E3 2018 was not exactly packed full of indies as it was last year, especially with Microsoft only giving us a sizzle reel of all their “launch exclusive” indie games. The titles listed in the sizzle reel were all announced a year or more ago, compounding the viewers lack of interest in an already mediocre conference.
If Microsoft has old titles, the PC Gaming Show had mostly battle royale games despite making a joke about exactly that at the beginning. In between the royale games were a few space adventures like No Man’s Sky and a game where you played the shark in a popular vacation spot. A fascinating as the latter is, it is not a game that would hold anyone’s interest for more than hour at most.
There are no battle royale games on this list simply because of their current saturation in the market. If you are looking for the best in the sea of guns and open worlds, I suggest PUBG, Fortnite, and Realm Royale.
In addition, there were quite a few games too early in their development to show their true potential. They had a vague idea behind them, but the concept and gameplay needed to be reworked until the game is shaped into something coherent.
As such, we have picked those E3 indie games that had a clear idea of what they wanted to be, a distinct art style, and a concept that stood out from the rest. By clear idea, I mean an obvious intent to define the game’s genre and audience. We Happy Few, for example, has been on quite a journey regarding the latter.
During We Happy Few’s alpha period, the game was clearly a survival horror game with a vaguely defined audience. As the game progressed to the most recent trailer, the developers have added distinct RPG and narrative elements that were not there before. As such, We Happy Few is aiming for a much wider audience interested in more than just surviving their brave new world.
As to a distinct art style, this is usually where indie games shine. Even if they don’t have a solid concept, the art style seems to be the first thing developers pin down. But again, the games on this list must have all three attributes. To stand above the rest is probably the hardest thing to do, but these 15 Best E3 Indie Games Shown At E3 2018 manage it just fine, so let’s dive in!
Sea of Solitude
Sea of Solitude is a game developed by Jo-Mei and centers around the premise that “when humans get too lonely, they turn into monsters.” You play as Kay, a character who has already turned into a monster and the only ones that can help her change back, are other monsters.
In the trailer, we see Kay traveling through a flooded city. Despite such a clear disaster, the scene is beautiful. The ocean is a beautiful turquoise and the sun is shining brightly on the city and Kay’s little motorboat.
The buildings are bright orange, adding to the quintessential summer scene. It’s not all swimming and boarding, however, as we see in the trailer that the water can part around Kay as she runs through a hallway.
It is at this point that the sunshine turns to the dark and dreary night. It’s pouring rain and Kay is seeing running from other monsters, or at least it seems that way. The other monsters are much larger than Kay, all with the same black feathers that she has.
According to the CEO of Jo-Mei Cornelia Geppert, Sea of Solitude is very much a personal story. It was an idea Geppert wrote about a very low and lonely time in her life. She is clearly very proud to have turned it into the art form of video games. Though this is a fairly common indie game story, it was extremely touching to see her on stage at E3 and use the opportunity to share her story with so many people.
Sea of Solitude is coming to the PS4, Xbox One, and PC early 2019.
Unravel Two is the sequel to Unravel and follows in a similar vein. You play the part of Yarny, who lost his spark in a recent shipwreck. To find it, you must journey through a whole new wilderness – with a friend. Unlike the first game, Unravel Two is a couch co-op game. You can play it solo, but the developers, ColdWood Interactive, highly recommend that you grab a partner for the majority of the game.
ColdWood also made it clear that Unravel Two is not out to make you cry like the first game. Unravel Two is very much more lighthearted, despite what the trailer might imply. There are more exciting moments of peril too, like when a very enthusiastic grouse tries to get at the colorful Yarny.
If you’re looking for a bit of entertainment for the evening, Unravel Two is the perfect game to take up. You’ll have to work together to figure out the puzzles, and the game is short enough to finish in a few days, depending on your schedule.
Unravel Two is out now on the PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Ori and the Blind Forest was a game that broke our hearts with tragedy and the fight for love. Ori is a sweet little creature who was adopted by Naru, another creature of the forest. Tragedy strikes soon enough and Ori must go out on his own in hopes of saving the world. By the end of the game, we see an egg about to hatch – a new friend about to join the motley group.
In Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Ori partners with the new character, an owl-like creature. It is not clear if this means that some elements of the game are co-op, but the majority of the trailer showed Ori on his own again, wielding exciting new powers.
Much like the previous game, Will of the Wisps has even more intense platforming sections to do with timing and puzzles. Luckily, you will be able to save at any point in the game, just like the Blind Forest. Not much else is known about Will of the Wisps, but we can be sure that Moon Studios has concocted another story that will make our hearts ache.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps is coming to the Xbox and PC in 2019.
The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit
The Awesome Adventures of Captain is another game by Dontnod, adding to their Life Is Strange series. To be clear, it is not Life Is Strange 2, but rather a story built in the same universe. Captain Spirit is meant to build upon the world of previous games, showing us the perspective of one ten-year-old boy named Chris.
