12 Indie Games You Need to Play in the Next 12 Months

Tom Regan
Games PlayStation
Games PlayStation Xbox Indie Games PC Gaming

There was a time in gaming where “indie” almost became a dirty word. Thanks to the popularity of early indie games like Fez and Super Meat Boy, budding developers everywhere decided to make a retro-inspired 2D platformer of their own. Needless to say, it quickly got pretty repetitive. Thankfully though, indie games have come a long way since. With jaw-dropping engines like Unreal Engine 4 and Unity now allowing creators to build their own sprawling 3D worlds, a modern indie game can often be just as ambitious as their multi-million dollar counterparts.

We’ve played a ton of interesting indie titles over the last seven months, and after some careful consideration, we’ve whittled them down to just 12. Without further ado, here are 12 incredible future indie game sensations that you need to look out for in the next 12 months.

Pool Panic

This ridiculous-looking Adult Swim original is set to offer the perfect balance between laughs and multiplayer mayhem.

Platforms: PC and Nintendo Switch

Release Date: Summer 2018

What happens when you take everything you know about pool, combine it with Rick and Morty and then take a crap load of hallucinogenics? Well, it’s not an afternoon we’ve had personally but we’d wager the result would be Pool Panic.

As the world’s least realistic pool simulator, this Adult Swim original sees players taking control of a slightly horrific-looking pool ball who wanders around meeting other pool balls and whacking them into holes.

With over 100 levels, a full single player story AND a four-player party mode, this weird little game looks like the perfect Switch indie game to keep you grinning through the summer.

Bad North

Platforms: PS4, Nintendo Switch, PC, and Xbox One

Release Date: Summer 2018

Imagine if Age of Empires had a child with a beautiful and simplistic tower defense game. That, dear reader, is a very lazy description of Bad North. Confused? Well, let’s try again then shall we? In this intriguing little strategy game, you play the role of the ever-wise general of a small Viking army.

With three different types of units at your disposal — archers, infantry, and pikemen — it’s up to your tiny army to defend an equally small island from boatloads of angry invaders. It’s a pleasingly simple game to control, with players merely pointing and clicking where they want their troops to march to and then leaving the soldiers to do the heavy lifting.

With later levels seeing waves of enemies sail toward your little island from all directions, players can rotate their surroundings thanks to a 360-degree view of the action. The key to success is to place troops strategically, allowing the archers to rain down arrows on foes from above and cover your charging infantry from the impending rush of enemy soldiers.

Thankfully, once your attackers begin to come ashore, the action briefly switches to a stylish slow-mo crawl. With upgradable units and buildings to defend, Bad North is simple enough to immediately understand but has enough depth to keep you hooked.

Made by a team of  Swedish developers who have worked on titles like Little Nightmares and The Division, the cutesy-looking RTS-meets-roguelite certainly has the talent behind it to make it a hit.

Overcooked 2

The chaotic co-op cooking sim is back, and ready to cause more arguments than ever.

Platforms: PS4, Nintendo Switch, PC and Xbox One

Release Date: 7th August 2018

Life can be a bit exhausting, can’t it? Whether its stresses from work or school, lengthy delays on your commute, or just everything combining to generally create a crappy day, video games can be a brilliant way to escape the mundanities of the day-to-day.

Yet bizarrely, some of this most fun this writer has had playing games recently has been when I’ve been arguing about who does the washing up. For those that missed the original, Overcooked is a co-op based cook ’em up. While that may not sound like a laugh-a-minute, this crazy little multiplayer experience quickly descends into mayhem as stages send ingredients flying and players have to coordinate prep, cooking, and serving up a slew of tasty dishes.

Thankfully, Overcooked 2 doesn’t look to have deviated much from the original’s winning formula. This time around though, there will be full online co-op, anxiety-inducing dynamic level changes, magic portals, and even the ability to chuck ingredients to teammates over long distances.

We can’t wait to get back into the kitchen and yell at our mates once again for chopping up the wrong virtual vegetables.

Below

Revealed five years ago and counting, we finally got to try 'Below' -- and it looks like it's going to be worth the wait.

Platforms:  PC and Xbox One

Release Date: 2018

It takes a lot to completely shut out your surroundings at a busy convention centre. But the second we put on our headphones during our E3 demo, we were completely lost in Below’s bleak yet beautiful world.

