With the unusual shapes of the next-gen consoles appearing on the horizon, the PS5 and Xbox Series X are dominating the headlines. It’s all “X Game will run at 120 fps”, “Y game will have 4K visuals” and “Z game will have _all_ the polygons”. It’s all-consuming, sucking all the air out of the room and it certainly feels like indie games have found it harder to get coverage. That’s a shame because indie games are a constant source of inventiveness, creativity, trailblazing narratives and groundbreaking mechanics. That hasn’t changed just because the PS5 and Xbox Series X are arriving.
With this in mind, Toby and Sean have scoured the internet and their own wish lists for indie games that are aiming for a 2020 release that they believe you should be excited for. Without further ado – let’s talk indie games…
Carrion by Phobia Game Studio – July 23rd, 2020
What’s that Westworld quote? “These violent delights have violent ends”. No quote is more fitting for Devolver Digital and Phobia Games Studio’s Carrion. This is going to be the type of game kids sneak out to play at their friend’s house because Dave’s mum doesn’t care.
It’s set up as a reverse horror; you assume the role of an amorphous creature of unknown origins, and you must escape from the scientists and soldiers who imprisoned you. You are the monster, nothing but tentacles and teeth, sliding and climbing and smashing your way through 2D Metroidvania style level design. It’s incredibly violent and destructive, which is why kids of a certain mindset are going to do anything to play it. The best analogy I’ve got is it’s like being Venom, or better yet, Carnage from Spider-man in pure alien tentacle mode. Flinging bodies left and right, ripping them apart, chowing down on the broken remains.
I hope in the full game we get objectives and backstory, answers about what kind of monster I am, why I’m there, and what injustices were performed. Because that liberates me from having to worry about the pure unadulterated, unstoppable violence of the thing. I want to use
all those powers I can see in the trailer; flame-shielding, spikes, web-shooting, and that last glorious exploding human.
Carrion is launching on PC, Nintendo Switch and Xbox One on July 23rd, 2020.
Roki by Polygon Treehouse – July 23rd, 2020
We’ve been waxing lyrical about Roki for what feels like years so if you’re a regular FG reader, you’ll probably know why you should be excited about this one. In case you’re new here, Roki is an adventure game inspired by Scandinavian folklore where you play as a young girl who’s out exploring when she meets magical creatures and mythical beings. She might make a friend or two along the way. There’s puzzle-solving, reminiscent of the classics, that asks you to think outside the box, and a touching narrative. Roki has already been nominated for, and won, a number of awards and when we played the game at EGX 2019, it earned a spot as one of our favourite indie games from the weekend. It’s easy to see why. It’s bursting with charm, smart games design and an atmosphere which was a pleasure to get immersed in.
Roki releases on July 23rd for PC (and later for the Nintendo Switch) and it can’t come soon enough.
Star Renegades by Massive Damage – 2020
With beautiful pixelart (you are going to notice a theme) Star Renegades looks to be both a strategy RPG and a turn-based mech battler at the same time and it looks amazing. The story involves toppling and outsmarting AI-led galactic empires but spans multiple generations which means that the squad you start with, isn’t the same squad you end with. The individuals in your squad can pair off and their children become your new mech squad members years later. Because of this unique mechanic every playthrough is different.
Star Renegades also features a unique system of AI-generated enemies and bosses, being built piece by piece each time you fight. Coupled with emergent gameplay events and procedurally generated missions, the developers are really setting this one up to be a unique adventure. It’s also got some serious directing and animation chops in both the pixel art department and the cinematics, just check out that anime trailer.
Star Renegades drops later in 2020 on Steam, PS4, Xbox One and Switch.
Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout by Mediatonic – August 4th, 2020
When you think of “Battle Royale”, images of Fortnite or PUBG are probably conjured in your brain and it’s easy to forget the OG – Takeshi’s Castle. 142 people throwing themselves at walls, getting hit by basketballs, smashing their faces on the skipping stones and otherwise doing their best to survive each challenge in order to potentially win a suitcase and a pair of sandals (no, really). Fall Guys seems like the virtual version of Takeshi’s Castle and it looks to be a lot of fun. With your customisable Guys, you’re joining 59 other players who’re all attempting to be the last one standing as you throw yourself at walls, get hit by balls, play a game of Football, attempt to avoid falling platforms and more. I’ve not seen a single second of Fall Guys that hasn’t made me grin from ear to ear and I can’t wait to fail at it repeatedly when it launches in August. If you pre-order on Steam now, you’ll get an exclusive costume too.
