This year’s E3 2016 was full of some of the best show-stopping game announcements. As usual the big players were there with all the headlines and the latest announcements. But they weren’t the only ones grabbing the spotlight, the E3 showfloor was filled with amazing indie titles. Here are a few to watch out for.
Yooka-Laylee by Playtonic Games
Developer Playtonic Games has been given what many would consider to be an unenviable task: create the spiritual successor to the Banjo-Kazooie franchise. If nothing else, Yooka-Laylee has managed to successfully capture the same kind of colorful and vibrant aesthetic as Banjo-Kazooie, a look and feel that is certainly welcome in a year that has seen a lot of indie titles go down a darker, more brooding road.
That being said, however, there’s more to Yooka-Laylee than just its attractive character and level design. Yooka-Laylee stands to be one of the biggest indie releases of 2017 and will arrive early on in March, hoping to prove that action platformers still have a place in the modern gaming world.
Absolver by Devolver Digital
Devolver Digital is quickly becoming one of the most exciting indie studios in the video game scene. Their previous game Enter the Gungeon with Dodge Roll was released with rave reviews. Now, Devolver Digital is bringing that same excellence to a new partnership with Sloclap, to create the multiplayer online fighting game Absolver.
For those who haven’t heard of or seen any of Absolver‘s gorgeous, fluid gameplay, the game has been compared favorably to both the Dark Souls and Star Wars: Jedi Knight series. That kind of praise alone makes Absolver an indie title worth keeping an eye on.
How We Soar by Penny Black Studios
Developed by Penny Black Studios, a small team of expats from Free Radical and Crytek, How We Soar puts you on the back of a giant phoenix. The game is simple and beautiful your only goal is to glide through the air while crossing obstacles in a paper cut dreamscape. Floating books and pages float around you and as you near them the shredded papers gradually morph into islands and gorgeous scenery.
With its simplified gameplay, How We Soar is an aerial stroller that is clearly designed to create an experience rather than present a challenge.
Cuphead by Studio MDHR
Cuphead is a retro-cartoon sidescrolling fighting game that looks to channel some of the most fun games from yesteryear into a beautifully rendered, Steamboat Willie-esque world. Since it’s announcement Cuphead has evolved from a long sequence of various boss fights to a more in-depth platformer.
Cuphead is looking to release sometime this year so keep an eye out for it!
ABZÛ by Giant Squid
ABZÛ has been in the works for a while since it first showed up at E3 2014. The trailer opens with your flipper-clad protag diving into very sunny depths. If it feels like Journey but with fish, which isn’t surprising since the studio Giant Squid, is led by Matt Nava, the art director behind Journey and Flower.
Exploration, wildlife, and, it looks like one of history’s mysteries. It looks like the type of game that’ll draw you in with soothing music and beautiful atmospheres, and keep you going for the mystery you’re sure to solve. If its gameplay trailer is any indication, that experience will be characterized by a beautiful undersea adventure that is sure to capture the hearts of any gamers who love to explore every nook and cranny of good level design.
Fe by Zoink Games
Launching as part of EA Originals, Fe is a beautiful indie game arriving by way of Swedish developer, Zoink Games. Part Unravel, part Ori and the Blind Forest, the striking platformer is billed as a “personal narrative about our relationship with nature, the land, and its beings.”
Exploration and discovery will therefore become key themes in Fe, as Zoink looks to create “a wordless celebration of our longing to be one with world around us,” and “a story that reminds us that everything in this world is connected, living in a delicate balance that is constantly under threat.” In essence, the studio’s title is “a game full of discovery, conflict, and relationships.”
Inside by PlayDead Studios
After a year’s worth of delays, PlayDead Studios’ follow-up to immensely successful indie title Limbo is finally ready to hit the shelves. Inside got a release date and a new trailer at E3 2016, showcasing a game that manages to blend a unique art style with gameplay that evokes feelings of dread and suspense in equal measure.
The trailer shows off the game’s protagonist exploring an Orwellian science lab, discovering mutated pigs and helmets that allow him to control the minds and bodies of other people in a nearby area. Inside looks like a game with a good feel for striking a balance between action and puzzles, and it’s also the game that will be available the fastest on this list – Inside will hit the Xbox One on June 29 and Steam on July 7.
Aragami by Lince Works
Lince Works Aragami is a stealth assassin game set in the vein of games like Tencu, but a unique twist: you control shadows. Aragami is a stealth game where you play an undead assassin brought back to life by a young woman named Yamiko, who is trapped in a fortress. It’s a stealth game in the classic sense: if you’re seen, or caught by the guards you’re probably going to die.
What you lack in strength however you make up for in stealth and of course the power to control shadows. In Aragami, the shadows are your friend. Everything you do is from the safety of the shadows. You can teleport to nearby shadows. You can blind foes or create clones to distract them. It looks Aragami is a game to watch for come September, especially if you’re looking for a nice aperitif before Dishonored 2.
Vampyr by DontNod Entertainment
DontNod Entertainment, the developer behind hit game Life is Strange, decided to go in a completely different direction with its follow-up title Vampyr. Where Life is Strange was a coming-of-age story with a bit of time travel and supernatural elements mixed in, Vampyr appears to be a brutal, graphic look at life as a bloodsucker in 1918 London.
Players will be tasked with playing as a doctor cursed with vampirism. The Vampyr E3 2016 gameplay trailer revealed that a big part of the game will be how players choose to navigate the blood lust that drives your character to the brink of madness, and that player choice will have a major influence over how the game’s narrative plays out. Will you become a monster? Or will you choose to try and inflict as little harm as possible? Players will get a chance to decide sometime in 2017 on PC.
We Happy Few by Compulsion Games
Definitely one of the stand out indie games at this year’s E3 2016. We Happy Few paints a grim drug-fueled dystopia where to the society living there self-medicating yourself with ‘Joy’ is the norm and any that are not drugged up are a danger or in their words a ‘Downer’. Developed by Compulsion Games the studio behind Contrast, has created a dark and creepy masterpiece.
The survival sim takes place in a procedurally-generated world where you’ll play one of three characters, which as of now have yet to be revealed. The game will have the usual survival game mechanics i.e. hunger, sleep etc. as well as a crafting mechanic. In order to not get caught by the police and survive long enough to figure out how to escape you’ll need to manage yourself as well as conform to your surroundings to avoid getting thrown back into the system.
The idea behind the game’s lore is permadeath. Once you get knocked out by the cops and fed Joy, you’re thrown back into the system.