There are a lot of big name titles at this year's E3, but the indie game scene is still burning bright. Here are some of the most inventive and exciting new titles coming from smaller teams that you should have on your radar. We're trying to get our hands on as many titles as we can, so keep checking out this evolving list of the best indie gems from E3 2015.

This story includes contributions from the E3 2015 crew, including Ben Reeves, Matt Kato, Tim Turi, Kyle Hilliard, Mike Futter, and Jeff Cork.


Relativity
Developer: Willy Chyr
Estimated Release: 2016
Platforms: PS4, PC

This first-person puzzle game combines fascinatingly intricate geometric patterns with unique gameplay that allows players to walk on walls and ceilings. Colors change to indicate which surface currently acts as the floor, helping players keep track of their place in the world while trying to solve the next puzzle. Simply navigating the elaborate, perfect 90-degree structures can be a puzzle in itself, but many situations call for players to move key-like crates around the world, mastering use of the fluctuating gravity to open the next path. Developer Willy Chyr says the concept of Relativity is partially inspired by the rule-breaking physics of Inception and the odd geometric designs of the film Interstellar Fans of games like Portal and Antichamber should keep an eye on this one. – Tim Turi


Nuclear Throne
Developer: Vlambeer
Estimated Release: Fall 2015
Platforms: PS3, PS4, Vita, PC

The studio that brought you Ridiculous Fishing and Luftrausers is back with arguably their most challenging title yet. Nuclear throne splices together skill-based dual-analog stick gunplay with procedurally generated worlds packed with unforgiving gunmen. Players can choose from a host of different characters, like a crystalline commando that can deflect bullets by turning into a huge, invincible gem, or a samurai chicken who can survive even with its head cut off. Vlambeer’s tradition of tight controls continues with Nuclear Throne, which assures players that if they die on the way to the titular Nuclear Throne, it’s their fault. I love testing out the varied arsenal of guns on the copious waves of enemies, like precise lasers that cut through multiple enemies and shotguns that devastate at close range. The retro art style also gels well with the old-school difficulty. Nuclear Throne is in early access on Steam now, but thankfully we don’t have to wait long for the full version to release. – Tim Turi


Soma
Developer: Soma
Estimated Release: September 22
Platforms: PS4, PC

Frictional Games’ Amnesia: The Dark Descent inspired a new trend in the horror genre with its non-combat focus on puzzles, stealthy enemy evasion sequences, and exploration-centric story. Those elements are in full force with Frictional’s SOMA, a sci-fi horror game that takes place on the ocean’s floor. The demo I played begins similarly to Amnesia, with the player character waking up with memory loss. The derelict underwater base is in a state of disarray, filled with broken equipment and hastily written notes explaining how the well-worn systems are barely holding the station together. On my journey to the communications room I come across a badly damaged robot named Carl pleading for help in a sympathetic and convincing human voice. I’m unable to help, but I try flipping a nearby switch to see what happens. Power is rerouted and Carl is electrocuted in the process. My surprise is heightened as Carl begins to scream and curse in pain, made all the more unnerving thanks to the voice actor’s authentically harrowing howls. 

Later in the demo, another robot emerges from some chamber of the station and begins a calculated patrol of the tight corridors. The bizarre mechanical menace looks like a robot crossed with a disgusting barnacle. It scans each room with a yellow light, and digital distortion pops up on the screen whenever It draws near. After carefully evading the sentry I finally make my way to comms room, where I’m able to get in contact with headquarters. Of course, something goes awry and an explosion rocks the room as piped begin to fall and water rushes into the room. Eventually a huge hole tears in the side of the station and my character passes out. When he comes to, he realizes his pressurized diving suit has saved him, and the demo draws to an end as I crawl out onto the coral-laden ocean floor.

So far, SOMA looks like a natural next step for Frictional Games. The developer seems to be just as comfortable crafting a gritty sci-fi horror experience as they were making the Victorian-age terror of Amnesia come to life. – Tim Turi


Salt & Sanctuary 
Developer: Ska Studios
Estimated Release: 2015
Platforms: PS4, Vita, PC

From Software’s Dark Souls has made an undeniable impact on video games, with many developers drawing inspiration from its risk/reward XP system and demanding difficulty level. Though Salt & Sanctuary is a 2D side-scroller, it’s clearly influenced by the Souls games from top to bottom. I played around with the berserker class, which was a great introduction to the basics of combat. Players have a light and heavy attack and can dodge roll to evade attacks, all of which drains a stamina meter. Like the Souls games, players even replenish their health from flasks and save/level up by kneeling at illuminated checkpoints. One unique element in Salt & Sanctuary is that players’ maximum health drops each time they heal, incentivizing players to avoid abusing their healing items during tough battles. My hands-on time concluded with a boss battle against a giant knight with brutal combo attacks. Dodge rolling behind him to avoid his attacks worked about as well as it does in 3D Souls games, and I was surprised by how well my experience with those titles translated into a 2D space. But like the From Software games that obviously inspire it, Salt & Sanctuary’s bosses demand focused observation and deliberate, disciplined attacks to overcome. Unfortunately, my run ends by the hand of the Sodden Knight. Given the unique perspective the game offers, however, I’m confident it will just be a matter of time before I have my revenge. – Tim Turi


FutureGrind

Developer: Milkbag Games
Estimated Release: Early 2016
Platforms: PlayStation 4/PC

FutureGrind is one of those games we all love, with gameplay that urges you to chase the high score while telling yourself, "Just one more run." The player controls an endless-running futuristic cycle. The cycle has two arms with colored wheels on either end – one light blue and the other pink. You must jump from platform to platform and match the color of either wheel to the corresponding platform. In mid-air you can also perform a few tricks to boost your score (more points are scored for not repeating tricks). It's a simple premise, but one which demands all your skills for you to survive and hopefully post a good score. Since all you have to do is land any part of the wheel on the platform (on either the top or bottom of it) you're free to pitch the arms at any angle in order to survive. This is how you maintain your rhythm, keep tabulating good combos, and set yourself up for the next platform. There are also white platforms which you can land on with either color wheel, but they negate your combo. Naturally the tracks and their platforms get trickier as you progress, including some perspective-jarring loops. Different cycles also mix up the experience by being faster, slower, or with longer arms. FutureGrind is being developed by the two-person team at Milkbag, and its clean visual aesthetic helps you focus in on your flow. – Matthew Kato