Let's start things off with a disclaimer. Not all of these games will be released in 2016. Hell, some of them haven't even been confirmed as coming this year, we're just speculating about the indies that we're excited about that are likely to release in the months ahead. These games come in all shapes and sizes, from well funded epics, to solo projects and spin-offs, along the way taking in Early Access offerings and even the odd console title. Simply put they're an eclectic bunch. As such there's no one reason that we've included the games that are mentioned herein, and we've most certainly missed a few that should have been mentioned, and for that we apologise. So, without further ado, here's sixty games that we're looking forward to seeing more of in the months ahead.
Abzû (PC, PS4)
There are two reasons to get excited for Abzû. Firstly, it's a beautifully vibrant exploration game that's set under the sea (and a little red Jamaican crab once told us it was better down there). Secondly, it's being developed by Giant Squid Studios. Granted this is the first title from the studio, but its founder is Matt Nava, art director for the phenomenal Journey. If Abzû can capture the same powerfully atmospheric experience filled with magic and wonder, then we have a real treat in store when Abzû launches later this year.
We Happy Few (PC, Xbox One)
Set in an alternate dystopian 1960s England, We Happy Few adopts the method of sounding fun and joyous, but then very quickly turning dark and sinister. The overall backstory is that inhabitants of the peaceful town of Wellington Wells take a small pill known as Joy every day to suppress all emotions aside from happiness. You take the role of a 'Downer', someone who refuses to ingest any Joy, and wants to escape Wellington Wells. It plays similarly to Sir, You Are Being Hunted, except there's far more people hunting you, and Joy is hidden everywhere waiting for you to consume it, such as any water bottles you pick up. It's a title that looks to provide many hours of grim entertainment.
Horror games are scary, but they're even more terrifying if you can't see what's in front of you. Enter Perception, a game starring a blind girl, and made by a team that knows a thing or two about creating deeply atmospheric and immersive experiences. Perception is a Kickstarter project by Deep End Games comprised of former BioShock and Dead Space developers. To make up for her lack of sight heroine Cassie employs sound to navigate a haunted mansion and uncover its secrets. Its clever gameplay mechanic involves using a cane to make noise that creates a momentary visual outline of the surroundings, but of course it also attracts the attention of the mansion's ghostly inhabitants.
Hellblade (PC, PS4)
Hellblade is the newest project from Heavenly Sword and DmC: Devil May Cry developer Ninja Theory. Inspired by Celtic myth, the game has been described as an independent AAA game, with the developer stating it'll have all the same quality and production values of a big budget release. Interestingly, Hellblade will focus on the subject of mental health, with main character Senua battling physical manifestations of the demons that plague her mind. Ninja Theory promises the game will deliver "ninja-class melee gameplay, strong character stories and a unique art vision," making Hellblade one of the most exciting indie titles coming this year.
ARK: Survival Evolved (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
You can already dino hunt and craft to your heart's content over on Steam Early Access, and ARK has also appeared on Xbox One via the platform's own Preview Program. This crafting-flavoured survival game has impressed plenty of PC and Xbox-owning players, and the developers have a healthy and open dialogue with their growing community. We're definitely interested to see where Studio Wildcard take this prehistoric survival sim next, and with so much prehistory to draw from, there's 65 million directions they could go in.
Return of the Obra Dinn (PC)
Return of the Obra Dinn is the next game by Lucas Pope, the developer who managed to turn the subject of border control bureaucracy into the unique and thought-provoking Papers, Please. His follow-up project is a first-person mystery adventure based around a ship belonging to the East India Company in the year 1808. A brief early playable build showcases a simplistic black and white design as the player travels back in time to witness events prior to the vessel's mysterious disappearance. It's a dramatic departure from Pope's last game, but here's hoping Return of the Obra Dinn proves just as innovative and engrossing.
