Look, we know your gaming plate is probably piled up pretty high right now. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is right around the corner, and yeah that’s probably going to keep you occupied until Halloween, but we should still take some time to appreciate the rad indie games of April 2023 that might have flown under the mainstream radar.
Developer: Lateralis Heavy Industries Publisher: Super Rare Originals Platform(s): PC For Fans Of: Hotline Miami, John Wick
Despite being a smash hit in 2012, twitchy top-down bloodbath sim Hotline Miami hasn’t inspired many similar titles – but OTXO (pronounced “ocho”) takes Hotline Miami’s ball and runs with it. As you carve a bloody path of revenge in this stark, monochromatic slugfest where the only actual color is the red of your enemies’ blood, you’ll pick up different weapons, accrue more abilities across runs, and battle huge bosses.
The pulpy, noir atmosphere elevates OTXO past just being a spiritual sequel, and turns into its very own kinetic, brain-warping experience. Playing OTXO often feels like driving a car with no brakes, but without the actual danger and with a lot more (fun, not real) blood.
2. Bramble: The Mountain King
Developer: Dimfrost Studio Publisher: Merge Games Platform(s): PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X & S For Fans Of: Little Nightmares, Inside
Lost in a vast, magical forest, you must find your lost sister. Complicating matters is the vast number of fairy tale monsters that are between you and your goal, and the fact that you are an extremely small, extremely vulnerable, literal child. Bramble: The Mountain King captures the fairy tale sense of whimsy and danger in equal measure, full of breathtaking enchanted areas and terrifying giant trolls, dwarves, and other creatures out of Norse fables.
Gameplay wise, you’ll be sneaking your way through 3D environments, solving puzzles, evading enemies and occasionally engaging in hair-raising boss battles that will test your mind as much as your tiny child body. Every environment is dripping in atmospheric wonder, like stumbling through an illustrated book of fairy tales. Just maybe don’t read these tales before bed – you might worry what else is in the dark.
3. Crab Champions
Developer: Noisestorm Limited Publisher: Noisestorm Limited Platform(s): PC For Fans Of: Risk of Rain, Apex Legends
Too many games are content to just put a gun in a person’s hands and let them loose on an adventure. Crab Champions is finally brave enough to give guns to a crab instead. Released in early access in April, Crab Champions is already a sugary thrill-ride of a game, as you pick a crustacean and embark on roguelike runs to conquer your tropical island.
The true charm of Crab Champions is just how quickly you can “break” the game, and create a blend of powers and weapons that feels like cheating. In no time at all, you might be blasting half a screen full of lasers at your enemies and shredding them before they can fully render.
You can also play co-op with friends, leading to some truly lopsided and bonkers encounters as you and your pal both rush to create the most busted, off-kilter builds and fill each other’s screens with as many projectiles as possible.
4. Mr. Sun’s Hatbox
Developer: Kenny Sun Publisher: Raw Fury Platform(s): PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X & S For Fans Of: Enter The Gungeon, Spelunky, Metal Gear Solid 5
Your courier company was given a simple package to deliver – a hatbox, meant for the titular Mr. Sun. When bad guys steal the package, you and your courier team will have to get it back – no matter the cost.
That means sneaking through 2D action levels in a roguelike manner, but you won’t have to do it alone. The key feature of Mr. Sun’s Hatbox is its recruitment mechanic. While you begin as the sole employee of your courier company, you can capture and convert your enemies by strapping them to a balloon, MGS 5 style, and yanking them back to your base. The more recruits you have, the better your chances of making it through each level.
Additionally, you can pick up unique hats to give you additional weapons or abilities, lending a bit of Kirby-style power swapping flavor. Some hats are more joke items than actual weapons, like a blindfold that obscures the screen or headphones that replace all the in-game music, but learning and experimenting are part of the fun. The action is nonstop, and the high rate of comical snowballing that can come from a single mistake makes Mr. Sun’s Hatbox as much a slapstick simulator as a stealth game.
5. Cassette Beasts
Developer: Bytten Studio Publisher: Raw Fury Platform(s): PC (Switch and Xbox Series X|S later this year) For Fans Of: Pokemon, Persona, Megaman: Battle Network
Explore a lush, pixel-art 2D open world while catching monsters and battling them against other monsters to grow your team. Sound familiar? While Cassette Beasts does have some conceptual similarities to Pokemon and other monster-battler games, it has a number of unique elements. First and foremost, it has a fun narrative hook beyond just wanting to catch ‘em all, as your character is sucked into a strange world full of music-based monsters, and by recording these sonic beasties, you can capture them on audio and transform into them in battle.
The battle system has the usual type advantage system and a few unique quirks, like the ability to combine captured monsters and cook up new ones. The world is full of vibrant colors and, naturally, infectiously groovy tunes, making a game that’s far better than just a remix of other games’ top features – it’s a hit track in its own right.
Some of the coverage you find on Cultured Vultures contains affiliate links, which provide us with small commissions based on purchases made from visiting our site. We cover gaming news, movie reviews, wrestling and much more.
Gamezeen is a Zeen theme demo site. Zeen is a next generation WordPress theme. It’s powerful, beautifully designed and comes with everything you need to engage your visitors and increase conversions.