The lights are on
With the launch of the
Steam Greenlight open alpha program and the loosening of self-publishing
standards on both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, 2013 will be remembered as a
year that indie developers broke down some of the walls standing between them
and gamers. Now it's time for us to enjoy the spoils. The list of promising
indie games slated to come out in 2014 is long and impressive. Here are the 25
titles we're most excited for.
Among the Sleep
StudioPlatform: PC, Mac, Linux
It loses some of its
haunting powers as you age, but darkness is the scariest thing in the world to
many children. Among the Sleep puts you in the footie pajamas of a two-year
old. Rising from your crib, you stumble and crawl your way through your home,
wary of everything that goes bump in the night. In this house, there are a lot
The Banner Saga
Developer: StoicPlatform: PS3, 360, PC,
Conceptualized by former
BioWare alumni, The Banner Saga is melds Viking mythology with the brand of
tactical role-playing made famous by Final Fantasy Tactics. You assume control
of a Viking caravan trying to survive in a hostile world by managing supplies,
fostering relationships, and taking to the battlefield when necessary.
Developer: Capybara GamesPlatform: Xbox One
The first of two Capy
games on the list, the Xbox One exclusive Below has us hooked with its
atmospheric world, gorgeous minimalist art style, and the promise of another
punishing roguelike that rewards patient gameplay and skill. The looming threat
of permadeath places an emphasis on tactical approaches to combat, and Capy has
teased a nontraditional multiplayer approach we're curious to learn more about.
Everybody's Gone to the
Developer: The Chinese
Dear Esther creators The
Chinese Room are kicking of the next-generation with a post-apocalyptic, story-driven adventure game. The narrative begins with the end of the world. From
here, your scientist protagonist must explore the lifeless world to gain
understanding of what happened. Non-linear in nature, you can piece together
the narrative puzzle however you see fit.
Galak-Z: The Dimensional
Developer: 17-BitPlatform: PS4, PC
We love the concept of an
old-school, top-down shooter going next gen. The minds that gave us Skulls of
the Shogun are reimagining the classic arcade space shooter with an '80s style
Japanese anime art style, an open 2D world that's procedurally generated, and
varied enemy AI that gives each ship a different tactical approach to combat.
Developer: Arrowhead GamePlatform: PS4, PS3, Vita
This cooperative, top-down,
sci-fi shooter combines the frantic pace of Left 4 Dead with an innovative
approach to dynamic difficulty. With everyone playing in the same galaxy, the
universe map changes as players win or lose battles to aliens. The campaign is
won or lost by the entire community, after which Arrowhead will relaunch the
campaign with a new difficulty level based on the past round.
Hotline Miami 2: Wrong
Developer: Dennaton GamesPlatform: PS4, PC, Mac,
Dripping with style and ultraviolence,
Hotline Miami developed an impressive following as it spread across multiple
platforms over the past two years. The sequel picks up in the aftermath of
Jacket laying waste to the Russian mob. His handiwork has spawned a big-budget
film chronicling his exploits, and Miami is now filled with a legion of copycat
killers, each of whom is desperate for their own cult of celebrity.
Klei is nothing if not
versatile. After dabbling in the stealth genre with Mark of the Ninja and
survival horror with Don't Starve, the studios turns its gaze to turn-based,
tactical espionage. Incognita places you in procedurally generated buildings
armed with high-tech security systems. Your job? Hack into mainframes to steal
valuable data and grab whatever gear you come across for use in future missions
before the timer goes off and the security alarms start ringing.
Developer: Stage 2
In development for two
years now, David Board's space drama about an astronaut who crash lands on a
mysterious planet light years away from Earth should be completed in 2014. As
players journey deeper into the planet solving environmental puzzles while
trying to find lost crew members, things start to get weird. Who is leaving
these glowing footprints in the sand, and why are there signs of a Soviet
settlement? We can't wait to find the answers.
The Long Dark
Another indie studio
comprised of triple-A developers gone rogue, the Long Dark is an episodic
first-person simulation that drops you in the ruthless Canadian wilderness in
the wake of a massive geomagnetic disruption that knocks out all electrical
devices. You must brave extreme weather patterns, the unforgiving environment,
and encounters with unpredictable survivors to stay alive.
Lovers In A Dangerous
Developer: Asteroid BasePlatform: PC, Mac
This unique platformer/shooter
hybrid places two players inside a spherical ship. As it careens through enemy
space, players need to platform between the turret, laser, shield, and thruster
control stations as needed to make it out of skirmishes alive. As you explore
new territory, you can recover assets to upgrade and customize your fabulous
Developer: Tribute GamesPlatform: PS4, PC
Available on Steam early
access as we speak, Mercenary Kings is a vibrant Metal Slug clone that combines
side-scrolling shoot 'em up action with a robust weapon customization system
not unlike Borderlands. As you pave a path of lead bullets through the world
with up to three other friends, you can scrounge for new parts to build your
perfect weapon of mass destruction.
