E3 2017 has come and gone, and in its wake remains a congregation of some of the most viewed trailers on YouTube. With games like Star Wars Battlefront 2 and Super Mario Odyssey featuring heavily at the show, it is no surprise that much of the discussion post-E3 this year has centered around AAA titles. Although each company’s presentation always seems to be polarizing, this year’s arrangement felt especially like one long video preview for the biggest game releases slated for 2017 and beyond, with little to separate an individual entity’s showcase from any other’s.
The same could not be said, however, for the indie titles that were present on the show floor during E3 2017, as well as the lucky few that made it into one of the major player’s live stream slots. E3 2017 was a glorious event for fans of indie gaming, and there were so many promising titles that, combined with the spectacle of the bigger announcements, some of the show’s most exciting games face the potential of being lost in the shuffle. To combat this, we’ve compiled a list of several indie games that impressed us from E3 2017 – we’ve got big expectations for these titles, and we’re confident they’ll follow through and deliver an enjoyable, memorable experience whenever they are finally released.
And, not to brag, readers really should check out our Best Indie Games of E3 2016 list in retrospect. A lot of those titles ended up being major players that year and this one too – just saying.
Equal parts concert and platformer, The Artful Escape is a collaborative effort between Annapurna Interactive and Beethoven & Dinosaur that follows a musician as he explores worlds intrinsically connected to the music he makes throughout the game. The E3 trailer shows the protagonist conjuring an electric guitar out of nowhere whenever he needs to jump, with the pitch of his riffs increasing with each jump he makes – it’s touches like these, coupled with the game’s visually loud and complex aesthetics, that make it one to watch if only because of just how different its approach to the idea of a video game seems to be. The trailer for The Artful Escape also features the added bonus of a release date of “when it’s damn ready,” and that kind of honesty speaks volumes about the approach to this promising game.
Griftlands is the sort of game that could only be coming out on PC. It’s a retro-styled, 2D RPG that will also feature mechanics like talking to – and possibly recruiting – various human and non-human characters, while the combat appears like it could be a revamped take on the turn-based combat that characterized many of the JRPG classics of old. The developer behind Griftlands, Klei Entertainment, also has a seriously impressive library including Mark of the Ninja and popular strategy title Don’t Starve. Griftlands is set to release in late 2017/early 2018, and more details will likely come soon as the release date nears.
Sundered is a Kickstarter-backed title that has been described as a mix between eldritch horror and metroidvania-style gameplay. The player is tasked with occupying the role of Eshe, a wanderer trapped within a ruined world that constantly changes, and a central part of gameplay will be forcing Eshe to choose between embracing dark energies and powers to defeat massive bosses or resisting these temptations and facing much more difficult fights as a result. It’s a cool take on the metroidvania genre, and its art-style, which features an infinitesimally small protagonist surrounded by massive, twisted landscapes, really makes it one to watch. Thunder Lotus Games’ Sundered is set to release in July 2017 on PC and PS4.
Messhoff’s sequel to a beloved party game favorite in Nidhogg looks suitably insane, and that’s why it is so interesting. Nidhogg 2 looks to capitalize on all of the elements that made its predecessor a cult hit while improving whatever it can, and while the new art direction might have been divisive before extensive gameplay footage was released, that particular concern appears to have been quelled in the wake of its E3 2017 showing. The game now includes duelling with more than swords, a few messy new melee moves, and much more detailed environments, and the best part is players won’t have to wait long before the madness begins again – Nidhogg 2 releases sometime this summer for PC and PS4.
Matterfall is being touted as a “true platformer,” according to developer Housemarque, but it will also feature frenetic gameplay and a number of offense-oriented skills to make sure the gameplay never gets stale. That, coupled with a futuristic setting that pops off the screen, makes Matterfall an early favorite for one of the indie titles most gamers will lose countless hours to without realizing it. The arcade influence is clear, and Matterfall will bring the coin-operated-style shooting to PS4 owners on August 15 in North America and August 16 in Europe.
Tacoma might be the game with most expectation weighing on its shoulders, as developer Fullbright looks to follow up the massive success it had with Gone Home. Like the latter game, Tacoma will be primarily story-driven and lean heavily on exploration elements to pace its gameplay. Clues and detective work will also play a large role in advancing the game forward, and Tacoma‘s space station setting opens up a number of possibilities for the story that gamers will simply have to wait to discover. Tacoma will release later this summer on August 2, 2017 for PC and Xbox One.
It’s tempting to dismiss this game as not being a true indie title thanks to its association with EA, but the actual developer behind this project is Hazelight, a studio largely comprised of team members that worked on the wildly impressive Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. Like Brothers, A Way Out will feature gameplay explicitly designed to be experienced by two players, and will feature innovative mechanics like the ability of one player to move throughout the game world and interact with it while the other is locked in a cutscene. It’s a game that will inevitably push the development of multiplayer titles forward, and it’s going to be an impactful release in early 2018 for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
Ooblets can charitably be described as a game of many influences – the title has already been met with comparisons to Pokemon, Animal Crossing, and Harvest Moon, and each of those analogies has merit. The upcoming game from Double Fine Productions is deliberately cute and infectiously cheery, and in a world where games continue to explore darker elements of the human psyche, Ooblets‘ journey to collect adorable creatures, train them, and build communities with other players is sure to stand out even more than its impressive trailer already makes it. Ooblets will launch sometime in 2018 for PC and Xbox One.
Continuing the theme of cuteness tied into captivating gameplay, Polyarc’s Moss puts players into the role of a young warrior mouse named Quill. Moss is heavily inspired by The Legend of Zelda, and is set to feature the same kinds of mind-bending puzzles and engaging adventure gameplay fans have come to expect from the latter. The catch? Moss is ready to do all of that using PS VR technology, and could be a breakthrough title in bringing more indie developers on board for VR development. Moss is currently expected to launch for PS VR during the Holiday 2017 sales period.
That’s our list for Best Indie Games of E3 2017. What do you think? Anything we missed? Let us know in the comments below.