The indie games you should have on your radar this Fall.
Welcome to the new Indie Spotlight, a now-monthly feature where we focus on five indie games that you should be paying attention to. For October there's a wide variety of titles to get excited about, from new twists on the horror and metroidvania genres to a game that is carrying the torch for a forgotten strategy classic.
5. Serial Cleaner
It's no secret that games place a particular premium on violence. Games at their core do a fine job of replicating our primal survival urges and instincts, and direct conflict is an immediately satisfying form of interactivity. Stealth games are a nice counterpoint to this, tasking players with slowing down, being careful, and drawing as little attention to itself as possible. If Hotline Miami is gaming's ultimate love letter to violence, then Serial Cleaner is a perfect thematic compliment.
In Serial Cleaner, the bloody massacre has already happened, the cops are already investigating, and you have to clean up the mess and discard all the evidence before they find it. Its abstract, angular aesthetic is appealing and the stealth gameplay looks to provide a satisfying challenge. Serial Cleaner is currently available on Steam Early Access, and is getting positive reviews.
Sundered comes from Thunder Lotus Games, developers of the drop-dead gorgeous Jotun. Like that game, the first thing that grabs your attention about Sundered is the visuals: it's as well animated as anything Disney or Ghibli has created.
It's not just pretty, however. Sundered is an extremely fluid looking sidescrolling metroidvania, giving you a big, procedurally generated world to explore and battle your way through. Sundered is set for release sometime in 2017, and we will have more as it becomes available.
3. Tiny Metal
Remember Nintendo's outstanding Advance Wars series? The portable strategy game franchise last saw an entry 8 years ago, which is criminal considering how exceptional they all were. Indie developer Area 34 remembers, and their Kickstarter campaign for Tiny Metal promises to recapture the dormant series' adorable strategic spirit.
Area 34 is asking for $50,000 to reach their goal, and are currently sitting at a little under half that with only 8 days remaining. It's looking like the campaign is going to cut it close, so if you think Tiny Metal looks interesting it's obvious that Area 34 would appreciate the support. It should be mentioned that Tiny Metal is one of precious few Kickstarter campaigns out there to offer a concrete prototype demo instead of just a video. Nothing like a playable proof of concept, right?
2. The Sexy Brutale
IGN's Andrew Goldfarb described The Sexy Brutale as "Dishonored meets Groundhog Day," and it really is impossible to think of a more concise description than that. The Sexy Brutale thrusts players into a stylish murder mystery as an outlier granted power by a supernatural force. Whereas Dishonored's Corvo is gifted with all kinds of crazy assassination powers, your avatar in The Sexy Brutale is given the ability to consciously relive the same 12-hour timespan over and over.
The gameplay loops is palpably satisfying, even on paper: you creep around the titular mansion during a masquerade ball, peering in on the lives of staff and guest alike in order to prevent an inevitable series of murders from happening. You might witness a member of the staff murder a guest with a rifle, and decide on your next "reset" to rig the gun for failure, thus allowing you to save the guest. After saving a guest and liberating them from this nightmarish loop, you take their mask for yourself and are bestowed new abilities.
The Sexy Brutale looks stylish, bizarre, and fun enough to match.
1. Hello Neighbor
Hello Neighbor is a voyeuristic game of spy-and-seek that pits players against an AI that learns from their actions and behavior. Playing on the old "curiosity killed the cat" adage that inspired Hitchcock's Rear Window, Hello Neighbor tasks players with invading their neighbor's home in search of the possibly nefarious happenings inside. The neighbor learns from your ever move, capitalizing on your mistakes and repeated behaviors to keep you on your toes and in a constant state of paranoia. A Pixar-inspired art style gorgeously rendered in Unreal Engine 4 rounds out the package.
Hello Neighbor is another big indie to look forward to in 2017.