Browsing Twitter may seem like a chore nowadays. The excess of hate and complaining on the site can seem off-putting for some. Sometimes, while using it, I wonder why I even bother. But then I remember all the independent game developers that put a ton of time and effort into promoting their projects. I’ve found a lot of quality gems on the site that I wouldn’t have discovered if I hadn’t used Twitter.
These guys may not have the funding needed to make blockbuster games, but they do have the freedom to create projects that allow them to flaunt their creative talents. The only problem with these smaller games is that they’re harder to come across. Because of the lack of buzz surrounding them, some incredible projects might never get the attention they deserve.
Social media plays an important role in the promotion of smaller titles. Indie developers have more attention than they used to, but they still don’t have as much luxury as the big budget ones.
This is one of the biggest reasons I want to highlight some of these games. Some of you may not use Twitter that much, or even at all. So here are five of the coolest looking indie games I found while scrolling through the site on my phone.
The Way to the Woods
There isn’t a lot to go off of yet for The Way to the Woods, but I wanted to talk about it because it looks really really pretty.
I don’t know what the premise is exactly, but you play as two deer traveling around a mostly empty world. The trailer showed no human beings, just a bunch of animals. A cat in the trailer said something about a cat god, and there was also a giant cat as well. There’s some obvious Ghibli inspiration going on here, and that’s okay with me.
It seems like the game’s going to have a lot of focus on environmental puzzle solving. The music is pretty and there isn’t a lot of chaos going on, so if the puzzles aren’t too difficult, this could be a contender for most relaxing video game of all time.
Something that stood out to me when visiting the developer, Anthony Tan’s Twitter was that he’s only eighteen. The game’s getting a little bit of buzz already too. It always impresses me when someone so young is able to make something so great.
The Way to the Woods is set to come out early 2019 so it’s still a ways away. I hope to see more trailers and gameplay soon.
I spent most of my gaming growing up playing Super Smash Bros. Melee with my friends on the GameCube. I know a lot of clones have come out since then, but none of them seemed interesting enough for me to want to check them out. Early Melon‘s Roof Rage has me intrigued.
While it’s not exactly a clone, it does share some similarities. The fights take place on rooftops that share a similar arena-style, and the combat is fast-paced. You can play 1v1, but you can also bring in up to 8 players in one match.
One of the key differences I noticed were the health bars. Instead of racking up damage to be thrown off stage, you have a health meter that depletes the more you get hit. When your health is gone, you lose.
Roof Rage also has a distinctly retro aesthetic. This is another thing that drew me in. I love the 16-bit soundtrack. Watching those pixel sprites zip around the stage looks satisfying to control too. It’s one of those games where you won’t how good it feels to play until you get the controller in your hand, but I’m dying to know.
The game offers online multiplayer, but it’s really going to shine when you play it locally. I hope I can convince my friends to try this with me because it seems like the only true way to experience it.
I want Roof Rage to blow up in the fighting game community. It would be cool to see this kind of game get a lot of love in tournaments. As of now, the game has no release date, but it will be coming to Steam in the future.
When I first saw the teaser for Carrion, I was intrigued. I was also concerned that it was going to just be a power fantasy game where you squirm around killing innocent people. But that doesn’t seem to entirely be the case.
The developers describe it as a reverse horror game where you take control of the monster, instead of fighting against it.
I’m not sure what the story behind the creature is, but it’s this big red blob with creepy tendrils that attach to walls to move around. The movement is all physics based; instead of moving around normally, you use your tendrils to swing on the walls.
The thing that excites me the most is that there’s an actual game here. Being powerful and destroying everything in your path is a fun idea, but it’s one that gets stale fast. Carrion takes that concept and mixes it with interesting metroidvania level design.
I noticed this from the design of the levels, and the fact that you can earn upgrades the further you go in the game. The upgrade they showed off in the demo was a dash ability which lets you to burst through certain walls.
Killing people also has benefits. If you’re low on health, eating someone can replenish it. Doing this makes you grow in size, and increases the amount of health you have. But it has a downside: being bigger makes movement more clunky, so it’s harder to get around.
The visuals are as gritty as you’d expect for a horror game, but the art and animations are excellent. This weird amorphous creature looks alive, so I’m curious to test out it feels to move around.
