the player’s job to protect the heart at all costs, even if that means shooting through thousands of enemies at once in unfamiliar galaxies. With bullet-hell-inspired gameplay, players will arm themselves with a range of weapons, control several different heroes, and take advantage of customizable skills in solo or co-op gameplay.
Gatekeeper is certainly a promising title for roguelike fans to watch heading into 2023, but before the full game launches later this year, developer Gravity Lagoon is offering Gatekeeper: Eclipse–a free-to-play prologue that provides an in-depth look at the full game to come. Featuring three unique locations, over a thousand enemies, and two playable characters, Eclipse is set to offer a great head start when it launches on Steam on January 19.
Have a Good IDEA?
What’s it take to get a good idea off the ground? Sometimes, it just needs a little nudge. IDEA takes this concept literally. This experimental adventure touts itself as “an art game about wonder, discovery, and sharing,” an adventure in which players send their ideas, represented by rolling lightbulbs, out into the world. It will be up to players to gently push their ideas across the world–and see how they interact.
In IDEA, your idea can be anything–a stray thought, a poem, a story, a song, and so on. As you begin each journey you can come across other players’ ideas, interact with them, and save them for yourslef. The game promises to be vivid: the world map consists of live footage captured in 4K via drone, and each screen passes seamlessly into the next, all complemented by a minimalist soundtrack. IDEA promises to be a fascinating experiment ahead of its release on Steam this coming March, but if you can’t wait to see where this idea goes, check out the free IDEA demo on Steam now!
Get Over the Top in UnderDungeon
We all know the daily grind: you wake up early in the morning, get dressed, get ready, clock in at work, and start fighting underground demons. That’s the daily grind in the world of UnderDungeon, a dungeon crawler where players take the role of a character named Kimuto on the first day of his job as a hero. Being a hero is no easy job, as Kimuto will have to venture into the depths of Kutopia, a strange world filled with enigmatic characters, puzzles, and vicious foes.
UnderDungeon is a charming adventure paying tribute to the genre classics, boasting an endearingly minimalist black-and-white, 1-bit aesthetic. The game promises secrets, surprise encoutners, and minigames around every corner, ensuring there’s not a dull moment while Kimuto’s on the job. No need to wait to clock in, as UnderDungeon is available now on PC, Switch, and Xbox!
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