10 Indie Fighting Games To Keep An Eye On
2017 is turning out to be a big year for fighting games. From several major games like Street Fighter V, Guilty Gear, and Killer Instinct receiving updates, several new fighters like For Honor and Injustice had shaken up the foundations of how and and why we play fighting games.
But we shouldn’t forget about some of the smaller fighting games trying to make a name for themselves this year. From games trying to capture the chaotic glory of Super Smash Bros., to mixing combo attack strings and Dark Souls-style exploration, and finding new (and old) avenues for release, here are 10 upcoming indie fighting games to keep an eye on.
Absolver makes the Dark Souls-style of back-and-forth combat a bit more interesting by introducing a number of branching attack strings that put it squarely in fighting game territory. Blocking high or low, character abilities, and fast-movement options introduce a number of fun twists on both Dark Souls and fighting game combat. On the flip side, it could offer a more approachable fighting game single-player campaign that closely emulates other kinds of single-player campaigns the same way For Honor did earlier this year. We’re not sure how much gear will enhance or dilute the pure combat experience, but if it’s anything like Injustice 2’s gear system, we shouldn’t have much to worry about.
Brawlhalla, which takes more cues from Super Smash Bros. than Street Fighter, already has one of the hallmarks of a successful fighting game – a passionate competitive scene. Even in its early access stage, it’s already garnered a lot of positive attention, and developer Blue Mammoth games has gotten behind the game competitively, offering large prize pools for its tournament series. It’s also free to play, so if you’re eager to check it out before its official release, you can do so right now.
Brawlout is another take on Super Smash Bros.’ freeform combat, but it does diverge from it in a few key ways. It’s heavier on the combos, which means lets more of the muscle memory learning that can make fighting games rewarding come into play more frequently. This is also another fighter in early access, with plans to release later this year with story and challenge modes, as well as a few new characters, stages, and tweaks to the combat system.
Like Skullgirls before it, Cerebrawl is an homage to the Marvel Vs. Capcom series. It's a two-on-two game where you can call on assists to help extend combos further. It limits the action to two players per side, though, making the chaos of having more than two characters on screen more manageable. And like Skullgirls, the art is gorgeous and the character designs are varied and fun.
Fantasy Strike simplifies a lot of the intricate special move inputs and combos from other fighters. Instead of the regular six-button layout for fighting games, Fantasy strike has one attack button, one jump button, and two special moves. Though it doesn’t have as many avenues for creativity as other fighters, the simplified moves put an emphasis on the critical thinking at the heart of fighting games, so anyone looking to learn the basics of fighting games may want to give Fantasy Strike a shot.
Gang Beasts is as much wrestler as it is fighter, but all the important bits are there: Before you can throw your opponent out of the arena to win, you have to soften them up, and even after you get ahold of your opponent, many of the stages are designed to ensure that you may end being the one knocked out. With four players in the mix, the strategy of when to dive into a fight, when to back off, and when to push someone trying to throw someone else off the stage to kill them both come into play.
The original Nidhogg finds a great balance between giving players several avenues of approach (sword throws, aerial dive kicks, rolling up into a ball and hopping) without overwhelming them with intricacies, and Nidhogg 2 looks to continue that trend. Though its biggest change might be aesthetic (it moves away from the minimalistic tones of the original in favor or a more cartoonish and chaotic art style), a few more options (like a knife and bow) should change up the basic ways players think about attacking their opponent, but hopefully won’t detract from the speed and finesse of what made the first game great.
Omen of Sorrow
Omen of Sorrow throws classic horror tales like Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde in a pot and has them fight it out for supremacy, which means Mr. Hyde can fight Count Dracula. Its release date is still up in the air, but the trailer from last year’s PlayStation Experience makes a good case for why this fighter, with its miss of literature-inspired characters, cancels, and ground bounces should be on your radar.
Like Fantasy Strike, Pocket Rumble is a fighter aimed at beginners, but the Neo Geo Pocket Color-inspired graphics set it apart. Players only have to worry about two buttons to pull off special moves (no joystick motions required), and while there are combos, they’re easy enough to pull off in terms of timing. The interface helps ease players into the action as well, with on-screen indicators for moves that are invulnerable and how many frames each move lasts. It’s headed to Switch, as well as PC, where it’s currently in early access.
Along with being a fighter, Unholy Night might also be performance art. Made by several ex-SNK and Capcom employees, the game is only being released for the Super Nintendo in late June. That’s bold, to say the least. The game itself looks like a mix of SNK’s classic Fighters like Art of Fighting, while many of its characters look straight out of Darkstalkers. Though not everyone may have the console to play it on, this is definitely a game to keep an eye on for its sheer novelty.