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E3 2017: Indie Game Showcase, Part One
Post by KostaAndreadis @ 04:52pm 16/06/17 | Comments
Part One of a Two-Part Special, where we bring you our picks of the most impressive Indie Games from E3 2017.

E3 is usually associated with the big high-profile releases, your AAA titles from some of the biggest developers and publishers in the business. Looking at the industry and it’s easy to see how this only represents a portion of a much larger picture filled with online games, mobile experiences, and smaller titles developed by passionate teams from across the world. In the past few years we have seen the rise of great looking indie games that have impressed thanks to their incredible art, intriguing premises, old-school presentation, and impressive gameplay. E3 2017 featured so much great stuff that we’ve decided to share this year’s most impressive indies, and spread them out over two super-sized spotlights.

Let’s do this.

The first game we want to bring to your attention is one we’ve seen before, but also one that now looks to be in a state that gives us a better idea of how it will end up. And that is Ashen from New Zealand-based Aurora44. An action-RPG and open-world shared multiplayer experience that features an evocative art style. Thanks to it taking place in a world without a sun. So then, if that’s the case, how will you see what’s happening? Well, as the title suggests, burning ash provides the only illumination. As a multiplayer action-RPG with dungeons, bosses, and loot, one of the more interesting takes on the genre is that the multiplayer here will be more passive. In that you will stumble across other players, and through minimal communication team up to take on what are being described as punishingly difficult challenges. Ashen has a release window of 2018 for Xbox One and PC.

Brightening things up a bit is The Artful Escape from Melbourne-based Beethoven & Dinosaur, a side-scrolling psychedelic adventure where you take control of Francis Vendetti and propel yourself though the cosmos with the help of his guitar. And rock music. With no release date set for this Xbox One and PC title, all we have to go on so far is a proof of concept trailer that showcases the game’s evocative art style and truly magical setting. And what is promised to be a personal journey for Francis Vendetti, as he discovers his inner rock god.

Coming from France-based developers Magic Design Studios, Unruly Heroes has definite Rayman Legends-vibe. Maybe it’s a regional thing, but seeing that Rayman Legends is still a brilliant example of 2D art and animation then you know this is in good company. In terms of gameplay though Unruly Heroes looks to be doing things a little differently. Drawing on inspiration from Journey to the West, up to four players will team-up in this brawler meets side-scroller as they fight their way through stunningly detailed environments. No word yet on what platforms this will be available, but as it made its debut during the Xbox E3 briefing, we should expect an Xbox One release in early 2018.

For those that are already aware of this one then Robocraft Infinity needs no introduction. Already boasting a player count in the millions, Robocraft is a game that lets player build intricate robots piece by piece and then give them the opportunity to take them out into the world. And of course -- battle other robots. Robocraft Infinity represents a complete standalone purchasable version of the game when it launches as an Xbox Play Anywhere title in early 2018, featuring an all-new progression system, re-balanced combat, controller support, and more. Think Minecraft but robots, and you get the idea.

Legend of Zelda meets Castle Crashers in The Sword of Ditto -- a bright, vibrant, top-down RPG that looks great in motion. Like the sort of charming cartoon that you might find yourself watching in the early hours of Saturday morning. Outside of the art-style the 16-bit Zelda influence is all over The Sword of Ditto, from the dungeon and puzzle design to the enemies and even little easter eggs. But where The Sword of Ditto comes into its own is with its rogue-like approach to adventure, where heroes wash up on the shore of its mysterious island and after they progress as far as they can get the game cuts to a time, a few years later, where the next batch of heroes washes up. With the island, towns, and people showing the effects of what’s happened. Very cool.

To many people out there Ori and the Blind Forest represents one of the best Xbox One games that you can currently play. With its impressive art direction, solid Metroid-vania gameplay, and haunting soundtrack, it’s a showcase for what can still be done in the world of traditional hand-drawn and animated games. And to the delight of many Ori and the Will of the Wisps was announced this year on stage at the Xbox E3 Briefing, showcasing the same level of detail seen in the original with a story that looks to be a direct continuation of the original. Although no release date or true gameplay was shown, this is one to look forward to – whenever it surfaces.

From This War of Mine developer 11 bit Studios, Frostpunk looks to continue the sombre tone and sense of desperation established in the acclaimed city-builder. Frostpunk might even up the ante in the desperation stakes, by taking place in a world beset by freezing conditions and placing all the important decisions of maintaining a settlement in its harsh environment onto the player. Which means debilitating 24-hour shifts, child labour, and anything else you can think of for the sake of survival. And success too. Frostpunk is currently of track for a PC release this year.

In terms of indie games that have a certain look that makes you take a step back, pause for a second, and then take a mental note of what you’re looking at -- The Last Night has got the goods. Making its debut on the Xbox stage this year (which by the way, was chock full of great looking indie games) The Last Night features an art style that is part Blade runner, part pixel-art, and all awesome. Really, it’s the blend of 2D, 3D, and lighting that sells the look and feel of the game. As to what it’ll end up playing like is anyone’s guess, but it’s one we’ll be keeping an eye on.

(A note on The Last Night controversy. Since its E3 debut the creator of the game Tim Soret has been under fire for past comments made in favour of GamerGate and other anti-feminist movements. With speculation to this game featureing a political stance along those lines. Since then both Tim and the publisher have apologised and noted that his stance on the subject has since changed and The Last Night will not reflect any previously held beliefs.)

Sometimes when it comes to an indie game, simplicity wins. For Project Code: SHIFT that simplicity comes down to a cyber-samurai hand and slash game featuring great animation and solid mechanics. Seriously, it looks great in motion. And based on developer feedback we know that it will feature both a futuristic setting and a more contemporary real-world place to fight in. Currently on track for a holiday release for Xbox One X, Project Code: SHIFT is also set to debut on PC sometime after that.

Closing out the first part of our indie showcase is a game that we’ve been playing in beta for a little while now, Sundered. A game that ticks all the right boxes. Great art style. Impressive hand-drawn animation. Metroid-vania style exploration. Intriguing story and mechanics. Where your powers can slowly get corrupted, affecting the ending. And of course, giant boss battles. The fact that it’s looking this good after six months from the launch of its Kickstarter campaign in January is pretty impressive. Even better, the full release is still on track for July.

And with that Part One of our E3 2017: Indie Game Showcase comes to a close. Be sure to check back in the coming days as we bring you another batch of great looking indie games to look forward to.