It's that time of the year again when gamers around the world start jumping with joy, groaning with disappointment, excitedly jabber on their Twitch streams about how they’ve been waiting for some game or the other. It’s E3!
As with every E3, there were a huge number of screaming fans as developer after developer showcased their upcoming titles. Probably the most notable moment of this E3 was when Keanu Reeves showed up in Cyberpunk 2077. Other notable games that sparked interest were Watch Dogs: Legion, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and a not-so-well-received Avengers title.
But let’s take a step back from these mega corporations to look at what wonders indie game developers have been propping up this E3. After all, the world of gaming would be sorely incomplete if there weren’t any indie developers and small development studios to create cute and imaginative little games that take a step back from the heavy action and overwhelming visual effects the massive development studios deliver.
These games focus on story and role-playing rather than heavy graphics and animations, and there were plenty of these games showcased this time around. So, without beating on the bush, let’s take a look at some of the most notable indie games highlighted this E3.
No Straight Roads
Malaysia-based Indie developer Metronomik came out strong this year with a very promising game: No Straight Roads. The enemy is EDM and you’re out to take the evil EDM empire down using other music genres such as rock and classic. While you may think that this is yet another music-based game where you’re supposed to press the right buttons in time with the music, that is far from the truth. The game itself is an action adventure where you go around fighting bosses and turning props into weapons using the power of music!
You get companions who are skilled in other types of music and the whole thing is very visually attractive. The bosses themselves are “DJs” and you have to take them down while rocking it out to one song or the other.
It’s easy to think that what happens here is some music plays in the background while you take on the boss, but that is far from the truth. You have to go with the music and execute moves and counters based on the beat. All in all, a rather innovative idea with a lot of potentials, so I can’t wait to try it out!
Ori and the Will of the Wisps
From Moon Studios comes the sequel to a quite well-known indie game released back in 2015. Ori and the Will of the Wisps take off sometime after the first game, Ori and the Blind Forest. The recent E3 showed a gameplay trailer of what the game would look like, and fans were ecstatic to see that the colorfulness and cuteness of the game had been left in place while massively improving in graphics and other aspects. Of course, when I say cuteness, I mean the owls and spirits that go around running like little bunnies, not the giant spiders and other creatures they have to battle. And yes, as with most indie games, Ori and the Will of the Wisps continues the exciting storyline the previous game had been telling. If you had played the previous game, you would know not to let the fluffy exterior of the game fool you, because the story is quite tragic and captivating. Since the game is going to be out on PC as well as Xbox, I’m really looking forward to it.
Here’s an interesting tidbit about the development studio making this series: it’s completely remote. There is no office location and the developers of the game are dotted all around the world. Sure, we’ve heard of remote working a lot, especially in the software industry. But this is the first time I've heard of a game development company taking things online.
Way to the Woods
There isn’t much to say about this game since it has been covered by reviews just about everywhere. The preview we got of this indie game ‘Way to the Woods’ that has been in development for a few years was simply stunning with a beautiful soundtrack that brought out the uniqueness of the game. You follow a deer and its kid as they go through a world that has been abandoned by humans. This means you would be going through parts of a completely abandoned town such as train stations and city centers, while also avoiding a pack of wolves as well as any other danger we may not know of. There’s also a puzzle-based element to the game which you would have to solve to progress. The art style is quirky and the game itself seems to have everything you would expect out of a traditional indie game. What’s more, this game has a lot of fans following its development and if you’re one of them, I’d bet you’re ecstatic that the game has finally gotten a release date in 2020!
Now that we’ve covered a musical and an action adventure, let’s take a look at a pretty chilling interactive thriller indie game that was announced this E3. The simple two-minute E3 trailer that was shown managed to creep the hell out of me way more than anything had in quite a while, and it’s an absolute must-watch. The story is about a man who is trapped in a 12-minute time loop where a detective knocks on his door and accuses his wife of murdering her father. The man attempts to fight the detective which eventually ends up with him dead. Except he doesn’t die. He just gets thrown back to the beginning of the loop and has to relive those 12 minutes over and over again.
Throughout these twelve minutes, you get to explore the range of things he gets to do with the hope that eventually, you’ll find a way to break out of the loop while also protecting your wife. The game hasn’t been given a release date and details are sketchy; how the game will play out and how you would go about solving this mystery is also unknown. But we do know that the game will be out by 2020 and that it would probably be available for Xbox and PC. We just have to wait and find out!
Samurai Gunn 2
It would feel incomplete if I was to end this list without mentioning at least one pixel-art game. Samurai Gunn 2 was one of the multiplayer pixel art games that had piqued interest since the release of the first game all the way back in 2013. The game was oddly satisfying and worked well as an indie game, so naturally, everyone was a little excited when Samurai Gunn 2 was announced this E3.
While some people mention that the art style seems to be the same as the previous game, the developers point out that they've been keeping the art style same while improving on game mechanics and gameplay. Since games like this aren't hardcore, many people like to play them in a very relaxed environment which is what the developers attempt to create this time around.
Summing it all Up
If there’s one thing that puts indie games apart from the games released by most triple-A developers, it’s the love. When you are an individual developer or part of a small development team, you usually put your heart into the work you do, because you love your final product. It’s like raising a child. You aren’t doing it to get some cash, but rather because you want to do it. Another reason that indie games generally fare better than triple-A games is that they aren't scrutinized down to the last pixel, and since they’re pretty cheap, people like to accept them for what they are as long as they deliver up to their value. That being said, the indie lineup for 2020 seems pretty exciting, so let’s keep the excitement going and keep our fingers crossed.