The Witness (PC, PS4)
Release: January 26
The Witness has certainly been a title to pay attention to since its announcement in 2013. It is being directed by Jonathan Blow, who may better be known as the man behind the 2008 indie smash-hit, Braid. Blow began working on The Witness in 2009, and after seven years of development it is finally close to release. The game places you on an island that's divided into sections filled with puzzles that need to be solved in order to progress. The visuals look stunning and the so-far ambiguous backstory is certainly contributing to what looks to be a very unique and interesting experience.
Cuphead (PC, Xbox One)
Side-scrolling run and guns are usually something simple for developers to get their head around, but for Studio MDHR's debut title Cuphead, this is not the case. The game's art style has been developed in a way that's never been done before, taking inspiration from the early days of animation in the 1930s. But it's not just a tribute, this is the real deal. All character and environment assets are hand drawn on paper and animated flip-book style (as it would have been done 80 years ago) before being scanned into the game. It's a truly exciting concept and makes for a gorgeous art style, and this is on top of a challenging difficulty and vast range of boss attacks. This is, without doubt, one of our most anticipated games of 2016.
Release: March 17
Clearly we as gamers are turning into gluttons-for-punishment, as it seems that a lot of games are adopting insanely hard difficulties, such as roguelikes and Souls game, which are known to be notoriously tough. Well you'll be pleased to know that Seattle based developers Harebrained Schemes have combined those two together to create a procedurally generated tough-as-nails third-person roguelike hack n' slash under the guise of Necropolis. Necropolis has you playing as various different adventurers who seek to conquer the labyrinth left by archmage Abraxis, but ultimately you'll die. A lot. And with each replay being randomly generated, no playthrough will be the same.
Superhot (PC, Xbox One)
Since the release of the original 7 Day FPS game jam prototype of Superhot, it was immediately recognised that there was a lot of potential surrounding the concept. Superhot looks like it falls into the category in which it's simple to pick up, but complex to truly master. Playing is simple; time moves only when you do, if you stop then so will everything else. This makes for a first-person action shooter that also dabbles as a quick-thinking strategy to find the most efficient way to kill all opponents. If you haven't played the prototype (https://superhotgame.com/play-prototype/) then it's highly recommended that you do, as Superhot is potentially one of the cleverest, most fun-filled games coming in 2016.
Firewatch (PC, PS4)
Release: February 9
Video games have bestowed upon us a variety of virtual employment opportunities, from theme park owners to military soldiers. The position of fire lookout isn't an overly obvious choice when it comes to jobs in games, but that's just what we'll be doing when Firewatch blazes its way onto PS4 and PC next month. If it's originality you seek then look no further than its Wyoming wilderness setting. As you carry out your role your only communication will be by radio with your supervisor Delilah. Dialogue options will directly influence your relationship with your sole source of human interaction and mysterious occurrences suggest a suspenseful and compelling gaming experience.
Starbound (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
For those who enjoy mining and crafting, Chucklefish are creating a game in Starbound that will most certainly hold some appeal. It's been in development over on Steam Early Access for what seems like forever, but it very much looks like version 1.0 is on the horizon and should be with us sometime in 2016. With a galaxy full of potential adventures, fans of the digital pickaxe will have plenty to explore.
Darkest Dungeon (PC, PS4/Vita)
Release: January 19 (PC) Q2 (PS4/Vita)
Darkest Dungeon has been available through Steam Early Access since early last year so you may already have sampled its roguelike, turn-based delights. For those unfamiliar with the game it's a challenging gothic-styled 2D side-scrolling RPG that playfully explores the emotional and physical toll dungeon crawling can have. Tactics and strategy are the order of the day as you manage the stress levels of your band of unconventional heroes. Let their stress go unchecked and you risk leaving them with some nasty psychological conditions. Add to that the risk of famine and disease and it seems dungeon crawling isn't the fun loot-filled adventure that other games would have you believe.
