The Most Promising Indie Games From E3 2018
There was a lot to show off at E3, but beside the blockbusters, there are impressive smaller efforts on display.
From full blown sequels to epic reveals and many new trailers, amongst all the hustle and bustle of E3 2018, there were a ton of exciting and intriguing new indie games we can’t wait to get our hands on. With so much news flying everywhere, we thought we’d do a roundup of the biggest indie games announcements from each conference, which might have been drowned out by all the battle royale and next generation talk during the show.
The sequel to the lovable and cute puzzler Unravel, which starred the adorable Yarny and was likely a precursor to the EA Originals program, was announced at the 2018 EA Play event and is out now (yes EA pulled that classic E3 move).
Unravel Two focuses on co op gameplay, as you’ll be controlling two Yarny characters on a new adventure, solving puzzles which require the use of both characters and feature more daring chases across life like environments. It can be played through swapping between the two stringy characters, or playing through the story with a friend and solving the puzzles together. Unravel Two is out now on Xbox One, PS4 and PC, so if you are looking for another co op experience after A Way Out, this could be the way to fill that hole.
SOS – Sea of Solitude
Another indie game featured during EA Play and one of the highlights from the otherwise shallow conference, was a re-announced title from Berlin developer Jo-Mei Games. Sea of Solitude follows Kay, a girl navigating the waters of a strange world, filled with creatures like herself who she’ll have to face, in hope of becoming the person she used to be. It’s the next EA Original title, a program which sees EA support and publish indie games, with all the profits going to the indie studio they partner with.
It’s a game about loneliness, the various forms it can take and how we can be our most dangerous and monstrous when we remain entirely alone. Exploring anger, worthlessness and heartache, these are feelings and themes not often explored in mainstream video games, which makes Sea of Solitude an exciting title to see EA embracing and supporting. SOS has the potential to be an important title for shifting the focus on how women are presented and treated in video games too, which you can read more about in Caitlin’s recent piece about the game.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Ori and the Will of the Wisps, the previously announced sequel to the fantastical and challenging platformer Ori and the Blind Forest from Moon Studios, showed a new extended gameplay trailer as part of the crowded Xbox showcase. It showed off new and somehow more beautiful environments, new animal characters to befriend (and run away from) and a suite of new abilities Ori has gained since the last outing. No specific release date has been given yet, although it will be releasing in 2019, so you’ll have to wait a little longer to return to Ori’s delightful and colorful world.
Originally revealed last year at E3, Tunic is a Zelda like top down action-adventure game from a solo developer from Halifax, Canada about a tiny fox in a big world hiding many secrets. It’s our first proper look at Tunic‘s core gameplay and the various types of cute and vivid locations you’ll explore with this brave fox hero. Importantly, it was shown at the Xbox showcase as it’ll be coming to PC and Xbox One as a timed console exclusive.
Although many skateboard fans were hoping for a Skate 4 announcement at EA Play, Session looks like it’ll be filling that void for skate fans in the time being. Coming from Canadian developers Crea-ture Studios, Session is inspired by the golden era of skateboarding in the early 90s and 00s. It’s not quite ready yet for full release, with the developers running a successful Kickstarter for it late last year but it’ll release through early access on Steam and Xbox Game Preview by the end of this year, so you won’t have to wait long relieve that digital skating itch.
Indie games coming to Xbox One and the Xbox Game Pass Service
A big emphasis of the Xbox showcase was Microsoft’s Game Pass, the new service which gives you access to over a hundred games from Xbox and third parties. Along with each new first party game coming to the service at launch, including Sea of Thieves, State of Decay 2, the upcoming Forza Horizon 4 and Gears 5, are a number of indie games including, the tactical oriented Phoenix Point, the atmospheric Ashen, the pub crawling Afterparty and the popular party based Warhammer-themed Vermintide II.
Along with the those announcements, Microsoft showed a classic indie games highlight reel, showcasing the games coming to Xbox One as part of the [email protected] program. These included the aforementioned titles coming to Xbox Game Pass like Ashen, Vermintide II, Afterparty, Bomber Crew and some with announcements on exclusivity deals.
Of the games shown, Outer Wilds, Below, Waking, the Cuphead expansion The Delicious Last Course, Tunic, Session, and Black Desert Online will all be console launch exclusives. Kingdom Two Crowns, The Golf Club 2019, Fringe Wars, Conquerors Blade, Children of Morta, Raji: An Ancient Epic, Super Meat Boy Forever, Planet Alpha, Generation Zero, Sable, Harold Halibut, Islands of Nine, The Wind Road, Wargroove, Totem Teller and Dead Cells are all just coming to the Xbox One.
We got our latest look at the next title Afterparty from Night School Studio, the creators of the award winning Oxenfree, as part of IGN’s E3 coverage. Announced in March, Afterparty is a story about two friends Milo and Lola, who have recently died and gone to Hell. Their only way out? Outdrink Satan himself and he’ll supposedly grant you re-entry back to Earth.
