As E3 starts winding down, I think it’s safe to say that no matter what genre you’re into, you’ve seen something over the last few days to get totally stoked about. I know I have (Call of Cthulhu and DOOM: Eternal; please don’t be too expensive!) But whilst these massive triple-A games are getting everyone more excited than a Ninja Turtle with a pizza coupon, and though some games from independent studios are getting some attention at E3, it’s important to remember that indie titles from small studios get nothing like the recognition they should. This really irks me, especially when these are the games that contain the most powerful narratives and the most unique experiences. So for anyone that would like to stray a little from the much beaten path of E3, here are five indie titles currently in development that I’d like to put on your radar, and that deserve as much love and hype as anything revealed in the last few days.
Incredibly stoked about this title. Currently being developed by Rose Engine, Signalis is a dark, sci-fi survival horror game that appears to be equal parts shooter and puzzler. The teaser trailer is extremely well made, but checking out the game’s website is what really got me excited. Though a little short on story (the protagonist searches ruins for means of escape), the game is in some part influenced by my all-time favourite author H.P. Lovecraft, and the developers have posted on the game’s page a tantalisingly juicy line from one of his works, The Festival:
“Great holes secretly are digged where Earth’s pores ought to suffice, and things have learnt to walk that ought to crawl.”
Creepy stuff right? Survival horror isn’t generally my thing but throw in some puzzles and Lovecraft references and I’ll lap it up like a frappe on a hot day.
Currently seeking some backing on Kickstarter, Crime Code is a noir detective thriller featuring a variety of gameplay elements, including evidence collection, computer hacking, and tough decision making set in a dystopic alternate reality: 1970s Chicago (except that the internet has been invented). You play as Martin Gray, a cynical detective new to the area investigating the murder of a mayoral candidate, whilst using a huge number of methods to gain information. Hard evidence, informants, hacking, social engineering, blackmail, it’s all in play. It has a great aesthetic, opting for a low-res look whilst still feeling incredibly slick. It has a long way to go yet before reaching it’s goal however, so I’ll be watching its progress with bated breath.
Jenny LeClue – Detectivu
No, I promise that’s not a typo, I checked three times! Another detective game but this time with a lightier, chirpier theme, Jenny LeClue -Detectivu is an alluring 2-D episodic adventure with bright visuals but a dark and tangled mystery. Playing as the titular Jenny LeClue, the player must exonerate Jenny’s mother of murder and find the real killer, as well as uncover sleepy Arthurton’s mysterious secret. Sounds similar to many other titles I know, but JL-D offers some interesting tweaks to the standard fare. In addition to promising a rewarding experience for players that like to poke and prod at every object, the game offers ‘dialogue with a twist’: during dialogue scenes the player can move the camera and observe individuals at different angles for visible signs of guilt which may otherwise have gone unnoticed. The game also has a narrator/guide, but his presence and backstory can be affected by Jenny’s choices. I have no idea what that implies but I am anxious to find out! The first installment of Jenny LeClue – Detectivu should hit Steam before Christmas, and I’ll be watching its twitter anxiously for new updates.
In the Valley of Gods
Probably the highest billed title in this list, In the Valley of Gods is being developed by Campo Santo, the same peeps who brought us Firewatch. Though Campo Santo have recently announced that they’re going to be merging with overlords Valve, production of ItVoG is expected to proceed as normal. Set in archeology’s golden era of 1920s Egypt, this game is a first-person adventure where you play disgraced former filmmaker/explorer Rashida, on a journey to find an unprecedented archaeological discovery. One snag: you’ve had to partner up with fellow explorer Zora, whom you vowed never to work with again. In the Valley of Gods, like Firewatch, looks to be an immersive and gripping mystery adventure that should get plenty of attention in the run-up to its release next year.
If you enjoy games that contain a healthy dose of ‘What the f***!!’ then Vaesen looks like the game for you. Currently being developed by Dimfrost Studios, Vaesen is still very much a work in progress. There are very few details in terms of plot and premise, all we really know from a couple of short teasers is that the player controls a small gnome-like figure on the run from some evil demonic-looking witch thing. Seriously, check out the trailer and tell me that thing is not the weirdest, scariest, creepiest face you’ve ever seen. The fact that it’s so life-like as well makes it all the more terrifying. There are currently no details on release dates but just based on sheer weirdness alone, it gets a spot on my watchlist.
And that’s my list! There are tons of others I could name but they may have to wait for a later post. Are there any captivating new titles you’re currently watching like a kid in a toy store in December? Let me know in the comments! Until next time,