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10 Exciting Indies To Put On Your Radar

by Kimberley Wallace on Dec 08, 2014 at 07:00 AM

We're just coming off The Game Awards and the Playstation Experience expo, where indies with fascinating concepts were out in full swing. Finding it hard to keep track of them? We’ve got you covered. From an MMO embracing exploration over combat to a throwback to RPGs of yesteryear, we highlighted games that stood out.

Tacoma (PC/Mac/Linux)

After turning heads with Gone Home, Fullbright is ready for its next adventure. At The Game Awards, the team announced a new project entitled Tacoma. From the brief trailer, Tacoma won't have you exploring a house, but instead a place called the Tacoma Lunar Transfer Station. Seeing the next game take on a sci-fi backdrop is already exciting, especially as Fullbright already proved it could tell a compelling story with merely objects. We're excited to see what the team can do with a different setting that's 200,000 miles from earth. 

Wander (PS4, PC)

What if you weren't so focused on combat and could just take in the scenery? Wander doesn't have combat, but is instead a story-based MMO that's all about exploration. Creative director Loki Davidson spent his time traveling and wanted to capture the experience of stumbling upon something new and beautiful. You begin as a tree to find out the mysteries of a rain forest. Soon you realize you're a shapeshifter and can transform into griffins and other creatures, providing new abilities. You can find underwater caves and travel to floating islands and interact with other players in a calming setting. Wander is about doing just that: finding people, majestic landscapes, and discovering the world's secrets. And did we mention, opera singers will also guide you along the way?

Dragon Fin Soup (PS4, Vita, PS3, PC, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android)

Do you like classic RPGs like Earthbound, Shining Force, and Shiren the Wanderer, but are looking for something more adult with dark humor? Dragon Fin Soup is worth a look. This console-style RPG with roguelike elements takes classic fairytales and twists them. Little Red Riding Hood is a sociopathic, raging alcoholic with a shotgun who's just out for blood. The game has three different modes: one the centers on story, another that it's purely a roguelike survival mode, and the last is an endless labyrinth. The modes all host procedurally generated dungeons along with fun minigames like fishing and mining. Combat is also clever by letting you kick and shoot bombs to inflict even more damage on enemies. You can even recruit people to join your fight. Just stay away from the town pervert. 

Severed (Vita)

Drinkbox Studios has made a name for itself with games like Guacamelee! and Mutant Blobs Attack. Severed, the team’s latest venture, has you slicing away at enemies using the Vita's touchscreen. You swipe the opposite way of where the enemy is attacking to inflict damage. The game follows a girl with severed arm named Sasha through in a dreamlike landscape. The combat focuses on uncovering enemy patterns for the best counterattacks. Damage enemies enough and you charge your sword, lending you the ability to sever limbs off baddies, gaining you goods for upgrading your character. Defeating bosses lets you take a piece of them with you. And by that we mean: what you sever now becomes your armor. Chop off a head and it could become a mask for Sasha. The game is intentionally obtuse, but Sasha's journey through a bright world with creative enemies looks promising.

Check out our demo from the developers here.

Rebel Galaxy (PS4, PC)

Rebel Galaxy is one of the most ambitious science fiction games on the horizon, and it’s made by just two people at Double Damage Games. They describe their exciting space trading game as a mix between Wing Commander: Privateer, Sid Meier’s Pirates, Star Control II, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. Randomly generated events and galaxies offer plenty of missions that all embrace player choice, including deep ship customization. You’ll even get to pilot ships the size of Star Destroyers. 

For more information, check out our recent preview.

Up next: Lost in space and a cat facing real problems...

Skytorn (PS4, PC, Mac, Linux)

Skytorn is a new project that has interesting names behind it, and it's already been receiving plenty of buzz since it debuted at the PlayStation Experience keynote. The game harkens back to Metroid with a pixelated hero named Névoa. Névoa crosses floating islands, shovel in hand. The adventure game is procedurally generated and Névoa uses her shovel to carve her own path through obstacles and crush baddies. So far, Skytorn is hitting all the right nostalgic notes while also bringing an interesting dynamic with Névoa's shovel attacks. 

Cosmic Star Heroine (PS4, Vita, PC, Mac)

If you're a fan of JRPGs, especially Phantasy Star, keep Cosmic Star Heroine on your watch list. The two-man development team, Zeboyd Games, is at the helm and has already delivered quality RPGs reminiscent of 8- and 16-bit era, such as Breath of Death VII and Cthulhu Saves the World. Zeboyd Games was also behind episode three and four of Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness. Cosmic Star Heroine follows Alyssa L'Salle, a top agent for the galactic government. Alyssa's life becomes very different when she uncovers a conspiracy that leads to the government blowing her cover as a legendary spy. The turn-based RPG also lets you recruit agents and build up a headquarters a la the Suikoden series. One thing that has always come through is Zeboyd Games' passion for RPGs, providing an extra touch to really get your nostalgia going. 

Adr1ft (PS4, Xbox One, PC, VR)

Adam Orth is bouncing back from tough times with a beautiful game called Adr1ft. His new independent studio Three One Zero has around 15 people touching the game total, but the team is set on making a non-violent game. Adr1ft is about exploring the aftermath of a traumatic event. You're alone in space after your ship crashes exploring the wreckage, searching for answers and for a way to survive. We went hands-on with the scene shown in the recent trailer using the Oculus Rift and were immediately taken by the helplessness that washes over you as you just drift, seeing destruction all around you. And yet, the atmosphere is stunning, lending hope for something better. Adr1ft is all about quiet moments as you search space.

Night In The Woods (PS4, PC, Mac, Linux)

Night In The Woods caught our eye for its interesting art style (plus the protagonist is a cat!), but when we uncovered what the adventure game was about, we were completely sold. Mae returns home after dropping out of college to continue living out an aimless life. One problem: Her town isn't exactly how she left it. The dialogue is fantastic and the story also holds so much promise, commentating about knowing when to move on and embrace change, even when it's hard to let go, and that's only a slice of the tale. The game is very narrative-focused with exploration and some platforming. The platforming all plays into her being a cat, so she can climb ledges and stroll along rooftops and fences. Mae's world and its inhabitants already have us intrigued, making us even more excited to find out how she grows during the adventure. Witty, yet poignant this one could really cut into your emotions. 

Gunsport (PS4, Xbox One, PC)

If you can wrap your brain around the idea of cyberpunk volleyball, there’s plenty of multiplayer fun to be had in Necrosoft Games’ Gunsport. Players use futuristic shotguns and laser rifles to launch a neon ball over the net. Just like real volleyball, if the ball touches the ground, the team that hit it over the net scores points. The tally for each score is based on the number of times the ball crosses the net. If it is volleyed six times, the score is six points. Now here’s where things get tricky, the back walls of the area hold two goals. If the ball is knocked into them, the rival team scores.  It’s a simple game to grasp, but one that causes a ruckus if four people are playing it together.