Chris, as so many little boys at his age, pretends to be a superhero. The story follows Captain Spirit’s many quests to explore undiscovered planets and find the most sought-after treasure. This is all in the aftermath of his mother’s death, three years after the events of Life Is Strange. Both Chris and his father struggle with acceptance, though Chris’ father does not have the advantage of becoming a superhero.
As with previous games, the game plays mostly like a visual novel, where the most a player does is choose specific dialogue options that affect the rest of the game. Not only that, your decisions in Captain Spirit will affect the story of Life Is Strange 2.
The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit is coming to the PS4, Xbox One, and PC on June 26, 2018. It will be absolutely free, no buying later episodes or chapters.
We Happy Few
If you ever wanted an example of a video game faithfully adapting a book, We Happy Few is the perfect example. That is not to say that We Happy Few depicts the events of Brave New World by Aldous Huxley or George Orwell’s 1984. Instead, We Happy Few embodies the world built by both authors. A world that is not only caught in a debilitating cycle of censorship like 1984 but made up of people who would prefer ignorance (Joy) over any kind of reality.
In We Happy Few, you play the part of Arthur Hastings. If the name sounds familiar, Hastings is a character from Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot detective series. It is only fitting that Hastings is a character that decides against taking Joy, the potent hallucinogenic drug taken regularly by the rest of the population. By doing this, Hastings is immediately cast out as a Downer, someone for whom Joy simply doesn’t work or have refused its many “benefits.”
Gameplay-wise, We Happy Few has changed over the years of its development. At first, it was simple survival horror. You would wake up in a certain area and be forced to make your way through the hostile world until you “escaped.” The latest update from the developers, however, suggests that there will be more RPG elements and playable characters. The trailer features far more story and characters, alluding to more involved gameplay than simple survival.
We Happy Few is coming to the PS4, Xbox One, and PC on August 10, 2018.
Sable is a game that stands out because of its art style. It is inspired by Studio Ghibli and other strong anime films, though of course greatly westernized. Sable is less about true gameplay than it is about exploration and coming-of-age tale.
You play the part of Sable, a young person exploring a beautifully rendered desert filled with ancient monuments, architecture, and “ships fallen from the cosmos.” Sable’s mission is to find out what happened to this ancient race and why they decided to stay. This all leads up to a rite of passage, to bring Sable into the next stage of her life. The lessons learned are of “life, family, and being a part of something greater than one’s self.”
Sable is coming to PC in 2019.
Ashen was announced in 2015 at Microsoft’s E3 press conference and has appeared yearly ever since. It is described as an action RPG with elements of Dark Souls. The player is a “lone wanderer in s sunless land,” the only light coming from a lantern you carry.
In the distance, you see a bright light – the sun is rising. In Ashen, your decisions matter. It is up to you whether or not you take your friends with you, or let them remain at camp where it is relatively safe.
Ashen features passive multiplayer (where the players you meet will have their own agenda – they can either work with you or against you), an open world of mountains, caves, and valleys, stamina based combat (not unlike Dark Souls), huge creatures (both hostile and friendly), and a town (where you bring the survivors you find out in the wild).
Ashen is coming the Xbox One and PC, though no release date has been set since the game was delayed in April.
As many fans anticipated, there is a DLC coming to Cuphead in the form of The Delicious Last Course. The DLC will introduce a new playable character, Ms. Chalice. This is described has having a “twist on the classic Cuphead moveset.” Furthermore, The Delicious Last Course features more levels, new weapons, charms, and bosses. All the content you could ever want from a Cuphead DLC.
They are sure to be just as, if not more, challenging than the rest of the game. Be sure to practice with your friends, as Ms. Chalice implies that three players will be able to join the arena.
Keep in mind that because Cuphead is completely hand drawn and animated, this DLC will take some time to come out. Be patient and will be even better than you imagined.
Cuphead’s The Delicious Last Course is coming to Xbox One and PC in 2019.
Tunic has often been compared to The Legend of Zelda series, as it is a third person fantasy adventure with a focus on dungeon crawling. The comparison is certainly in praise, as Tunic sports a lovely art style and very cute anthropomorphic fox as the player character.
The story of Tunic is a bit vague, described only as an action adventure where you can explore wilderness, discover ruins, and fight ancient creatures.
Again, Tunic captured our attention because of its art style and likeness to Zelda games. It has a lot of potential to be both a simple dungeon crawl in a beautiful world, and present a more in-depth story than Zelda was often able to accomplish.
Tunic is coming to the Xbox One and PC in 2019.