Taking place over one night, these friends will need to drink their way through the many bars and defeat the best drinkers in Hell, something we get a proper look at in a new gameplay trailer from E3, showing off the start of the story. If this gameplay is to go by, you’ll not only be spending a lot of time in bars, but choosing drinks which will affect each character’s mood, insulting arsehole demons and humans alike and beating them in classic drinking games when it releases later this year on PC, Xbox One, PS4, Switch and will be coming to the Xbox Game Pass at launch.
Cuphead The Delicious Last Course (DLC)
Microsoft announced through the Xbox showcase that the highly popular brutal and old school to the max platformer Cuphead from Canadian Studio MDHR, will be getting DLC. The DLC, titled The Delicious Last Course, will include a new playable character in the ‘Legendary Ms.Chalice’, a new island filled with new bosses to beat with new weapons and charms in a final last quest to assist ‘Chef Saltbaker’. The Delicious Last Course is coming to Xbox and Windows PCs near you in 2019.
Life is Strange – The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit
Revealed at the Xbox showcase and further elaborated on at the Square Enix presentation was The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit, an original self contained story set in the Life is Strange universe, that is coming on June 26th to Xbox One, PC and PS4, for free. This adventure finds you playing as Chris, an ordinary ten year old boy who dreams of being a superhero. He’s quite lonely, as his Mum is out of the picture and his father doesn’t seem in a great place, so Chris uses his imagination to keep himself company.
Importantly, supposedly something strange happens to him one seemingly normal Saturday morning, channeling the supernatural that has been pervasive throughout Life is Strange. Referred to as a demo by the developers at Dontnod Entertainment, Captain Spirit will be the bridge between the original title and its sequel. The developers see this free episode as a way to introduce new players to the stories they want to tell in the expanded Life is Strange universe. Although this isn’t Life is Strange 2, it will not only have several hints and links to the new story and characters for LiS 2, but your choices in Captain Spirit will carry over the the sequel too.
We Happy Few
The long awaited release for We Happy Few will soon come to fruition, as it was announced alongside a new trailer focused on the story, that the drug-fueled adventure will release in full on August 10th. Despite the early access or preview version being largely procedurally generated centric in its design, the full game will have plenty of curated content woven throughout to deliver story beats and to give more information on the world around you. It’s a unique formula which not many other developers have attempted, let alone succeeded with.
It was revealed as part of this focus on story, you’ll play as three characters, all from different parts of the strange and dystopian town of Wellington Wells. They are all trying to escape from this retro futuristic nightmare of a community, consumed with denial of some terrible event that has occurred.
Although there wasn’t much in the way of real announcements from Devolver’s strange and over the top conference (which is really more just a chance for them to poke fun at industry trends and murder people on a stage anyhow) we did get a update to the long in development SCUM, a open world multiplayer survival game. A new trailer positioned the game as a game show with mechs chasing down contestants and announced SCUM will be coming to Steam Early Access in August.
My Friend Pedro: Blood Bullets Bananas
Along with SCUM, we saw Devolver show a trailer for My Friend Pedro, a violent and stylish 2D shooter which is all about taking out bad guys in the coolest most slick ways possible. Whether that’s through riding a skateboard threw a window, ricocheting bullets off frying pans and doing as many twirls as possible. Coming to PC and the Nintendo Switch early in 2019, My Friend Pedro looks like a good old silly and fun time.
One of the best indie games to go under the radar last year and developed in little ol’ Adelaide, Australia of all places, Nintendo announced during their Direct that Hollow Knight is out now on Nintendo Switch. Hollow Knight follows the story of a small knight as they adventure through a vast ruined kingdom of insects and dozens of challenging bosses.
Originally as part of their Kickstarter for Hollow Knight, developers Team Cherry were going to bring the game to the Wii U, but with the release and success of the Switch, they decided to, like many others, instead release on there instead. The release comes with the free content packs; Hidden Dreams, The Grimm Troupe and Lifeblood, with the latest Gods & Glory on the way soon.
One of the biggest indie surprises from the Nintendo Direct, was the reveal of Overcooked 2, the sequel the frantic party cooking game which took the industry by storm in 2016. The sequel promises a host of new kitchens, chefs to play as, recipes to fail at creating and online multiplayer. Set to come out on the August 7th, Overcooked 2 has only been announced for the Nintendo Switch at the time of writing, but will likely be announced for other platforms soon enough.
Killer Queen Black
Announced during the Nintendo Direct, Killer Queen Black is a new take on the arcade esport Killer Queen and has been rebuilt from the ground up to make the most of the Nintendo Switch. An intense multiplayer action/strategy platformer, this frantic and tactical arcade game allows up to eight people to play at once, as you all compete to complete one of three possible victory conditions. Slated for the end of the year, Killer Queen Black looks like it’ll be right at home on the Switch.
The developers of the Goat Simulator series have plenty more up their sleeves when it comes to games (including having a entire publishing arm of the company now), as they revealed their latest game at the PC Gaming Show.
An open-world FPS factory building sim, in Satisfactory you can construct, automate, explore and exploit a curated (no procedural generation here!) alien world, where you’ll be contributing to ‘Project Assembly’, a massive machine with a mysterious purpose…. It looks like you’ll be able to build things on a incredible massive scale and with friends too in online multiplayer.
