One of my favourite parts of every EGX event is walking around the Rezzed, Leftfield and Tentacle zone’s to check out all of the indie games on display. Away from the massive booths and lengthy queues of the AAA games, these areas are usually brimming with creativity and passion. 2019 was no different. This year I managed to see the immense amount of progress that many of my picks from 2018 have gone through (Beyond Blue, The Impossible Mission and Undercrewed still look great) as well as playing a tonne of games I’d not heard of or played but immediately shot onto my “most anticipated” radar. Here’s 17 of the best indie games from the EGX 2019 show floor.
Lord Winklebottom Investigates by Cave Monsters
Disclaimer: I backed Lord Winklebottom Investigates on Kickstarter. I mean, why wouldn’t I? A point & click adventure featuring a top hat and monocle wearing giraffe with a hippo partner in crime solving? I’d have been daft not too and it took less than 2 minutes to see that I was right to do so. The demo instantly sets the tone between the 2 main characters, a chemistry that’s as full of friendship and mutual respect as it is a reflection of their different upbringings. From there, it was packed full of charm, wit and some jokes that had me laughing away to myself. With a gorgeous art style, Lucas Arts-esque puzzles and a cheeky sense of humour, the Lord Winklebottom demo was a 10 minute showcase that left me desperate for more.
Röki by Polygon Tree House
I said it on our EGX Podcast and I’ll say it again. The Röki demo was my favourite experience from the show floor. The art style, clean and bold but with plenty of attention to detail, brings Scandinavian folklore to life. A tree filled with eyes. A troll under a bridge. A mysterious critter hiding out in an abandoned workshop. The demo was packed with fantastical moment to moment gameplay that focuses on discovery and some mild problem solving. Plus it had some awesome looking snow effects. The music. The vocals. The writing. Everything in the Röki demo screamed quality and attention to detail. I seriously can’t wait for it to be released on Switch, PS4, Xbox One and PC, potentially later this year.
Inertial Drift by Northern Softworks
Racers that focus on drifting aren’t anything new but Inertial Drift is the first that incorporates twin stick control. In the demo I played at EGX 2019, the left stick of the controller determined the direction of the car and the right stick controller the direction of drift. Depending on the speed and maneuverability of the car, you might have to pump the brakes to get the drift to activate but when you do, ho damn it’s fun to play. There were 3 cars in the demo, each of which handled entirely differently to one another and had its own ‘old-school meets new wave’ look. If the finished product can continue this variance and quality while doing so, it’ll pump some much needed fresh blood into this genre.
Warp Drive by Supergonk
The hole left by a lack of modern day WipEout has a lot of developers attempting to fill that gap and with Warp Drive, Supergonk are bringing something quite different to the table. While it plays quite similarly to the Zero-G racers coming up alongside it, it has a few unique aspects too. Firstly, the art style is less sci-fi and more organic. There’s foliage growing out of the 1 track in the demo and the surrounding areas are packed with trees and plants. That’s the other difference – the space between the track outline and the barriers surrounding it slows down your vehicle. There’s no barrier riding here. You’ve got to keep yourself on track. Lastly, and most importantly, is the warp function. Parts of the track glow a golden and rainbow shimmer and while over this section, a tap of the button will transport you to another part of the track. Sometimes this means branching tracks and in others it’s a means to avoid obstacles. With W A R P collectables dotted around the various branches of the environment, Warp Drive encourages exploring the whole track and it’s a fun racer that might benefit from the inclusion of weaponry but was otherwise very fun to play.
Yes, Your Grace by Brave At Night
Imagine Reigns but with gorgeous Pixel Art and a more defined plot thread and you’ve got ‘Yes, Your Grace‘, a King simulator. Described by publishers No More Robots as “a sad dad simulator”, the demo was quick to show it’s macabre side as I’m making a choice between making an example of a deserter by killing him or sparing him and making him fight alongside the rest of the army. I chose to spare him, but it didn’t matter as with my next choice, waving the white flag to the enemy surrounding my castle, my entire kingdom was massacred. 2 choices in and I’d already reached ‘Game Over’. By making smarter choices, I later made it further into the demo to discover my family whom I’ll have to lead and people coming to me daily with choices to make. Do I send my army out to investigate reports of monsters in a nearby village? Do I pay to host a grand wedding for one of my subordinates which will raise moral? Everything about Yes, Your Grace was laser guided to my tastes so I ended the demo so as not to spoil too much for myself as this is definitely one I’ll be picking up.
