E3 2019: The best indie games to look forward to seeing at the show
The lifeblood of the new generation of video game developers, indies and their teams have been creating games that can be called games independent from a publisher’s creative control for over ten years. Arguably ushered in by famed developer Jonathan Blow with 2008’s release of Braid, the rise of Steam and more recent consoles with more small developer friendly approaches and a bigger emphasis on downloadable titles. Indie games have been in a golden generation for some time albeit with a few hitches along the way, and there’s no sign of it stopping.
Elevated further with the release of the Nintendo Switch allowing some of the best indie games out there to be playable on the go and offering more avenues for revenue to indies, it’s no surprise that games developers are offering more unique experiences than ever before. Not only that, but indie games such as Celeste and Return of the Obra Dinn are proving that indies can be just as good as their AAA counterparts.
E3 is coming next month, and we hope that indies get more time than ever on stage to showcase what new and fascinating games that they have in the works.
Here, we look at some that we can’t wait to see at the show.
The Outer Worlds
The latest game from probably the most renowned independent developer in the West until they joined forces with Microsoft last year, Obsidian Studio’s The Outer Worlds was announced at The Game Awards in 2018, and a trailer was released for it for the first time. In development since about 2016, a gameplay trailer at PAX East showed that the game looks like an interesting mix open world and role-playing elements in a bright and quirky world in the first person.
It’s pretty much Obsidian’s bread and butter, so we expect the game to be well written with excellent voice-acting. Out on PS4, Xbox One and PC (Epic Game Store one year timed exclusive) later this year, we hope to see more of the story of the game and hopefully finally get a release date.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps
A sequel to one of the best games of 2015, Moon Studios Ori and the Will of the Wisps has been in development since its announcement back at E3 in 2017. Set for PC and Xbox One, it’s due out this year, the game functions as a Metroidvania action platformer. You play as Ori, tasked with completing puzzles and navigating platforms as you go on an adventure to the world beyond the Nibel forest to discover the true destiny of Ori.
With a beautiful art style that displays a bright and vibrant forest setting, we expect to see more of the game E3 along with a release date. The game will also be an Xbox Play Anywhere title, meaning that purchasing digitally on either Xbox One or PC will allow you to play the game on the other platform.
Recognised as one of the best roguelike games ever made, the first wide release of Spelunky launched to much fanfare back in 2012. Based on a freeware title by Derek Yu in 2008, the game tasks you with adventuring through the depths of tombs and jungles in search of treasure, up against various enemies including snakes, spiders, ghosts and even ancient curses as you also fight to save the damsel in distress.
The sequel was announced back in 2017, a gameplay trailer was released last year, and it looked a worthy successor to the original with more content, characters, settings and enemies to contend with. While it’s a console exclusive on PS4, it’s also due for PC, so we hope that the game will be shown at the PC gaming conference with more gameplay and a date for when we can get our hands on it.
Another favorite of the indie gaming fans, the original Psychonauts was created by Double Fine Studios in their first game as a new studio and released back in 2005 for the PlayStation 2, original Xbox and PC. It was an excellent adventure game renowned for its fantastic humor and a game that showed a natural progression from creator Tim Schafer’s previous work, which creating fantastic point and clicks adventures such as Grim Fandango and the early Monkey Island games for LucasArts.
Built on Unreal Engine 4, in 3D and continuing as a third-person adventure, the sequel will follow the events of Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin, a VR adventure released in 2017, after Raz has assisted Sasha Nein and Milla Vodello in a rescue mission for head Psychonaut Truman Zanotto, brought about by the events at the end of the first game. We hope to see more of the game at E3 including some solid gameplay footage, as well as a release date. It’s due out this year on all major platforms including macOS and Linux.
Been looking for a Classic Zelda style game with dungeons, exploration, and puzzles since Breath of the Wild released? Well, Canadian developer Andrew Shouldice hopes to bring just with his fantasy adventure Tunic. Taking the role of a fox in a delightful adventurer’s garb, Shouldice said that the game was inspired by “certain classic triangle-seeking games.” An obvious reference to The Legend of Zelda games and the gameplay matches this description well from the trailers and gameplay shown so far, with the charm of the series being very much alive in this action adventure caper.
While it has been in development for some time, it’s a game being made by one man, so it has understandably taken some time to emerge from development. However, the signs from gameplay last year look very good that it could be close to ready for a release this year, so we hope to see more from the game at Microsoft’s Conference. It’s due for release on Xbox One and PC/Mac Steam.
In the Valley of the Gods
Back in 2015, Washington-based developer Campo Santo delivered a game that was critically received well but split gamers in opinion in the form of Firewatch. Story heavy but fairly light on gameplay mechanics, it wasn’t a walking simulator style game, but if the narrative and voice acting didn’t grip you, there wasn’t much in the game for you. Despite the mixed reaction, it still sold over a million copies, which is quite an achievement for an indie game of the time.
Now Campo Santo, under the helm of PC goliath Valve, is preparing a new narrative adventure game in the form of In the Valley of the Gods. Exclusively for Steam on PC, the game is set in Egypt as you take the role of disgraced former explorer and filmmaker Rashida as you try to document your adventure in Egypt’s sands with your camera and repairing the fractured relationship with your former partner Zora. It’s unlikely to see a release this year, but we hope that the PC gaming conference will show us a little more of this mysterious journey.
Hollow Knight: Silksong
Another Metroidvania style game, 2017’s Hollow Knight was arguably one of the best games of the year. Born off the back of a successful Kickstarter, Australian developer trio Team Cherry created a spooky adventure that delivered not only fantastic art and sound design with a solid gameplay but also some of the best after release support of any indie game out there today with FOUR expansions to the base game. All of these four expansions were free to the buyers of the game.
In originally what was meant to be another expansion, Silksong was big enough that the developers decided to turn it into a full-blown sequel, and Hollow Knight: Silksong was born. With a new protagonist, new kingdoms, over 150 new enemies, tools and quests, the game will be released on PC, Linux, macOS, and the Nintendo Switch simultaneously. More gameplay and release date are what we hope to see at E3 this year.
Good news if you backed the original game on Kickstarter too. You’ll get the game for free!
Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord
This suggestion is more in hope than expectation, Mount & Blade II has been in development for so long that it’s going to rival Duke Nukem Forever before too long. The game, while almost certainly in development hell territory, is apparently still in development, with improvements to the game to make sieges more strategic, an improved dialogue system as well as many updates to graphics and gameplay, but fundamentally, it’s still the battle simulator that you’d expect from a Mount & Blade game.
Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord is a PC exclusive. The game’s lengthy development time without any tangible updates would imply that nothing is going to change that any time soon. However, with each gaming event comes a trickle of new footage and it looks like it’s getting closer to release, so we hope that E3 will tell us more about this long-awaited sequel for this much-loved franchise.