May Indie Game Releases: Play Today or Stay Away?

Play Today or Stay Away: May Indie Game Releases

As always, great indie releases continue to roll in. With so many titles vying for our attention, it can be pretty tough to know what is and isn’t worth your precious time. That’s why we’re here, to shine a light on indie game releases that just might be worth diving into, some to stay away from.

This is Play Today or Stay Away, and true to its name, we’ll share our recommendations for the month of May. Keep in mind that we’ll continue to update this piece with more games as the month goes on, so make sure to come back and check as the days roll on by.

May Indie Game releases to Play Today or Stay Away from:


Play Today Or Stay Away May Indie Game Releases 23051205 2

Release Date: May 9, 2023
Played on: PC
Available on: PC
Price: $13.99

Pan’orama is a fairly good indie game, even if the tutorial does a bit of a poor job of explaining its mechanics. You have a random deck of tiles of different types, such as towns, forests, oceans, deserts, and meadows. Putting them down builds a landmass, but putting the same type of tile next to that tile will give you a point bonus. You then build up a point bonus until you get a special card that you build to get more tiles added to your deck.

Your goal is simply to build every building type and get a high score. But the game is more tactical than it appears at first. It’s also highly compelling, and it’s easy for the time to roll by just trying to find the right place for tiles to go. Seeing the detailed, huge landmasses that come from your efforts is both pleasant and rewarding, making for an indie game that’s uniquely compelling. This remains true even if you don’t quite understand how to play and quickly run out of tiles.

Verdict: Play today. Pan’orama is both inexpensive and quite a bit of fun.

Occupy Mars: The Game

Play Today Or Stay Away May Indie Game Releases 23051205

Release Date: May 10, 2023
Played on: PC
Available on: PC
Price: $24.99

Another survival game? I know, I know. But Occupy Mars: The Game is more than a little different than the glut of similar indie games we’re used to. It’s all in the title. You find yourself on the red planet and have to keep your wits about you to survive the harsh wasteland of Mars. The game has a campaign mode and sandbox mode, and both are coming along nicely despite this being an Early Access title. The campaign opens with a lengthy tutorial that covers various aspects before dumping you into a survival situation that does absolutely nothing to hold your hand.

It took me some trial and error (and restarting an entire day) before I grasped how to build electronics to make a well so that I didn’t die of dehydration. Performance can be rough, and the game is somewhat janky but also highly engrossing. If you’re patient and Occupy Mars: The Game continues to improve, this could easily be a very promising title.

Verdict: Play today if you’re really hungry for a Martian survival indie game, but anyone else might want to wait for some updates for Occupy Mars: The Game.

Death or Treat

Play Today Or Stay Away May Indie Game Releases 23050905

Release Date: May 11, 2023
Played on: PC
Available on: PC, PS5, Xbox Series X
Price: $24.99

Have a Nice Death really wowed people with its unique visuals and twists on rogue-lites. Death or Treat completely copies that game’s visuals, although it thankfully doesn’t copy its gameplay. It has the classic rogue-lite loop of going into runs to grab types of currency you’ll use to purchase permanent upgrades at your home base, which is a loop that isn’t used as often as I’d like.

Unfortunately, the visuals feel kind of cheap, and the combat isn’t nearly as smooth or responsive as it needs to be. You can’t cancel out of attacks with your dash, and while you can purchase new weapons, the combat and enemies are rather monotonous. Many common foes feel like they’re just there to stand around and absorb damage, and I’m just not enjoying tearing through them all that much. It’s not a bad game at all, but it lags behind similar indie games such as Skellboy.

Verdict: You’ll probably want to stay away from Death or Treat unless you’re really hurting for a new rogue-lite.


Play Today Or Stay Away May Indie Game Releases 23051205 3

Release Date: May 11, 2023
Played on: PC
Available on: PC
Price: $14.99

If you’re a turn-based mecha strategy games fan, Mechabellum’s Early Access launch will probably appeal to you. There are single-player modes that allow you to play matches against enemy AI, plus there’s always survival mode to see how long you can last. But the meat of the indie game is in the online offering. You simply want to wipe out your opponent’s towers and troops. The game’s online is active enough that I had no issue finding other players to match with.

You get to select a loadout with certain mechs, and you can choose to place them on your side of the board as long as it’s your first turn using them. Each round nets you points you can use to call in new mechs, plus you can upgrade them or buy one-time-use abilities, such as seeker missiles or a shield. There’s quite a lot of room for strategy—as you’d expect—since different units must be used to counter other types. The controls are a bit clunky, and bits of untranslated text can be found here and there, but this is already a very solid strategy experience.

Verdict: Play today and start learning the mechanics while competing against other players in Mechabellum.

Cook Serve Forever

May Indie Game Releases Play Today Or Stay Away 23051505

Release Date: May 15, 2023
Played on: PC
Available on: PC
Price: $29.99

The Cook, Serve, Delicious! (CSD!) series is one I’ve been following from the very first game. A new entry getting announced hyped me up considerably. But Cook Serve Forever is not a CSD! game. It honestly barely even feels like a game. You play as a young woman named Nori who wants to enter a cooking competition and make her way in the world of cuisine. To do this, she has to pick a bunch of locations to work at, and then you press some buttons for a little bit. You select six dishes at the start of the day and then add various perks at the end of each shift. But the game doesn’t even attempt to feel like a cooking game.

