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Get Five Of 2023's Best Indie Games At Nearly 50 Percent Off

Image: Santa Ragione
Image: Santa Ragione

This year’s Steam Spring sale only has a few days left until it ends on March 21. We’ve already done a roundup highlighting 12 of the best games you can get for cheap during the annual sale, ranging from 2023’s big AAA tentpoles, to some older hidden gems that are worth grabbing. But one of the best deals available during the sale is the Excellence in Narrative – IGF 2024 bundle.

Collecting the Excellence in Narrative nominees from this year’s Independent Games Festival Awards together, this bundle offers five of 2023’s best indie games at a huge discount. Usually the bundle costs players close to $86, but during the Spring sale that has been nearly halved. Until March 21, the bundle can be purchased for $45.94. That’s five of last year’s best games for almost $25 less than a modern AAA game will cost you. You can tune into the IGF Awards on March 20 to see which game takes home the prize. Now let’s go through what the five games actually are, and why they are worth your time and money.

The Wreck

Image: The Pixel Hunt
Image: The Pixel Hunt

The titular event at the heart of The Wreck launches players into an interesting twist on the time-loop narrative. While the player does constantly find themselves leading protagonist Junon into a car crash loop after loop, the game isn’t really about avoiding whatever fate may come as a result of the crash. Instead, it’s a way to reflect on the constant looping thoughts Junon has relating to her central conflict: whether or not to take her mother off of life support. We see Junon talk to friends, family, and doctors about her mother’s situation.

The Wreck

Image: The Pixel Hunt
Image: The Pixel Hunt

All of this inevitably leads Junon down memory lane, turning over the same moments of her relationship with her mother again and again in hopes of some clarity on what choice she should make. It’s one emotional gut punch after the other, almost like Junon’s constant car wreck uplifting what she and the player think they know. While there is little choice in this 3D visual novel, the unfolding layers of the story are enough to keep the player locked in for the ride.

A Highland Song

Image: inkle
Image: inkle

Developed by inkle, the studio beyond Heaven’s Vault and Overboard!, A Highland Song is a gorgeous narrative adventure game all about exploring the Scottish countryside. The story of A Highland Song follows Moira, a young girl running away from home in hopes of hiking the Scottish Highlands and reaching her Uncle’s lighthouse within six days. She’s hoping to get there to celebrate Beltane, a festival marking the beginning of Summer. But hiking across the treacherous landscape isn’t as easy as it may appear at first glance.

A Highland Song

Image: inkle
Image: inkle

A Highland Song’s gorgeous 2D art begins your journey by showing you the many ranges of high peaks and low canyons that you will need to traverse. Despite taking place in a 2D space, inkle takes heavy inspiration from the exploration mechanics of Breath of the Wild. Moira has stamina that is exhausted as she runs or scales steep cliff faces. Points of interest and locations you can cross to the next mountain range must be discovered on your own by piecing together hints across the landscape. There are numerous ways to reach your destination but every path takes the player through a new adventure in which they meet different characters that flesh out the story of Moira’s family and the sprawling history of the mountains themselves.

The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood

Image: Devolver Digital
Image: Devolver Digital

One part deck-builder and one part visual novel, The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood was one of 2023’s standout indie titles thanks to its fascinating world populated with unique characters like protagonist Fortuna. As a witch serving out a thousand-year sentence, Fortuna summons a demon to help her out of her situation and gains the ability to create her own tarot deck. Building cards takes the form of an MS paint-like interface that makes each player’s deck uniquely their own.

The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood

Image: Devolver Digital
Image: Devolver Digital

As former friends and foes visit Fortuna, she reads each person their fortune—which the player has some sway over, adding weight to every decision. While mostly a visual novel, the deck-building elements of The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood add a necessary element of interaction that keeps the player engaged throughout the text heavy game.

Venba

Image: Visai Games
Image: Visai Games

This narrative cooking game may be the shortest game in the bundle with a runtime of under two hours, but it still packs an emotional punch. Venba focuses on the story of an immigrant family from India trying to make a life for themselves in Toronto. That includes a father who works a boring office job he hates to make ends meet, a young boy born in Toronto who is ashamed of his culture, a mother who can’t quite figure out how to fit in in her new home and holds on to her past through cooking.

Venba

Image: Visai Games
Image: Visai Games

The mother is the titular Venba, and the player spends the game running through a series of cooking minigames that produce delicious looking traditional Tamil cuisine that will make your mouth water. Through these interactive sections and dialogue-heavy cutscenes, Venba paints a deeply emotional story about the struggle of an immigrant family and how food acts as a representation of culture that we can hold on to and pass on to the next generation. Be warned, you’ll probably want to buy some Indian take-out after playing this.

Mediterranea Inferno

Image: Santa Ragione
Image: Santa Ragione

Mediterranea Inferno is a visual novel with a lot going on. It has a psychedelic art style that is mesmerizing to look at. It’s a story about the Covid pandemic, queerness, and figuring out identity. All of this is tied together by the game’s sharply written three main characters.

Mediterranea Inferno

Image: Santa Ragione
Image: Santa Ragione

Following three friends reuniting for the first time since lockdown started, the game takes place during a dreamlike summer vacation that quickly blurs the lines between memory, imagination, and reality. Mediterranea Inferno is one of the best pieces of media about how an entire generation of youth lost years of their lives to a global pandemic, and the unique trauma that leaves everyone with. So often the game’s characters just laze about as if nothing will ever happen, and who can blame them? For so long, their lives have been stuck in limbo.

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