2022 has just begun and it’s already shaping up to be a great year for gamers. A slew of AAA titles is set to release this year, with the ever-hyped Elden Ring making its debut just next month. While there are certainly big games to look forward to, there’s no shortage of smaller gaming experiences to enjoy this year either. Here are our picks for the small and indie games you should keep an eye on in 2022.
Darkest Dungeon 2
If you haven’t played the original Darkest Dungeon, now is the time. The gritty and grimy roguelike puts you at the helm of a gothic adventuring party making their way through a dungeon. Of course, the dungeon is an equally gothic, equally grimy place filled with monsters and the like. It’s tough, unforgiving, extremely addictive, and filled to the brim with fantastic gameplay and visuals.
The sequel puts your party OUTSIDE of the dungeons, and on the road this time around, but the gothic, grime, and non-stop monsters remain.
Darkest Dungeon 2 recently hit the Epic Games Store in Early Access and is scheduled for a full release sometime this year.
Recommended: RECON 500
Far: Changing Tides
Far: Changing Tides is described as “an atmospheric vehicle adventure”, and that really seems to be the best way to explain it. You play as a boy named Toe on a vehicle that’s a combination of submarine and ship, setting sail to find a new home in a flooded world. You have to keep your crumbling ship afloat while solving unique puzzles and facing the hazards of the open sea. The game serves as a companion title to developer Okomotive’s highly acclaimed first game, Far: Lone Sails. That featured the same concept but on a desert crawler rather than a water-bound ship. So fans familiar with the first should expect some similar elements, and a heap of that atmosphere to boot.
Far: Changing Tides is expected to release in the first half of this year.
If you liked Stardew Valley but wished it featured even more felines, then Snacko is for you. This upcoming game puts the player in a low-poly, pastel world reminiscent of the Gamecube version of Animal Crossing mixed with cute sprite work of some other 2d titles(such as Stardew or Terraria). You play as a cat who has recently moved to a small island. Of course, there’s a mystery on the said island for the player to solve as well. In the meantime, you’re able to farm, fish, do odd jobs for neighbors, and much more.
Snacko doesn’t have a set release date yet but is expected to come out this year.
There’s never a shortage of point and click games out there, but few are as stylish as NORCO. Your brother has gone missing following the death of your mother, and it’s up to you to find out where he’s gone. The game is set in a dystopian version of South Louisiana, where industrial swamps and oil refineries go hand in hand with suburbs and strip malls. While it may seem like a drab setting, developer Geography of Robots has created stunning pixel art for every scene that brings to life both the characters and their version of Louisiana.
Like many games on this list, there’s no concrete release date for NORCO yet, but it is expected to debut this year.
Most city builder and simulation games see the player exploit an area’s natural resources to build up a settlement, army, and more. Terra Nil takes the exact opposite approach. In this reverse city builder, the player is tasked with revitalizing a barren wasteland. Transforming it back into a thriving ecosystem in the hopes of bringing back local wildlife. Along the way, you’ll have to deploy clean-energy solutions, fight wildfires, and more.
There’s no hard release date for this one, but a demo is live on Steam to check out.
Kerbal Space Program 2
Kerbal Space Program 2 technically doesn’t count as an Indie title, but given the series’ indie origins, it gets a pass here. Kerbal Space Program 2 builds off its predecessor to give players a realistic yet approachable space program simulator. You design, fund, and launch your own rockets with the aim of exploring the Kerbin galaxy. This time round, there’s also interstellar travel as well as a colony system for the worlds you explore.
There’s no set release date for Kerbal Space Program 2, but it is releasing in 2022.
Jupiter Moons: Mecha
Deck building games have exploded in popularity over the past few years, and Jupiter Moons: Mecha may be the next must-play one. In it, the player is tasked with customizing both a fighting mech’s loadout and deck of ability cards before engaging in mech-to-mech combat. You have to juggle both your Mech’s gear and the abilities it’s capable of using.
You’ll be able to climb into Jupiter Moons: Mecha’s cockpit later this year.
Slime Rancher 2
If you haven’t found a farming life simulator that grabbed your attention before, check out the original Slime Rancher. The game plays like a tycoon sim, where you capture and breed together different slimes before selling their byproducts. The game becomes more complex as you progress. Different slimes require specific living conditions and many are extremely rare to find. The sequel is said to expand on the systems presented in the first game, and you can also expect it to add a bunch of new slimes for the player to collect.
Slime Rancher 2 is due to be released this year, but an exact date has yet to be set.
Hollow Knight: Silksong
Hollow Knight exploded onto the indie scene in 2017 and has maintained an overwhelmingly positive review score on Steam ever since. The miniature Metroidvania puts you in the shoes of a small knight in a world of bizarre bugs and tiny critters. What sets this game apart from others in its genre is its tight gameplay, abundance of abilities, and breathtaking world design. The brutal bosses are just the icing on top. The sequel, Hollow Knight: Silksong, promises to build off the original and introduce some new mechanics as well, by way of the new protagonist Hornet amongst other changes.
Hollow Knight: Silksong still doesn’t have a confirmed release date, but with any luck, it will hit the shelves later this year.
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Nicolas Perez is a journalist who has played way too much Civilization 5. He’s rambling on Twitter @Nic_Perez_.