Last year was a big year for games, and 2016 is looking to offer up another huge variety to grab our attention. While yes, we all can’t wait to get our hands on Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst and other AAA contenders, we also want to spotlight some of the coolest independent games that you don’t want to miss.
Roughly eight years in the making, The Witness comes from Jonathan Blow, the creator of Braid and an outspoken proponent of the indie game scene. This island puzzler pays homage to games like Myst and reportedly features 650 puzzles that will take the average player eighty hours to complete.
Built by game developers and brothers Chad and Jared Moldenhauer, Cuphead draws upon classic 1930s cartoon animation to create a completely stunning aesthetic. Not only is the art jaw-dropping and completely unique in gaming, the bullet-hell/platform style gameplay is instantly compelling. I got some hands on time at E3 last year and can’t wait to play the game in full when it’s released later this year.
Leave it to the creators of Guacamelee! to keep the PS Vita alive and well. Severed wowed at PSX last month with its vibrant art style and surprisingly-inventive touch-based slashing gameplay. The team at DrinkBox clearly put a lot of love and care into their games, so I have no doubt Severed will stand out as a 2016 indie darling.
No Man’s Sky
Created by Hello Games, No Man’s Sky promises to be one of the most grandiose video game creations of our time. With a completely procedurally-generated universe to explore, this could be one of the most important games of 2016. I am still uncertain if it can live up to that promise, but if it delivers even half of what it’s trying to achieve, No Man’s Sky will not be a game to miss.
What Remains of Edith Finch
Developer Giant Sparrow created the impressive The Unfinished Swan. This time they’re exploring more serious depth with Edith Finch. The game is broken up into several chapters, each focusing on a different member of a cursed family. At the end of each segment, that person will die. This game looks like an absolute treat.
While Campo Santo is a new game development studio, its pedigree includes the minds behind games like The Walking Dead and Mark of the Ninja. While the story of Firewatch looks simple at first, it quickly becomes clear something strange is afoot in the woods of Wyoming. The trailer looks great, but it might be the voice acting that gets me most excited to see what Firewatch has to offer.
Hyper Light Drifter
The pixel artform has reached dizzying heights. Hyper Light Drifter from Heart Machine looks gorgeous and features a thrilling soundtrack, yes, but it is also bolstered by tight and deeply-satisfying action gameplay. If the game is as great as it seems, Hyper Light Drifter is on track to become a 2016 masterpiece.
Gone Home was a simple game with a deeply moving coming-of-age story set in a large family home. Now its creators, The Fullbright Company, are tackling a more complex science fiction plot aboard a lunar space station. What mysteries does Tacoma hold? I don’t know, but I can’t wait to find out.
Fifteen years after Sony released Ico, it remains one of my favorite games of all time. Now Rime looks to be its spiritual successor, a game full of wonder, experienced through the eyes of a child. At the very least Rime will be a perfect appetizer while we wait for The Last Guardian later this year.
Alright, it may be a bit of a stretch to call this an indie title, since Yooka-Laylee is from many of the developers that brought us Banjo-Kazooie. A clear homage to the Nintendo 64 title, Yooka-Laylee looks to rekindle our nostalgia for classic 3D platformers and a simpler time. So far it seems to have a waiting audience. After its launch on Kickstarter, the game shot well past its initial funding goal of $250,000 in 40 minutes and earned a backing of nearly three million dollars.
These are ten of my most anticipated indie games of 2016, but there are many more big games to come. For more, check out our Most Anticipated AAA Games of 2016.