Eldest Souls by Fallen Flag Studio – 2020
A top-down 2D souls-like, Eldest Souls has you explore the vast, forgotten Citadel, in search of the Old Gods. It’s a boss-rush game, with fast-paced and challenging action combat, hence the name, but hopefully more story than your typical Souls game. The art looks incredible and maybe, just maybe this will be a Souls game I get into. It looks gorgeous, and I am a sucker for top-down pixelart dungeon crawlers. The Demo was plenty difficult, but just like any souls game, practice and a keen eye for your enemy’s tells, means you can begin to master the battle system. A top-down 2D Souls game intrigues me, and we should get to Slay the Old Gods with Eldest Souls on Steam and Switch later this year.
Hindsight 20/20 – Wrath of the Raakshasa by Triple-I Games – 2020
I’ve truly been enjoying the resurgence of the pure third-person action-adventure genre in the indie games scene. It felt like, for years, it was only the big players in the industry that were producing them, but in 2020, we’re starting to see the genre return in a big way. One of the more interesting titles in this latest wave is Hindsight 20/20, a game in which your narrative and morality choices have far-reaching implications on the game world. What’s more, you can rewind the game and undo your mistakes – and that’s where I think Hindsight 20/20 differentiates itself from a simple branching narrative. It acknowledges that some choices are mistakes. That even boils down to what weapon you use in combat, a choice you make before each fight – do you wield a stun rod to pacify your enemies or a sword to put them down for good? Oh, and that combat? *chefkiss.gif*.
This indie game is set to release on Nintendo Switch, PlayStationh 4, Xbox One, PC and Mac in 2020.
UnDungeon by Laughing Machines – Q4 2020
Undungeon is another 2D top-down hack’n’slash, but promises a deep involving sci-fi story about the meshing of multiple dimensions into one. Reconstructing the shattered multiverse, you play as the Herald (he looks like the grim reaper crossed with a plague doctor), talk to NPCs, and take on that lightning-fast combat. With such gorgeous animated pixel-art, I’ve had my eye on this since its Kickstarter a few years back and it’s great to see it picked up by Square-Enix Collective. The demo is a tricky mix of combat that reminds me of Children of Morta to some extent, which can only be a good thing.
Undungeon has a demo available on Steam as of now, and is coming to the platform later this year.
Creaks by Amanita Design – July 22nd, 2020
I loved Samorost. I adored Machinarium and ended up buying it 3 times. Any game developed by Amanita Design, who developed both of these titles, would certainly end up on this list. Creaks is a little different to both of Amanita’s previous indie games however. Sure, their trademark hand-painted art style is present and accounted for and yes, Creaks is still a puzzle game, but this time it’s not a point and click adventure. I’d go as far as to say that Creaks reminds me of the original Oddworld games more than it does Machinarium, borrowing more from the platform genre this time around. In Creaks you control a character that ventures through a subterranean world home to various monsters. In order to stay alive, you’ll need to use light, something the many beasties you’ll meet can’t abide. It looks gorgeous and thrilling and I can’t wait to get my hands on it when it launches soon for consoles and PC. If you’re lucky enough to have Apple Arcade, you can play this game right now.
Hundred Days by Broken Arms Games – 2020
Whoever thought wine-making would make a good game? Seems strange but then you think of Harvest Moon and Stardew Valley and 19 iterations of Farming Simulator, and you think actually give me more, and make it more specific. Enter the gorgeously designed Hundred days, which has you managing your cute vineyard and harvesting a fine grape, running the winery and selling your bottles of vim to retailers across the country. It’s all rather marvellous and has me thinking I’m Jean Luc Picard.
Hundred Days has base notes of originality and will be aged to perfection when it hits Steam later in 2020.
Relicta by Mighty Polygon – August 4th, 2020
We had a real glut of first person puzzle platformer indie games; Observation, Outer Wilds, Tacoma, QUBE 2 Manifold Garden and then…nothing for about a year. For fans of the genre like myself, this was a little worrying. Thankfully Relicta is here to fill that void when it lands on PC, Xbox One, PS4 and Stadia in early August.
Set on a terraformed moon, you’re tasked to overcome puzzles by creatively combining magnetism and gravity to unravel the secrets of the base your character has been manning. All of this is underpinned by a psychological adventure that’s going to try and mess with your head. Sold.