While 2016 will no doubt bring some big video games for fans to enjoy (including Uncharted 4, StarFox Zero and Gears of War 4), it’ll also be the year that we see more independent games flourish, thanks to a number of talented studios bringing their work to the PC/console front.
There are a handful of favorites that are sure to stand out, but we’ve selected five particular “indie” titles that are sure to be cult classics in just a few months’ time. Don’t be surprised if they end up on your “must have” list in one form or another.
We Happy Few
A giddy yet somewhat creepy delight coming from the team at Compulsion Games, We Happy Few takes place in a surreal world that resembles 1960’s England, where everyone in the town of Wellington Wells is quite pleased with the way life is going. In fact, a bit too pleased. If something goes wrong in the slightest with these face-painted inhabitants, all hell can break loose at the drop of a hat, and it’s up to you and your team of Downers (the resistance that realizes the truth behind this drug-addicted city) to try and set things right. With its immense Kickstarter success (making over $200,000 in its campaign) and huge following at trade shows, We Happy Few has a big opportunity to strike oil for the “indie” game community – and make everyone pleased in the same shot.
Enter the Gungeon
Devolver Digital is no stranger to tapping into the heart of “indie” gaming, as it’s proven with titles like Downwell and the Hotline Miami games. However, Enter the Gungeon caters more to a dungeon crawling, run-and-gun style crowd, as you make your way across a variety of trap-laden rooms, taking down as many enemies as you can while collecting new weapons and trying to stay in one piece. The goal here is to eventually find the Gungeon, as well the ultimate treasure that it’s hiding – a gun that can wipe out the past entirely. With its old-school visuals, classic gameplay and consistently changing levels (perfect for roguelike fans), this should be a favorite in the making.
Day of the Tentacle Remastered
The LucasArts era of gaming was a magical one, providing us with a number of classics, from Maniac Mansion to Zak McCracken. Double Fine has been doing a splendid job recreating this era of games, first with last year’s remake of Grim Fandango, and now with the forthcoming Day of the Tentacle, which promises to bring back all the goofy sci-fi point-and-click fun we’ve come to expect from the original release. Featuring remastered visuals and sound, along with plenty of unique gameplay choices things moving, this will easily be a Day long remembered. And the team’s not done yet, as Full Throttle is already on deck for the remaster treatment later in the year.
Many team members that created the Rare series Banjo-Kazooie reformed lately to put together a new project, one that reminds gamers of the classic platforming days of old, when Super Mario 64 and Crash Bandicoot were the stuff of legend. After a successful KickStarter campaign, Yooka-Laylee was born, introducing a unique combination of characters as they search throughout a large open world, discovering secrets and dealing with dangerous enemies. Though the art style is simplistic compared to other platformers these days, it caters back to a fun, carefree style of game that we just don’t see much of anymore. And it’s with that kind of audience that Yooka-Laylee should easily find gold later this year.
We’ve talked at great length about Cuphead in the past, but the fact that this endearing, challenging platforming adventure is almost ready for release is worth re-mentioning. In this game, you guide a pair of heroes through a 1930’s-era designed world, filled with tough-as-nails bosses that must be taken down before you can proceed. As you can see in the trailer above, the art style is quite original and wondrous in itself, while the gameplay holds its own compared to other classics of its kind, namely Mega Man and other run-and-gun shooters. It’s sure to be an instant favorite when it finally arrives on Xbox One sometime this year.
(Here’s a bonus one for those who feel that Cuphead isn’t “indie,” since it’s being published by Microsoft.)
Salt and Sanctuary
James Silva and his team at Ska Studios (including his wife Michelle “Shelldragon” Silva) have been hard at work on indie hits for the past few years, including the impressive, action-packed Dishwasher series for the Xbox 360. However, Salt and Sanctuary, the team’s debut on the PlayStation 4 platform, looks to take things down a much murkier path — think Dark Souls with a classic 2D perspective. Featuring a wide assortment of weapons, deadly bosses, and haunting dark design in each corner of the fractured world you’re stuck in, Salt could very well be a crowning achievement for Sony’s overflowing “indie” line-up.