The Best Indie Games Of GDC 2016
The Game Developers Conference in San Francisco is a mecca for intelligent talk about triple-A game design, but it also hosts a huge assortment of indie games. We've got boots on the ground at the Moscone convention center and controllers in our hands, playing and vetting through dozens of upcoming indie games to let you know what's worth getting excited for. Check out our evolving, expanding list of the best indie gems from GDC 2016.
Tear Through is an isometric action-tactical game being developed by Bandit-1 that features icons instead of people. You play as a SWAT officer completing various objectives in different levels, like rescuing hostages or defusing bombs. The array of options available to the player, such as peeking under the door to survey the surroundings or shooting through walls to take out foes, makes Tear Through much deeper than it appears initially. Tear Through is in early stages of development and you can find out more info about it here on the game's website.
Beacon is a rogue-lite game that takes place on a desolate planet where the protagonist has crash-landed. The goal is to get back home, but that's easier said than done considering there are countless lifeforms who want to blast you to bits. Good thing you have a cloning chamber to bring you back to life after you die. The 20 minutes we spent with Beacon showcased a gorgeous aesthetic as well as satisfying and difficult combat. Beacon is being developed for PC and Xbox One. You can find out more details about the game here.
Perception, a game where you play as a blind woman navigating a spooky house, is being developed by ex-Bioshock developers and it shows, particularly in the game's stellar sound design and engaging atmosphere. From our slice of gameplay, Perception seems to be one of those rare horror games that can be unsettling and memorable without relying on cheap jump scares. You can find out more about Perception on developer The Deep End Games' site.
Elsinore is a time-loopy take on Hamlet that casts the player as Ophelia as she runs around trying to prevent the play's tragic events from coming to pass. When she fails, she's forced to relive the same four days over and over again in Groundhog Day-like fashion. Ophelia is unable to actually forcibly prevent Hamlet or Claudius from doing what they're going to do but instead, she can influence everyone in the play, providing them with information that might change the course of events--but not always for the better. From what we've seen of Elsinore so far the game looks to be living up to its sizeable and twisted ambitions. You can find out more about Elsinore here.
Streets of Rogue
Streets of Rogue is a fascinating mess, in the best way possible. A mishmash of genres, this rogue-lite requires you to complete objectives in a procedurally generated city but how you go about doing is up to you. Charm your way past folks (or kill them), hack computers, sneak around. It'll be interesting to see how Streets of Rogue comes together but for now it looks very promising. You can find more details about the game here.
Element was pitched to us as "a realtime strategy space game for people who don't have time to play realtime strategy space games" and it certainly lived up to that claim during our demo. The game has you fighting for various planets' resources with other factions in quick matches where you're building mining structures as well as defensive structures. It's fun, fluid, and will be hitting Xbox One soon. The early access version of the game is already available on Steam.
Semispheres is a singleplayer puzzle game where you simultaneously control two characters in different realities. It was a fun little game to watch in action, as the player had to sneak both characters past guards to escape and is ultimately a little reminiscent of both Portal and Volume. You can find out more about Semispheres on the game's official website.
C-Wars is a futuristic sci-fi rogue-lite with an impressive pixel aesthetic that seems to draw influence from Akira as well as a satisfying combat system. The game's still in development but is also available on early access.
Deliver Us The Moon
This sci-fi adventure game casts you as an astronaut on a mission to save humanity. It has an impressive opening sequence where you actually get to go through the ignition system for a space rocket, and the slice of game we got to play through, featuring a sequence where you're running around a station and turning on its oxygen supply, was atmospheric and spooky. You can find out more about the game by going to its official website.
Frozen Synapse 2
Mode7's Frozen Synapse is a fast-moving strategy game featuring simultaneous move planning and execution. This forces players to think differently than they do in most turn-based games, because of the need to anticipate how your opponent's current move will intersect with your own. The sequel layers on top a full, procedurally generated city, multiple factions, diplomacy, and a variety of objectives. The result is cyberpunk Civilization or Alpha Centauri, and we can't wait to play it in early access later this year.