Descent: Underground (PC)
You may not remember the original Descent, heck you may not even have been born when it was released, but this year sees the rival of the franchise with the launch of Descent: Underground. It's a prequel to the 1995 classic shooter that boasted six degrees of freedom. It stays true to the original in terms of concept, offering the same arcade style flight combat, however, now you can pitch, yaw and roll your way through the game's twisting subterranean environments with glorious modern graphics thanks to Unreal Engine 4. New additions to the series include multiplayer, both competitive and cooperative, and virtual reality exploration thanks to Oculus Rift support.
Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord (PC)
The newest instalment in the Mount & Blade series acts as a prequel to the 2010 title, Warband. Set 200 years before the events of that game, the newest entry in the action-RPG strategy hybrid shows a significant aesthetic improvement over its predecessor with better animations and more detailed character models. Gameplay features have also been overhauled with a new inventory interface as well as advanced artificial intelligence that holds the potential for more challenging enemy encounters. A variety of siege weapons are also available (the battering ram being a particular favourite of ours) and all can be fully utilised by the player as well as the AI.
Inside (Xbox One)
Inside is the follow-up to one of indie's most iconic titles, Limbo. Both from a visual and atmospheric standpoint developer PlayDead is staying close to the formula that propelled it to fame back in 2010. Details on the title have been quite scarce since its unveiling and subsequent delay beyond the first half of 2015. A reveal trailer for the game showcases its 2D perspective, with a young boy navigating through some pretty bleak environments filled with treacherous obstacles for an unknown purpose. Given the obvious talent the studio has for creating atmospheric and clever puzzle platforming adventures, this is certainly one of the most exciting indie titles on the horizon.
Devolver Digital sure have a knack for finding promising indie titles to co-promote/publish and Eneme Entertainment's Eitr may be their next big hit. An isometric action-adventure offering beautiful pixel graphics and the sort of challenging and deep gameplay you'll find in From Software's Souls games. There is also a risk reward system for levelling up, or rather to hold off levelling up; we're really curious to see how it plays out. We met with the team in a trailer outside of the LA Convention Center last summer during E3 and it was one of those rare times where you could really sense the excitement of the developer regarding their game. It's the sort of the drive and enthusiasm Eneme will need to deliver if they're to fulfill the promise of this highly ambitious title.
Pit People (PC, Xbox One)
The fourth game developed by The Behemoth, well known for titles such as Battleblock Theatre and Castle Crashers, takes up the same style as its previous outings before Pit People; 2D cartoon-like graphics, fun and humorous dialogue and bright vibrant colours. Pit People is a strategy game that has us playing as Horatio, harassed by an ominous narrator and whose home has been destroyed in an apocalypse caused by a giant bear oozing green blood crashing into the planet and creating madness all over the world; so you know, same old same old. From what we've seen so far the game looks to be hilarious mayhem fitting of The Behemoth's current line-up.
The Banner Saga 2 (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
The sequel to the critically acclaimed Banner Saga (2014) is almost upon us. Developer Stoic continues its Viking epic, and there will be consequences to any actions that took place within the first adventure. This time the game comes equipped with new characters and a new race, new combat strategies with the consequences of character permadeath still present. Overall it looks as if the sequel will add upon the first, yet still stick to the beautiful art style and consequential decisions that add a large emotional impact to characters and choices within the story. If it's anything like the original Banner Saga, it's definitely one to keep an eye out for.
Below (PC, Xbox One)
Below is a tough game to describe; it's very simplistic in its style and presentation, offering a view of your character and the dark environment they're in. There are no controls, no help, no tips, just the player left on their own to explore independently. Each level is randomly generated, adding variety to the game. The title aims to leave players to their own devices and find out what's going on with nothing explained prior, which is an interesting way of building a project and definitely one that'll be intriguing to see progress as players begin to look deeper into Below.
Cobalt (PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
Release: February 2
Fast-paced action shooter, Cobalt is focused around shooting things, blowing up various other things and looking badass in slow motion while eliminating some other third thing. The project has a variety of different modes such as Capture the Plug, Deathmatch, Team Strike (parody of Counter Strike), Survival, and an Adventure mode. The slow motion mechanics on top of moves such as dodge-rolling and punching all add up to show off some truly awesome-looking fights, and hopefully it will live up to the bullet-time hell it's been shown off as so far.
