While we couldn’t possibly hope to feature all the independent games in the works within Ones to Watch, there’s some great looking games in both this game and our first collection of indies.
Without much further ado, here’s a game all about balls.
Yoku’s Island Express
Platforms: PS4, XBO, Switch, PC – Release date: 2018
I’ve never really been good at pinball, and it’s probably for that reason that I’ve rarely seen the appeal of pinball video games or the draw of the cabinets in real life. While Yoku’s Island Express might have pinball in its soul, this adorable adventure is really an open world metroidvania.
While Yoku is a tiny dung beetle, pushing a shiny pinball around, using pinball-esque bumpers and flippers to propel it through paths carved into the world in a manner that reminds me of LocoRoco. Yoku has to journey through this world trying to wake an ancient island god from his nightmares that are causing all kinds of havoc on Mikumana Island. Then, finally, he might be able to get back to his real job as the island’s new postman!
Super Meat Boy Forever
Platforms: PS4, XBO, Switch, PC, Mac, Linux, iOS, And – Release date: 2018
Super Meat Boy Forever is decidedly less adorable, featuring lots of whirling buzz saws and a protagonist that bleeds on everything he touches. Lovely.
Forever is the long awaited sequel to the 2010 platforming hit, but Team Meat are taking a massive gamble and dramatically changing how the game plays. Instead of having direct control over Meat Boy, it plays more like an endless runner (without actually being one) with a mobile friendly two button control scheme that lets your jump, bounce of walls, duck, dash in midair and force yourself to the ground.
Platforms: Switch, PS4, XBO, PC – Release date: 2018
There’s a lot of love for the classic Advance Wars turn-based strategy series, but Intelligent Systems are really doubling down on the Fire Emblem games of late, having rekindled interest in their tactical RPGs. Thankfully developers like Chucklefish Games are more than happy to revisit the particular genre, style and feel, answering prayers of those that loved Advance Wars.
Wargroove is that game, and while it has a retro pixel art style, it comes with a fantasy theme to its battling. It’s coming to PS4, Xbox One and PC, but definitely feels like it will be most at home on Nintendo Switch, especially with the possibility of pass and play multiplayer and support for up to four players.
Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom
Platforms: PS4, XBO, Switch, PC – Release date: 2018
The Wonder Boy series’ return is as wonderfully convoluted as it was unexpected. Last year’s Wonder Boy III: The Dragon’s Trap was very well received, having been recreated from the ground up by Lizardcube, but separately to this Game Atelier have been creating a spiritual sequel called Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom. They don’t hold the rights to the Wonder Boy name, but with series creator Ryuichi Nishizawa supporting both of these games, they’re both true to the world.
Read up on Monster Boy from Gamescom!
Despite the different developers, you will find lots of similar ideas in the gameplay, as you switch between various animal forms. Each form has differerent abilities, such as the frog being able to create ice bridges, the pig being able to sniff out secrets, and the basic human form being able to use items, such as iron boots to sink to the bottom of the ocean.
Here’s hoping this one can keep the series’ revival going.
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux – Release date: 2018
The first Xenonauts almost missed the boat. Despite having been in development long before XCOM: Enemy Unknown kicked the turn based strategy genre back into public consciousness, it actually came out a couple years after, and while it has its classic X-COM styled charms (note the hypen), it didn’t achieve the same level of critical acclaim. Still, it’s led to Xenonauts 2.
While set in a similar scenario to the first Xenonauts, Goldhawk Interactive are being freer in trying to improve upon the classic X-COM formula, instead of replicating it. The first step of that is setting it in an alternate timeline, though still featuring a Cold War-era Earth and an alien invasion. They’re working to build a more engaging story to follow through a campaign, as well as advancing the game’s tech by having a 3D engine for a rotateable camera, improved graphics, more tactical options on the Geoscape and more.
This will still be classic X-COM, but with more modern thought behind it, and you can check out an early demo right now.
Platforms: PS4, XBO, PC – Release date: 2018
Another Cold War era turn-based tactical game, but one that embraces more human foes of the time period. You lead The Cabal, an independent secret service whose sole aim is to try and take down a global conspiracy that’s pitting different leaders and nations against one another.
There’s some great ideas to this one, such as being able to dive deep into having double agents, brain washing, MK Ultra, fake identities and more, while trying to track and foil each conspiracy threat as it appears. You’ll have to try to collect clues, search for related code words and piece together where an enemy base is before going on a mission to take it down. While on a mission, it’s XCOM-like turn-based stealth and combat that are the order of the day.
Having cut their teeth in the genre with Hard West, CreativeForge Games are keen to step it up for their second attempt.
Where The Water Tastes Like Wine
Platforms: PC – Release date: Early 2018
What really stands out with Where the Water Tastes Like Wine is a gorgeous art style and a form that might be more akin to visual novel, albeit in a more interactive form. Set in1930s Prohibition America, you play a hitchhiker roaming the country, meeting others and sharing stories over campfires while picking up odd jobs to survive.
There’s a talented voice cast behind it, including Dave Fennoy (The Walking Dead), Cissy Jones (Firewatch), Kimberly Brooks (Mass Effect) and… Sting. Yes, Sting.
That’s all for this round up, as we race to finish Ones to Watch this week. Sadly, there’s so many games in development that we couldn’t hope to include them all, and that’s especially true of independent developers.