One of the greatest supporters of indie game developers in the last five years has been Sony. When the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita occasionally felt like they were losing a little momentum, great indie games like Thomas Was Alone, Dead Nation, Guacamelee! and more were there to add a little spice.
With the PlayStation 4, we’re seeing even bigger and bolder new games from small independent teams, but a number of these continue to be supported and fostered on the PlayStation by Sony.
It’s the obvious game to top a list such as this; No Man’s Sky is easily one of the most anticipated games of 2016. Ever since Hello Games revealed it at VGX two years ago, its vast scale has managed to capture the imaginations of avid gamers. It is literally an entire simulated universe that no one will ever fully explore, with over 18 quintillion planets to visit. It’s highly likely you will head out into the vastness of space and see something or visit a location that no one else, not even the developers, will ever experience.
And if you’re the first to discover something in the No Man’s Sky universe you’ll get to name it. The game features space combat, planet exploration, and resource mining, but what the central motivation is has only ever been hinted at by Hello Games. We know all players will be encouraged to make their way to the centre of the universe, and that a malevolent force is present, but outside that we’ll just have to wait until June.
Thekla Inc’s The Witness was first reported on over six years ago but very little was heard about it for a long while from Jonathan Blow and his team. The game was originally set for a 2011 release date for multiple platforms, but due to the scope of the project that never came to bear, and as the game became became a more demanding prospect the decision was made to skip release for PS3 and Xbox 360, with the PS4 being the main console platform of choice. There was the announcement The Witness would release during the PS4’s launch window, but again the decision was made to delay.
Jonathan Blow then spoke more about the project stating that the exploration puzzle title could contain enough content to last between 25 to 40 hours. That was a couple of years ago. The silence was once again broken three months ago when the announcement was made that The Witness would release on January 26th.
Hellblade was revealed by Ninja Theory during Gamescom 2014, with some speculating that it was a sequel to Heavenly Sword, However that isn’t the case and instead Ninja Theory will be exploring the story of a Celtic warrior called Senua, and her battle with mental illness. This manifests in a type of internal hell in which Senua fights her personal demons that plague her every living moment.
Hellblade is set in a world which is inspired by the Viking’s mythical Helheim. The world won’t be chock full of enemies, meaning you can explore some areas in peace without having to hack and slash through the demons. Hellblade is being created on a rather small budget, with Ninja Theory stating that 300,000 sales would be enough to make the game’s budget back.
Heavy Spectrum Entertainment Labs first revealed the remake of the Amiga classic Shadow of the Beast in 2013, but like many games on this list, there was quite a long silence that followed this. Then earlier this year the first screens appeared for the title, showing a very yellow Karamoon. The main beast Aarbron also looked very menacing, but it wasn’t until the most recent Paris Games Week trailer where we saw him in action, ripping foes apart.
In Shadow of the Beast you’ll be able to devour the souls of fallen allies to obtain more powers, while killing enemies will also feed Aarbron’s bloodlust. Though a release date has never been officially announced both the PS Store and the game’s official page have the game pegged for a March 2nd release.
Housemarque’s Alienation is a twin stick shooter with an emphasis on multiplayer and teamwork, in a world where Earth has been invaded by aliens. There is up to four player co-op available with three different classes available, and a variety of loot and weapons which allow for different approaches in the war. Housemarque has stated that running and gunning will not find a lot of success, with tactical play being the best way to push through the alien ranks.
It all looks like it could be another excellent arcade shooter from the team, and the wait might not be all that long. Again, while a release date hasn’t been confirmed, the official page lists a 23rd March 2016 drop.
Campo Santo announced Firewatch earlier this year as a console exclusive for PS4. The game is set in Wyoming and features a fire lookout called Henry. In the aftermath of the 1988 Yellowstone fires, his job is to patrol the Wyoming wilderness and prevent another disaster, with only the company of his supervisor, Delilah. However, Delilah can only keep in contact with Henry through radio, as he is drawn deeper into a mystery.
Through each part of the exploration Henry’s decisions will affect his relationship with Delilah, with either positive or negative consequences. Firewatch will be launching February 9th.
Amplitude last appeared on console in 2003 gaining a decent fanbase. In May 2014 Harmonix announced a Kickstarter for a new entry of the series to appear on PS3 and PS4, and the funding attempt was successful. It was also revealed that a lot of the original Amplitude team would be involved. When it was funded Harmonix stated that this new Amplitude would contain original music instead of relying heavily on licensed music, with over 20 songs making the cut.
Amplitude also has a plot where the ships are actually flying around the memories of a person called Mari to help bring her back to life. It will support four player matches where everyone will have to do their best to obtain the highest score, while at the same time try to disrupt the progress of opponents. Amplitude is one of the earliest releases of 2016, getting a general release on January 5th. Kickstarter backers should expect codes in the near future.
Drinkbox Studios announced Severed a couple of years ago and had hoped to release the game by 2015, but delayed it until early 2016 in order to polish it further. Oh, and it’s a PlayStation Vita game!
The creators of Guacamelee! have carried over the art style of their 2013 hit to Severed, but little else. Instead of being a sidescrolling metroidvania Severed is a first person combat title in which the Vita’s touch screen will be utilised to carry out fights.
In Severed you control a character called Sasha who must venture through various areas and defeat various bosses. Once they are defeated Sasha can take elements of them to make herself stronger, which in turn allow players to explore previously inaccessible areas. Severed will contain some puzzles too.