Announced back in 2013, this atmospheric adventure combines the oppressive and lonely feel of Dark Souls with a unique and beautiful art style. Waking on a dark and deserted beach, players quickly find themselves drawn to the entrancing flicker of flames before them. Why? Well, because this game is stunning. While Below started life as a 2D adventure, the reason the game got delayed was that the time decided to move the sprite-starring adventure onto a 3D plane. Rolling about this quiet but eerie world, we soon discover a cliff-face draped in vines and at its summit — a sword and shield.

Playing like a mix of Binding of Isaac and The Legend Of Zelda, this atmospheric dungeon crawler combines the addictive nature of a roguelike with the item permanence you’d expect from one of Link’s older adventures.

It’s been a long journey for developers Capybara games. With delay after delay and little updates over the last five years, Below slowly cemented itself as The Last Guardian of indie games. Now, its creators promise that this long-awaited game will finally see the light of day sometime in 2018. Based on the small snippet we’ve played so far, it looks like Below will be well worth the wait.

Black Future ’88

Platforms:  PC, PS4, and Xbox One

Release Date: 2018

Things are certainly looking pretty bleak in developer Superscarysnakes’ alternate take on 1988. Thanks to a mad oligarch named Duncan, this once high-tech neon-lit metropolis is suddenly left reeling from a nuclear blast — and mankind is all but wiped out. Cheers, Duncan.

As one of the only survivors from the blast, your mission is to climb up Duncan’s sprawling tower of terror and exact revenge. There’s only one problem though — you only have 18 minutes left to live.

This cool little cyberpunk roguelike sends either one or two players shooting and jumping their way through a procedurally-generated tower, picking up weapons that are just as likely to hinder your progress as they are to help. Known as curses, one such up upgrade ups the rate of tasty weapon drops, but in turn, it increases the number (and frequency) of enemies you face.

Combine this cool 18-minute time limit with some unique little powers and game systems, and Black Future ’88 is a refreshingly unique little take on an increasingly crowded genre.

Tunic

Platforms:  PC and Xbox One

Release Date: 2018

Tunic – or Fox Zelda as its come to be known — was one of the surprise highlights of Microsoft’s E3 conference. Turning heads with its beautiful art style, this colorful adventure looked like the perfect way for Xbox gamers to fill that Link-shaped hole in their library. Yet, when we finally got to play it, we quickly discovered that this game is anything but cute.

While your bushy-tailed protagonist looks like a kid-friendly mascot, Tunic is a surprisingly punishing game. With dodge rolls aplenty and some fiendishly difficult foes to fight, Tunic is basically a cuddly-looking Dark Souls.

With a wide range of dungeons to master and a compelling collection of enemies to fell, this whimsical-looking RPG is actually anything but. Sure, it may not be the most original game out there, but when it’s this charming to look at and just as fun to play, it’s hard to care.

My Time at Portia

Take Zelda, 'Harvest Moon' and 'Stardew Valley' and add a hint of Fable-esque humour, and 'My Time At Portia' would be the result.

Platforms:  PC, PS4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One

Release Date: 2018

At first glance, My Time At Portia looks painfully unoriginal. Sporting a fairly generic cartoony-aesthetic, and farm-building ripped straight from the likes of Harvest Moon a Stardew Valley, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’ve played this all before. Yet, despite Team 17’s latest feeling fairly familiar initially, something old and something borrowed combine to create something that feels altogether new.

Throwing in a mix of combat, full voice acting, and hilarious dialogue, My Time At Portia was one of E3’s most pleasant surprises. After crafting an axe and wandering about the coastal town of Portia, no two citizens we encountered felt alike, each sporting their own quirks and behaviours that helped them feel like real people.

Despite being made by a Chinese team, there’s a sense of  British charm and whimsy here that reminded us a bit of Fable and needless to say, it put a big old smile on our face. If you’re looking for a game that combines NPC relationships, dungeon-crawling, and addictive farm management then look no further.

Neo Cab

Platforms:  PC

Release Date: Q1 2019

Ever wondered what it would be like to drive a taxi in a Blade Runner-esque dystopia? Well, you’re in luck, because this indie will fulfill that weirdly-specific fantasy. Neo Cab is a striking-looking cel-shaded adventure that sees players driving passengers around in what can only be described as a futuristic Uber simulator.

Set in a near-future where AI cars have rendered human drivers obsolete, you play Lina — one of the last of her kind. OK, you’re the last cabbie, not Jedi BUT Neo Cab is far more intriguing than it initially sounds.

With shady goings-on affecting the city and each dialogue choice you make having lasting effects on both Lina and her passengers, there’s a wonderful sense of mystery permeating through this stylish-looking sim.

