Though massive developers and publishers like DICE, Bungie and Ubisoft can throw hundreds of people at a project, having so much money, so many jobs and such high expectations pinned on your game can lead to developers taking a relatively safe route with their game design.
Certainly, trying to attract an audience is a concern for indie developers, but they’re much more able to experiment with new ideas, hone in on a particular niche and even push the boundaries of what games can do. Then again, they could simply be catering to an audience for a genre that has fallen into obscurity among the big name publishers.
Indie games can also be quite difficult to pin down – not least because they can so often be delayed – so here’s just a handful of the indie games that we’re expecting to see in 2017.
Absolver looks quietly fantastic. Gorgeous graphics combine with martial arts-based combat and the kinds of levelling and character improvement that could easily hook themselves into you over the long term, this is a rather ambitious indie game. That’s especially true when you consider that it’s not just sinlgeplayer, but features both PvE cooperative play through the dungeon mines of the ruined Adal Empire and in PvP arenas.
Absolver was recently announced for a PlayStation 4 console release at PlayStation Experience, as well as coming to PC. Cross your fingers for it to keep its 2017 release as well.
After the excellence of Bastion and Transistor, people ought to sit up and take notice of what Supergiant Games do, even if only for the soundtracks. Pyre is their latest game, and it’s charting new territory for the studio as they tackle multiplayer for the first time. Admittedly, it’s two player local multiplayer mode (though there’s the possibility it might become online at some point), but that demonstrates the direction that the single player game’s battles have taken.
In a high fantasy world, you happen upon a group of exiles who invite you to join them upon discovering that you can read, as they travel purgatory looking to defeat other exiles and cleanse their souls. Fights see you trying to destroy the other team’s pyre with orbs that drop in the middle of the map, while defending your own from damage. It sounds like there’s plenty of nuance to it, as it blends elements of MOBAs and even Rocket League with Supergiant’s previous work.
Pyre is coming to PlayStation 4 and Windows some time in 2017.
Just on the art style alone, I completely fell for Tokyo 42’s open world sandbox, with tiny little people walking around the miniaturised rooftop city of Neo Tokyo. The game throws you right in the deep end, though, as you’ve been accused of murder and have to try to set the record straight… by becoming an assassin.
There’s a great sense of humour to the world’s design, and there’s more than a little bit of the classic GTA DNA in the game’s inspirations. You can also throw bananas and have cats follow you and sniff out enemies.
Tokyo 42 is set for release on PS4, Xbox One and PC during 2017.
It feels like What Remains of Edith Finch has been in development for absolutely ages, and that’s partly because it has! First announced as a PlayStation 4 exclusive back in 2014 at the first PlayStation Experience event, this is the second game from Giant Sparrow, the developers behind Unfinished Swan. It was originally planned for release in 2016, but has, as you might have guessed, slipped to 2017.
What Remains of Edith Finch is a collection of strange stories that surround the Finch family household. As you explore the house, you delve into the past and the final day of each family member’s death, from the distant past to the present day, as Edith tries to discover why she’s the only Finch left.
No, this is not a game based off that scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, nor is it a horror game, as you might half expect from the title. Instead, Night in the Woods is a narrative driven exploration-based adventure game in which you play an anthropomorphic cat named Mae, who recently dropped out of college and has returned home.
Having been funded on Kickstarter back in 2013, it’s taken a while, but Night in the Woods is set to release on PS4, Windows, Mac and Linux in February 2017.
Originally funded on Kickstarter and then with Team17 coming along to help publish the game, Yooka-Laylee looks like a fantastic and loveable step back to the glory days of platforming. Created by a bunch of Rare veterans at Playtonic Games, its name invokes Banjo-Kazooie, and so too does the chameleon and bat duo.
The game’s looking great, and doesn’t lean too heavily on the overwrought collectathon mechanics of the late 90s and early 00s. The one fly in the ointment was that people were hoping to be able to play it this year. Unfortunately, it was delayed to 2017 and should come out with a good lick of polish.
It’s set for release on 11th April and is coming to PS4, Xbox One, PC. The Wii U version has fallen by the wayside, but Paytonic are looking at a Nintendo Switch version down the line. In the meantime, pre-ordering the game will get you access to the Yooka-Laylee Toybox demo.
Following on from the original Outlast is going to be no easy feat. That game was a big success towards the start of the generation, when horror games were very few and very far between. Moving on from the asylum that was the scene of the original, Outlast 2 takes you to a dilapidated village near the Sonoran Desert, with journalist Blake Langermann seperated from his wife in a helicopter crash.
Just as before, all you’re armed with is a videocamera, but this time around it’s got a few frills like having a clearer image, a zoom and audio detection, in addition to the battery sapping night vision.
Expect to be jumping out of your skin on PS4, Xbox One and PC in Q1 2017.
Another game that’s seemingly been in development for absolutely ages, Hellblade was also first announced back during Gamescom 2014, but this was incredibly early during the development cycle, as Ninja Theory looked to bring people into the process of active game development. Week by week, dev diary by dev diary, we see Hellblade taking shape, as they aim for the lofty heights of their “Indie AAA” self-branding.
While the original plan was to release the game in 2016, a number of factors led to it being delayed until 2017, as producer Dominic Matthews explained in the above video. When it does release, it will be coming to PlayStation 4 and PC.