Indie Games That Have Me Just as Hyped as I am For Their $60 AAA Brethren

I have been playing video games for over 3 decades now and I do not ever remember a time where indie development was this strong and this varied.  Sure in the late 80’s, early 90’s most game developers were indies or quasi-indies, but what we have today (over the past couple years) will probably be looked back on as the first golden age of indie video game development.

Depending how wide you cast your net, E3 and the weeks surrounding it have given us 100’s of indies, all striving with all their might to get noticed. I have compiled a short list of the games that stood out the most to me. I purposely omitted most of the games that got serious coverage like No Man’s Sky or Firewatch. I am sure I left out games people love, but trying to cover ALL the indies is a sure fire way to drive oneself mad.

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Salt & Sanctuary:

Platforms:  PS4, Vita, PC (Xbox TBA)

Genre/Game-Type: 2D Action Role-Playing Side-Scroller

Release Date: TBA (2015)

Developed By: Ska Studios

A great many games have begun to take cues from the Dark Souls series; especially in the indie space. Salt & Sanctuary won’t be the only Souls inspired indie is this piece. The game is about a shipwrecked sailor who finds himself on a strange island in the midst of a war. I really dig the hand drawn visuals and level design. The promise of a high degree of difficulty pleases the masochist in me too.

 

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Galak-Z: The Dimensional:

Platforms:  PS4, Vita, PC

Genre/Game-Type: 2D Open-World 16-Bit Sci-Fi Space Shooter (Dog-Fighter)

Release Date: TBA (2015)

Developed By: 17-BIT

The crew that gave us Skulls of the Shogun is back with another 16-bit inspired darling. Galak-Z features levels which are generated uniquely for each playthrough and connected together to create an endless “dungeon.” Inspired by 80’s style shooters and anime. The space ships, inertia based physics, and impressive looking gameplay really hit the sweet spot for me.

 

[youtube id=”wNZyFJacZGQ “]

Death’s Gambit:

Platforms:  PC, PS4

Genre/Game-Type: 2D Action RPG Side-Scroller

Release Date: TBA (2015)

Developed By: White Rabbit

Death’s Gambit is another game that has taken some inspiration from Dark Souls…and 2D Castlevania…and a healthy does of Shadow of the Colossus. This game looks tough, but rewarding. The visuals, the combat, and the “scale” they have managed to give this 2D action RPG just screams PLAY ME!

 

[youtube id=”H7wABpMF1S8 “]

Mother Russia Bleeds:

Platforms: PC, PS4

Genre/Game-Type: Ultra-Violent Beat’Em Up

Release Date: TBA (2015)

Developed By: Le Cartel

A bloody homage to Street of Rage, Double Dragon and other fighters from the golden age of brawlers. When I witnessed the main character do a quintessential Double Dragon jump kick AND then spend an inordinate amount of time feeding punches into a downed enemies face I was sold. TAKE MY MONEY!

 

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Eitr: 

Platforms: PS4, PC

Genre/Game-Type: 2D Action Role-Playing

Release Date: TBA (2015)

Developed By: Eneme Entertainment

Yep, it is another indie that has taken inspiration from the Dark Souls series. I am sensing a pattern here. I will tell you a secret I am afraid to tell Kev on the BRBCast…I don’t particularly like the Dark Souls series. I finished the first Souls game and have never returned to the series, or Bloodborne, in earnest since. Shhhhh it’s a secret!

Eitr is deeply rooted in Norse mythology; my favorite of all the mythologies! The word Eitr itself is the name of a liquid from Norse mythology which is the source of all living things. It is also a synonym for poison in Scandinavian folklore. While the art style is not unique among indie offerings, it does look very cool. It is the combat however that sets this one apart from the rest. The gif from the top of this article sums it up well. Watching that female warrior duck and dodge while dual wielding a sword and an axe, only to finish things off with a quick arrow shot really conveys how engaging the combat in this game will be.

 

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The Banner Saga 2:

Platforms: PS4, PC, Vita, iOS, Android

Genre/Game-Type: Turn-Based RPG

Release Date: TBA (2015)

Developed By:

The first Banner Saga was a real treat. Wonderful visuals that called back to classic Disney and that old timey animation they used in the 1978 animated Lord of The Rings film. Mixed with the world of Vikings. A second instalment means getting to spend more time in that world, hopefully with some of the rough spots from the first game smoothed over.

 

[youtube id=”IW7zcDwxhhs “]

Skyshine’s BEDLAM:

Platforms: PC, Mac

Genre/Game-Type: Turn-Based RPG With Rogue-Like Elements

Release Date: TBA (2015)

Developed By: Skyshine Games

Skyshine have licensed the proprietary game engine and tool set built for The Banner Saga to create BEDLAM. In some ways you could call this game a sci-fi Banner Saga, but that would be selling it short. I am a sucker for a good turn-based RPG and I really liked The Banner Saga. The humor, art and use of buzz words like New Game Plus don’t hurt either. And I may just be an old fogey, but saying your game has “chess-like battle strategy” still gets my blood pumping. I like chess!

 

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Cuphead:

Platforms: PC, Xbox One

Genre/Game-Type: Run and Gun Side-Scroller

Release Date: TBA (2016)

Developed By: Studio MDHR

Created by two Canadian brothers, Cuphead is inspired by the works of 1930s cartoonists such as Max Fleischer’s Fleischer Studios. Do I really need to say anything? Just look at it! This game practically sells itself. Not only are the visuals incredible (which is saying something because pretty indies are a dime a dozen) but the story and setup sound awesome. You fight a series of bosses to repay a debt to the devil. Seriously. I can not wait.

 

[youtube id=”FPtK7xvQD2c”]

Hellblade:

Platforms: PC, PS4

Genre/Game-Type: TBA

Release Date: TBA (2016)

Developed By: Ninja Theory

A lot of details have yet to be announced, so I am going off of what we have seen so far and the pedigree of the people who are making it. Heavenly Sword is still one of my all time favorite PS3 titles and ENSLAVED was such a good game I have played it to completion many times in the years since it released. Hellblade is what Ninja Theory is calling a AAA indie; meaning it has all the production values you would expect from a AAA release but developed and published independently. The story is based on Celtic myth and focuses on the main character Senua’s point of view as she goes on a personal journey through a brutal world. The twist is that the we are apparently really experiencing the manifestations of Senua’s psychosis after a trauma. Ninja Theory have proven they can tell a compelling story AND provide rewarding combat. Hellblade is still a ways off but I am definitely excited by what we have seen and been told so far.

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I am surprised just how many of the indies I am excited for called out Dark Souls as an inspiration. When you add them to the list of AAA games (and a ton of other indies) that have admitted to taking inspiration from Souls, the impact of that series on the gaming industry across the board really stands out. Bravo From Software.

I wish the games had fixed release dates, but given that these are smaller titles, I suspect most of them will arrive before years end. I do not know if I have a single favorite, but Eitr and Cuphead would probably share first place if I had to rank them all.

What were some of your favorites indies from this years E3? Is there a game you can not wait for that nobody seems to be giving any love to? Let us know!

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Comments

  1. CloudStyle

    Great list Mr Pacman.

    Just one observation, Deaths Gambit says Other Platforms TBA, but the trailer you used is from the PS4 channel…

  2. ApollosAnarchy

    Damn it feels good to be a PC gamer.

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