The P2 Awards 2023 – Best Indie

The P2 Awards 2023 - Best Indie

It is that time of year folks, the time when the P2 crew sit down around a fire, roasting chestnuts, drinking a nice beverage before arguing excessively about the best games of the year. There is no doubt that 2023 had some absolute bangers to share with players and here, the P2 team have listed their favourites. It now time for the Indies to shine. 

Sarah Ellen - Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood

Suffering the horrible fate of being released amidst the furore of Baldur’s Gate 3 and Starfield, Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood is a delightful little 10-hour visual novel where you build a divinity deck to rebel against your coven who exiled you for a millennium for just being your very best self.

I was immersed in the loop of creating new cards – considering how I would spend my elemental resources to pick the perfect Sphere (background), Arcana (focal piece), and Energy (decorative elements) and try to build a dynamic scene on each card. Sometimes I wanted to create a card that resonated with me personally, and sometimes I just wanted to stack a card with a whole lot of whiskey bottles.

Exile became a salon as many witches, warriors, and omnipotents visit to experience the new divinity deck. While I didn’t resonate with being propelled into a romance, I always wanted to know more about the coven that exiled me, and Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood managed to tackle heavy topics and create complex characters in its short run time.

Paul James - Dredge

The Kiwi’s have done it! Dredge has long been on the periphery of my radar, looming as this game way out on the distance that could sweep me away once it reached the shore. Sure enough, it was excellent. Dredge creeps you out constantly, but possesses an exceptionally engaging gameplay loop, and narrative depth that is begging to be dived into. With DLC now available as well that adds a whole lot new to explore, Dredge is a must-play game of the year, no matter your platform of preference.

Jason Hawkins - Slay the Princess

I love horror. A lot. Slay the Princess was on my radar for ages and I signed the hell up to review it. I’m glad I did. I’m glad I followed my gut. It’s incredible. Voice acting is amazing, hand drawn art is wonderful, the writing gives you that constant balance of “I can fix her” and “I wonder how deep this rabbit hole goes”. It’s a game that resonated with me on multiple levels, and has the exquisite benefit of taking three hours for a single playthrough. You’ll do multiple, but three per run is pure bliss. It’ll make you question your choices, or be shocked at the monkey’s paw of outcomes. I’ll be screaming this game from the rooftops at random strangers for them to play for a good while to come.

Stephen del Prado - Jusant

I had no expectations of this game and agreed to review it solely based on my love of DontNod’s Life is Strange series. While Jusant is a very different beast, it became my favourite indie title of 2023 due to its strong atmosphere, solid core gameplay loops and knowing when to wrap things up before it wore thin. Given it’s a GamePass title, I’d encourage anyone with a subscription to give it a shot.

Shaun Nicholls - Dredge

After playing the demo at PAX I could not pass up the opportunity to do the review for this Lovecraftian fishing adventure. Brought to us from our neighbours in New Zealand Black Salt Games, Dredge is the type of game that a player can spend hours just fishing and upgrading their boat while forging their own path through the archipelago or they can dive headlong into its dark narrative, attempting to understand the things that go bump in the night while fishing in these strange waters.

Matt Hewson - Everspace 2

I have long wished for a revival of the classic Freelancer formula, something that hasn’t been seen for quite some time. Space shooters went out of fashion for some reason and fans like me were left out in the cold. That was until Everspace 2 arrived. A sequel to a rogue-like, Everspace 2 takes the space combat of the original and has built a full-on space RPG around it and frankly, it is a blast. 

Everspace 2 features some fantastic ship combat, trading, engaging RPG systems including the ability to upgrade and replace your ship and a fantastic story, this is a big game with tonnes to do and all of it is of AAA quality. What the team behind Everspace 2 have achieved is nothing short of amazing and if you have any urge to shoot some spaceships you need to jump on this ASAP. It is even on Gamepass. 

Rob Caporetto - The Making of Karateka

When it comes to indie projects, it should not be a surprise for me to say my indie game of the year is Digital Eclipse’s The Making of Karateka.

It’s for good reason though, as it is an amazing showcase for something which is incredibly important to me which is not only about making older games accessible for those who aren’t really into the challenges of maintaining old hardware but also about celebrating gaming’s past away from the trappings of nostalgia we have for them.

The interactive documentary is structured around the interactive timelines we saw with last year’s Atari 50, but alongside documentation scans, interviews and playable builds, we also get features that break down the process used for the pioneering rotoscoping process used for creating the game’s sprites.

We also get glimpses into what could have been too – as not only do we get the chance to play several unreleased games, but a glimpse into the early steps of a follow-up, a game which would eventually become the original Prince of Persia.

I was riveted to my PS5 as I was watching this, and though I was familiar with Karateka, I wasn’t really into it, and by the time I had finished watching (for want of a better term), I had a lot more appreciation for such a pioneering game.

Gaming has long-needed projects that not only celebrate the past but to tell the stories of how those games we love came to be, so we can see how gaming has grown and improved over the years.

Jess Zammit - Goodbye Volcano High

A game about dinosaurs at the end of the world doesn’t exactly sound upbeat, but this game was filled with more joy and heart than many others I played this year. Not only was it an unashamedly queer story, it also showed off some new mechanics that I hope other games take inspiration from in the future. It was emotional from start to end, and a prime example of how powerful a visual novel can be when done right. I also want to give honourable mentions to Cocoon, for incredible and unique puzzle design, and Thirsty Suitors, for being so damn stylish.

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