Torment: Tides of Numenera (PC)
Torment: Tides of Numenera is an RPG funded via a successful Kickstarter in 2013. The end is in sight for this project which serves as a spiritual successor to Planescape: Torment. The game takes place in the rich world of Numenera, a fantasy setting created by Monte Cook. This game will take into account the choices you make, similar to The Witcher and Mass Effect. There are many factions and you will also come across companions which you can befriend. We would also like to point out that the art style for this game is gorgeous, and the UI is customisable. For fans and backers (and those who enjoy isometric RPGs in general), it could be a good year.
If you enjoy flinging projectiles at walls and then watching the said walls tumble down, the Besiege should be on your radar. It's been out on Steam Early Access since early 2015, with Spiderling Studios using the time to add polish to the physics-based effort. On top of offering impressive destruction, this one looks really well presented. As far as we can tell ths is PC only for now.
Release Date: 2016
Astroneer is a space game that focuses less on the action-packed laser fights of Star Wars and more on the construction and colonisation of a planet as shown in Andy Weir's 'The Martian'. You can land either alone or with a crew of friends on a small empty planet, you must survive the elements and develop suitable living conditions so you don't die. You can terraform the landscape and build tech to help out; think of it as a very advanced Minecraft in space and you're close to the goal that Astroneer is aiming for. It's a unique twist on the building genre.
Allison Road (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
From the ashes a phoenix was born. To be more precise, from the ashes of P.T. (Silent Hills), Allison Road was born. This project would have probably happened even if P.T. didn't suffer its unfortunate demise. However Allison Road is an indie horror game that is developed around the same basis as P.T. only they've expanded upon it based on what we have seen from the lengthy trailer, which showcased some gameplay. It seems that developer Lilith has absolutely nailed the atmosphere. The only worry for Allison Road is, will it always stay in the shadow of P.T.? Only time will tell.
Outlast 2 (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
Was the first one scary enough? Well, you can bet your freshly pressed undergarments that Outlast 2 will be even scarier and way more intense. The original was something of a sleeper hit, largely thanks to the suffocating atmosphere and hide and seek mechanics. Now we're fairly sure that developer Red Barrels is going to make the sequel better than its predecessor, but much hinges on the new setting and the atmosphere it lends to proceedings. Not much has been said about Outlast 2 as of yet. One thing is for sure, the indie horror scene is far from dead.
No Man's Sky (PC, PS4)
Release: June 2016
The biggest indie game ever? The biggest game of this year? Regardless of what this is or is not, No Man's Sky is surrounded by huge anticipation. Even though it has been in the limelight for over two years, we get the feeling that what developer Hello Games has shown thus far is only scratching the surface. This game is big, bold and incredibly ambitious. It's a sci-fi offering with an infinite procedurally generated galaxy. Want to name planets, check. Want to discover and name wildlife, check. Want to be a space pirate, check. According to Hello Games the possibilities are endless.
Endless Space 2 (PC)
Amplitude raised our expectations when they released Endless Legend, and now we're most certainly looking forward to seeing what they can achieve when they revisit the sci-fi setting of Endless Space. This is a studio growing into their own after the success of their last game, and if they can deliver a title with a similar level of polish and elegant design, then ES2 could well end up being one of the standout strategy games of the year.
Yooka-Laylee (PC, PS4, Wii U, Xbox One)
Release: October 2016
We reckon that when this title got announced, there was a collective cheer around the gaming world. Yooka-Layle is a 3D platformer and spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie. The people making this are Playtonic Games, a studio made up of ex-Rare developers. Building upon a legacy left by Banjo-Kazooi, Yooka-Laylee looks like it will be an absolute blast to play. It's vibrant, colourful and, for an indie game, it looks stunning. Yooka Laylee has a lot in common with Banjo-Kazooie, two protagonists which help each other on a quest for shiny collectibles. This is one for the fans of platformers of yesteryear.
