The lights are on
It's that time of a year again! The Game Developers Conference in San Francisco is in full swing. The show offers plenty of insight into game development, but it also hosts a huge assortment of indie games. We scoured the Moscone convention center to get our hands on as many games as possible, vetting through dozens of upcoming indies to let you know what we think you should have on your radar. Check out our evolving, expanding list of the best indie gems from GDC 2017 to learn more about the intriguing titles ahead.
Mineko's Night Market
This adorable market simulation game's art style may look reminiscent of Tearaway, but it has its own charm and engaging gameplay loop that makes it stand on its own. As the name suggests, you run your own weekly night market, dealing with eclectic customers who want to barter. You have dialogue options to win them over and try to get the best sale. By day, you create your own items and collect things out in the wild to sell. Sounds pretty basic until you realize the town you explore has been overrun by cats, which just adds an extra layer of intrigue and cuteness. Expect silly minigames, such as cat races, sumo suit wrestling, karaoke, and taiko drumming to keep you entertained. Seeing the game in action showcased its charm as sillier things kept happening in our demo that made us chuckle. For instance, you can farm and harvest...cats?! Silly as it may be, the game celebrates Japanese culture and friendship, so there's something very endearing about it. Mineko's Night Market is due out in 2018 for PC and Mac. – Kimberley Wallace
Perception, a game created by former Bioshock developers, made our list last year and returns for good reason: it continues to be a fascinating experience. Set in a creaky, spooky house, you play a blind woman navigating a terrifying setting as she's pursued by a mysterious force. You can find out more about Perception here on developer The Deep Ends' website. – Javy Gwaltney
Recently announced, Dandara is a Metroid-inspired game coming to mobile, PC, Nintendo Switch (the developer says other consoles are also in mind). In it, you must restore a directionless world. During your trek, you explore a gravity-bending world by launching your character onto safe platforms, avoiding obstacles and shooting down baddies with your gun. Movement is quick and fun, testing your twitch skills. There's something satisfying about gliding your character across platforms and obstacles with ease. You can either use a touchscreen and swipe to move your character or use the directional pad to aim her toward her next destination. A lot of Dandara is about learning the landscape, and dying often imparts wisdom. I noticed in my brief demo that every time I died, I progressed faster and more confidently as I knew the landscape better. Just like any Metroid game, certain areas are blocked off until you obtain the right skill to unlock them. Throughout your journey, you encounter NPCs, all complement each area's theme. The area we saw was centered on artists, so we saw a musician and painter. Expect crazy boss fights from vicious trucks to floating heads as you prove you can think fast and persevere through the most chaotic situations. – Kimberley Wallace
Pitched as "the lovechild of Syndicate and Grand Theft Auto 1," Tokyo 42 is a colorful and somewhat retro cyberpunk assassination sim. The game takes place on an isometric plane, with your character navigating rooftops and alleyways, often crowded by foes, as they pursue their targets. Tokyo 42 is challenging, with both you and your foes dying in one hit during shootouts but there's also a lighthearted tone to all this madness, with roving nudist gangs taking on punks over territory disputes right before your eyes. Tokyo 42 is due out sometime in 2017. – Javy Gwaltney
Where The Water Tastes Like Wine
Envisioned as "a bleak American folktale," Where The Water Tastes Like Wine is a gripping and morbid adventure game that lets players explore the landscape of the country, using stories they find along the way as currency. The brief snippet we played showcased gorgeous visuals, a lovely soundtrack, and fantastic short stories that were both moving and macabre. – Javy Gwaltney
Ooblets combines the farming of Harvest Moon with the monster-catching of Pokémon. In Ooblets, you come to a new town and must make a new life for yourself. What better way to do that than to farm and have battles with the creatures (ooblets) you collect? Villagers will come up and challenge you Pokémon-style to battle with the critters you collect. The creatures are especially adorable. We saw a mushroom with sunglasses and top hot, who had attacks like "snot boop." Once you defeat a creature you don't have, you receive a seed, which you can then plant and harvest for a new ooblet to join your party. During your trek, you also explore different regions and find better items to help you get by. Hopefully, Ooblets can capture the engaging loop of the games it apes, but it already looks super promising and cute. Ooblets is coming to Xbox One and PC. – Kimberley Wallace
Fullbright's sci-fi game continues to shape up nicely. I had the chance to actually play through the segment that Tacoma showed off at last year's E3. The space station became even more intriguing since I was allowed to move around it and explore segments at my own pace. I dug around into the crew's personal effects and watched recordings of them as they played instruments and flirted with one another. Though the demo only last 10 minutes, I felt as I though I had a sense of who these people were and found myself wanting to know more about what happened to them. Tacoma's strongest quality continues to be its sense of mystery and I can't wait to see how that pans out in the full game. – Javy Gwaltney
Ape Out is a simple game at first glance. You play an Ape who has bust our of his containment cell and is trying to escape a maze filled with gun-toting baddies. Luckily for you, you're an ape. You can beat them to death with a single punch or even pick them up and throw them into other foes like bowling balls into pins. It's an enjoyable, gruesome loop bolstered by stylish visuals. Ape Out is due in late 2017 and fans of Hotline Miami and its bloody ilk should take notice.– Javy Gwaltney
SteamWorld Dig 2
Developer Image and Form Games revealed at GDC's Nintendo Indie event that a sequel to the well-received mining platformer, SteamWorld Dig, is set to release on Nintendo Switch. In SteamWord Dig 2, we're reintroduced to Dorothy, a merchant from the original who now serves as the protagonist. From my brief hands-on impressions, it's clear that SteamWorld Dig 2 is much like its predecessor, but with improvements such as a longer, denser campaign. The gameplay will feel similar for those familiar with the original; you wall-jump, dig, and kill fearsome bosses to progress. A notable change, however, is that while the first game had procedurally generated levels, each one here was designed in detail individually. The temple-like area I dug through was stunning with the glow of small fires lighting the way and translucent pools of water to swim through, even though it all takes place underground. SteamWorld Dig 2 arrives on the Switch later this year. No other platforms have been announced at this time. –Elise Favis
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