When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Here’s how it works

Home / Features / Stuff’s indie game highlights of February 2024

Stuff’s indie game highlights of February 2024

From card-based and car-based roguelites to 3D platformers to strange puzzlers.

best indie games

In only the first two months of 2024 we have been spoiled for choice with some huge game releases. It’s almost overwhelming, especially when Final Fantasy VII Rebirth is demanding 60+ hours of your time. Fortunately we’re here to remind you of all the great indie releases also out there on all consoles.

Which isn’t to say that some of these choices won’t devour all your time as you could easily find yourself pulled into a game that might be a short run that just keeps you coming back for another go, and before you know it, you’ve racked up over 500 hours on Steam. But you’ll also find titles here that are designed to just let you savour an experience that you can then put down, though the ideas and emotions may linger long after.

Whatever you’re into, there’s no shortage of innovation from our indie game highlights picks this month, which include new twists on roguelites, time loops, as well as blasts from the past.

Pacific Drive (PS5, PC)

Referring to itself as a ‘roadlike’, you should probably get the preconceptions of a snappy run-based game out of your mind. Pacific Drive has a slower, more considered pace, as a first-person survival game where you try to escape the Olympic Exclusion Zone in the Pacific Northwest with a beat-up station wagon.

Its rusty steel will be the thing you rely on to keep you alive from the Zone’s ever-shifting supernatural threats, though you’ll just as often have to get out on foot to scavenge resources while crafting other tools to help you. Just like trying to maintain an old banger, it can feel like a lot of work, with some fiddly controls to boot. But when you’re trying to floor it through a forest and outrun a storm to make it back to base in one piece, you’ll find yourself growing attached to this car more than all the pristine rides you can find in Gran Turismo or Forza.

Balatro (PC, Switch, PS5, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One)

Card-based games have proved huge in gaming since Hearthstone, though it’s roguelite-inspired deckbuilders like Slay the Spire that has really set indies alight in recent years. From solo developer LocalThunk, Balatro is the newest contender in this sub-genre and it’s probably the most accessible to begin with as it’s fundamentally about playing poker hands.

Of course, it also throws in a lot of weird mechanics on top of that, so besides the unpredictable Joker, you’ve also got Tarot cards, Planet cards and Spectral cards in the mix that can boost your run. You then also have to contend with devious opponents called blinds that impose rules to hinder and frustrate your best laid plans. With so many possibilities for each run, it’s a game that, once it sinks its hooks into, you’ll find yourself returning to day after day with any spare minute you can find.

Ultros (PS5, PS4, PC)

Just based on the psychedelic visuals by artist El Huervo, best known for the art from ultra-violent indie masterpiece Hotline Miami, Ultros is a Metroidvania you have never seen. It’s also far from your typical Metroidvania.

There are the staples of exploring a strange alien world, this being inside a bizarre place called the Sarcophogaus, as you acquire new powers that then allow you to explore further but it’s also got a unique time-loop twist, though it might be wrong to call it a roguelike. There may be a cycle you’re restarting each time, but you’re also able to use your memories to retain certain abilities unlocked previously. And while you’ve got access to some cool combo-based combat, it runs parallel with being able to cultivate life by planting seeds. In the end you may find that getting through the game without violence is the answer.

Penny’s Big Breakaway (PC, Switch, PS5, Xbox Series X)

It might be a surprise that the folks behind the excellent Sonic Mania’s next game would be a 3D platformer, but that’s what Penny’s Big Breakaway is, with the energy of a lost 3D game from the Saturn/PS1 era, with all of its weird idyiosyncrasies.

As a busker whose big break accidentally turns her into a wanted criminal, Penny’s on the run with the help of a magic Yo-Yo to traverse stages while evading capture from an army of penguins. Its tricky mechanics are designed to be mastered, with each stage containing collectibles and challenges you’re unlikely to ace the first time, let alone the busking challenge at the end. It’s a curio of a throwback to a time when 3D platformers weren’t just trying to reach the bar Super Mario 64 had set but find their own niches.

Lysfanga: The Time Shift Warrior (PC)

An isometric action game with a puzzle twist, Lysfanga is about clearing a room full of enemies as fast as you can, except you’re not fast enough by yourself. Instead, when time runs out, you restart but you create a clone who does exactly what you did previously, allowing you to take care of enemies on the other side of the room.

With this clever time-looping cloning mechanic, you work out how to coordinate your timings with your clones to reach new areas, defeat a shielding enemy when their back is turned and focused on the other clone, with more inventive ideas coming up each time. Better still, you’ll be compelled to replay stages to beat your times as you figure out how to be the ultimate time shift warrior.

Helskate (PC)

Put together Tony Hawk Pro Skater with Hades, and you might get something like Helskate, a roguelite action game about slaying demons while also slaying on a board. In fact, it practically replicates the mechanics and controls of THPS 1:1 making it almost feel like a brand new spin-off title in the series, which just so happens to require you to also kill hellspawn along the way.

Combining mastery of nailing tricks while also trying to slay demons and not breaking the combo might prove a tricky balance, almost as if the developer is still trying to work out how these two seemingly disparate genres can come together. But then the game is just out on early access, featuring the first of three planned worlds, so there’s plenty of time for these mechanics to be refined over time.

Birth (Switch, also on PC)

A gentle brain-teaser of a narrative puzzler that’s also a meditation on loneliness from solo developer Madison Karrh, Birth is a quietly bizarre Frankenstein story about making a partner out of bones and organs you can find in the city. Each room, from a shop to an apartment, has a series of puzzles, sometimes about spotting the odd one out or deciphering symbols, while also picking up objects that might be key to another puzzle in the same room. 

There’s a simple, tactile and pleasing design to these puzzles, all wrapped in an aesthetic that’s both macabre yet serene. Depending on your puzzling prowess, Birth won’t take more than an afternoon to get through, but its images and message will likely haunt you long after.

The Forever Labyrinth (PC, iOS, Android)

From the developer behind last year’s A Highland Song comes a game that’s been made in partnership with Google that can be played on any browser. The Forever Labyrinth is a narrative adventure where you’re trying to rescue your missing friend Professor Sheldrake while also trying to escape a maze, one that’s also a kind of virtual art museum housing a vast number of hi-res scans of real-world paintings and photographs.

The gameplay is almost reminiscent of Immortality as you select an artwork that catches your eye, which then magically transports you somewhere else, featuring other paintings that share a connection to the one you selected, be it in the subject matter or a shared visual theme. A playthrough can last no more than 20 minutes but with many narrative mysteries to uncover, it’s the kind of mystery you can easily lose lunch breaks to.

Profile image of Alan Wen Alan Wen


Stuff contributor

Areas of expertise


Enable referrer and click cookie to search for eefc48a8bf715c1b 20231024b972d108 [] 2.7.22