SpeedRunners (PC, Xbox One)
Release Date: 2016
As the name implies, SpeedRunners has players lapping an obstacle course at full speed as they dodge traps and obstacle in the environment and dropped by up to three other opponents. It's vibrant and fast-paced fun that has a variety of different colourful characters (there's even some cameo appearances). It's a great title to pick up and play, and one that's even more fun when competing against friends. A party game with potential.
Adrift (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
Release: March 28 (PC/Oculus Rift), Console TBA
Today Adam Orth is thankful for the social media outrage his comments about the proposed "always online" nature of Xbox One caused. It may have been the reason for his departure from Microsoft, but it set him on a different path in life and inspired the extremely promising Adrift. A game that, while set in a space scenario similar to that of Gravity, will explore some of the emotions and themes Orth experienced as he was targeted by angry offline proponents. Regardless of the backstory, though we suspect it will enrich your experience if you're aware of it, Adrift certainly looks like one of the potential breakout titles for VR. While playable in a traditional sense, Oculus made sure it will launch alongside their headset and premier as part of the Oculus Rift launch.
The Solus Project (PC/Xbox One)
Release: Early 2016
Teotl Studios and Grip Games have teamed up for the Unreal Engine 4-powered space exploration game, The Solus Project. It has a survival theme so you'll have to monitor temperature, hunger and thirst, yet it's a story-driven affair where survival may be the original objective, but where you'll soon find yourself trying to solve a greater mystery on an unknown planet. Perhaps it could be compared to playing a game like Myst whilst having to monitor your vitals and keep yourself alive. The Solus Project certainly has what it takes in the visuals department, and Microsoft moved swiftly to snap it up as a console exclusive (at least a timed one by the looks of it). We can't wait to find out what secrets are hidden away on a planet called Gliese-6143-C.
Mother Russia Bleeds (PC, PS4)
Have you ever wanted a beat 'em up set in Russia (the USSR to be exact)? Well then it seems your prayers have been answered, and Mother Russia Bleeds is that game. The setting is fairly unique, plus it's ultra-violent and comes with multiplayer. The art style harkens back to the late 80s and early 90s thanks to pixel art styling. It looks like it'll play similarly to other side-scrollers such as Streets of Rage and Double Dragon.
Release Date: 2016
Headlander is a side-scrolling, action adventure made by the folks at Double Fine (Psychonauts, Broken Age) in partnership with Adult Swim Games. You play as a disembodied head trapped in a 70s sci-fi world ruled by a deranged computer. Your head is inside a helmet, which can fly around and seize control of the robotic bodies that are all around. You can fight enemies but the focus is on solving puzzles, the bizarre humour, and understanding the narrative. You must find out what happened to humanity and maybe even change its fate.
Offworld Trading Company (PC)
Mohawk Games' debut title is one that's solely focused on the idea of supply and demand, with the added bonus of being set in space. You take control of an Offworld Trading Company (surprisingly enough) and begin by mining resources to sell. It's certainly a tough game and requires a fair amount of strategising to get a decent amount of resources, on top of this resource items will constantly differ, opposing trading companies will attempt to hinder you with spies or EMPs (or even shut you down by buying your company out). It's a dynamic take on the RTS genre that all strategy fans should keep an eye on.
Gang Beasts (PC, PS4)
Is there a more exciting party multiplayer game in the works? You'd certainly be hard-pressed to come up with many names to challenge Gang Beasts for the honour, and even if you did, Boneloaf's zany fighting game would likely throw it in a meat grinder before moving on to take on another opponent. This is chaotic fun and essential playing for anyone who likes bringing a few friends together for batshit crazy same-screen fun and games. We're looking forward to revisiting the game when it finally emerges from Steam Early Access.
