There can be only one, and Free Lives' homage-riddled platformer is our headline indie of 2015, and out of all the games mentioned below, it's the one that we can't wait to get our mitts on most. Well, that's not actually true, because Broforce is currently in Steam Early Access, and it's already a fleshed out experience that we'd be happy to recommend to pretty much anybody. What we can't wait for is the game to be finished, because with so many games hitting Early Access in recent months, we've started waiting for developers to declare their games fully cooked before we sink too much time into them.
The premise is thus: you control an 80s- or 90s-inspired action hero with two signature attacks, and using them you must blast your way through destructible environments on your way to the helicopter evacuation at each level's end. On the way you can rescue fellow "bros" from imprisonment, each time changing your playable character and banking an extra life for later use. Upon death, should the reaper tap you on the shoulder for any reason, you revert to a new hero until you run out of extra lives and must restart.
What makes Broforce stand out is the well-weighted character movement, the huge array of different special attacks on offer to the player depending on the hero used, the destructible environments and the onscreen carnage you regularly see unfold, and finally the love that's clearly gone into the design of the characters. This isn't simply homage to some of the most explosive films of the past thirty years, but rather it's a series of love letters to the cheesy action movies of our collective youth. If, like us, you're partial to a bit of classic Die Hard and the like, you'll find plenty of reasons to fall in love with Broforce.
Broforce was actually one of 25 games to appear in our Indie Calendar at the end of last year, and we spoke to Free Lives about their aspirations for 2015 in one of our featured previews. We've also reviewed the free Expendabros playable demo that was available for much of last year, and we previewed the full game as it was back in March. We like it so much that we can't stop talking about it, it would seem.
Last year we also talked to Broforce director Evan Greenwood about the amusing origins of the concept: "Broforce was a joke. It was 'let's make a game this weekend and see what happens and we're going to put Rambo in it."
"The game kind of wrote itself, we didn't plan far ahead and we put it together and it just felt good. And we were working on another game at the time and Broforce was more fun. It was just this game that people seemed to enjoy and they liked it and that was really encouraging. Eventually we scrapped our project that we'd been working on for six months and just said 'Broforce - that's it, that's what we're going to make now'. And that was about two years ago, just over two years ago and it's been crazy, it's been so much fun and as it's gotten bigger and more known it's just so surreal that this was this game that we doing as a joke at the start and were going to give out for free and we did for a while."
Broforce is currently confirmed for PC and Mac where it already sits in Early Access on Steam, and it's also coming to PS4 and PS Vita, which should be music to the ears of PlayStation fans.
As for the competition, if you can call it that, there's plenty of super-interesting indies on the horizon. In no particular order here's a selection of the games that have caught our attention for one reason or another:
Armikrog is a clay and puppet animated adventure game from Pencil Test Studios that's being published by Versus Evil sometime in the coming year. It's got great visuals and it looks a playful game from the creators of the classic platformer, Earthworm Jim.
Capy had a great 2014 with Super Time Force hitting Xbox earlier in the year, then heading to PC, and with a PS4 version announced for 2015. Below sees the studio return to Xbox One with what looks to be an intriguing roguelike adventure, and we can't wait to see more of it.
Another console exclusive, although this one's down for release on PlayStation 4 at some point in 2015. We talked to Tequila Works' about the art appearing in Rime, an interesting interview made more so because, as you can see from the trailer attached below, this one looks absolutely stunning.
Julian Gollop is returning to one of his pre-XCOM titles for the Kickstarted Chaos Reborn. As well as featuring in our Indie Calendar, we played a couple of rounds of the game earlier in the year and you can read more about that here.
Firewatch looks absolutely incredible, and we can't wait to see more from Campo Santo's title next year. The game puts the player on fire lookout duty in Wyoming, with the great wilderness set to act as backdrop for what looks to be an intriguing indie adventure.
This one could have quite easily sit atop the page instead of Broforce. Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number looks set to continue and conclude the events that started with the oh-so-brutal original. We're expecting challenging gameplay and pumping tunes when this one finally sees the light of day. Given our lofty expectations, anything less than the quality of the original and we'll be disappointed.
The next game from The Chinese Room is Everybody's Gone to the Rapture, which is the next title from the studio following on from Dear Esther and their work on Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs. Unlike the studio's previous games, which appear on PC, this intriguing title is heading to PS4 as an exclusive.
Not A Hero is Roll7's follow up to wonderfully frustrating skating game, OlliOlli. It looks like it'll have the same stern difficulty levels as its board-bound brethren, but instead of grinding and perfecting landings, we'll be jumping in and out of cover and avoiding one-shot enemy projectiles. Sounds brutal, but then again, that's just how we like it.