We’ve known about Neo Cab for a little while, but we got out first proper look at gameplay and more insight into the story of Lina, the protagonist and the last human driver (think Uber) in a neon, futuristic Los Ojos. The game revolves around picking up passengers, providing a decent service so you can keep getting business and trying to find Lina’s friend who has recently gone missing. You’ll be able to chat with each of your passengers to try and find clues to the friend’s whereabouts, but need to be careful to not get the attention of all powerful corporations slowing you down.
One of the most unexpected and funniest reveals from the PC Gaming Show was of Maneater, a single player, action open-world RPG in which you play as a friggin giant bull shark. Everything is on the menu from people, to sharks and even whales, in this dark revenge tale, as you attempt to track down the human who killed your mother and left you for dead. Through your feeding, you’ll be able to evolve and customize your shark and yes this is a real game and it’s hilarious and also pretty damn brutal. Unfortunately there is no release date yet, but you can be sure we’ll keep an eye on this one.
Untitled Publisher Reveal – First Three Games Announced
Untitled Publisher is the latest company to invest in the indie scene, with the focus being very much on the developers and games themselves, if you couldn’t tell by the title of their company. As they put it themselves “Publishers are boring. But games & developers aren’t”, before revealing their first three signed games, one of which is out now.
The first shown was Bravery Network Online, a game set in a post-post-apocalyptic world where you can make friends and challenge strangers, in stylish turn based action. Next was Morning Star, a unusual farming game where computers are your soil and software are you seeds with eerie futuristic cyberpunk vibes. And finally Overwhelm, a 2D action shooter, in which you explore a network of caverns of a hive of monsters, who grow stronger with each boss you defeat. It looks fast paced, tense and with limited lives it sounds like a challenging affair, but you can choose the order you face bosses in, allowing you to optimize your playthrough.
Each of these titles are unique, stylish and very much their own, and stand out all the more due to Untitled Publisher focusing on the business side of things and not taking away the spotlight from their curated collection of intriguing games.
Sable and Night Call
Two distinct indies are coming from another indie publisher Raw Fury, which were some of the most interesting games visually from the PC Gaming Show. First up was Night Call which was actually somewhat similar to Neo Cab, as you play as a taxi driver in Paris, as city you know very well. Also following an investigation, as a taxi driver you have a lot of patrons from all different backgrounds and one of them has been the most recent victim of a chain of murders haunting the city. You can’t help but be drawn into the investigation, talking to passengers about the murders, finding clues and trying to stop the killer yourself. It’s an interesting take, with a dark noir look and intriguing premise.
The other game, Sable, was one of the best visual treats of E3. A coming of age tale following the young Sable, who goes on a personal journey across a foreign alien planet to learn about the history of the inhabitants. It has an interesting story at its heart, but it’s the grainy and striking art style and world that caught attendees eyes. Although there is a lot more to be revealed about Sable, its gorgeous world and stunning visuals already have many hooked.
Don’t Starve: Hamlet
Klei Entertainment certainly have a lot on their plates, with several games on the go including their childlike fantasy Hot Lava in Open Beta on Steam (which I didn’t know was a thing? It’s different to Steam Early Access, somehow), the space colony sim Oxygen Not Included in Early Access on Steam and another original game in Griftlands on its way this year. To add to this pile of indie work, is their upcoming DLC for Don’t Starve called Hamlet, which they showed new gameplay for at the PC Show. It adds new areas, challenges and plenty of things that will most definitely kill you many, many times and is slated for release this December.
Noita was one of many indie titles to get a new trailer at the PC Gaming Show, but it’s of particular interest to us here at OK Beast and especially Moises, who wrote about it in his most anticipated indie games coming this year. Since I’ve done so much talking I’ll let Moises explain this one for you.
“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.
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”. It sounds pretty rad right? Hence why we were excited to get new gameplay, but we’ll have to wait a little longer for a release date unfortunately.
You’ve likely become sick from hearing about battle royale games over and over, but there was one (of a few) indie battle royale game which is doing something different. Recently, the creators behind the infamous Cyanide and Happiness comics and channel ran a successful Kickstarter for a C&H adventure game. While that’s been in development, they’ve collaborated with another studio and publisher TinyBuild to create a C&H battle royale called Rapture Rejects.
A top down isometric last man standing (battle royale), Rapture Rejects is when everyone left behind on earth attempts to kill everyone else on earth in hope of impressing God so that he might let you into Heaven (solid plan right?). The style and classic C&H humour throw an interesting twist on the recently popular genre, one which you’ll be able to check out for yourself soon in an alpha.
There were a boat load more indie games on show at E3, including many on display on the show floor throughout the week. So if we missed out on your favourite or an interesting title that took your eye during the week, let us know, but we hope this gives you a good overview of what was on offer at the big fancy gaming show. And to reinforce that there is a lot of creativity in games right now and plenty to immerse yourself in beyond the huge AAA blockbusters that headline E3 each year.
Follow all of OK Beast’s E3 2018 coverage here.