14 stunning games from GDC 2024 that caught our eye

These were the exciting games from GDC that made us look forward to what's coming up soon.
GDC 2024 Fruitbus

Another year and another Game Developer Conference has passed. As the largest North American games conference for the industry’s most creative, GDC is a noteworthy event for developers to come together to discuss and examine the latest releases and trends in the field.

This year, especially following rampant layoffs and uncertainty, was a great reminder of the importance of community and the massive amount of talent still eager to move forward and show off their upcoming slate of games.

In this roundup, we’ve pulled together a list of the most exciting and intriguing games we saw from GDC and the various events around the show – which includes Day of the Devs, The Media Indie Exchange, ID@Xbox, Nintendo’s GDC media event, and other special meetings with developers.

Here’s a quick rundown of stand out games we played at GDC 2024.

Read: GDC Awards 2024: Baldur’s Gate 3 takes out Game of the Year

Hyper Light Breaker

GDC 2024 - Hyper Light Breaker
Image: Heart Machine

Developer: Heart Machine
Release Date: TBD 2024

As a follow-up to one of the most influential indie games of the 2010s, Heart Machine’s Hyper Light Breaker is a clear departure from the atmospheric, 2D Zelda-inspired adventure game that was Hyper Light Drifter.

Moving into the roguelike third-person action game space, Hyper Light Breaker is a very different kind of game, but it still carries that stylised and intriguing setting that makes you feel like a stranger lost in a large world.

Playing Hyper Light Breaker feels more in line with Heart Machine’s other game – Solar Ash, another third-person action about moving fast and taking out foes in style. It certainly owes a lot to that previous title.

Yet, the upcoming roguelike action game carries some strong ties to the original game, in that it’s a world where communication between characters is fractured, and that the roster of characters you’ll play will form bonds and empower themselves as they navigate a series of procedurally generated worlds.

Heart Machine’s approach to worldbuilding within a roguelite game is compelling, and even in my short sampling of the game, I felt there were some strong concepts at work – and all within a gameplay loop that felt slick and satisfying to explore.

Tales of Kenzera: ZAU

GDC 2024 tales of kenzera: ZAU
Image: Surgent Studios

Developer: Surgent Studios
Release Date: April 23, 2024

What makes Tales of Kenzera: ZAU more than just another Metroidvania game is that it marries its heartfelt story about grief felt by loss and the subsequent growth that comes from that with the framework of a Metroidvania game.

Developed by Surgent Studios, Tales of Kenzera: ZAU is a personal game for actor turned game director Abubakar Salim, serving as a tribute to his late father and the rich mythology from the Bantu culture of Central Africa.

Tales of Kenzera: ZAU puts you into the familiar shoes of a character who must learn to traverse a sprawling, interconnected world and attain the power to face several challenges in a dangerous world.

However, its focus on storytelling and an incredibly evocative setting that leans into African mythology – an underutilised source for media – gives ToK:Z a unique vibe and rich atmosphere that feels intriguing and hopeful in its messaging about loss and self-empowerment.

It’s interesting to see Tales of Kenzera: ZAU tie the conceit of a Metroidvania game with a soulful story about growth from loss, and it’s making this a game to watch when it releases next month.

Dune: Awakening

GDC 2024 - Dune Awakening
Image: Funcom

Developer: Funcom
Release Date: TBD

Hot off the heels of the excellent Dune Part 2, Conan Exile developer Funcom is preparing for a new open-world survival game set in Frank Herbert’s universe — marking the first time that players will be able to explore an open-world Arrakis.

In an early preview of Dune: Awakening, I saw how the developers have expanded and gamified Frank Herbert’s bizarre sci-fi universe for an online (or solo) survival game set on an incredibly hostile desert planet.

Playing as a newcomer to Arrakis, the protagonist starts their journey from a lowly scavenger and builds themselves up to a major player in the spice trade of Arrakis.

As the protagonist develops their skills and adopts class archetypes such as Mentat or Blademaster, they’ll gain the resources and means to build their outposts and stake a claim to areas of Arrakis, all while avoiding bandits and deadly sandworms lying in wait in the sands. The absolute elite players in the online world can advance to the top of the hierarchy and make decisions for planetary control that will impact players on the in-game servers.

It’s a very ambitious take on a Dune video game, which has been mostly relegated to the RTS genre for decades. As a nice blend of the Denis Villeneuve films’ grounded atmosphere with the original novels’ weirdness, it is a game that finally lets players live in and explore Arrakis proper, and I’m here for it.

Breeze in the Clouds

GDC 2024 Breeze in the Clouds
Image: Stormy Nights Interactive LLC

Developer: Stormy Nights Interactive LLC
Release Date: TBD

What hooked me immediately with Breeze in the Clouds is that you play as a brawling Corgi who can punch enemies into bits with various combat styles.

