In case you didn’t get the memo, Q1 is the new peak season of the videogames release calendar. It kicked off early in the month with the long-awaited Dying Light 2 (check out our review here), but Total War: Warhammer 3 is just around the corner (likewise) and Elden Ring is waiting for us at the end of the month, too. Amid all the chaos, the Western release of Lost Ark has become the fifth game to ever record 1 million concurrent players on Steam. So yeah, it’s been a very busy start to 2022.
Fortunately, our crop of carefully curated indies features a few relaxing games so you can enjoy some downtime between nullifying Nurgle hordes and parkour zombie-slaying. We’ve got a meditative ocean exploration game, a grappling puppy platformer, a melancholic match-3 RPG, and much more – maybe not something for every taste, but it’s definitely an eclectic mix.
So, keep reading for our top indie gaming picks of February 2022.
Oh, and if you take a shine to any of these then make sure to wishlist them on Steam or follow the developers for future announcements.
Grapple Dog – 10 February
There’s a dog, and he’s got a grappling hook – what’s not to love? We’re not particularly well served on PC when it comes to vibrant, characterful 2D action-platformers, and there’s something convincingly ‘Nintendo’ about Grapple Dog’s music, pixel art, and gameplay. The whole game feels like a nod to GBA-era mascot platformers.
There are six distinct worlds to battle, jump, and grapple your way through, and you’ve got heaps of platforming tricks at your disposal to navigate each level. The skill ceiling is surprisingly high and there are plenty of additional challenges if you want to 100% the game, but platform game novices shouldn’t be put off as there’s a suite of accessibility options to help you over any hurdles. Check out Grapple Dog here.
Kingdom of the Dead – 10 February
We covered Kingdom of the Dead in last month’s roundup, but its release was pushed back to February. No bother, we’ll happily include this one again. Here’s what we said last time:
With its inky black, hand-drawn art style, John Carpenter-inspired synth soundtrack, and supernatural New England setting, Kingdom of the Dead is a throwback FPS that doesn’t skimp on atmosphere. Your main weapon is a talking sword that guides you through each level, but you can also arm yourself with a variety of antique firearms ranging from revolvers and double-barrel shotguns, to repeater rifles and gatling guns. We prefer to use bundles of dynamite though, which explode groups of demons into a bloody, airborne chum. You can check out Kingdom of the Dead here.
SUPER DUNGEON MAKER – 15 FEBRUARY
We have a weekly feature series called ‘What if’ that explores dream gameplay mash-ups and alternative gaming history, and Super Dungeon Maker is exactly the kind of game we like to dream up. It’s basically a classic Zelda version of Super Mario Maker, and it’s on Steam.
There are already over 1,000 dungeons to explore and play through, featuring familiar mechanics like finding coloured keys to access new areas, slaying creepy crawlies, smashing clay pots, and dodging traps. Once you’ve filled your boots in terms of gameplay, there’s an extensive level editor you can use to craft your very own dungeons, which you can share publicly or torture your friends with. Check out Super Dungeon Maker here.
Oceanarium – 15 February
Combining beautiful illustrations with simple gameplay, Oceanarium is an exploration game that wants you to relax, dwell on the cosmic, and meet some squiggly deep sea critters.
I’ve played the itch.io demo and can confirm that it’s every bit as gorgeous as the screenshots suggest, but it’s also really soothing. You glide around by holding down the spacebar, chat to anxious fish, who are nervous about the arrival of humans in their world, and help pull Mother Ocean from her depression spiral – sounds like the perfect salve for the gloomy February weather. Check out Oceanarium here.
Crown of Pain – 15 February
With an incredibly metal title like that, you might be surprised to find out that Crown of Pain is a match-3 puzzle game rather than a Doom-inspired FPS. Match-3 puzzles are how you’ll resolve combat scenarios, but away from brawling Crown of Pain is a party-based RPG, which means you can upgrade your characters, unlock new combat abilities, and build squad synergies as you progress through the campaign. It’s all set in a low-fantasy medieval world with a muted colour palette that makes everything look like it’s happening at dusk; it’s quite the contrast to the serene, uplifting visuals of Oceanarium. Check out Crown of Pain here.
Ghost on the Shore – 24 February
Three remote islands, a tragic story, and a headstrong ghost. Those are the three key ingredients that make up Ghost on the Shore, a narrative exploration game that sees a young woman called Riley unpicking a tense familial story that’s been many lifetimes in the making. At the heart of this story is an unlikely relationship between Riley and a ghost called Josh, who’s been dead for as long as he can remember. As the pair explore the tattered cabins of the islands, they’ll get to know each other, and along the way Riley makes decisions that will transform both their bond and the outcome of the story. Check out Ghost on the Shore here.