Release: Early 2016
Finnish developers Mindfield Games have been inspired by great space movies like Solaris and Moon (among others) as they went about designing a game with virtual reality in mind. Arriving as a new recruit at a research station on Titan you're faced with a mystery to solve. Where is the crew? What has happened? And ultimately how can you survive? It's a slow-paced adventure focused solely on exploration and narrative, but what really stands out here is the marvelous attention to detail where everything has been thought of and every object has a reason for being exactly where it is. This could very well be one of the early games that will help define VR gaming.
Maia has been available via Steam Early Access since December 2013 (current version is 0.52). Will the full game see release in 2016? It's hard to tell. Solo developer Simon Roth has been making progress over the past years adding features, and the most recent patch focused on eradicating bugs and gameplay issues. It's something that has plagued the game during its Early Access run, but we're confident in the core concept and if the user experience continues to improve there's every reason to be excited at the prospects of managing colonists and constructing bases. We're particularly fond of the aesthetics and idea of seeing the simulation through what looks like the lense of a 1960s science fiction show.
Twin Souls: The Path of Shadows (PC/PS4/Xbox One)
Basing a game around the concept of light and dark is nothing new. In fact, it's a very common theme, but in Twin Souls it's given a new twist as the main character, Origami, is an undead assassin, and is able to not only draw power from darkness, but also create shadows, teleport between shadows, and summon shadowy creatures. It reminds us a bit of The Darkness, but more stealthy and freeform given the ability to spawn shadows. The third-person stealth genre is full of AAA competition so it will be interesting to see how Twin Souls fares, but the concept is solid and the art-style impresses.
Rise and Shine (PC/Xbox One)
Having found success in the mobile space, Super Awesome Hyper Dimensional Mega Team (rolls off your tongue doesn't it?) decided to go in a different direction with their next project. Rise & Shine is a tribute to video games - a beautiful platform-shooter - where we play as Rise (equipped with a gun called Shine), who resides on Gamearth (a planet inhabited by classic video game characters). The planet is embroiled in a war with hulking Space Grunts from planet Nexgen. Expect lots of references and easter eggs in a game that splits its focus between arcade gameplay and a deep narrative experience. The hand drawn graphics are certainly very impressive and if you grew up during the 8-bit or 16-bit era you'll likely find lots to like here.
Tacoma (PC, Xbox One)
Tacoma is a space exploration game that stars a female protagonist called Amy Ferrier who has arrived on a commercial lunar station only to find out that all the crew has gone. The game is being developed by Fullbright, the people who made Gone Home. Like Gone Home, Tacoma's main focus is on narrative. Whether it's as emotional and engrossing as Gone Home remains to be seen, however, Tacoma looks like it will be a great game and a compelling journey.
Slain (PC, PS4, PS Vita, Wii U, Xbox One)
Release: PC January 27, Other platforms May
Slain is a puzzle-filled combat-heavy platformer with large amounts of gore. The game features a gothic art style, kind of similar to the old Castlevania games, and pixel art ensures that the retro feel is complete. Inspired by titles such as Golden Axe, Altered Beast and the original Shadow of the Beast; Slain adds a strategic twist to the mix. If you're after a new side-scrolling hack 'n' slash then keep an eye out for this one.
Star Citizen (PC)
It feels a little perverse sticking this one in a monster list of exciting indies, given that the game has attracted more than $100 million dollars in funding from the community. But, it's an indie project without publisher oversight, so it makes the grade as far as we're concerned. It also makes the list because we're really interested to see how the various component parts mesh together. If Wing Commander creator Chris Roberts can realise his vision then we're in for an almighty treat when this one takes off.
DayZ (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
DayZ is one of those games that's seemingly been around forever. That's because before the elongated period of Early Access started on Steam, we were enjoying the delights of this brutal and uncompromising zombie survival sim back when it was still only just a mod for Arma 2. It's come along way since then, and some might argue that it was better when it was in the hands of the community rather than a studio-developed game. Whichever way you view that particular debate, DayZ is here to stay and should finally be finished at some point this year.