The creators of some of the scariest indie horror games of recent years, Frictional Games, are set to deliver their next game in 2015, and it's called Soma. We talked to Jens Nilsson about what's going to be appearing in their upcoming shocker in the interview attached below.
Apotheon has one of the nicest visual styles that we've ever seen; it looks like an antique vase come to life. Alien Trap, of Capsized fame, have the pedigree to pull off something fantastic here, and we're looking forward to seeing if this one lives up to our lofty expectations.
If blood and guts is your thing, then look no further than Killing Floor 2. Tripwire's survival shooter will, like its predecessor before it, focus of co-op action and shooting demons in the face. KF2 was also announced on PlayStation 4, so this time it won't just be PC players who get to enjoy the constant splatter of blood.
Superhot has got a unique hook, whereby time only moves forward when you yourself are moving. We're expecting a mind-bending shooter with a distinct visual finish. We talked to the devs around the time that the game hit Kickstarter, and you can see it in action below. It's heading to PC platforms and Xbox One (as a timed-exclusive).
No Man's Sky is possibly the indie darling of the moment, thanks to the huge amount of promise held in the concept, with exploration around a procedurally generated galaxy. Now that the surprise has worn off all that's left is the warm, fuzzy feeling of anticipation. If Hello Games can realise their vision, this could end up being an indie classic. For more on No Man's Sky, here's our overview of the latest details revealed during PlayStation Experience in December.
Nuclear Throne is definitely one game that we're looking forward to playing again once it's been completed. It's a similar story to Broforce in that it has been in Early Access for some time, and it's already in a solid state with plenty to offer. However, as is our way, we're waiting for the game to be finished before we jump back in. That said, if you've an interest in game design, check it out as Vlambeer are livestreaming development.
Image & Form are continuing their 2D franchise with SteamWorld Heist, which is due out in 2015. Studio chief Brjann Sigurgeirsson had plenty to tell us about the game when we approached them for our Indie Calendar, and this is certainly one to watch, especially for strategy fans.
Another Kickstarter success was the The Flame in the Flood (in fact, the game was one of those we focused on in our recent feature Kickstarter - Dead or Alive?). Creators The Molasses Flood were born out of Irrational Studios (and Harmonix Music Systems) and there's a lot of interest in how their debut title - a "rogue-lite river journey through the backwaters of a forgotten post-societal America" - works out.
Tale of Tales has a lot riding on Sunset, which was another game profiled in our Indie Calendar, with studio co-founder Auriea Harvey calling it "the biggest game of our career". With political intrigue and storytelling akin to something out of a spy drama, set across a war-torn backdrop of a city gripped by civil war and told in a style similar to Gone Home, Sunset may well turn out to be one of the biggest surprises of 2015.
Satellite Reign is the spiritual successor to Syndicate. And when we say Syndicate we don't mean the recent first-person update, we mean the classic isometric cyberpunk games made by Bullfrog back in the day. This one's near the top of our list when it comes to most anticipated titles of 2015.
Arrowhead are growing a decent back-catalogue of games, and Helldivers looks like it's going to sit well alongside the brilliant Magicka and Showdown Effect (and, to an extent, their more recent reboot of Gauntlet). Expect some frantic co-op, and plenty of accidental team-killing when this one hits PlayStation platforms later this year.
Convoy is being touted as a mix between FTL: Faster Than Light and Mad Max. As far as elevator pitches for concepts go, we thoroughly approve. The premise is simple, you've crashed on a strange planet and you've got to travel around and collect the parts you need to get away, along the way defending yourself from some irate locals.
Another game to keep your collective eye on is Ori and the Blind Forest from Moon Studios. Blending incredibly beautiful visuals with the temptation of a Metroidvania style experience, Ori and the Blind Forest looks like one of the stronger indie titles to appear on Xbox One in early 2015.
Have we been saving the best for last? Possibly. Gang Beasts is shaping up to be a wonderful local multiplayer game. Originally the (now signature) plasticine fighters were there as a placeholder while Boneloaf cooked up something more particular, but their cutesy style wonderfully juxtaposed with the brutal violence onscreen, and they're now an integral part of the game. This fighter is a wonderful vehicle for onscreen chaos and will prompt an untold number of intense and bitter rivalries between friends thanks to the hilarious physics and creative use of the various environments. We can't wait to see this once it's got a bow on it, as it's already brilliant in its current state and is only going to get better.