With its developers pegging Neo Cab as an “emotional survival” game, players will not only have to focus on the road but also on making sure that Lina can make ends meet without burning herself out.  For our money it sounds a bit like Papers Please meets a (not so) Crazy Taxi. We can’t wait to dive into this wonderfully unique little experience early next year.

Killer Queen: Black

Platforms:  PC, Nintendo Switch

Release Date: Q1 2019

Killer Queen started life years ago as a lone, one of a kind massive arcade cabinet. Pitting ten players against each other across two bee-filled teams, this wonderfully addictive team-based deathmatch combines the feel of Towerfall Ascension with that of a sports game, and is brilliantly bonkers. The FANDOM team have lost more quarters than we’d care to admit to the various Killer Queen machines now scattered around San Francisco, and now it’s being repurposed for on the go mayhem.

Doing away with 5v5 action, this time the Switch exclusive will instead pit 4 against 4, retaining the same gameplay as the original. It will, however, be the first version that anyone can play on the go.

With a PC version following at an unannounced date, this wonderfully original and chaotic multiplayer indie game is not to be missed.

Sable

'Sable' was one of the most interesting announcements from this year's E3. Pay close attention to this one.

Platforms:  PC, PS4, and Xbox One

Release Date: Q2 2019

Revealed in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance during Microsoft’s E3 conference, it only took a few seconds for this stunning-looking adventure to make an impression.

Sporting a gorgeous, Image Comic-inspired art style and oozing a wonderfully alluring, otherworldly atmosphere, we tracked down developer Shedworks for an extended look at Sable. Somehow, after seeing it in action, we came away even more intrigued.

For those still confused about what this game actually is, Sable puts players in the shoes of our titular hero, a young woman who embarks on a unique kind of rite of passage adventure. Playing like a giddy blend of indie classic Journey and 2017’s game-changing Breath Of The Wild, this is an interactive experience that ditches combat for exploration.

Wielding a Destiny-meets-Akira style hoverbike, players are free to journey across sprawling deserts and pretty much left to roam this strange and fantastical world at their leisure.

Featuring a brilliant mix of climbing, decision making, and relaxed exploration, Sable has the potential to become an indie classic.

Knights and Bikes

This charming '80s-inspired adventure is a 'Goonies'-inspired RPG.

Platforms:  PC, PS4 and Xbox One

Release Date: 2019

After the huge success of Stranger Things, it was only ever a matter of time before video games cashed in on ’80s nostalgia too. Sure enough, games like last year’s brilliant Crossing Souls and the upcoming Telltale take on Stranger Things have appeared to fill in that ’80s-shaped hole in gamer’s hearts.

But while these have focused on ’80s nostalgia, one developer is looking to recreate a more British vision of the ’80s. Taking its cues from classics like Nintendo’s Earthbound, Knights and Bikes sees two kids setting out to explore their Cornwall-inspired fictional hometown.

Developed by a production designer who worked on both Little Big Planet and Tearaway, Knights and Bikes unsurprisingly boasts an equally eye-catching art style. Combining a nice mix of humour, RPG elements, and childhood imagination, this feel-good indie game looks like it could be an instant classic.

Sea Of  Solitude

Platforms:  PC, PS4, and Xbox One

Release Date: Q1 2019

Hot on the heels of February’s well-received EA Original release, A Way Out, this year’s E3 saw the FIFA publisher reveal another brand new indie partnership for 2019. And this one looks wonderfully unique. Created by Berlin-based studio Jo-Mei games, Sea Of Solitude is an intriguing little exploration game which tells the story of a young woman named Kay. Consumed by loneliness and anger, she slowly finds herself transforming into a very literal monster.

With the rest of this dark cel-shaded world housing an ocean-filled with creatures just like Kay, players need to confront her demons and seek out others in a bad to transform her back.

It’s not difficult to work out what this is a metaphor for, but despite the concept being pretty on the nose, it’s always great to see video games attempt to use fiction to tackle some very real problems.

Armed with just a boat, this semi open-world adventure looks like a mix between Windwaker and Little Nightmares. If that doesn’t sell you on it, we don’t know what will.

Which indie are you most excited to play?

Tom Regan
Having written for everyone from Trusted Reviews to The Guardian, Tom is a London based writer who can't stop talking about games. Now he's joined the team at FANDOM as gaming editor, we have to constantly remind ourselves that he's not actually Ed Sheeran.
Become a
FANDOM
Contributor
Pop culture fans! Write what you love and have your work seen by millions.