Indie is a term that's used incorrectly all the time, but it's often a convenient way of explaining the scope and scale of a game, even if many of the so-called indies we play these days are backed by major publishers. That's not the case with the games below, however, as we've collected together a selection of titles made by completely independent teams. And stay tuned as we've got another preview set to follow and that one's full of games backed by the rising number of specialist indie game labels and publishers.
Afterparty (PC) - 2019
Developer: Night School Studio
It's always a pain going to hell, but in Afterparty we'll get the chance to drink with the devil himself and hear about a chance at redemption. All you have to do is outdrink Satan, and if that doesn't sound intriguing we don't know what does.
Astroneer (PC, Xbox One) - February 6
Developer: System Era Softworks
Astroneer has spent a couple of years in Early Access on Steam and is also available via Xbox Game Preview, but this February the astronaut space exploration, crafting, and survival title hits its 1.0 release. Over the course of the years in Early Access the mechanics and gameplay have been polished and iterated upon, and we look forward to seeing how this one turned out.
At The Gates (PC) - January 23
Developer: Conifer Games
With the project fronted by Civ 5 lead Jon Shafer, there's a fair amount of buzz that has built around this historically-inclined strategy game. Happily, it's set to land in January, so we don't have too much longer to wait before we finally get our hands on the game that has you battle for survival among the ashes of what was once the Roman Empire.
Dicey Dungeons (PC) - Early 2019
Developer - Terry Cavanagh
Terry Cavanagh has a talent for making interesting indie games that can grab our attention, and he's continuing that trend with Dicey Dungeons. In this combination of old-school roguelike dungeon crawling and modern deckbuilding games, players must fight through an endless dungeon to defeat Lady Luck herself.
Draugen (PC, PS4, Xbox One) - 2019
Developer: Red Thread Games
Draugen has gone through many iterations at developer Red Thread Games (Dreamfall Chapters), but it wasn't until last year that the game was fully unveiled and it sure looks like a unique adventure. Playing as an American called Edward who's coming to Norway in 1923 along with his young ward to look for his missing sister, you'll uncover something sinister lurking beneath the gorgeous landscape.
GTFO (PC) - Spring
Developer: 10 Chambers Collective
If you're a fan of co-op shooters and sci-fi horror, then slide GTFO straight to the top of your indie wishlist. The team is made up of Payday veterans, which is why it was no surprise to see the game in great shape when we played it last year. Players are plunged into a procedurally arranged abandoned facility deep under the surface of an alien planet - it's dangerous work and you're totally expendable, so hop to it.
Meditations (PC) - Every Day
Developer: Rami Ismail
Life can be stressful, and in 2019 that's unlikely to change. Luckily for us, Rami Ismail has brought together the talents of over 350 developers to give us a small relaxing game every day, but here's the catch - each game will only be available for 24 hours, so be sure to check back daily to avoid missing anything!
Necrobarista (PC, PS4, Switch) - Early 2019
Developer: Route 59 Games
The idea of the dead mingling with the living once more is always exciting, and this is what upcoming visual novel Necrobarista poses to us. Route 59 is due to take us to a magical Melbourne cafe as part of this experience, which already looks rather lovely with its distinctive art style and enticing setting. Consider us intrigued.
Phoenix Point (PC, Xbox One) - June
Developer: Snapshot Games
Snapshot is building on the foundations of Xcom in Phoenix Point, a sci-fi tactics game fronted by the man who came up with the original Xcom games back in the '90s. The key differences here are the futuristic setting (which, by the way, is really bleak and atmospheric) and the more granular attention to detail. It looks like we're going to be carefully managing our futuristic soldiers as they take on waves of alien enemies, as well as keeping an eye out for the monstrously powerful bosses that are as terrifying to look at as they are hard to kill.
With Skate dead and buried as a series, two games are looking to recreate that realistic skateboarding vibe - Session and Skater XL. Each uses the analog sticks in their own ways, and with both offering new options for skating fans, they're both worth keeping your eye on as they develop. Both are currently in very early stages it should be noted, so as we see more locations, tricks, and more features added in, we can start to see which is more deserving of our time.
Slay the Spire (PC) - January 2019
Developer: Mega Crit Games
Slay the Spire is a fantasy adventure that fuses roguelike mechanics with card battling and deck building. This one has been chugging its way through Early Access on Steam for some time, and along the way, it has been picking up fans thanks to its delicious blend of ingredients. As you advance through the dungeon you'll encounter dangerous beasties, but if you play your cards right you might just make it out alive. Probably not though - this is a roguelike after all.
