This year looks like it could be something truly special as far as independently developed games go, regardless of whether you're looking at Steam, PS4, Xbox One, or Nintendo Switch.
Julian Gollop has got previous when it comes to turn-based strategy. If you're familiar with the name then you'll know that he was one of the chief architects behind the original Xcom, and therefore he's a bit of a legend within the sub-genre. His next game, Phoenix Point, looks like it draws plenty from his original series, and visually it seems to have much in common with the more modern Firaxis take on the franchise. Visuals aside, this sci-fi tactics game looks like it's going to be an absolute treat.
One game that needs little introduction is roguelike-platformer Spelunky. The title fused permadeath and procedural generation with pixel perfect platforming to create an absolute masterpiece, and we're very much looking forward to seeing what Mossmouth can come up with for the sequel. It's certainly going to be a challenge for players, but that's also the charm of the wonderful original, and it's the brilliantly balanced difficulty that keeps us coming back to the game, even after all these years.
"They're coming outta the goddamn walls" is a phrase that GTFO will no doubt be hammering home once more when we get bombarded with aliens as part of this co-op shooter from PayDay lead designer Ulf Andersson. Up to four players can explore the dark caverns of the game together, working to scavenge resources and survive the hostile nightmare, and we can't imagine anything more terrifying than being the last one alive once all your friends have been picked off one by one.
We saw Frostpunk back at E3 2017, and it was one of the standout indie games we saw. Your job is to manage a small community in freezing conditions, making sure they've got the resources and warmth to survive the bitter cold, but on top of that, you also have to work to find more survivors. Tough choices will have to be made, and some might not be the most popular, but hey, that's the price to pay when you're in charge. For more info, check out our first-look preview.
Agony's alpha demo gave us a brief glimpse into what hell might be like, and now this year we should get the full package. In the game you explore the depths of hell, packed with fiendish beasts and twisted monstrosities aplenty, and it's up to us to work out how we can survive amidst the flames and damnation. With all of this complemented by a beautifully dark world full of crimson, we can't wait to get back in and see what the minds at Madmind Studio have in store for us. By the way, you can read our alpha impressions right here.
One thing's for sure, we're glad that Choice Provisions decided to streamline the name for this threequel. Once again we'll be running, jumping, and sliding our way through fast-paced and unrelenting levels. The quirky visuals and world design made the last game an utterly charming experience, and we're expecting more of the same this time around. Throw in some new features such as vehicles, and Runner 3 is shaping up to be another great entry in this quirky series.
The Church in the Darkness
This stealth game has players heading down to a jungle in South America to investigate a strange cult that has established a base of operations away from the scrutiny of the US government circa 1970. Players will need to keep their wits about them as they explore and infiltrate Freedom Town, a name that will be more or less heavy on irony depending on how the particular cult of your playthrough is decked out. Interestingly, we're promised an ever-changing and dynamic experience each time you play, so you never know what challenges await.
Return of the Obra Dinn
After the brilliance of Papers, Please we're definitely looking forward to seeing whether Lucas Pope can deliver a similarly engaging experience with his sophomore project. We don't know a huge amount about this follow-up title, other than it's going to be very different to Pope's bureaucratic thriller, with this second game instead a nautical mystery about a ship that was thought lost at sea but that appeared seemingly out of nowhere several years later. Consider us well and truly intrigued.
Untitled Goose Game
We're big fans of stealth games here at GR, but we're even bigger fans of goose games. Sadly, there aren't a huge number of the latter, leaving us constantly sad and depressed about the current state of affairs. Untitled Goose Game has arrived just in time to turn our frowns upside down, however, as you play a nasty goose out to cause trouble for the inhabitants of the rural village where you live. For fellow goose game aficionados, this one's going to be must buy.
