Six Upcoming Indie Games Worth Keeping An Eye On

It feels like every year we see the release of higher quality independently developed games. With digital distribution quickly becoming the norm for PC games, and with digital distribution avenues available for all of the major home consoles, it’s never been easier for developers (often small one- or two-man teams) to ditch demanding publishers and self-publish instead.

Along with the ease of self-publishing, however, comes plenty of sub-par games. In order to help you separate the games better left undownloaded from those destined to become classics, I’ve compiled here a list of upcoming games that will almost certainly be worth your time and money.

Monaco

Release Date: Unknown
Available For: PC and at least one console

Everyone loves a good heist. Hollywood continues to churn out big budget, well-received films like Reservoir Dogs, Ocean’s Eleven, Heat, and Inception. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about the gaming industry, which has a severe lack of high quality heist-type games. Andy Schatz of Pocketwatch Games is looking to change that with Monaco.

Monaco is a stealth-action coop game that tasks players with infiltrating an area in order to, well, steal things. Before each mission each player chooses a class. The Hacker, for example, is quick at shutting down security systems for other players, while The Muscle is good at hitting things in the face. Success comes from players using their strengths to work together to infiltrate their target, avoid guards, and get out safely.

There is no firm release date yet for Monaco, but it has been demoed at gaming conferences like GDC. I haven’t seen any bad press from people who have been able to play it, and it’s personally one of my most anticipated game releases.

SpyParty

Release Date: Unknown
Available For: PC, Mac, Xbox 360, and Playstation 3

I’m stealing a line from the game’s website here, as it does a better job of summing up the game than I ever could:

SpyParty is an asymmetric multiplayer espionage game, dealing with the subtlety of human behavior, character, personality, and social mores, instead of the usual spy game explosions and car chases.

Sounds pretty ambitious, doesn’t it?

In SpyParty‘s main mode two players compete against each other head to head, with one player taking the role of The Spy and the other playing The Sniper. The Spy attempts to complete his mission, which could be anything from bugging an NPC to stealing a statue, while remaining as incognito as possible in a room full of NPCs. The Sniper tries to pick out the sole human controlled player from the crowd and take him out before he can finish his mission.

Chris Hecker, the developer, looks to be taking his time with this one and there isn’t a firm release date yet, but so far everything about the game looks incredibly original and fun.

The Witness

Release Date: 2012
Available For: PC, Xbox 360, Playstation 3

The Witness is an upcoming title from Jonathan Blow, developer of the excellent Braid. Unsurprisingly, The Witness looks to share some of Braid’s mysterious intrigue.

People who have demoed early versions of The Witness describe it as a puzzle/exploration game, but not much more than that is known about the gameplay. Players wander the island shown above, completing various puzzles at their leisure. Most of Braid‘s charm came from exploration and discovery, so it’s not likely we’ll see many more gameplay details before release.

Blow is in no hurry to finish The Witness, and the game has a tentative release date of sometime in 2012.

Nidhogg

Release Date: Unknown
Available For: PC

Nidhogg doesn’t look like much at first, but after watching a few videos its appeal starts to show. It’s sword fighting at its most basic, distilled down to only the essentials.

Each player’s goal is simple: run to the opposite end of the map. Getting there is the tricky part, as each player is also trying to impede the progress of the other player by stabbing them. The opposing player’s death grants you a bit of time to run unopposed, but the other player respawns after just a few seconds.

While Nidhogg looks nearly finished its developer hasn’t hinted at a release date or even any release plans so there’s no telling when (or even if) we’ll be able to get our hands on it.

Hawken

Release Date: December, 2012
Available For: Most likely PC, Xbox 360, and Playstation 3

It’s been a while since the gaming industry has seen a decent mech combat game, but Hawken is looking to change that.

Hawken features game modes that should be familiar to anyone who has played a multiplayer FPS, but instead of playing as just a squishy human you get to take control of a few dozen tons of solid steel. The gameplay changes a mech provides should make for an interesting experience not found in the multitudes of first person shooters out there.

For an indie title Hawken looks fantastic. It’s running on the Unreal Engine so plenty of pretty graphical effects are present in addition to the amazing mech models and landscapes.

Hawken is gearing up for closed beta testing now, and official release is scheduled for December 12th of this year.

Prison Architect

Release Date: 2013
Available For: PC

After scrapping (at least temporarily) plans for their game Subversion, development studio Introversion has turned their attention to Prison Architect.

As its name might imply, Prison Architect is all about managing the intricacies of a prison. You decide everything from cell layouts to window placement, trying to figure out the optimal setup to contain a certain number of prisoners.

Fans of simulation titles like Bullfrog’s Theme Hospital or Maxis’s Sim Tower should find plenty to like about Prison Architect when it releases. Introversion is planning on releasing a paid alpha version later this year, with the full game potentially releasing in early 2013.

  • http://profiles.google.com/jonathonwisnoski jonathon wisnoski

    Nidhogg is a weird case.
    It has been doing the indie gaming festival circuit for years now without any changes.
    I am pretty sure the consensus is that the developer does not want to ever release it (and that it has been finished for quite some time), just keep showing it at festivals.At some point in the future the developer might release it, but I for one lost interest a year ago (I would not play it if he did).

  • Not This guy


    I would not play it if he did)”

    You go girl.