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25 Indie Games To Watch In 2014

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

Developer: Killbrite Studio
Platform: 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 of bumps.

 

The Banner Saga

Developer: Stoic
Platform: PS3, 360, PC, Mac, Linux

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.

 

Below

Developer: Capybara Games
Platform: 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 Rapture

Developer: The Chinese Room
Platform: PS4

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-Bit
Platform: 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.

 

Helldivers

Developer: Arrowhead Game
Platform: 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 Number

Developer: Dennaton Games
Platform: PS4, PC, Mac, Linux, Vita

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.

 

Incognita

Developer: Klei Entertainment
Platform: PC

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.

 

Lifeless Planet

Developer: Stage 2 Studios
Platform: PC

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

Developer: Hinterland Games
Platform: PC

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 Spacetime

Developer: Asteroid Base
Platform: 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 pink ship.

 

Mercenary Kings

Developer: Tribute Games
Platform: 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.

 

Mew-Genics

Developer: Team Meat
Platform: PC, iOS, Android

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 Games
Platform: 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 Horses
Platform: PS4, PC, Mac, Linux

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 disguise.

 

Rime

Developer: Tequila Works
Platform: 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.

 

Routine

Developer: Lunar Software
Platform: 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 supply.

 

Shovel Knight

Developer: Yacht Club Games
Platform: 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."

 

Spy Party

Developer: Chris Hecker
Platform: 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.

 

Starbound

Developer: Chucklefish Games
Platform: PS4, PC, Mac, Linux, Vita

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 speak.

 

Super Time Force

Developer: Capybara Games
Platform: 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.

 

Towerfall: Ascension

Developer: Matt Thorson
Platform: 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.

 

Transistor

Developer: Supergiant Games
Platform: PS4, PC, Mac, Linux

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 Carter

Developer: The Astronauts
Platform: 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.

 

The Witness

Developer: Jonathan Blow
Platform: 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. 

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