2018 is almost here and luckily for us, it’s bringing a ton of brilliant indie games with it. While there’re a staggering amount of exciting AAA releases coming over the next 12 months, we thought we’d take the time to honour the little guys. Without further ado, here are the 10 most interesting indies you can expect to see more of in 2018.
10. Super Meat Boy Forever
On paper, Super Meat Boy Forever sounds like a bit of a disaster. While the follow up to one of the most beloved indie games of all time should be an easy sell, this sequel is lacking two crucial things: one of its original creators, and a whole load of buttons.
With one half of the duo, behind the original now off out making his own games (Edmund McMillen) and this sequel originally being mobile-only, many fans started assuming the worst. Yet, despite losing half of its co-creators and almost all of its control inputs, Super Meat Boy Forever is actually shaping up to be a worthy sequel.
This time around, gamers only have two buttons to worry about. With our heroes Meat Boy and Bandage Girl now running automatically, players only have to focus on jumping and sliding. As you’d expect from a Super Meat Boy game though, platforming here is still no easy task. With the success of each daring jump resting on how long you hold down each button for, there’s a surprising amount of depth and precision to this two-button platformer.
With procedurally generated levels ensuring that no section plays the same twice, this once mobile-only sequel looks to offer a surprisingly meaty platforming adventure.
Super Meat Boy Forever is launching in summer 2018 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, and iOS/Android.
9. The Red Strings Club
Picture a dystopian point and click adventure where you have to make cocktails and sculpt AI behaviour via a pottery mini-game. Having a bit of trouble there? Well, that’s because The Red Strings Club is totally batsh*t insane.
Concocted by the team that brought gamers the hard as nails Gods Will Be Watching, the studio’s next release is something completely different. Set in a not-too-distant cyberpunk future, a mega-corporation called Supercontinent Ltd has managed to solve problems like depression, anger and fear thanks to a cutting-edge new implant programme known as Social Psyche Welfare.
As you’d expect, not everyone is especially pleased about this. The game puts you in the shoes of visionary bartender Donovan. As the owner of local boozerThe Red Strings Club, Donovan uses his incredible cocktail-making skills to create a drink that perfectly matches the customer’s soul. With different ingredients triggering different impulses (like self-doubt, anger, bitterness) in order to glean the right information, players have to carefully combine the right cocktail with the right line of questioning.
If it all sounds utterly bizarre… well, that’s because it is. Oh, and that’s before we get started on the pottery-style, AI implant sculpting minigame. Still, despite how ludicrous it sounds, when you play it, every disparate element here comes together in brilliant and compelling ways. With a suitably dark story bubbling under the surface, this could well be one of the most original and memorable indie games of 2018.
The Red Strings Club launches on PC on January 22nd.
8. In The Valley Of The Gods
Unveiled at last month’s Game Awards, little is known about this mysterious new first-person adventure. Yet, after the developer’s last game, we have a feeling that In The Valley Of The Gods could once again be something special. Developed by Campo Santo, the team behind last year’s moving first-person drama, Firewatch, this Egyptian set tale looks just as intriguing as its stunning predecessor.
With famous graphic designer Olly Moss back on art duties once again, In The Valley looks to be just as eye-catching as you’d expect.
Put in the shoes of a film crew attempting to uncover the mysterious behind undiscovered Egyptian tombs, Campo Santo’s latest looks to offer something a little different than your usual first-person adventure. Blending exploration with excavation, the setting looks ripe with potential for this to deliver another utterly gripping Campo Santo narrative.
Unfortunately, In The Valley Of The Gods doesn’t actually launch until 2019. But with the team promising to reveal more juicy information next year, this is a game you most definitely want to be paying close attention to over the next twelve months.
7. Deep Rock Galactic
Imagine a game that’s part Starship Troopers, part Minecraft, then throw in a handful of space dwarves for good measure. That, in a mineshaft, is Deep Rock Galactic. Combining voxel-based visuals with tense horde-mode style bug blasting, this unique indie looks like it might have struck co-op gold.
Deep Rock Galactic is all about teamwork and resource management. With each mine you’re attempting to loot littered with waves of deadly insects, dividing and conquering is definitely the key to success. Yet, while this could have simply been another game where half the team carries out an objective while the others blast everything in sight, it’s the ability to sculpt the environments around you that make this game really interesting.
As you shoot and mine your way through each creepy cavern, a quick strike of your axe allows you to mold the environment around you. Thanks to its procedurally generated levels, this Early Access hit is already showing a lot of multiplayer promise.
Deep Rock Galactic will be coming out of Early Access and to Xbox One at an unannounced date in 2018.
6. Phantom Doctrine
Fans of turn-based strategy, it’s time to get a bit excited, because 2018 looks to be a bumper year for the genre. As well as, of course, bringing new entries in the Fire Emblem series, next year also sees indie studio Creative Forge once again taking on X-Com at its own game. The follow up to the unique horror western, Hard West, its latest tactical venture is set amidst the tense backdrop of the Cold War.
Scored by none other than The Witcher III composer Marcin Przybyłowicz, this atmospheric strategy game offers a brilliant slice of tactical alternate history. With sleeper cell units to uncover, covert ops to plan, and enemy troops to brainwash, from what we’ve played so far, Phantom Doctrine looks to offer a brilliantly devious twist on the strategy genre.
