Arcweave's Top Indie Narrative Games to Wishlist in 2024
In the vibrant landscape of modern gaming, pixels and paper converge to create immersive narrative experiences which act as the compelling storytellers of our digital age. Beyond the mere act of playing, these interactive tales captivate us, weaving intricate narratives that seek to realize imagined worlds. Storytelling is not merely a feature of games — it's the heartbeat that brings these virtual worlds to life.
Venturing into 2024, the world of indie narrative games beckons with promise, offering a treasure trove of handcrafted stories waiting to be unearthed. Laugh, cry, and embrace the frustration of puzzle-solving as we explore this handpicked collection of indie narrative games destined to leave an indelible mark on your Steam wishlist.
Snow Cone Serenade
Described as a 'short and sweet Liminal Adventure Game', Snow Cone Serenade is a free indie game created by solo developer Potion of Midi for the Winter Visual Novel GameJam.
This short adventure revolves around our Golden-Girls loving protagonist who becomes ensnared in the mysterious and magical town of Snow Cone. Tasked with unravelling the town's secrets, they must urgently discover a way back to their ailing canine companion, Jedediah, before time runs out.
Blending visual novel and cRPG elements, Snow Cone Serenade carefully crafts a straightforward yet impactful narrative which is delivered through a cast of unique and heartfelt characters. Despite being only an hour long, Snow Cone Serenade makes every second count through meticulously crafted character interactions which, while brief, have notable growth and development that is profoundly impactful. Skilfully navigating the line between being serious and light-hearted, the beautifully-written dialogue further maintains a seamless balance of tone that elevates the emotion of each scene.
Amidst the heavy snowfall, the environment is painted with muted shades of grey and white. Nevertheless, a gentle and enchanting glow emanates from the game's visuals, where soft, warm lighting and colours guide the player through the unfamiliar landscape. The charming visuals, coupled with a delightful original soundtrack, form a cosy and heart-warming atmosphere akin to the feeling of being nestled by a warm fireplace during a winter storm. This ambiance, with its subtle palette and minimal design, serves as the perfect canvas for the simple but sweet narrative that truly immerses players in the heart of Snow Cone.
Check out Snow Cone Serenade!
Enter the world of Soulitaire, a 2D Choose Your Own Adventure developed by Beardshaker Games that secured a nomination for the 2022 Colors of Indie Award. With its fusion of visual novel-style dialogue and fortune-telling solitaire, this game promises a unique experience that marks it as a mainstay on Steam wishlists.
While the full release date is yet to be announced, the free demo is available to play on Steam, offering a brief yet insightful glimpse into game's cosy atmosphere and intriguing narratives.
Leading a unique fortune-telling café, the protagonist unveils the mysteries of their customers' fortunes through interpreting soul cards - a playful and distinctive spin on solitaire that breaks up the dialogue and keeps the player engaged. After uncovering the soul cards, the player is tasked with interpretation, a challenge that ranges from straightforward readings to intricate deciphering. Each unique card varies in complexity and readability, but all have a profound impact on the narrative and destinies of the characters involved.
While the demo introduces only two characters, their plots are both unique and compelling, offering diverse, gripping stories that captivate players, leaving them eager to delve into the full game. The narrative seamlessly blends elements of mystical danger and magical intrigue with grounded explorations of contemporary life as a young adult, creating a captivating fusion of fantasy and realism.
Overall, the warm and comforting ambiance, coupled with modern fantasy-inspired dialogue, evokes an atmosphere reminiscent of Coffee Talk. However, the gothic undertones and comic book art style distinguishes Soulitaire from other indie games in the space.
Check out Soulitaire!
I'll be Brave, Tomorrow
Created in support of Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity, I'll be Brave, Tomorrow is a first-person narrative adventure game made by InkForge Studios, an indie development and publishing team founded by two students from Falmouth University. The game follows the story of a sick, bedridden child called Robyn who seeks excitement through various items in their room, including a retro games console.
While the release date is expected sometime around the summer of 2024, a free demo has been recently released on itch.io which showcases a small snippet of the game's vision.
The game's standout feature is how the visuals switch between a simple 3D hospital room and a charming 80s-style 2D platformer, with the interaction between these two environments underpinning the central story. The 2D platformer centres around a robin who must slowly overcome its fear of flying in order to reunite with its family. This poignant journey mirrors the real-life struggles of bedridden Robyn, who can only experience the freedom of movement vicariously through a video game.