The Flame in the Flood (PC, Xbox One)
The Molasses Flood are a studio born of Irrational (with a sprinkling of talent from Bungie and Harmonix), and their debut game is shaping up to reflect that undeniable pedigree. First and foremost this is a game about a river, and a journey downstream that involves procedurally generated environments, crafting, and survival. We've played the Early Access version and were impressed by what we saw, and as such we're looking forward to seeing what the studio comes up with when they're ready to call it finished. This is a roguelike-like with genuine promise.
Cryptark (PC, PS4)
Cryptark is a 2D roguelike shooter, which tasks players with boarding/ invading alien ships and neutralising the enemies inside, to earn money for their privateering enterprise. That's the concept, but it's also worth noting that each alien ship is procedurally generated, so each one you invade will be fresh. In the game you'll be fighting many enemies and overcoming numerous obstacles to fulfil your objectives. The game was released last year via Steam Early Access and developer Alientrap are aiming for a full release sometime this year.
Brigador is a real-time tactical game from indie studio Stellar Jockeys. For those of you who don't know, this title was formerly known as Matador. The game was released last October via Steam Early Access, with a full release expected sometime in 2016. Players can select a vehicle and equip it with weapons, then they're randomly placed into one of nine districts. There is no way to save or restart the game. It must be completed in one sitting. Don't worry though, unlocked features are carried through each play-through.
The Long Dark (PC, Xbox One)
The Long Dark is an open-world survival game. It's already available through Steam Early access and on the Xbox One Game Preview. You assume the role of a pilot who has crash-landed in a wintery Canadian wilderness, and you're struggling to survive after a global disaster. Players must survive the harsh weather conditions and rough terrain. Resource management and patience are absolutely key, and you can only save when you enter a building or go to sleep. If you die, you die for good.
Iron Fish (PC)
Release: Q1 2016
Iron Fish has a rather unique setting. It is a psychological deep sea thriller that challenges you to explore the ocean; from the bright, vibrant waters and sunny colourful reefs, through to the deep, dark depths of the ocean. You'll discover beautiful creatures, remnants from a time forgotten and wreckages aplenty. You'll also come across some bad fish, some of which will kill you. The story is said to blur the boundaries between science and the supernatural. Thriller and horror fans keep an eye on this one.
Squad is quite a large scale title for an indie, but its Early Access release on Steam has already started making waves of hype for developer Offworld Industries. The team behind it originally developed the popular Project Reality mods for Battlefield 2 and Arma 2, and Squad is a spiritual successor to that legacy. It's a multiplayer project that has two teams of 50 players battling against each other across large scale maps. It aims to capture the reality of combat and focuses heavily on communication and teamwork between players, and looks to be a challenging yet immersive experience.
Thimbleweed Park (Android, iOS, PC, Xbox One)
Thimbleweed Park is a crowdfunded title from the duo behind Maniac Mansion; Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick. It's a spiritual successor to the 1987 point-n-click, and as such looks and plays very similarly. The story follows two detectives called out to investigate a corpse found in a river outside of town. Throughout the game you'll play as five different characters attempting to uncover the mysteries of Thimbleweed Park. The title certainly seems like one for adventure aficionados, but with the only release window being "Late 2016" there could be a while longer to wait. That said, Thimbleweed Park looks as if it'll be a fun throwback.
Enemy Starfighter (PC)
Enemy Starfighter is a space combat game that blends third-person tactical control with a first-person perspective. Rather than focusing on flight simulation, Enemy Starfighter is all about the combat, putting you in command of a fleet of Imperial Warships send to hunt down traitor fleets. The game features permadeath so any units destroyed in combat are lost forever meaning you'll need to plan carefully and think tactically in order to gain victory over the enemy's forces. The game further ups the ante offering galaxies filled with randomly generated enemies. If you like your indies with a generous helping of intense and unpredictable space shooter action Enemy Starfighter may be one to keep an eye on.
