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Curse of the Sea Rats, NOX, IDEA and other indie highlights to look for in 2023

We toured around BIG Conference's Indie Showcase and chose these seven promising projects.

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Around 50 in-development independent projects were shown at the BIG Conference in Bilbao this year and some of them took part in the BIG Indie Contest during the Titanium Awards ceremony. As we usually do with these showcases at Gamereactor, we took a look around the indie area and stopped by seven different booths to talk to the devs and to learn more about their games.

Below the full video, which includes some gameplay from the projects, is a quote defining each of the games we picked, in order of appearance in the interview:


The Crown of Wu (Trazos, Red Mountain) - Early 2023, All platforms

José Carlos Montenegro, Creative Director: "The game is like a parallel story about the Journey to the West classic Chinese tale and we have created a kind of new world in which technology and religion are the same thing (...). It's adventure, a little bit of action with a new kind of combat which is more agile than the slower-paced Dark Souls, and there's also some puzzle-solving and platforming".

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NOX (The Buua Stidio, Best University project at BIG Indie Contest, Best Art & Best Pitch at Premios PlayStation) - 2023, PC (Steam)

Jaume Sanz, Game Designer: "Sleep paralysis is a disorder [by which] you wake up in the night but you're not really awake, where you could suffer some hallucinations like seeing people in you room or things happening around you, but the most important thing is that you cannot move. We basically wanted to approach this concept, also using M.C. Escher's [art as an inspiration] to create that dream world with impossible architectures and gravities". NOX is then a "creepy" first-person adventure to face these fears and spread the word on the condition we learned Jaume himself suffers.

IDEA (TLR Games) - January 2023 PC (Steam), Android, iOS; TBA 2023 Nintendo Switch

Alexandra Samper, Investor Relations: "IDEA is a physics-based platformer where you lead a light bulb representing an idea of yours by bumping it like in a pinball [table] or a pachinko [where] the ball always falls down until it reaches one of the nine endings you have around the map. The map is captured by drones, so each screen is a short 4K video and you have different paths to lead your idea by. Once you've reached one of those endings, a pop-up emerges and you can leave your own idea for other players to read. It's like leaving a message in a bottle others will anonymously read".

Curse of the Sea Rats (Petoons Studio) - Early 2023, All platforms

Mónica Sánchez (Marketing) & Claudia García (3D Artist): "The characters are full 2D hand-drawn and animated, and all the environment is 3D with a cel-shading finish for a more cartoony aesthetic. The game has a lot of 80s' references from animation (like He-Man for example), other video games, and Pirates of the Caribbean". The game is a 4-player local co-op 'ratoidvania' with unlockable abilities.

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Howl of Iron (16 Gears, Best Design at Premios PlayStation) - 2023-2024, PC

Antonio Serrano, Game Designer: "It's a third-person action game in which you are Vincent Volk, who is our mechanical werewolf, and you're trying to revenge your family on Red Gear, that is a dictatory company that rules the city of Steamfall (...) You move through the industrial city and you need to hunt the enemies as they're on patrols controlling the city and trying to catch you".

Balam Bounce Hell (Wickd Games, Best Indie Game at Premios PlayStation) - TBC

Miguel Ortiz, Producer: "It's a non-shooting bullet hell set in pre-Columbian America. The main topic is that you cannot shoot, so in this case, the best attack is a good defence. Inspired in pre-Columbian cultures, there are basically two levels: the first one is set in a jungle environment, and the second one is more like an urban settlement. (...) You use a big staff as your main defence weapon. Enemies shoot energetic projectiles at you, and once you rebound them, a combo meter is filled, and then you can imbue your staff in the powers of the enemies". A demo for Balam Bounce Hell is available at and on Steam.

Party Games (Tellmewow, Best Basque game at BIG Indie Contest) - Available now on iOS & Android

Mikel Sanz, Senior Developer: "Yeah it's a party game (laughs), we have a map, you toss a die, and with the result you move and there's a mini game that determines a bonus for the next throw. (...) It's very fun, it's oriented to the family and we have a big community behind that send us ideas... 2 million people have downloaded it".

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