Indie Games You Should Be Looking Forward to
After spending a few days being talked down at for being “the indie guy”, I figured I may as well make something of it. It’s true that nowadays I prefer smaller, more personal endeavors and I guess that this would probably be a good time to tell you about some of those games that I’m looking forward to. I’ve been reading a lot of lists, making them and I’m not quite ready to let go of them, so here’s one of a few indie games I find noteworthy. While I will 100% be working through an immense backlog of intensely big games that I picked up post-Black Friday, I intend to carve out some time this year for these little guys, should they ever come to be.
1. Wargroove (Chucklefish Games)
I want it so bad and it’s exactly Advance Wars but for people my age. I have never played Advance Wars but people can’t stop bringing it up at even the thought of Wargroove. Wargroove is presumably the next game from Chucklefish Games, the same indie publisher/developer that brought the world Stardew Valley and Starbound. I like playing older games, I’ve made a shtick out of it, but the less I have to look for them and play them the better, which is why I’m grateful someone has dedicated themselves to updating an apparently successful formula.
I’m not entirely behind modern military strategy games. Something about people strategically waging intense, personal battles on the battlefield feels archaic and the further the technology goes the further removed you really are from the intensity of the encounter. Of course that’s more Fire Emblem than Advance Wars, but the point remains: I’m glad Wargroove is more Fire Emblem in terms of aesthetics and Advance Wars in how you play. Throw into that blend a sense of humor and fun that births a canine unit appropriately titled Doggo, and you now understand why I so desperately need this game in my life.
Wargroove should be grooving its way into our hearts early this year on the Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and PC.
2. Noita (Nolla Games)
I’d like to thank Indie Games Dev Twitter for putting this one on the radar for me a few months ago. Only a trailer, a few GIFs and screenshots exist publicly but it’s easily one of my most anticipated games. The developers, a pleasant little group with backgrounds in various segments of the indie scene have promised a rogue-lite with an engine that procedurally generates every pixel of the game. What does that mean? Well, it means you can disassemble the environments and enemies in ways that will feel wholly unique every time because, realistically, it will be. It’s a hard thing to describe.
You know how Battlefield 4 had scripted level destruction called Levolution? Well, this promises to be that but not scripted. You want to shoot a spell at a hill? Go for it, it’ll come apart differently almost every time. Every encounter can play out exactly like you want…or exactly as you did not intend for it to go. I see this seesaw of possibility as a positive. Rogue-likes are a genre I love to play but never finish because seeing the exact same elements churn out the exact same results is a hell I don’t feel I deserve. At least if everything goes upside down in Noita, I’ll know it was a screw up entirely unique to me.
Noita is so far only confirmed for early access in 201X according to their website and this is only taking PC into consideration.
3. Knights and Bikes (Foam Sword Games)
Shoutout to Kickstarter for making this dream-I mean game-a reality. Knights and Bikes is the beautiful brain child of ex-Media Molecule folks, which is clear when you look at a screenshot of the damn game. It’s got a beautiful hand-drawn aesthetic and papier-mâché(thanks Google) like characters which makes sense when you discover that the Creative Director of Tearaway, a game that is closer than most to perfection, is working on this game too.
The game concerns itself with Nessa and Demelza, two British children in the 80s who are attempting to ward off evil from their small island in a fantastical and not so fantastical way. Because the stars have aligned, this game is entirely playable in local drop-in/drop-out co-op and yes there’s an online co-op component too. It seems to be a lighthearted adventure game leaning into the fantasy of being a child, with a friend and being incredibly bored. While that sounds awful on paper, we know all too well the incredible times that can be born from being an aimless child. It’s probably around here that I should mention the whole part where you throw frisbees, jump in puddles and joust on your bikes in combat. Yeah, it’s going to be a good one.
Though it slipped out of it’s initial release last year, I’m fairly confident we’ll see it before years end. When it does release, it’ll do so on PC and PS4.
4. My Friend Pedro: Blood Bullets Bananas (DeadToast Entertainment)
Remember how cool it was to see parkour boy in Live Free or Die Hard? I’d never seen someone leap and bound across a room like that. It was the gamification of movement. It put the District 13 movies on my radar which in turn put parkour on the map. Soon enough, The Office was mocking it, Die Hard was featuring it, and a wave of “urban exploration” was born. People started climbing and jumping over things in the most extra way possible. Games began to try to adapt this movement. That’s why Cole from inFamous can climb how he does, it’s why Brink exists and it’s why My Friend Pedro: Blood Bullets Bananas is the coolest looking of those three.
My Friend Pedro is a side-scrolling “violent ballet of friendship and imagination” where it is entirely possible for you to ride a skateboard while armed with two Uzis, gun down one dude, jump off and land on a rope, gun down a second dude and then use the rope to launch yourself through a window where you can gun down two dudes in slow motion before, of course, landing on a second skateboard. And hey if you don’t believe me, check out their pinned tweet that shows exactly that. My Friend Pedro seems like the most deliberately excessive action game this side of the gaming industry (I’m looking at you Dragon Ball FighterZ)and I can’t wait to kick flip a skateboard and then kick it midair into someones head. Oh yeah, you can do that too.
Screenshot Saturday has become a joy since I’ve been introduced to this game.
— My Friend Pedro 🔫🍌 (@deadtoast_com) September 9, 2017
No release date has been confirmed but you can expect it on PC whenever it deigns to release.
5. Below (Capybara Games)
The game that time forgot. Well except Chase Williams. He’s got Capybara Games number.
This one’s weird. It’s theoretically the one that’s the furthest along, the one that’s been in development the longest, and probably the only one besides Wargroove that has a very good shot of releasing this year. It’s also the one that’s gone without a meaningful update in what seems like forever and the one that due to numerous delays, could very likely slip from this year too. Of course to slip it has to have a window, which it doesn’t anymore. Apparently in development for years prior to it’s 2013 announcement, it was supposed to be an adventure game that had you plumbing the depths of a mysterious island. As you probably expected, these cavernous depths are home to myriad creatures just waiting to fuck you up like any game that has a small sprite exploring places they probably don’t belong. The depths were procedurally generated, there was permadeath reminiscent of State of Decay and a “brutal but fair” approach to difficulty like a Souls game. It’s fantasy-ish but with a clear sci-fi bent and music that sort of reminds me of Hyper Light Drifter. In short, it’s meant to be perfect.
Look at this trailer and tell me it doesn’t physically pain you that this hasn’t released yet.
Whenever it does release you can expect it on PC and Xbox One. It’s certainly the only reason I own an Xbox One.
Big or small, AAA or indie, games are good and only getting better, with indie games showing an astonishing level of polish and promise in the last few years. It’s never been a better time to give a smaller game a shot and evidently after writing this, the place to play indie games is on a PC so be like me and get to it folks!