Murder At Malone Manor by WhitePot Games
Murder At Malone Manor is a multiplayer whodunit game where 1 character has secretly committed a murder and the rest of the players are trying to figure out who it was. You’ll be walking about the manor as a team collecting clues which relate to the various professions that the characters have – duster for housekeeper, handcuffs for police officer etc. The idea of the game is to pool you’re knowledge by collecting as many clues as possible while the murderer secretly works against you, trying to throw you off the scent by collecting clues that might point at another character. It’s an interesting premise and one that was admirably demonstrated by the single player training mode that WhitePot Studios had bought to EGX 2019. In this mode, you’re doing all the fact and clue finding alone and then have to piece together all of the clues to find out which of the NPC’s did the dirty. Of course, it’s not that straight forward. Some clues can relate to multiple professions – a helmet might be worn by a police officer or a gamekeeper for example, and if you’ve not collected enough clues before the time runs out, you could easily end up pointing the finger at the wrong character. Murder At Malone Manor is a fascinating project with a multiplayer beta coming soon so make sure to go and follow the developers on Twitter and hit up their Discord.
Cake Bash by High Tea Frog
A group of random school kids beat me at Cake Bash. 3 times. I tell you this not because I’m bitter about it but because even though I lost (and, embarrassingly, very badly each time) I had an absolute blast playing this game with complete strangers and imagine it’ll be even better with my brood of kids. I might stand a chance of winning against my 2 year old. Consisting of up to 4 player mini-games (with optional AI bots if you want to fill out the match), in Cake Bash you play as little cakes that’re…bashing each other…for want of a better term. In one mode, each player had to crack open more fortune cookies which were falling from the sky than the other players. In another mode, you have to pick up pieces of fruit and throw them into a cake in the centre of the table arena. It sounds simplistic but in each mode, there are golden objects which cost 10 times more than the normal one’s. When these are introduced, it’s a rush to be the sweet treat that claims it and, thanks to tiny arms each cake has on its side, you can play dirty by punching your opponents and eventually stunning them. The game looks great, it sounds great and I can imagine it’ll be a whole lot of fun at parties or to fill a rainy day or 5.
Aaero 2 by Mad Fellows
I hadn’t played the original Aaero before sitting down to play the early demo of its sequel but a quick blast on Aaero 2 had convinced me that I need too. A rhythm game in which you guide a spaceship around the screen and along a ribbon of light, and by doing so keeps the music loud and clear, this was a really slick demo that made me feel like a total badass while I tapped my foot, nodded my head and otherwise got down to some pumping beats. There’s a long way to go for Aaero 2, with it unlikely to come out until late 2020 or 2021 but the vertical slice I played was thrilling enough to put it on my radar.
Phogs by Bit Loom Games
Ah Phogs. It’s just straight up lovely. I want to take both Red and Blue, the name of the dog heads at the ends of it’s sausage like body, home and feed them up and cuddle them. A peculiar puzzle game which can be played either as a single player or in co-op, the aim of the game is to use the heads of the Phogs to overcome obstacles. In the Demo at EGX, that involved playing with light. When one Phog head bites down on a glowing ball, the other head turns into a torch which can banish black blocks or light up semi-translucent bridges. It was a whole lot of fun to play at EGX and if the rest of the game can maintain the quality we saw on screen, this could be quite some game.
SkateBIRD by Glass Bottom Games
We’ve been keeping out eye on SkateBIRD since January when we included it in our “60 Indie Games To look out for in 2019” article. A skating game – a genre that’s currently nowhere near as popular as it should be – featuring cute birds. It’s a slam dunk of a pitch and one I was excited to get my hands on. Like I said in our EGX Podcast Special, I was a little disappointed with my very brief hands on with SkateBIRD on Day 2 of the show as it didn’t feel as fluid to play as I’d hoped. On the third day though, I stopped trying to play it like Tony Hawk Pro Skater and started to see that this has a feel all of its own. It’s more physics based than the big names in the genre and while it took a little getting used too, I eventually started hitting lines I was happy with. A grind along the pencil up to a kickflip on the vert, followed by another grind along some drinking straws and topping it off with a stall on the top of a ramp. All the while, I’m tweeting my little bird sized heart out. Sold. So very sold. Wishlist now. Go on.
Table Manners by Echo Chamber Games
Table Manners is akin to Surgeon Simulator with purposefully obtuse controls and physics based hilarity only instead of hacking away at a chest to get to the heart, you’re trying to warm the heart of the date sat across from you by fulfilling a number of objectives. Acts as simple as pouring a glass of wine or lighting a candle can result in all kids of mishaps, even setting the table ablaze, but completing them is all part of wooing the possible suitor sat across from you. I didn’t get to play Table Manners myself at EGX but Greg has been singing its praises ever since he sampled it and it took one look at the trailer to convince me this is one to keep an eye on.