As a mix of a robust brawler with the exploration of a 2D action-adventure game, this charming and fierce game is a fun tribute to retro action games – all while giving its loveable Corgi hero some time in the spotlight.

The combat is fast and exciting, allowing players to swap between combat styles in mid-combo to style out on enemies, and it was satisfying to see this Corgi get the best of his foes. I can’t wait to see more of it.


GDC 2024 Fruitbus
Image: Krillbite Studio

Developer: Krillbite Studio
Release Date: TBD 2024

Fruitbus is a cozy game that has a particular way of putting you in a good mood. After inheriting their grandmother’s fruit stand on wheels, the protagonist takes it upon themselves to continue their relative’s dream of bringing happiness to people on a remote island – one fruit bowl at a time.

When playing Fruitbus, I was quickly taken in by the carefree and colourful vibe of the game’s world. Figuring out how best to serve people based on their preferences and having to juggle different types of food and kitchen gadgets was an interesting and amusing challenge, for sure. Seeing myself fumble with making fruit bowls paid off in the end as I got to see more amusing characters come by to visit the fruit stand.

I really dug Fruitbus and its cozy, stylised world. It feels right out of a picture book, which has the makings of a charming and soulful game to bundle up with.

Atomic Picnic

GDC 2024 Atomic Picnic
Image: BitCake Studio

Developer: BitCake Studio
Release Date: TBD

Atomic Picnic is a stylised roguelite action game that’s all about putting you in the zone as you face off against waves of enemies. Feeling like a blend of Sunset Overdrive’s zany and stylised action with the wave-based roguelite loop of Vampire Survivors, Atomic Picnic is a high-energy dive into a high-octane shooting gallery that felt increasingly more satisfying as the tension ramped up.

Along with a range of weapons, your character gets a handy grappling hook and jetpack to help them dart around the environment. As the waves of enemies increased, I had to zip across the battle zone rapidly just to stay alive as the odds were stacked against me.

Atomic Picnic has a slick and stylish approach to roguelite action that I want to explore more of. With a planned early access release sometime in 2024, Atomic Picnic and its focus on fast-action and co–op gameplay make this roguelite shooter one to keep on your radar.

Dungeons of Hinterberg

GDC 2024 - Dungeons of Hinterberg
Image: Microbird Games

Developer: Microbird Games
Release Date: Q3 2024

Dungeons of Hinterberg is what you get when you place a cosy social sim within a trippy dungeon crawler, set in a scenic Austrian town filled with hipsters and tourists gawking at the sudden appearance of weird creatures.

Playing as Luisa, you and other adventurers have to make risky dives into the many dungeons around town to discover how these strange locales appeared, while trying to make friends and find a life in the small town.

I found a lot to like with the vibe of this game, and seeing the contrast between the cosy village and the NieR-esque dungeon battles was such a wild mix. I couldn’t help but admire and be curious about Dungeons of Hinterberg‘s mash-up of genres, and it’s made me invested in seeing where this wild dungeon crawler will go in the full release.

Echo Weaver

GDC 2024 - Echo Weaver
Image: Moonlight Kids

Developer: Moonlight Kids
Release Date: TBD

Coming from the team behind 2021’s The Wild at Heart, the developers are bringing that colourful, children’s cartoon series-style aesthetic to the realm of a Metroidvania game – and it’s all about escaping a time loop.

In Echo Weaver, an enigmatic protagonist finds themselves in a ruined world, and they must uncover what became of the society that fell. Set in a time loop, the protagonist repeats his cycle following every death – but with the knowledge and skills he gains in previous loops.

Placing a time-loop conceit in a Metroidvania is such an interesting approach, and Echo Weaver‘s weird and curious world presents a game that offers a lot of mystery and wild innovations to the sub-genre.

Aerial_Knight’s We Never Yield

GDC 2024 - We Never Yield
Image: Aerial_Knight & BetaJester

Developer: Aerial_Knight & BetaJester
Release Date: TBD 2024

As the follow-up to the fan-favourite Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield from 2021, Aerial_Knight’s We Never Yield continues with offering a stylised and action-packed survival-runner experience – except this time, you’ll be playing as two protagonists at the same time.

Playing as the two brothers in either single-player or co-op, you’re tasked with returning to their lost kingdom and reclaiming it from the evil forces that have taken over. It blends a fast-paced flow with a set piece approach to an action-runner, with the brothers leaping and diving over obstacles while keeping their momentum.

Switching off between the two protagonists presents some seriously stylish moments of action that give the familiar runner formula a sorely needed shot of energy.

This sequel to Never Yield is shaping up to be a really clever and slick evolution of the runner formula. In keeping with Aerial_Knight’s previous game, it carries a killer sense of style that’ll likely turn some heads when it launches later this year.