Developer: Team MeatPlatform: PC, iOS,
The twisted minds at Team
Meat are back with a new project that couldn't be more different than the
meatball torture simulator known as Super Meat Boy. Like a seasoned cat lady,
your job is to manage a house of randomly generated kittens. Healing wounded
animals, keeping warring cats from clawing each other's eyes out, and breeding
a new generation of feline friends is the name of this game.
No Man's Sky
Developer: Hello GamesPlatform: TBA
The star of the Spike VGX
trailers, Hello Games' new deep space title holds the promise of randomly
generated planets ripe for exploration. As players chart these new territories,
the universe map populates with new information for everyone to see. Be careful
when navigating open space, however, because if you run into trouble and crash
land your ship, you will have to cultivate the resources necessary and build a
new one to get off that godforsaken rock.
Octodad: Dadliest Catch
Developer: Young HorsesPlatform: PS4, PC, Mac,
Perhaps the quirkiest
game on a list containing many peculiar projects, Octodad places players in
control of a suburbanite father of two who is keeping a crazy secret – he's
actually a squid. The beauty of the game is how it makes ordinary tasks like
grocery shopping a harrowing and hilarious adventure as this octopus in
Developer: Tequila WorksPlatform: PS4
With a gorgeous art
style, expansive open world, and PlayStation exclusivity, you could be forgiven
for mistaking Rime as the next Team Ico project. We're still not sure who you
play or what you're doing in this Tequila Works game, but the magical
atmosphere beckons, and we're excited to learn more.
Developer: Lunar SoftwarePlatform: PC, Mac
Set on an abandoned moon
base, this first-person horror adventure draws inspiration from sci-fi films
like Aliens and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Armed with a jack-of-all-trades device that
can hack computers, light dim hallways, or shoot killer sentry robots, you must
try to figure out what happened and escape this derelict base. Use these
functions sparingly, however, because the AA batteries it runs on are in short
Developer: Yacht Club
GamesPlatform: Wii U, PC, 3DS
A side-scrolling retro
platformer built in the vein of Mega Man and Duck Tales, Shovel Knight is the
one Nintendo-friendly indie game on our list. Armed with a trusty Home Depot
lawn tool, you must dig, pogo, and fight your way to an epic showdown with each
vicious member of "The Order of No Quarter."
Developer: Chris HeckerPlatform: PC
This game has to come out
some time, right? With a new art-style in place and a long-running open beta,
we're hoping this sniper vs. spy simulation from notable game designer/pot
stirrer Chris Hecker finally reaches completion in 2014.
GamesPlatform: PS4, PC, Mac,
The Minecraft/Terraria-inspired Starbound drops you into a procedurally generated universe with a
spaceship, star map, and the promise of exploring the uncharted expanse of the
galaxy. After choosing one of seven playable races, you're free to visit the
limitless number of planets, each of which has unique terrain, enemies, and
natural resources. You can check out an early build on Steam early access as we
Super Time Force
Developer: Capybara GamesPlatform: Xbox One, 360
Channeling our love of
'80s cartoons and action films, Super Time Force stars a squad of
time-traveling badasses who journey into the past to save dinosaurs, rid the
world of Internet plug-ins, and whatever else pops into their whimsical minds.
After an untimely death you can rewind the action and drop in as another time
soldier, after which you fight alongside the ghost of the previous attempt.
Creating a symphony of soldiers is an empowering experience that should
challenge even the most hardened of Contra experts.
Developer: Matt ThorsonPlatform: PS4, PC
After its stellar debut
on the largely ignored Ouya platform, this arena brawler is getting a second
life on new platforms in 2014. It may only have a handful of modes, but dueling
with up to three other friends armed only with a bow, a limited supply of
arrows, and your thumbstick dexterity is a blast.
GamesPlatform: PS4, PC, Mac,
We can't wait to see what
Supergiant Games has in store for its follow-up to Bastion. With a colorful,
isometric world and a grizzled narrator, Transistor could be mistaken as being
closely related to its predecessor, but the gameplay tells a different story. You
can use conventional combat, but the game also has a tactical option similar to
Fallout 3's VATS system.
The Vanishing of Ethan
Developer: The AstronautsPlatform: PC
In the middle of
developing Gears of War: Judgment, People Can Fly head Adrian Chmielarz and a
few other studio members decided to jump ship to form an indie studio. Their
first project is this horror adventure game, where a detective with
supernatural abilities tries to solve the mystery of who took a helpless child
and what they did with him. With no cutscenes or combat, this game is heavy on
environmental storytelling and suspense.
Developer: Jonathan BlowPlatform: PS4, PC, iOS
Indie darling Jonathon
Blow wowed the world with his time-bending puzzle platformer Braid. The Witness
instead embraces three dimensions, building off the traditions of genre
pioneers like Myst. Many of the puzzle solutions are not self evident, but as
you examine your surroundings on this isolated island, suddenly answers are
revealed. Along the way, a meta-conversation develops between you, the puzzle
solver, and the puzzle creator.
Email the author Matt Bertz, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.