We've always got one eye on the indie scene here at Gamereactor, and thanks to the fact that we're lucky enough to visit a bunch of trade shows, we get to see plenty of promising independently developed games as well as meet the people who make them. In the last month or so we've actually been to three big shows; GDC in San Francisco, PAX East in Boston, and Rezzed in London. Across all three events, it was clear to see that the indie world is in fine health with lots of stellar games in the works, but it's also harder than ever for titles to get the recognition they deserve. That being the case, we thought we'd do our part by highlighting a bunch of promising indie games that we've seen in the last few weeks that we think warrant further attention.
Dead Static Drive - PC/Xbox One - Release Window TBC
The cynical parts of our games journalist brains are quick to dismiss a cookie-cutter pitch like "Grand Theft Auto meets Cthulhu", but when you look closer the slogan fits the post-apocalyptic survival adventure that is Dead Static Drive. The basic premise here is to meet people and recruit some of them, beef up your survival chances through looting, and scavenging gas so that you can use your car to escape to the next map. A distinct lo-fi visual identity, strange Lovecraftian monsters (it's not zombies!), and what seems like a fairly diverse cast of characters makes this one to keep your eyes on.
Star Renegades - PC/PS4/Switch/Xbox One - Expected in 2019
We caught a quick glance at Star Renegades last year at Gamescom, but we were privy to a more in-depth look at The MIX during GDC this year where we got to see the depth of the turn-based combat (managing the initiative bar is key here) of the roguelike that borrows the wonderful Nemesis mechanic from Shadow of Mordor but adds its own, unique twist. If you leave one of your group members behind because you want to add a new member to your roster and you've only got space for one, well, your former member will join the evil empire you fight and in order to start a run with him (or her) again you need to defeat the character during a run. This sort of intelligent design really speaks volumes about the game and just look at the beautiful pixel graphics... Just look.
Mutazione - PC/PS4 - Expected in 2019
Mutazione is a mutant soap opera where you plant seeds in a musical garden to create music and solve puzzles; as you may have gathered from that description, this particular indie is something a little different. During a week in-game you'll care for your ailing grandfather and talk to the various inhabitants on the mutant village to learn about their lives and how everything is all connected. The developers have taken inspiration from the likes of Twin Peaks, Deep Space Nine, and Grey's Anatomy. The art style is really endearing too, and Die Gute Fabrik is a developer we've come to trust when it comes to delivering something out of the ordinary.
Neo Cab - PC - Expected in 2019
We do love a good taxi game (you could say we're crazy for them), and in this neon noir narrative affair, you're one of the last human drivers in an otherwise automated personal transportation network. We're equally excited about another narrative-driven cab adventure (Night Call) that we first saw at Gamescom, but where you're looking for a killer in Night Call, you're looking for your missing friend here while being tracked by the omnipresent big brother and quite possibly unravelling a larger conspiracy. The game offers a branching narrative where choices matter. A commentary on the gig economy set in a future where AI will assume many of the jobs and responsibilities held by humans today.
Unto The End - PC/PS4/Switch/Xbox One - Expected in 2019
This is certainly not the only minimalistic cinematic sidescrolling indie title we've seen, but Unto The End sure looks sleek. There's not even a life bar here, instead, the sound of heavy breathing from the protagonist will indicate that death is imminent (you'll also see his laboured breath in the cold mountain areas you traverse). The game is about a father trying to get back home and you spend most of your time travelling from the right side of the screen to the left and this speaks volumes about the sort of attention to detail husband and wife developer duo 2 Ton Studios has put into Unto the End.
Trover Saves The Universe - PC/PS4 (VR and non-VR) - May 31 (PS4) and June 4 (PC)
Rick & Morty creator Justin Roiland and his studio Squanch Games (that he founded with Epic veteran Tanya Watson) may have a VR hit on their hands with Trover Saves The Universe. A completely bonkers original concept (we expect nothing less from Roiland) sees the player control Trover from the comfort of his or her chair (yes, your avatar actually sits in a chair in-game throughout the entire adventure) and there's Trover's constant chatter to chuckle at. Now, the problem here is that an awful monster has stolen your dogs and to make matters worse he's using them as eyes and they've given him magical powers. Not reason enough to stand up it would seem, but reason enough force the somewhat unwilling Trover to do your bidding... it's a hilarious game that offers a surprising amount of choice and non-critical path content, and your motivation throughout will be to hear as much of the brilliantly deranged dialogue that you can.
Untitled Goose Game - PC/Switch - Expected in 2019
This quirky little stealth game has the most charming premise and thus it's no surprise to see a lot of interest growing around the title. Players take control of the titular goose and then spend their time waddling around a rural village in search of sandwiches to steal (and things like that). The art style is simple and understated, but that only reinforces the game's Beatrix Potteresque vibe. With a quirky sense of style and an adorable gameplay hook, Untitled Goose Game is charming pretty much everyone who clamps eyes on it, and we're very much looking forward to sitting down with the final game when it lands later this year.
