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Indie Discoveries from GDC, PAX East and Rezzed 2019

We profile a handful of the most promising indie games that we've played at recent expos and events.

  • Text: Gamereactor Staff

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Head over to the next page for even more promising indie games.