Driven by strong fundamental gameplay elements, the story unfolds into a beautiful and profoundly personal metatextual journey. Delving beneath the simple but charming visuals, the game intertwines mechanics and narrative in a way that explores the real-life challenges of being bedbound with depth and understanding. It's an innovative form of storytelling which crafts an empathetic and resonant experience for players.
As InkForge Studios has pledged to donate 50% of the game's Steam revenue to the Great Ormond Street Hospital, support for the game helps support one of the worlds leading children's hospitals.
Check out I'll be Brave, Tomorrow!
Heir of the Dog
Shortlisted for the 2024 Most Anticipated Award by Debug Magazine, Heir of the Dog is a delightfully British point & click adventure developed by UK-based indie studio Tall Story Games. The game begins when top-hat-wearing protagonist Cummerbund Bandersnatch consumes an experimental formula that causes him to undergo a monstrous transformation and must solve a series of puzzles in order to be cured.
While the official release date for the game remains unannounced, the free demo acts as the perfect initiation to the shadowy world of Victorian London.
The story itself, while brief (and a little bizarre), promises intrigue and suspense as many mysteries of the world are left to uncovered. In order to navigate complex puzzles, players manipulate time through the power of a pocket watch, a unique mechanic that sets up a variety of interesting challenges which drive the narrative. The inclusion of this time-skip mechanic, coupled with the transformation mechanics, provide a refreshing and novel twist to the conventional point & click adventure formula.
Overflowing with references to popular British culture, Heir of the Dog truly shines in it's witty humour and charming dialogue. Another pleasantly surprising feature is that the game is fully voice-acted to an exceptional quality, breathing life into every quirky character that graces the game's diverse cast. Additionally, the pixel art employs a vibrant colour palette which illustrates both the posh and ostentatious upper-class British décor and the grimy streets of London.
Altogether, the game clearly establishes the atmosphere of a fog-smothered London town whilst exploring a light-hearted yet gothic tone which defines the unique style of the world.
Check out Heir of The Dog!
The highly anticipated Lockdown-cRPG and winner of the PitchAGAME 2023 Competition, Glasshouse, emerges as one of the top-wishlisted games on Steam, being described by GAMINGbible as a fusion between Disco Elysium and early Fallout games. Made by the indie game developer collective Flat28, Glasshouse revolves around the industrial town of Ludonstoch which has been sent into lockdown following a violent, atomic threat from the terrorist organisation CoFoPo.
A claustrophobic, tense, and thrilling story ensues as protagonist Wealdmaer becomes trapped in a cramped apartment complex and must prepare for the oncoming nuclear winter alongside a cast of strange yet equally memorable characters.
Filled to the brim with references to politics, philosophy, and real-world history, Glasshouse presents a nuanced examination of life in a post-capitalist world. Through choosing your political compass, the player is offered a substantial level of customisation as well as a plethora of choices which lead to diverging endings and pathways. The intricately crafted writing masterfully navigates between humour and seriousness, delivering some genuinely hilarious lines.
Another element of the game is its complex and varied puzzle design which involves exploration, scavenging, crafting, and close attention to detail. The demo features a range of puzzles which each necessitate different skills, yet all feel fun and engaging whilst keeping the player immersed. As a games writer myself, I also found immense enjoyment in reading the surprisingly abundant collection of books and documents scattered around the world. These texts are rich with lore and intriguing titbits that provide valuable insights into the expansive world and overarching narrative.
The Glasshouse team is a proud Arcweave Ambassador and actively uses our software in their game development process. We are incredibly excited to be partnered with such a talented team and wholeheartedly believe that Glasshouse is a perfect showcase for the power of Arcweave.
Check out Glasshouse!
The Power of Indie
For aspiring game developers, the journey into the world of indie gaming holds boundless possibilities. Many of the games featured in this article began as seeds planted in game jams, growing into fully-fledged experiences that now capture the hearts of players. If you harbour a passion for game development and storytelling, take that leap and embark on your own indie game adventure. You never know where your creativity might take you.
And you have help! Arcweave loves to empower creators by bringing their visions to life. Our powerful web-based scripting tool is used by people over at Netflix, EA, Mojang, Microsoft, Amazon as well as being a cornerstone of indie games like Glasshouse, Space Chef, and It's Grim Up North. So, if you need help getting started, feel free to reach out to our team on Discord with questions, queries, or just a friendly chat.
Seize the opportunity to turn your ideas into fully fledged games – your indie journey awaits!