If you fancy ditching X-Com’s aliens for something that feels more like a Hollywood spy thriller, you’ll want to keep pay attention to this one.
Phantom Doctrine launches on PC, PS4 and Xbox One spring 2018.
After a brief glance at Minit, you might think you know what you’re getting. The top-down view, a slew of puzzles to solve, the unforgiving combat and a huge map to explore – it’s an old-school Zelda clone, right?
Well… sort of. While this monochrome adventure looks pretty familiar, dig a little deeper and you’ll find that this unique little indie is hiding a pretty major twist. Created by indie duo Jan Willem Nijman and Kitty Calis, these two developers decided to make the antithesis of the kind of AAA adventures they’d worked on before. Having contributed to the making of sprawling time sinks like Horizon Zero Dawn, this time around, the duo wanted to make something that felt more immediate.
In Minit, you spawn as our cute little titular hero and are free to explore the world around you… except you only have a minute to do so. With the clock ticking on each playthrough, you have to plan each move with military precision as you attempt to track down a crucial item. Once you’ve got yourself an item, thankfully it stays with you for the long haul.
Yet with winding mazes, devious enemies, and even incredibly slow talking NPCs standing in your way, our time with Minit proved to be a surprisingly tense and compelling affair. This game is not only a blast to play, but has huge streaming potential. If you’re after a fun new twist on the rogue-like genre, then you’ll definitely want to keep your eye on this unique little gem.
Minit launches on PC this April.
4. Runner 3
This is not only the second Switch exclusive on our list, but also one of our most anticipated games of 2018. With previous entries in the series offering up a masterful blend of platformer and rhythm game, this threequel looks to offer even more wonderfully frustrating action. Trailers so far have given us a glimpse at new camera perspectives, hand-drawn 2D levels, and more impossible-looking jumps than you can shake a fist at.
Skill-based platforming doesn’t get much better than the Runner series – and we can’t wait to get our hands on this brilliant looking new entry. Runner 3 is launching exclusively on Switch sometime in 2018, both digitally and physically.
3. Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes
Amidst a sea of waggle-tastic party games and half-assed light gun experiences, there was one third party game on Wii that offered gamers an un-adulterated and original gaming experience: No More Heroes. Developed by legendary creator and self-proclaimed punk, Suda 51, this violent, motion-controlled adventure combined grin-inducing humour with fast-paced action. It was silly, over the top and utterly unlike anything else in gaming. Sadly though, the franchise went quiet after 2011’s No More Heroes 2.
Now, seven years later, Suda’s favourite otaku protagonist is making a return to Nintendo to kick ass and pet cats once again.
While the previous two entries in the series saw Travis taking down a series of deadly bosses, this time, Suda has given No More Heroes an indie twist. With our hero and a rival finding themselves sucked into a games console, Travis Strikes Again will see the two battling it out across 15 indie games. While we still have no idea how the gameplay will work, indie classics like Hotline Miami and Shovel Knight are the first two crossover titles to be announced.
Given its intriguing premise and the wonderfully insane games that came before it, we have high hope that this Switch exclusive will be something truly special.
Travis Strikes Again is coming to the Nintendo Switch sometime in 2018.
2. The Last Night
If you’ve never heard of Odd Tale’s The Last Night, a quick glance at its reveal trailer will instantly explain why this ambitious indie turned heads at E3. Sporting a gorgeous artstyle that sees pixel art layered in a three-dimensional space, this neon-lit cyberpunk adventure has players trying to find their place in a world where AI has rendered most modern jobs obsolete.
Interestingly, developer Odd Tale promises that The Last Night will actually play out more like a crime drama than a platformer. With in-game characters supposedly responding to the player’s actions, this curious-looking indie title looks to offer an interesting and surprisingly complex take on the cyberpunk genre.
Unfortunately though, when it comes to The Last Night, it’s not all good news. Mere hours after gamers found themselves excitedly talking about this cool-looking indie title, it was discovered that its creator had a bit of a murky past. Thankfully, the game’s creator has been quick to apologise for his former views, revealing in a recent interview how his perspective on the world has changed since.
Dodgy politics aside, for those wanting their gaming experiences with a cyberpunk flavour, The Last Night looks to be one of the most interesting indies of 2018.
The Last Night will be out on PC and Xbox One at an unannounced date in 2018.
1. Crossing Souls
Have you ever thought life would be better if it played out like an eighties movie? If so it looks like the latest game from Devolver Digital has answered your prayers, because that’s pretty much the hook of Crossing Souls. Sporting cool, Earthbound-inspired pixel art and beautifully drawn Saturday morning cartoon-style cinematics, this story-driven RPG see you playing as a gang of wonderfully stereotypical 80s kids who discover a mysterious artefact.
With nods to everything from ET to The Goonies, our brief time with Crossing Souls at Gamescom left us grinning from ear to ear. Gameplay-wise, the setup is pretty simple. Players will spend most of their time talking to those around them and switching between characters in order to solve puzzles and beat certain enemies.
Yet, while it certainly played well, it was the brilliant writing in Crossing Souls that had us itching for more. Thanks to some brilliantly 80s dialogue and an endearing cast of playable characters, we found ourselves taking the time to talk to every single pixelated person that we encountered. With a cool mechanic that sees players able to summon the past into our world, the story looks to go to some pretty crazy places, too.
You can get your 80s on February 13th, when Crossing Souls arrives on PS4 and PC.