Boundary by Surgical Scalpels
Greg had already convinced me that Boundary was going to be something special as he’d played it a few days before EGX 2019 began and had given me the heads up. I wasn’t quite prepared for how good it was going to be however. A first person shooter set in space, Boundary controls like a mix between the older Gundam games and Call of Duty. It’s fluid and brutal with everything from the gun noises (there’s no sci-fi weaponry here – it’s all modern day) suitably dulled by the lack of atmosphere but still incredibly satisfying to the pop and hiss you hear after cracking open the space suit of a foe giving this game a unique thematic feel. Varying builds cater to different play styles too, with ranged to close quarters weapons for you to experiment alongside gadgets like missiles and tracking beacons. While other shooters are now returning to the “boots on the ground” approach, Boundary is going completely the other way with tremendous effect and I, for one, will be there on day 1 for this fantastic shooter.
EverSpace 2 by Rockfish
I really quite enjoyed the original EverSpace but my biggest bugbear was its roguelike element. Having to re-tread much of the early stuff over and over again after making silly mistakes threatened to sully the obvious quality of the rest of the game. With EverSpace 2, developers Rockfish have removed this element and are going for an open world space epic approach instead which is likely to be warmly received by fans. Even in this early stage though, you can tell this isn’t going to be the only improvement over the original. The combat and flying felt amazing in the EGX 2019 demo and it looked sublime. There’s a long way ahead for EverSpace 2 with it releasing in 2021 but based on what I played, it’ll be one to keep an eye on because it’ll be worth the wait. There’s 12 days left on this games Kickstarter campaign so if you’re quick, you can get help it come to fruition too.
Stargrave Reapers by Spilt Milk Studios
I was quite sad when Spilt Milk killed Lazarus, their in-development twin stick shooter MMO, earlier this year. The moment to moment game play in Lazarus was among some of the most exhilarating I’ve experienced in the genre and it showed great promise. It’s fantastic then that the studio are retooling what worked in Lazarus for their new game Stargrave Reapers. This was an early demo but it immediately showed potential with momentum based flight with just the right amount of twitch and enemy combatants that were just smart enough to make me feel like a total bad ass when I destroyed them. After playing, I spoke to studio founder Andrew and he told me about some of the ambitious plans they have for Reapers. Rather than write them here and end up causing a fuss if they don’t come to fruition, you’ll have to take my word on it that if Spilt Milk’s plans for Stargrave Reapers come together, it’ll be an absolute banger. Also, check out Peck ‘N’ Run.
Unto The End by 2 Ton Studios
A lot of games have tried to replicate the magic of the Soul’s games on a 2D plane but Unto The End might be the game that ‘gets’ it the most. A game about a grizzled veteran who’s out to avenge the massacre of his family by a ferocious beast it looks and feels purposeful in everything it does. The demo I played demonstrated a nuanced and complex fight system about high and low attacks and blocks as well as reading your enemy to ensure you’re not just getting torn to pieces – and it will happen. A fresh and clean art style brings all this to life in a truly appealing way. Sold.
Recompile by Phigames
When Rossko played Recompile at EGX Rezzed in March, he described is as “a visual delight” with “an awful lot to get excited about“. It’s safe to say that all of the work that’s gone into this game since then has made it all the more enticing. Firstly – Ruddy hell this game looks fantastic. Like Tron meets WarGames with a splash of the much underrated Remember Me game for good measure, it’s gorgeous. It’s not just style over substance either as the game play in the demo was pure and concentrated fun. With AI enemies that were a real challenge to take on, the flying enemies avoiding my flanks with grace, it was a test but an enjoyable one. A new mechanic we’d not seen before – the ability to pick up and stack boxes to form structures to climb – was a welcome addition too. My only misgiving with my time with Recompile was that because the player character exudes light rather than being a physical entity, they have no shadow. Without a shadow to use as a basis on where I was in the air in regards to platforms below me, some of the platforming sections with a touch more difficult than they probably needed to be. Other than that though, Recompile flew instantly onto my radar as a game I desperately need to play when it releases next year. Wishlist it.
Warborn by Raredrop Games
I love a hex grid strategy game. It’s a genre I’ve really started to dive into this past hew years and when I first laid eyes on Warborn almost a year ago, it was love a first sight. An art style that’s akin to 90’s Anime, it’s really quite lovely in motion. That’s an aesthetic that’s matched by its depth – in the EGX 2019 demo I played, my faction who were attempting to take over a facility found themselves outnumbered. It took some deeply strategic wrangling to get through it unscathed. With special units that can sway the tide of a battle if used correctly, Warborn feels like a game that’s evolving what Armello and Insane Robots brought back to the genre in a really cool way.
So there you have it. 15 of my favourite indie games from the EGX 2019 show floor. Want more? We got you covered.