Space Beast Terror Fright (PC) - 2019
Another Early Access mainstay is Space Beast Terror Fright, a game with a title that scores high when it comes to keywords at any rate. This intense and atmospheric first-person shooter comes with roguelike mechanics and challenging difficulty, and so players are going to have to work together and proceed with care as they look to get in and out of deadly spacecraft filled with dangerous, terror-inducing space critters.
Spelunky 2 (PC, PS4) - 2019
Spelunky is one of the games that helped bring roguelike mechanics to the masses, and we're extremely excited about getting our hands on the sequel when it lands on PC and PlayStation 4 later this year. By blending together pixel-perfect platforming with excellent design and spot on procedural generation, developer Mossmouth was able to craft a masterpiece in the original, and this sequel is shaping up to be just as good.
Star Renegades (PC) - Early 2019
Massive Damage, Inc
Fight in the resistance against the forces of the Imperium in this tactical roguelite RPG. With beautiful procedurally generated dungeons to battle through and an in-depth turn-based combat system, Star Renegades is one game we're going to be running through over and over in 2019.
Stormdivers (PC) - 2019
Anything made by Housemarque is worth taking a closer look at, and with the studio moving somewhat beyond their collective comfort zone and into the battle royale arena, the Finnish team's next major project - Stormdivers - could end up being very interesting indeed. This multiplayer-centric offering drops players on a strange island where the threats aren't limited to your rivals, and where only the strongest will survive.
Sunless Skies (PC) - January 31
Developer: Failbetter Games
Failbetter games are masters of creating intriguing worlds through stunning visuals and writing, so a follow-up to their 2015 roguelike sailing game Sunless Sea has us excited. With an improved combat system and a brand new story for players to uncover, players will have plenty to explore in their space-faring locomotive.
Super Meat Boy Forever (PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One) - April 2019
Developer: Team Meat
The sequel to the super successful 2012 indie game Super Meat Boy, Team Meat has brought back Meat Boy and Bandage Girl to save their child from the nefarious Dr Fetus. Shifting from a 2D platformer to a runner, this game promises to offer the same level of difficulty we fell in love with all those years ago, but with a few new twists and turns.
The Hong Kong Massacre (PC, PS4) - 2019
A top-down shooter reminiscent of Hotline Miami, this game follows a police detective seeking revenge for his partner. Being heavily inspired by Hong Kong action films, the player will be running guns blazing all over the city, through a range of visceral levels we can't wait to dive into.
ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove (PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One) - March 1
Developer: HumaNature Games
After having been funded back in 2015 on Kickstarter this reboot of the classic funky alien roguelike has endured some troubles along the way, but HumaNature has moved through those obstacles and we're finally ready for more of ToeJam, Earl, Latisha, and Earl's mom as we try and collect presents and ship parts in levels filled with pesky Earthlings and secrets.
Tunic (PC, Xbox One) - Hopefully 2019
Developer: Andrew Shouldice
The unique art style and isometric view of Andrew Shouldice's Tunic (previously known as Secret Legend) stands out. It impressed us back at E3 where it was part of Microsoft's featured ID@Xbox titles, and this Zelda-inspired action adventure sees you take control of what might be the cutest fox ever.
Untitled Goose Game (PC, Switch) - 2019
Developer: House House
If Hot Fuzz taught us anything, it's that birds can create havoc in quiet villages, and that's what you're sent to do when you become a goose in Untitled Goose Game. Your job is to stir up trouble with noise, pranks, and theft, like a sort of avian family-friendly Hitman. This is one game that we're particularly excited about, so here's hoping everything comes together.
Wargroove (PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One) - Q1 2019
With Nintendo refusing to make another Advance Wars title, it has been left up to indies to fill the void and Chucklefish (Starbound) has eagerly stepped in with Wargroove. That's not all though, as Wargroove adds several layers of its own to the mix and the quirky fantasy setting has us intrigued. The scope of the game is also impressive with a map editor, puzzle mode, and online play on top of the campaign.
Winter Hall (PC, PS4, Xbox One) - 2019
Developer: Lost Forest Games
We played this gem at Rezzed last year and adored the concept it provided, pulling us back and forward in time as we investigated Winter Hall's history with the plague, seeing how the gorgeous rural location changed over time as we did so. This is definitely one to make time for, especially if you're a fan of brain-teasing first-person adventures and historical drama.
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