The Forgotten City
Inspired by the Forgotten City mod for Skyrim, developer Modern Storyteller is determined to make a full game for people to love whether or not they are fans of Skyrim. The Forgotten City will have new characters, full dialogue, changes to the original story, combat, wall-climbing mechanics, voice acting, and an orchestral score.
With all those bells and whistles comes a tantalizing murder mystery where you must travel through time to solve it. The forgotten city resides in Ancient Rome with 26 other travelers trapped because someone “broke a mysterious law.”
A portal lets you travel back in time to either solve the mystery and free the inhabitants, or “witness their deaths in a time loop for eternity.” As such, your choices matter. You can choose to charm or threat your way through problems and puzzles, depending what moral compass you decide your character has.
The Forgotten City is coming to PC only in 2019.
The Sinking City
From the developers of Sherlock Holmes: Devil’s Daughter comes The Sinking City, an open world Lovecraftian game with investigation thrown in for spice. The Sinking City is Frogwares’ most ambitious title, “bigger than anything we’ve ever made.”
The vast open world coupled with their expert investigation mechanics “is the right next step” for Frogwares. They have taken their experiences with all previous Sherlock Holmes games and brought it to The Sinking City for a unique Lovecraftian experience.
As you can see in the trailer, the elements of horror are very much present. The player character is a private investigator, trapped in Oakmont, Massachusetts. Unfortunately, Oakmont isn’t your regular truck-stop, the city is “suffering from unprecedented floods of supernatural origins.” In order to escape, the player must find the source of these supernaturals happenings, all the while trying not to be killed by them too.
The Sinking City is coming to the PS4, Xbox One, and PC on March 21, 2018.
If you enjoyed Her Story or This Is The Police, Night Call will be perfect for you. Animated entirely in black and white, Night Call is a narrative driven game. So driven, in fact, that you play the part of a taxi driver in Paris. You work the night shift and as such, get all kinds of characters in your backseat. Not only do you drive them where they need to go, but often provide the service of “a priest, a confidant, a friend.” People talk, it’s what they do.
This is all well and fine until “the police reveal that the recent murders shattering your city are connected.” All of the victims were your clients, you were the last one to see them. In order to find out who the real killer is, and save your own name in the process, you start your investigations. In the backseat of your taxi, the story slowly begins to unfold.
The decisions you make can influence which clues you will find and which you do not, so be sure to read your clients correctly – least they get defensive and bail your taxi.
Night Call is coming to PC only in early 2019.
Overkill’s The Walking Dead
Overkill’s The Walking Dead has revealed another gameplay trailer, showing us a little more of what the action really looks like. It seems that strategy will play a part, more than just approaching a rival site and hoping for the best. You will have to coordinate with the other players to best take the facilities down.
If you don’t quite recall, Overkill’s The Walking Dead is placed in the universe of the comic books where you and three other players try to survive. The post-apocalyptic state of Washington D.C. doesn’t make it easy, so be sure to keep your team on their toes even while a seemingly peaceful period.
It’s not all FPS and action though, Overkill’s The Walking Dead boasts a vibrant backstory for all the playable characters. You have Aiden, Heather, Maya, and Grant, each with their own skills, squad role, and play style.
Overkill’s The Walking Dead is coming to the PS4, Xbox One, and PC on November 6, 2018.
If you played Overcooked and thought you licked those levels no problem, check out the increasing chaos of Overcooked 2. The Ever Peckish is not the costumer you need to satisfy anymore, instead it is The Unbread – zombified bread.
As with the last game, Overcooked 2 features local and online multiplayer to your heart’s content. You can have as many or as few players as you like. The new game has brand new worlds and levels to explore, including sushi restaurants, magic schools, mines, alien planets, and even a hot air balloon. All look more insane than the last with even more moving parts and general chaos for the players to deal with.
Overcooked 2 has brand new recipes to add to the challenge of your burgers, steaks, and soups. If you are determined to face such a challenge, be sure to plan your strategy and know exactly where the fire extinguisher is on each level.
Overcooked 2 is coming to the PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch on August 7, 2018.
Afterparty is a narrative driven game played mainly with dialogue and mini-games. The latter are the kind popular to any college party like beer pong, dance-offs, karaoke and chugging competitions. The player takes control of two characters, Milo and Lola, who have both landed in Hell. The two best friends absolutely plan on getting out, but the catch is to outdrink Satan himself.
This isn’t an easy task, of course, as Milo and Lola must first find their way through the streets of Nowhere. The more parties you participate in, the more drinks you can find, like Liquid Courage, that will give you special dialogue options and abilities.
One of the features listed for the game is that you can “flirt with Satan,” which could not possibly go wrong. It is that kind of wit and wisdom that makes Afterparty look like a good time and great story of friendship. If you like the music you hear in the trailer, the soundtrack is produced and written by Scntfc, the same folks that did OXENFREE.
Afterparty is coming to PC in 2019.
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