Into the Breach
Subset Games was one of the first studios to really make the most of the Kickstarter platform when they pitched the sublime space roguelike, FTL: Faster Than Light. The success of that first game has given the outfit a platform upon which they can build, and they're doing just that with the upcoming Into the Breach, a sci-fi tactics game where the player takes control of mechs from the future to tackle a sinister alien threat.
More highly-anticipated games can be found on the next page.
The Last Night
The Last Night is mind-numbingly beautiful. It's a sci-fi thriller set in a post-cyberpunk world where everything and anything is available to humans, and so mere survival and getting by isn't your objective anymore. Inspired by a classic like Flashback, we're confident the appeal is not just skin-deep with this one.
Klei Entertainment has always wowed us with their artistic work and with Griftlands the studio is returning with an RPG about, well, grifting, basically. Steal, cheat, swindle and fight your way forward in a game that seems to revolve significantly less around a hero's journey than what's the norm in the genre.
Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom
Last year the remade Dragon's Trap took us back to Monster World, and this year we'll see the first new game in the series in a couple of decades. Combining the classic Metroidvania style design with new transformations and strong aesthetics (that seem to get an overhaul every six months or so) we're excited to see how The Cursed Kingdom turns out. If you're curious too, be sure to check out our hands-on impressions of the game.
If Stardew Valley and Slime Rancher aren't cute enough for you, then maybe Ooblets is. It's simply adorable. Combining farming with living in a town and collecting creatures, Ooblets looks like it could very well occupy much of our time when it launches in 2018.
We got acquainted with the brilliant zoo escape (and gorilla killer) simulator that is Ape Out at last year's PAX East. A strong visual identity, adrenaline-fueled intensity, immediate on the fly tactical decisions, and an inspired soundscape made it an immediate favourite of ours. There's a playable trailer out on Steam, but honestly, the actual game is a lot more fun and tactical than what the trailer entails.
It seems Bandai Namco are intent to keep us from ever experiencing a proper new Katamari Damacy game, but creator Keita Takahashi has moved on and his next game Wattam appears to be just as bonkers as the adventures of the prince. A game about making friends and solving puzzles, apparently, it's one that looks deliciously delirious.
No Truce with the Furies
In No Truce with the Furies you play as a cop in the city of Revachol. There's a huge open-ended case to solve and you can play it your way. As the story progresses you'll delve deeper into the sci-fi/fantasy fabric of this isometric RPG. What's more, the game features an original soundtrack by British Sea Power, and well, that's actually more than enough reason to get excited.
After the disappointment of Tiny Metal, we're still waiting for the spiritual successor to Advance Wars. Will it be Wargroove? This turn-based strategy game takes the charm and the gameplay created by Intelligent Systems and brings it to a pixel style world set in a medieval era. But it also adds local and online multiplayer for up to four people with regular units, special units and commanders, and a level editor to create your own maps, missions and game modes. This could be the one.
Super Meat Boy Forever
One of the original darlings of the console indie scene thanks to its incredible success on Xbox Live back in the day, Super Meat Boy wowed players with its stellar gameplay and grim/cute skinless protagonist, the eponymous Meat Boy. Now the quirky indie icon is set to make his return in Super Meat Boy Forever, and we can't wait to see what he's got in store for us later this year.
Roll7 is the indie team behind Not A Hero and the OlliOlli titles and their next game is one of those seemingly simple local multiplayer games that looks like it's going to offer a ton of depth and tactical options, once you dig into it. The players are tasked with holding nodes and avoiding the opposing team's laser and attacks. It's quick and brutal, and lots of fun.
There are so many games that we could have previewed alongside those mentioned above, but
we had to draw the line somewhere, and 20 seemed like a good number. However, we're going to publish another article soon that includes games that have already released into Early Access but that should launch fully in 2018, and there are a bunch of big-budget games like Vermintide 2 that sit on the line between indie and AAA which we didn't include either. For a more general look at what's coming in the next twelve months, check out our two-part preview of 2018 by heading here and here. And finally, if there's an indie game that you feel should be on the list that isn't, let us know in the comments down below.