Release Date: 2016
From the creator of Canabalt comes Overland, a simple game in which you drive a group of survivors on a road-trip through a desolate wasteland. Players will scavenge fuel, weapons and other supplies to survive in the apocalypse. The game is randomly generated, making no two games the same and adding variety to playthroughs. This one's about tough decisions, with the car only able to carry a limited number of passengers, so some may have to be left behind, and it's up to you to choose who.
Heat Signature (PC)
Heat Signature is an exploration-based space game where players take control of a small pod floating around the vast expanse of space. The universe at hand is randomly generated, and within it there are space stations, which are also randomly generated. Some of the stations are linked and make up factions, the player will be assigned to a faction and will be tasked with various objectives against rival factions, such as killing a target to shut down a trade route or stealing something from a rival faction. It's a new concept and one that can provide hours of fun, almost certainly a game that should be on everyone's indie radar for 2016.
Jetpack Squad (PC)
There are a lot of 2D side-scrolling shooters, but few with the same degree of speed, explosions and general chaos that's found in Jetpack Squad. The bright animations and over-the-top action give the game a real 80's cartoon feel. Keeping with the retro vibe is the fact the game looks set to be uber challenging, with a barrage of enemies and deadly projectiles littering the screen at any given time. The player chooses a squad of 3 characters at the start of a level, with each character possessing different weapons and abilities that will cater to different play styles, add replayability and most likely, some very weary thumbs.
Swapping the vastness and realism of games like Elite Dangerous and Star Citizen, Everspace's focus is on action and fast-paced gameplay with players given the option to enjoy its single-player 3D shooter experience in either first or third person. It's a roguelike-like affair with every death granting you not only a valuable lesson, but also better gear to increase your chances of survival on your next attempt. It also sports glorious graphics that could rival that of a AAA title, non-linear storytelling and a robust upgrade system that should hopefully combine to create one epic space adventure when it's released later this year.
Killing Floor 2 (PC, PS4)
Tripwire's co-op shooter is borderline indie, such is the size of the studio, but we're looking forward to getting our hands on the finished version of the game. It's currently getting updated via the Early Access process, and once it's finished on PC it'll also be released on PlayStation 4 (and maybe even Xbox One). Another game that we're eager to get our grubby mitts on this year (though one that may not make it out before 2017) is Rising Storm 2: Vietnam, the sequel to their visceral and engaging multiplayer shooter. We're expecting a big year from Tripwire.
Project Zomboid (PC)
Release Date: TBA 2016
Project Zomboid has been in Early Access since 2013, and since then this isometric zombie survival game has been putting players in control of an average character who's simply trying to survive. The game is a balance of action and tactics, and you'll need to scavenge for resources and develop suitable defences to keep the zombies out at night. It's a project with a lot to offer in terms of mechanics, and comes bundled with a multiplayer mode that lets you see how long you can last with friends by your side.
At the Gates (iOS, PC)
Release: Q1 2017
Jon Shafer's At the Gates is an empire builder much in the same vein as Sid Meier's Civilization, in fact its creator is no stranger to the series it gets inspiration from, having acted as lead designer on Civilization V. What sets At the Gates apart is that it constantly remains a challenge. Your established empire will slowly drain the world's resources forcing you to seek out alternative opportunities for food and wealth. The landscape is also dynamic, fertile grass can turn to wasteland unsuitable for crops or unfavourable to even the most well-thought-out military campaign.
Sub Rosa (PC)
Release Date: 2016
Sub Rosa is a game about money. You begin by choosing the organisation you wish to work for, and then you start doing various missions for them; such as taking down a limo to get a disk inside, or pulling off a heist. You can make deals to get more money and thus forge a name for yourself, and with your riches and reputation climb the ladder of success and eventually rule the city. The game is multiplayer focused, making it a title that won't run dry too quickly. We look forward to what developer Cryptic Sea will do with its project.