Head over to the next page for even more promising indie games.
Cake Bash - PC, PS4, Switch, and Xbox One - 2019
Ever wondered what it was like to see an éclair smack a cupcake with a spork? If so, Cake Bash has the answers to your questions and pits four players against each other in an arena where the goal is to become the tastiest treat when the time runs out. Players will have to navigate a host of different hazards such as dastardly pigeons or toxic spills all while trying to amass enough sweets to be the most desirable looking confectionary at the end of the round. It's like a violent bakery beauty pageant. Cake Bash will have a host of different game modes and playable cakes for you and your pals to really hash it out with and on top of that, you shouldn't have to wait too long to play it. Cake Bash is aiming to release on Switch, PS4, Xbox and Steam this year, so be ready for a confectionary combat competition wild enough to make the Muffin Man jealous.
Guntastic - PC - Expected in 2019
This multiplayer extravaganza is all about speed and intensity, as up to four players get thrown into a pixelated arena with chests that throw out all kinds of weapons, and it's either kill or be killed. Most rounds are over in a matter of seconds, and the first player to reach 10 points - gathered by being the last one standing as well as killing your peers - is the winner. It's that simple. There are a ton of weapons that you need to adapt to, with everything running at breakneck speed, and the beauty of the simple control method is that anyone can jump in and give it a go. It's easy to learn and hard to master, and that simplicity is what kept us fully engrossed.
My Friend Pedro - PC/Switch - June 2019
This is a game we've seen before at Gamereactor but it's worth pointing out yet again what makes this unique. Specifically, you're told by a sentient banana to start killing people. If that's not enough to raise some eyebrows, we don't know what is, but if you need more convincing then we should tell you about the slow-motion action reminiscent of Max Payne and The Matrix, where you can jump and dive through the air while firing your weapons during some epic action sequences. We'd probably call it a stunt shooter more than anything since the flips and tricks are a core part of the dance of death.
Stela - PC/Xbox One - Expected in 2019
The Skybox Labs developed side-scrolling platformer Stela brings more than a 2D view to the table. With its horror-like feel, the world's many threats, vertical puzzle gameplay and wonderfully spooky atmosphere, it will surely have the player fully immersed from start to finish. This one reminded us of other indie classics such as Inside and Limbo but with the protagonist being an adult here, meanwhile the team has been working hard on creating a more extensive world and it shows. Camera angles and verticality seem to make this look really special, which is why this one featured in our recent horror article and if you missed it, you can read that here.
Cosmo's Quickstop - PC - Spring 2019
This job simulator differs from others of its kind in many ways. In Cosmo's Quickstop the player steps into the shoes of Morvin, the nephew of space rest stop owner Cosmo and who is new on the job, trying his best to do be a good employee. To keep customers happy and make some cash, Morvin has to complete orders such as filling their vehicles with gas, cleaning the hulls of their space ships, and keeping the vending machines stocked within a time limit. This charming game puts the player in a constant level of intense but fun stress and it can be experienced in co-op as well.
What the Golf? - Mobile/PC - Expected in 2019
When we met up with the developers of What The Golf? at GDC, the game was introduced as a "golf game for people who hate golf" and we'd say the introduction is very accurate and makes perfect sense. In this indie from Triband, players will control various different items, vehicles, and people trying to either putt a golf ball into a hole, a human into a pole, or a hole into a cardboard cutout of the number one (yeah, there's plenty of puns to be found in this seemingly wonderful game). What the Golf? will have you screaming and/or laughing from the get-go and we can't wait to experience the full game when it releases.
Phogs - "Multiple platforms" - 2019
Remember the old Nickelodeon show CatDog? We were reminded of the show when we saw Phogs, a game that places you and a friend as either ends of a double-headed doggie, and it's a great puzzle game that requires communication and collaboration as you quite literally pull different ways, at times extending your shared torso to stretch around the level. There are clever mechanics like shining a light through your mouth while your friend is connected to a light source, and in a dreamy colourful world like this, it's hard not to get lost in the whimsy of Coatsink's game.
The Collage Atlas - "PC and more" - 2019
Developer John Evelyn brought his self-proclaimed "hand-drawn first-person adventure", The Collage Atlas, to Rezzed this month, and this was a title that stood out simply for the style alone. Everything in the game is made to look like you're walking through a book, and you wade through illustrations, words, and letters as you go. The game has light puzzle mechanics, including a puzzle where you grab orbs of light to move to a frame and create a picture, and while the story still seems vague right now, the fact that it's a joy just to explore the world as it pops up around you is enough to keep us interested in this title.
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