Indie Devs Are Taking Over: The 10 Hottest Indie Games from GDC 2017

Indie devs are taking over.

Every year at GDC, The Mix puts on a showcase of some of the industries top games by indie developers. This year, video game journalist Danny O’Dwyer was one of the lucky few who was invited to sit down with some top indie game devs to preview their upcoming games.

“We’ve reached a point in time where the surge of tools and talent flooding into indie games has made the quality so much higher than it’s ever been. Indie games have raised the bar in terms of style, presentation, and sheer variety of experiences. And nowhere is that better showcased than The Mix.”

These developers are bold and not afraid to take risks, so we wanted to highlight the unique and outstanding elements that will make the gaming world stand up and take notice.

Here’s where you come in:

Indie devs don’t have the massive marketing and PR budgets of corporate games. If you are passionate about indie games share your favorites and help these games get the exposure they deserve. #gdc17



Danny O’Dwyer’s favorite elements from 10 of the hottest upcoming indie games:

Little Bug

Team: Bela Messex

Release Date: Demo available now on on itch. Full release in 2017

Gameplay:  Little bug is a side-scrolling platformer that uses a unique twin stick control system to control 2 characters at once, the main character and her companion spirit. You must use them both in tandem to creatively solve fast-paced puzzles and progress through the game.

Standout quality: The game mechanics.

Little Bug uses a refined and intuitive physics engine to give the game an ethereal feel that compliments the game well. But perhaps more importantly, Bela has created a very well-designed learning curve. Within a few minutes of playing the game, you have started to internalize these new controls and are using them to make complex maneuvers to progress in the game.

Old Man’s Journey

Team: Broken Rules

Release Date: Late 2017

Gameplay: This game allows you to control an elderly man, uncovering and revisiting touching moments from his past as you journey across a facsimile of Europe. It’s a beautiful display of personal storytelling that takes you on an emotional journey.

Standout quality: The pace.

The pace of Old Man’s Journey is refreshing and stands in stark contrast to the frenetic nature of many games today. This game is designed to give you the experience of enjoying and being in the moment and the narrative.

Shakedown Hawaii

Team: Brian Provinciano (creator of Retro City Rampage)

Release Date: 2017

Gameplay: Shakedown Hawaii is an open world adventure type game like Grand Theft auto with the hilarious premise of completing missions to sabotage competing businesses throughout Hawaii to build your corporate empire.

Standout qualities:

1. It’s graphically incredible. It looks absolutely gorgeous for a retro-inspired game. They have about 40 frames of animations for every hair model they have in the game.

2. The Character: Each mission must work within the bounds of the hilarious premise of this game, which makes for a funny charm subverts your expectations and makes it a pleasure to play.

Secret Legend

Team: Andrew Shouldice

Release Date: Early 2018

Gameplay: An isometric Zelda-like where you play as a fox. It allows you to explore this big open world with lots of interesting enemies, collecting interesting weapons to use along the way.

Standout quality: The animation set

A combination of the gameplay, art style and remarkable animation make for an incredibly memorable game.

Songbringer

Team: Nathanial Weis

Release Date: Summer 2017

Gameplay: Similar to our last game, this is another zelda-style rpg that manages to stand out with it’s incredible character. You have a robot companion that follows you around, looting the corpses of the demons and porcupines you slay.

Standout qualities: The world that’s been created.

Songbringer is a visual feast that features an interesting story with original characters, attacks, and easter eggs, resulting in a unique and engrossing world, a quality that is so important to these types of games.

How to follow along:

Songbringer official website

Keyboard Sports

Team: Triband

Release Date: Fall 2017

Gameplay: This game’s defining feature is that it utilizes EVERY key on your keyboard to control your character. You control a character named Tip, who is guided through mastering a collection of different minigames by a master in a dojo named… Master QWERTY. The game looks great, is super fun, self-aware and features an incredible amount of keyboard puns. 

Standout quality: The control scheme.

The idea behind this game was to utilize the entire keyboard as a controller and xxxx executed wonderfully on this premise. This unique control scheme makes the game unlike any other and makes it extremely fun to learn and play. Describing it doesn’t do it justice.

Staxel

Team: Liam Goodman

Release Date: Currently in limited release on their website.

Gameplay:

Staxel is a game that takes the tired Minecraft-like template and creates a more open-ended, highly-modifiable canvas for players to express themselves upon. It was designed by xxx for his kids with the premise that there are a lot of games about doing things, but there aren’t a lot about simply being in space and tending to it. Staxel aims to do just that.

Standout quality: The openness of the gameplay.

Games of these types typically have very strict rules and economies that allow you to progress through the game. Staxel thrives on its openness, leaving it very open to modding and allowing communities to make the game their own.

How to Follow:

Staxel official website

Wonderboy: The Dragon’s Trap

Team: Lizardcube

Release Date: Spring 2017

Gameplay: A remake of a cult classic that was originally most known for its Master System version, Omar Cornut, of Lizardcube, wanted to make the game available to a wider audience. The game is a side scrolling rpg that they describe as if Zelda, Metroid and Mario had a love child.

Standout qualities:

1. It stays true to the original: It perfectly captures what made the original great, keeping all of the little wrinkles that gave the original character, creating a game that will please the biggest fans of the original, while making it enjoyable for a completely new audience.

2. The graphics upgrade: You can hot-swap at any time between the original graphics and an beautiful new skin they have created.

Mages of Mystralia

Team: Dan Adelman

Release Date: Spring 2017

Gameplay: Mages of Mystralia is a roleplaying fantasy adventure game that features a fascinating node system for creating custom spells during the games. It allows you to build your own spells and combine characteristics to create specialized and more powerful spells to help you progress through the game.

Standout quality: It’s unique and well-executed spell-building concept.

It is very intuitive for new users, but has depth, allowing players to create more complex spells with an incredible amount of permutations that will make for hours of fun gameplay from beginning to end.

How to follow & buy:

Steam Page

Note: Mages of Mystralia will be launching a Kickstarter soon! Subscribe to their mailing list here to be notified of its launch and get bonus goodies.

Thimbleweed Park

Team: Ron Gilbert & Gary Winnick (creators of Maniac Mansion)

Release Date: March 30, 2017 (on Xbox One, Windows, Mac, and Linux. Mobile in late 2017)

Gameplay: From the minds of Ron Gilbert & Gary Winnick the infamous collaborative duo who brought you Maniac Mansion. These are some of the quintessential names behind the point and click adventure genre. This is a no holds barred throwback to that genre.

Standout quality: It’s a one of a kind story.

These types of games are a rarity now a days because they are so dependent on clever and innovative storytelling. But Ron Gilbert & Gary Winnick are 2 of the best. That’s why people had enough faith in them to fund the games development with a Kickstarter that raised over twice its goal of 300k. And it doesn’t fall short of expectations. It’s funny and inventive and a rarity for this day and age. Danny recommends buying it day 1 (on March 30th!) so you can be involved in the fun of solving the puzzles with everyone else before spoilers and guides start getting published online.

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