Instead, we’re treated to quick time events where you press a series of buttons to put dishes together. Unlike the other games, though, your button presses have nothing to do with what occurs onscreen. This “gameplay” could be used for literally anything, and it wouldn’t make any difference. The story is fully-voiced and sports some lightly animated cutscenes, but it’s hard to care when the contents of Cook Serve Forever don’t add up to much. You can get stickers for levelling up locations from cooking at them, but the game is so simple and uninvolved that this isn’t an interesting prospect.

Verdict: Stay away and play one of the other CSD! games again instead.

After Us

May Indie Game Releases Play Today Or Stay Away 23052305

Release Date: May 23, 2023
Played on: PC
Available on: PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series S/X
Price: $29.99

Stop me if you’ve heard this one – mankind has destroyed the world and it’s up to some kind of mystical being to go around and try to salvage what they can. After Us is yet another game that follows this formula. Your mission is to explore large areas to try and bring the spirits of extinct animals back to the world and rescue specific animal vessels so that life can be restored. The game is lovely and could definitely be categorized as an art game, but it’s longer and more involved than most of those tend to be. The player character looks like a young girl and can freely platform around the environment. She can double jump, air dash, and climb certain surfaces, which lends her a fair amount of mobility.

She can also create bursts of light that remove corruption which will allow her to walk in spaces that were once obstructed. There’s also combat where she throws her “heart” at enemies to free them. But it can be truly difficult to know where you’re going at times, so finding the way forward can feel like stumbling in the dark.

The camera is also so far away that precision platforming can be made more difficult. It’s an enjoyable experience for the most part, but accidentally hurling yourself to your death while you try to deduce how you’re meant to progress can be somewhat less than ideal. Still, I do appreciate that there’s more depth to this game than similar titles offer. There are a lot of collectibles to find to boot.

Verdict: Play today if the game catches your eye, but only depending on your fondness for exploration with less handholding than you might expect.

Protodroid DeLTA

May Indie Game Releases Play Today Or Stay Away 23052505 1

Release Date: May 25, 2023
Played on: PC
Available on: PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series S/X
Price: $19.99

Making a 3D Mega Man X-styled game is a tall order. When the actual Mega Man X games tried to pivot to 3D, the response was so poor that Capcom immediately backed off. Protodroid DeLTA, on the other hand, somehow makes this work. You play as the titular android who sets off to stop violence from breaking out. There’s a surprising amount of dialogue, all of which is fully voiced and performed quite admirably at that. The gameplay honestly feels pretty fantastic too.

Delta is fast, and the platforming is actually fairly demanding and satisfying. Delta can charge up arm cannon shots and use a laser sword. Protodroid DeLTA really does feel like Mega Man X if it were in full 3D. You even choose from multiple stages, which also have upgrades and new attacks, much like X would get armour pieces and new weapons from defeating bosses.

There are some caveats, however. The level design is very much built around floating platforms, but the visuals are fairly bland and unimpressive. The difficulty can also be wildly inconsistent. Levels have purple portals that you’ll enter to obtain meter upgrades. The first one of these I came across was hard enough and had a massive difficulty spike in the end.

The others, which all came after, were much easier. Additionally, Protodroid DeLTA is the only PC game I’ve ever seen with zero game options (nothing for controls, audio, resolution, or gameplay whatsoever) which led to some aggravation. But aside from these issues, the game is a huge amount of fun, and I love dashing around and blasting enemies. I just wish I could rebind controls to make them more comfortable.

Verdict: Play today as long as you’re not bothered by the bizarre lack of game options


Doomblade Impressions 1

Release Date: May 31, 2023
Played on: PC
Available on: PC
Price: $14.99

I’m always on the lookout for new Metroidvanias that try to shake the genre up somewhat. Doomblade does that in a pretty big way by the simple nature of its gameplay. The structure is what you’d expect. You’re a little dude with a sword that goes around hitting things and getting new abilities to more successfully probe the environments around you. However, there’s a big difference here. The main character locks onto enemies and attacks them by dashing into them. They can dash further based on how long you hold the right trigger down as well, which is fast and frenetic.

To say this makes Doomblade feel notably different from other games would be an understatement. The enemy placement and level design feed into your skillset, so you’ll aim at enemies and dash to them to traverse areas, which forces you to utilize the game mechanics in clever ways. On top of that, the visuals are well-done and appropriately moody. I’m quite taken with Doomblade and think that genre fans looking for a new twist on the general gameplay stylings of the subgenre will too—as long as you’re intrigued by the dash attack mechanics.

Verdict: Play today, dashing around levels is a blast.

The Tartarus Key

Tartarus Key Impressions

Release Date: May 31, 2023
Played on: PC
Available on: PC, PS4, Xbox Series S/X
Price: $19.99

Puzzle games where you have to solve brain teasers to make it through rooms are some of my favourites. The Tartarus Key mixes this concept with a more open environment. When the game begins, you’re stuck in a room and have to solve puzzles to get out, but then you have to help another character before they expire from gas moving into the room. After this brief intro, you can move about the house, although the puzzles need to be solved in a linear order. It’s a refreshing approach, though, and the presentation is intriguing.

Visually, The Tartarus Key is evocative of PS1 games. Everything is rendered in a low-poly style, with warping textures due to a lack of perspective correction present by default. All of this can be turned off, though. The puzzles are decently involved, rooms tend to feature multiples, and the events that unfold are often trippy, with plenty of otherworldly moments and new objects showing up when you turn your back. This one’s easy to recommend for fans of horror puzzlers.

Verdict: Play today. Those puzzles aren’t gonna’ solve themselves.

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