With Showcase season almost upon us, I wanted to put the spotlight on a few games that I’m excited about. Below, you’ll find 4 games made by teams of varying sizes, but all of which look to have the utmost passion and care being poured into their development. Whilst none of these have confirmed release dates yet, they are all expected to launch in 2023.
Feast Your Eyes and Prepare Your Wallets
I hope this list gives you something to add to your wishlists. Though, if your lists look anything like mine, there may not be room. I expect that come the end of June they’ll be many more games vying for spots too – it’s such a fantastic time of year for gamers!
Developer: Newfangled Games
Publisher: Newfangled Games
You’ll Like This If You Like: Carto, Monument Valley, Gorogoa, Fez
Paper Trail is a top-down, 2D puzzle game being developed by a small team called Newfangled Games. While this is their first release under this studio, the members are far from newcomers to the industry, having worked on several big-name IPs including Fortnite and Doctor Who. Members of the team also previously worked on Hue, a 2016 multi-platform puzzle game that won over 25 awards. This new offering is following much the same trend, racking up numerous award nominations and wins already, including Best Casual Game and Best Upcoming Game at 2023’s Game Connection America awards.
In Paper Trail you’ll play as Paige. Having been recently accepted into University – a first for someone from her village – she’ll be making the journey there with your help. Along the way, Paige will face obstacles, meet interesting characters, and master her powers. You’ll need to fold the environment, move objects, and shine lights to progress. The origami-style mechanic looks sufficiently mind-boggling to present a fair challenge, so I’m very excited to test myself.
The visual presentation has been designed meticulously to build on the handcrafted theme. The characters are made up of simple monochrome shapes that could be thrown together in an art class exercise. Also, environments have bold palettes and draw on traditional techniques such as watercolour and printmaking, reinforcing the papercraft feel of the world.
Developer: Ishtar Games
Publisher: Ishtar Games
You’ll Like This If You Like: Crusader Kings, Sims
There are plenty of town-building sims that focus heavily on resource management and touch lightly on social aspects. While resources are part of the puzzle in Lakeburg Legacies, managing relationships will be your main focus. You’ll match-make couples based on their likes, dislikes, and traits and set them to work in your town. Where you place them to work will vary their productivity depending on what skills are required for the work and which skills the villager possesses. Beware, relationships and interactions in the workplace can lead to complications in love.
Ishtar Games prides itself on making games that will challenge your skill and require time and effort to master. This is clear when loading into the demo for Lakeburg Legacies. Immediately you are presented with a bombardment of information and icons and just a small series of notes to guide you forward. You win by naming a sovereign to sit on the throne. Conversely, you lose if all your villagers die. At the end of the game, your score will be based on the prestige you have gained by pleasing your villagers and meeting their needs. It’s up to you to figure out the rest.
Lakeburg Legacies promises to be a game with massive depth and complexities. Balancing relationships between lovers and colleagues, whilst maximizing efficiency in each area of resource production will be a daunting but exciting challenge.
Developer: Visai Games
Publisher: Visai Games
You’ll Like This If You Like: Cooking Mama
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Venba could quickly become one of my favourite games when it launches this summer. It combines three of my great loves: cooking, Indian food, and video games. This first caught my attention all the way back in early 2021 and I’ve been eagerly awaiting it since.
Venba tells the tale of an Indian migrant family as they settle and grow in their new home. Through the medium of cooking mini-games, you’ll help repair Venba’s damaged cookbook and rediscover traditional South Asian recipes. Outside of those, branching conversations will explore topics of love and loss in a linear story as the family moves through multiple stages of their lives together. Venba also features an original Tamil-inspired soundtrack and an authentically captured cooking sound design.
Visai Studios are aiming to deliver a bittersweet experience of a family adapting to a new culture whilst struggling to maintain a connection to their roots – and to each other. I have a sneaky feeling that we’ll be getting a release date announcement at the Wholesome Games Direct on 10th June so make sure you tune in!
Developer: Studio Sai
Publisher: Kowloon Nights
You’ll Like This If You Like: Persona
As someone who has only recently begun his foray into the Persona series – completing Persona 5 Royal last year – Eternights instantly piqued my interest when it was featured in Sony’s State of Play in June 2022. Jae Hyun Yoo, the founder of Studio Sai, has not been coy about his influences coming from one of Atlus’ flagship series’. In fact, he has stated previously that playing the previous 3 Persona games inspired him to quit his job and begin developing Eternights.
The story is set in an apocalyptic world where humans are transformed into monsters by a mysterious illness. It’ll be up to the protagonist and friends to find a cure for humanity. Along the way, characters will grow stronger by bonding with one another. You’ll need to manage your time effectively though, as a calendar-based event system will apply pressure to your world-saving schedule. Eternights promises to have a strong focus on building romantic relationships, positioning itself as a dating-action game. The aforementioned action element comes from the hack-and-slash combat, perhaps the biggest variation away from the Persona formula.
The anime-style visual presentation is particularly well done. This is unsurprising given Yoo’s CV includes work at Walt Disney Animation Studios. Although the targeted Q1 2023 launch date has passed, Studio Sai is still aiming to deliver Eternights this summer. Be on the lookout for news in the coming weeks.