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Here’s the cream of the crop from the Day of the Devs Game Awards stream Engadget

Day of the Devs is awesome. It’s a showcase that pops up a few times a year to promote promising, in-progress indie games, irrespective of publisher, genre, budget, visual style or release window. It’s curated by the folks at Double Fine and iam8bit, and they’ve been hosting Day of the Devs live events and digital showcases for the past 11 years.

The latest Day of the Devs celebration wrapped up on December 6, the day before The Game Awards, and it featured 20 marvelous and strange independent projects. The virtual show included a few world premieres and release date announcements, but mostly, it was a celebration of creativity and innovation in indie games. This is particularly relevant right now: The Game Awards reignited the debate around the definition of “indie” in November, when its jury voted Dave the Diver into the Best Independent Game category — even though the title is made by Nexon, one of the largest studios in South Korea.

Indie is more than a label; it identifies teams that are operating outside of the AAA system, without a safety net, and it helps players determine where to spend their money. We published nearly 2,000 words on the topic of defining indie games, so read that if you want more juice. But right now, efforts like Day of the Devs feel extra necessary.

Day of the Devs: The Game Awards Edition 2023 offered a non-stop flow of indie goodness, so watch the whole show if you’re into cool stuff like that. We’ve broken out the news and highlights here:

New games

Kind words 2 (lofi city pop)

Kind Words (lo fi chill beats to write to) came out at both the perfect and most upsetting time — it landed in September 2019, a few months before the pandemic shut down everyday life across the globe. Kind Words is a game about listening to smooth lo-fi beats and writing real letters to real people, and during quarantine, it served as an outlet for thousands of players seeking interpersonal connection, warmth and encouragement.

Kind Words 2 (lofi city pop) is an expanded sequel coming from the original team, Popcannibal. Writing nice letters to strangers is still a core gameplay mechanic, but players are no longer confined to their bedrooms. There’s a whole city to explore, with coffee shops for writing poetry, mountaintops for making wishes on stars, and public spaces filled with people to talk to. The sequel also introduces a social media system with no quantitative feedback — no likes, no popularity metrics, just good vibes.

The Steam page for Kind Words 2 is live now. It’s coming in 2024.

Loose Leaf

The studio behind Boyfriend Dungeon is back with something completely different, but potentially just as sexy. Loose Leaf is a tea-drinking, tarot-reading, witchy experience with a serene 3D art style, and Kitfox Games is advertising it as the most in-depth tea-brewing simulator ever created. It looks like an incredibly detailed version of the potion-making minigame from Pottermore, with a side of social interaction in the form of tarot readings.

Loose Leaf is a game about patience, friendships and the magic therein. There’s no release date at the moment, but it has a Steam page.

The Mermaid’s Tongue

SFB Games, the team that brought us Snipperclips and Tangle Tower, has a new project called The Mermaid’s Tongue. It’s part of the Tangle Tower universe and stars Grimoire and Sally, the two detectives from that series. The Mermaid’s Tongue is a murder mystery game about the death of a submarine captain, and players have to interrogate bystanders, investigate their surroundings and solve environmental puzzles.

The Mermaid’s Tongue is heading to Steam and Xbox in 2024, and a Steam demo is out now.

Nirvana Noir

Genesis Noir is one of the most visually striking games of the past few years, and its sequel, Nirvana Noir, looks just as stunning. Nirvana Noir is Feral Cat Den’s follow-up to Genesis, and it offers a jazzy, psychedelic twist on the series. The main character, No Man, is caught in a cosmic conspiracy and players will use dialogue-based detective work to understand the surrounding characters, read between the lines and hunt for clues.

There’s no release date for Nirvana Noir at the moment, but it’s coming to Steam, the Epic Games Store and Xbox. It’ll be published by Fellow Traveller.

Release dates

Flock

Flock looks like a charming, cozy game about soaring around fantastical environments and collecting flying friends, with singleplayer and multiplayer settings. It comes from Hollow Ponds and Richard Hogg, one of the creators of Hohokum, and it is incredibly cute. Aside from befriending birds, the game includes a creature guide for identifying new beasts and there’s a wool-collecting mechanic tied to the sheep roaming the lands below. Flock didn’t have a release window until today: It’s due out in spring 2024 on Steam, PlayStation and Xbox, published by Annapurna Interactive.

Flock
Annapurna Interactive

Open Roads

Open Roads has been on the indie radar for a while now, and it finally has a release date: February 22, 2024. Open Roads follows a mother and her 16-year-old daughter on a road trip that reveals hard truths about their family and ultimately tests their bond. It looks like an emotional, moving story, and it stars actors Keri Russel and Kaitlyn Dever.

Open Roads comes from The Open Roads Team, a group of developers that split off from indie studio Fullbright. It’s published by Annapurna Interactive and it’s heading to PC, PlayStation, Xbox and Switch. It’ll be on Game Pass at launch.

Open Roads
Annapurna Interactive

These look especially dope

Cryptmaster

Cryptmaster looks like Inscyrption mixed with hell’s cel-shader, and I’m personally very into it. Cryptmaster blends word puzzles with action sequences; players build their arsenals by solving letter-guessing games with text or voice, unlocking the resulting attack skills. It comes from Paul Hart and Lee Williams, published by Akupara Games, and it’s due to hit Steam in 2024.

Cryptmaster
Akupara Games

Drag Her!

This one’s for the royalty in everyone. Drag Her! is a fighting game featuring real-life superstar drag queens and kings from RuPaul’s Drag Race, Boulet Brothers’ Dragula and beyond, and it looks like a camp ol’ time. Drag Her! stars Alaska, Asia O’Hara, BenDeLaCreme, Kim Chi, Landon Cider and Laganja Estranja, with voice acting by each performer and unique attacks based on their personalities.

Drag Her! comes from Fighting Chance Games and it’s slated for release in early 2025.

Holstin

Holstin brings horror to a small Polish town in the 1990s, with beautifully dark pixel-art scenes that swap between isometric and first-person perspectives. The developers at Sonka grew up in this world of post-communism religious influence, and they used their experiences to build a game dripping in psychological and supernatural horror. Holstein is an eerie game that values investigation and sharpshooting in equal measure, set in a rare locale.

There’s no release date for Holstin, but it’s coming to PC, Xbox, PlayStation and Switch eventually. A demo showing off its first-person combat system recently went live on Steam, and another demo is coming in 2024.

Home Safety Hotline

As a true ’90s kid, this one is weirdly comforting. Home Safety Hotline is a text-based horror game that plays out on a Windows 96 desktop, complete with pixelated icons and sad gray pop-up windows. Players log on to work at a call center, where they help their clients get rid of spooky, paranormal creatures and occurrences invading their homes.

Home Safety Hotline is heading to PC in early 2024 (a slight delay from its original release date).

Home Safety Hotline
Night Signal Entertainment

Militsioner

Militsioner is essentially 1984, the video game: It features a cop as an all-seeing colossus, sitting watch over a quiet town, alert and eager to throw you in jail. Players have to escape without attracting the attention of the giant policeman, learning when to sneak and how to talk their way out of capture, and exploring empty buildings and solving spatial puzzles along the way.

Militsioner comes from Tallboys and doesn’t have a release date, but its Steam page is live.

Militsioner
Tallboys

If you’re still craving more, check out the full Day of the Devs: The Game Awards 2023 show here.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://ift.tt/6fZEUjl Jessica Conditt

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