It’s always the ones you don’t expect, right? In a year full of AAA powerhouses competing for the top spot, I’m actually not too surprised that Lethal Company managed to sneak in and steal hearts. Thousands of them, even.
It was actually a narrow competition this year for our newly founded indie game category. Intended as a way to get more independent games involved in the conversations we have at the end of every year, we wound up with an intriguing mix of games.
Chained Echoes was a holdover from last December, but still retained more staying power than most early-year launches. And World of Horror‘s full launch finally arrived, leaving a mark on us. But Lethal Company‘s recent surge seems to be the note we’re ending 2023 on.
The co-op horror might, at first, seem familiar. It reminded me of Phasmophobia, another indie breakout that’s retained its following over the years. But Lethal Company has exploded in a way others haven’t.
Maybe it’s the theming, pitting players against an ever-present race against the clock to serve the Company as best they can. Or maybe it’s the monsters, scarily effective and varied enough to keep you guessing with their SCP-esque designs. It could even be the mods that pushes Lethal Company over for some.
For me, what’s made Lethal Company memorable has been the laughs. It is a genuinely funny, engaging game. The voice communications use distance and area so well, so you can hear someone’s yells get louder and softer as they run by you. Even the noise a ladder makes, when it accidentally bonks a player on the head, is hilarious.
Still, it’s hard to undersell how competitive this field was. While your Baldur’s Gate 3s and Tears of the Kingdoms loomed large over the crowd, many indies were favorites this year, garnering nominations here and elsewhere. While one wins the vote, all of these nominees are worth your time and attention:
- Lethal Company
- Chained Echoes
- Goodbye Volcano High
- El Paso, Elsewhere
- Slayers X: Terminal Aftermath: Vengeance of the Slayer
- Void Stranger
- World of Horror
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