The Best Games of WASD 2023

The second year of WASD saw the show move from its old venue of Tobacco Docks to the Truman Brewery in Brick Lane, a great big old industrial building with a maze of rooms. At first I missed the airy, more open layout of Tobacco Docks, but I quickly became convinced this new location was a better venue for the show. Whereas last year’s WASD felt a bit empty and sparse at times, the echoing halls of the Truman Brewery gave the show a real buzz, a real sense of atmosphere, and it was a more lively event overall. There certainly seemed to be more people – I actually had to queue up for quite a while to play some of the games, which is something I definitely didn’t have to do last time around.

The big game on show was Street Fighter 6, and there were also booths showing off the System Shock remake and the long, long-awaited Dead Island 2. Plus there were plenty of PSVR2 units available, and I was impressed with the system, particularly the new controllers, when I had a quick go on C-Smash VRS. But my main reason for attending was to seek out new and interesting indie games, and I’m pleased to say I found some absolute gems.


Viewfinder was without doubt the game that caused the most buzz at WASD – every journo friend I spoke to mentioned it as a highlight, and it reminded me of the mind-bending perspective shifting of Superliminal. The idea is that you can use a Polaroid camera to take photographs of the environment, then when you hold up the photo, it becomes a physical, 3D space that you can actually walk into. So if there’s a gap you need to cross, for example, you can take a photo of a bridge and place the photo over the gap – and voila, there’s a fully 3D bridge you can walk across.

The demo also introduced the same trick with drawings, so you could walk into a child’s sketch of a house, for example, or explore a pixelly castle. It’s incredibly clever, and I can’t wait to play the full game to see what other tricks it pulls.


Gunbrella, from the makers of the wonderful Gato Roboto, is already one of the games I’m looking forward to most in 2023, and I thoroughly enjoyed the demo I played at the Devolver booth. The movement is what makes it so fun – opening up your brolly boosts you in any direction, so you can fairly fly around the levels, leaping off walls and sailing over enemies. And tapping the brolly button at just the right time lets you reflect enemy bullets, which is essential for getting past certain enemies. It’s ingenious, and a huge amount of fun.

Have a Nice Death

Here, the Grim Reaper is the head of Death Incorporated, but his top executives, the Sorrows, have gone on the rampage, scooping up souls from across the Earth. Faced with an enormous pile of paperwork as a result, Death snaps and sets out to put the Sorrows in line. This roguelite looks truly gorgeous, with some beautiful, characterful animation and wonderful controls, which see Death whizzing about the screen effortlessly, taking down enemies with combinations of his scythe and other weapons. Have a Nice Death has just come out on PC and Switch, and it’s well worth a try if you’re a fan of 2D action games like Dead Cells.

The Entropy Centre

The Entropy Centre takes its cues from Portal, but instead of creating holes through space, here your gun rewinds time. For example, pointing it at a pile of rubble will rewind it to become a wall, and there are various clever puzzles that involve carrying boxes and then rewinding their path to activate switches and open doors. This game has been out for a little while now, but the developers have just released a level editor which now lets you create your own mind-bending puzzles.

A Highland Song

The next game from Inkle, the studio behind the brilliant 80 Days and Heaven’s Vault, sees you exploring the Scottish Highlands from a 2D perspective. It looks gorgeous, and I loved the way it really gives a sense of adventure as you plot your course based on scraps of map, choosing which path to take and encountering different scenes and stories along different routes. This one is shaping up to be very special.

Bleak Sword DX

I had a surprising amount of fun with Bleak Sword DX, an incredibly minmalist dark fantasy adventure that sees you facing off against pixelly nightmare creatures in a tiny playing area. The game was originally released for Apple Arcade in 2019, but this new version is coming to consoles and PC later this year.

Diluvian Winds

Diluvian Winds is a 2D strategy game where the aim is to attract travellers with your lighthouse, and then fortify your settlement against ferocious natural disasters, such as hurricane winds and tidal waves. The travellers are all anthropomorphic animals like otters and mice, and each has special skills that can aid your embattled village. There’s a demo out now on Steam, and the game is set to enter Early Access soon, but the full game isn’t scheduled for release until next year.

Paper Trail

Like A Fold Apart, Paper Trail sees you folding the corners of the screen to create new paths and solve puzzles. It’s an endearing mechanic, and the art style here is particularly gorgeous, with wonderful use of colour. A few of the puzzles in the demo had me scratching my head until I finally worked out a way forward by matching a few certain folds, and I can see this being a thoughtful, thoroughly engaging way to spend a few meditative hours.

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