Rumble Club

GDC 2024 - Rumble Club
Image: Lightfox Games

Developer: Lightfox Games
Release Date: April 23, 2024

Mixing the game show antics of Fall Guys with the slapstick action of a classic brawler, Rumble Club is a delightful battle royale-style game that puts cutesy characters into over-the-top slugfests. Like Fall Guys, you and others online engage in physics-based battles where you work with a team, or solo, to come out on top.

Along with some matches that involve pummelling foes and knocking them out of the arena, another fun match involved teams finding and consuming the most cupcakes in a game – it was super odd to see it all play out, but it always managed to be charming in how dorky and fun it all was.

Rumble Club really leans into the multiplayer experience, and it even features a robust approach to cross-platform play—with players on PC, consoles, and mobile being able to play together.

Playing Rumble Club at GDC was a good time, and it tapped into the zany hijinks that games like Fall Guys and Gang Beasts excelled at. So far, I feel Rumble Club could be another in a fun line of party games that successfully blend slapstick humour with fast-paced competitions.


GDC 2024 Surmount
Image: Jasper Porel & Indiana-Jonas

Developer: Jasper Porel & Indiana-Jonas
Release Date: May 9, 2024

Surmount is a cozy mountain climbing game that sees you contend with wild physics and an open-ended grappling system to traverse a perilous mountain.

Playable in either co-op or solo, Surmount gives you primarily free reign to climb a weird mountain filled with bizarre climbs and strange characters.

Despite having to make my way up some peculiar areas, I came to really dug Surmount‘s approach to a cosy climbing game – all for the fact that it’s funny and charming at the same time. I have never seen mountain climbing so amusing, and Surmount‘s good vibes and carefree approach give this game such an excellent hook.

Blue Prince

GDC 2024 - Blue Prince
Image: Dogubomb

Developer: Dogubomb
Release Date: TBD

Blue Prince is a narrative adventure game that plays in bizarre yet compelling ways with different genres. As a Gone Home-style narrative adventure set within a mansion modelled after a roguelike dungeon crawler, you play as the heir to a massive fortune who must uncover the mysteries.

Set across several in-game days, you have to explore as much of the mansion as you can each day, making your path within the mansion by building hallways, rooms, and secret passages inside the mysterious house.

The more you explore, the more you’ll uncover what makes this house and the mysteries inside so provocative. However, losing enough stamina will force you to leave the house and repeat the process the next day.

Playing this game at GDC made me feel like there was nothing quite like it. It’s a really wild mix of the narrative adventure and dungeon crawler genres, and it comes together in a way that feels wholly unique – and that’s made me quite curious about where this mystery will go in the full release.

Epic Mickey: Rebrushed

GDC 2024 - Epic Mickey
Image: Purple Lamp

Developer: Purple Lamp
Release Date: TBD

The original Epic Mickey was a cult favourite among Disney fans, but it might have been misunderstood by many others. With the upcoming remaster, Disney Epic Mickey is in for an overdue reappraisal in the 14 years since it was released.

Set in a lost Disney world known as The Wasteland, you play as Mickey Mouse as he looks to restore balance to the world with a magical paintbrush that can manipulate the reality of the Wasteland. The Rebrushed edition features revised graphics and control schemes, giving the original an update to keep up with modern times.

I admired the original game more in concept than in practice, but with the remaster, I feel the game is better positioned to offer a more satisfactory sense of exploration and choice-driven gameplay. Though this is certainly not a Kingdom Hearts-style game, Epic Mickey: Rebrushed looks to bring the original’s loftier vision into a more vibrant and clearer focus.

Parcel Corps

GDC 2024 Parcel Corps
Image: Billy Goat Entertainment Ltd.

Developer: Billy Goat Entertainment Ltd.
Release Date: TBD

Parcel Corps is what you get when you mix the stylish and trendy atmosphere of Jet Set Radio with the rapid pace of Crazy Taxi‘s gig economy.

Playing as bike couriers and messengers looking for quick cash, you’ll have to join a set of factions to pull off some daring delivery jobs to make ends meet – which will put you at odds with an evil corporation that sees the freelance couriers as a threat.

As a satire of the tech industry and the gig economy, Parcel Corps brings that bite into a fast-paced bike-riding action game where shaving off seconds from the clock and pulling off some daring stunts on the way to your goal will help you finish the job.

Along with mashing up two of Sega’s most underrated franchises, Parcel Corps also carries a fun and sharp setting that is very aware of the gig economy’s current climate. I really enjoyed what Parcel Corps was putting down with its mix of satisfying bike exploration and fun gags at the expense of corporations.

So far, it’s looking to be a worthy and clever game that stands alongside Jet Set Radio, and I hope it’ll be able to land many of its bigger ideas in the full release.

Alessandro Fillari is a writer/editor who has covered the games, tech, and entertainment industries for more than 11 years. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, he previously worked at GameSpot and CNET as an editor specializing in games coverage. You can find him on Twitter at @afillari