Lists, lists, and more lists. They’re an efficient way to organize and summarize (be it the end of the year or not), which is fantastic news because it seems like outlets can’t compete without succumbing to the pressures of the list format. We’re usually regaled with tales of games that are and games that have been, but my personal favorites are the the lists that detail the things to look forward to; the future, if you will – especially in the indie space.
So without further ado, here are some of the most awe-inspiring independent titles to look forward to in the near future.
Just selected to be part of the PAX 10, The Swapper from Facepalm Games is guaranteed to be a critical darling. From their site: “The game takes place on an abandoned space station and tackles the implications of the ‘Swapper’ – a device that can clone the user and transfer consciousness between different bodies.” Stylistically, you’re getting warm if you imagine Shadow Complex with some light puzzle elements, coupled with some of the most eye-popping lighting effects you’ve ever seen. Oh, and it’s all done with clay (a la Platypus).
No release date or platforms have been confirmed yet, but again, I’m sure this one will be hard to miss.
Also receiving boatloads of praise is VBlank Entertainment’s Retro City Rampage. The powerful chiptune soundtrack has been out for quite some time now, but the game is still being perfected for release on – believe it or not – nearly every major platform. Approximately a gabillion references to pop culture, movies, and games are coyly wrapped in an authentic 8-bit, open world experience, and there’s little doubt that a title like this is going to have universal appeal. Try to pick out the video game references in the following trailer, and then collapse in excitement as you try to imagine how many there must be in the finished version.
While some are tired of the adventure game genre, there are others hoping to see it revitalized in new and interesting ways. Those in the latter camp will be pleased to learn about Sarcia from Michael Lavoie, a game in which you have to translate the words of an alien language in order to navigate the environments and make progress. The game’s website has a fantastic series of blog entries detailing its development, and to get a even better idea of what to expect make sure to check out the trailer below.
The Unfinished Swan by Giant Sparrow is another interesting game that should also be on your short list. The lack of coverage for this PlayStation Network exclusive is astounding, especially given its stark appearance and inventive premise. In The Unfinished Swan you navigate a world that is completely devoid of color, tossing about black paint in order to see the world and discover its secrets – all while attempting to locate a missing swan. It might sound like Epic Mickey with a few dashes of pretension, but this rather sleek trailer aims to convince you otherwise.
They Bleed Pixels. They. Bleed. Pixels. Come on! The title alone should pique your interest. Canada has become a hotbed of activity thanks to the government (that’s not a joke!), and it’s Toronto’s own Miguel Sternberg who’s readying this NES-style platformer for release later this year. Sternberg’s Twitter feed seems to suggest that cutscenes will play a large role in the game, so hopefully there’s a pretty great story to match all of that silky-smooth bloodletting.
There is, of course, one tiny caveat to bear in mind as you swoon over the games on this list: independent developers often have a luxury that their multi-million dollar contemporaries do not have, and that is time. AAA studios are subject to extraordinarily strict release and marketing schedules, whereas your favorite indie teams have release schedules that simply read “when we’re done, yo.”
The short version? No one has any idea when these games will actually come out.
Whenever they do get released, in each case you can be sure you’re getting a finely tuned experience that’s the result of years of hard work and creativity. Beyond that, I can only tell you to warm up your wallet for another season of exciting independent games.