GameSpot has a video out where they play a short demo with Sebastian Krośkiewicz, one of the developers. Most of the areas they showed off were dark and metallic with blood splattered around every surface. But as they progressed, they got to more areas that were covered in plant-life. That was another worry I had that went away. I had hoped that there was stylistic variety, and it seems like my wishes are coming true.
Carrion is an unexpected treat of a horror game. I hope the demo becomes playable at some point because there’s no release date at the moment.
Flynn: Son of Crimson
I always feel hesitant when I see a game on Kickstarter since anything on that site has the potential be a scam. You usually see three things happen: the game doesn’t come out, the game comes out and it’s terrible, or it releases and it’s amazing.
A game called Flynn: Son of Crimson caught my attention for a few reasons. Now I hadn’t heard of Studio Thunderhorse before I found them on Twitter, but I love the way they update their followers with videos and gifs. It never feels good to be in the dark on a project you’ve invested money into. I love that these guys have the courtesy of bringing us along on the development journey.
There’s a lot to love here. The pixel art is beautiful, but it’s the attention to detail on the animations that blew me away. Even in the game’s menu, they have subtle touches that weren’t necessary but definitely add something. You see Flynn standing on the edge of a cliff, staring into the distance with a look of determination in his eyes. In his right hand, he holds a fire sword, while the fingers on his left hand flick up and down every few seconds. To me, this shows that the people at Studio Thunderhorse aren’t playing around. They’re putting a lot of actual effort into this project.
They also graciously provided us with a short, but fun demo. In my playthrough of it, I discovered just how varied everything is.
This twenty-minute long demo shows off a few different sections of gameplay. The main game plays like a well-designed action-platforming Metroidvania, but there were two instances where they deviate from that. There’s a section where you’re gliding down a pit avoiding falling debris, and immediately after that, you’re riding a giant dog while a bunch of goblins are chasing you.
The important thing to take into consideration about all this stuff is that it’s all super fun. The game feels great to play. There were four weapons to play around with in the demo: a sword, a bow, an ax, and a set of claws. Each of these feels distinct from one another. The ax is weighty with each swing, and the claws are fast-paced with every punch. The weapons are dealt out to the player very quickly in the demo. I assume it won’t be this way in the full game, and that they did that to give us an example of what to expect. It’d be a shame if they handed the weapons to you like that. It would be much more rewarding to find them over time.
The Kickstarter for Flynn: Son of Crimson had a goal of reaching $40,000. With a total of 2455 backers, it managed to get over $63,000. The game is set to come out early next year. Keep it on your radars because it’s fun as hell.
I love everything about Knuckle Sandwich. Granted, it’s not out yet, so I can’t say for sure. But, from what I’ve seen, it might be my most anticipated game right now. I neglected to put it on my “Top Ten Upcoming Games” list, so I’m going to correct that here.
Besides Mother 4, Knuckle Sandwich is the most obvious Mother-inspired indie game I’ve seen in a while. The music is similar, and the color scheme and sprites are as well. The setting is also similar since it takes place in a more modern setting. However, the game has its own fun take on the wacky world of Mother.
GameSpot recently put out a half hour long video where they play a demo of the game, and oh boy, does it ever take an unexpectedly dark turn towards the end. I don’t want to spoil anything, but let’s just say that I did not see it getting so violent. Their website does describe the story as being macabre, so I guess my surprise is unwarranted.
I love these cutesy looking games that get really dark. Mother was like that to a less excessive degree and all the games that take after it seem to be doing the same sort of thing. I don’t want to pigeonhole Knuckle Sandwich with all the other Mother clones though. The in-your-face way it hits you with its twist while still retaining its goofy nature is something to applaud.
Knuckle Sandwich looks hilarious in that very dry sort of way. The character designs are all charming, and almost every line of dialogue spoken in the demo is actually funny. Considering a lot of games try to be funny, and fail, that’s quite the achievement.
The battle system is a lot like Mother 3 since it mixes turn-based combat with timed button presses. In the demo, we didn’t actually see a lot of combat. What we did get a lot of were the mini-games Knuckle Sandwich has to offer. There were quite a few of them, and they were all well integrated into the story. One of them is a music rhythm game, and another has you serving as many burgers as possible in a short amount of time.
I can’t wait to play this. Everything about it, from the writing to the animations, screams something I’d love. If you’re into these quirky Mother-esque games, Knuckle Sandwich should be the next one you play. Whenever it comes out, that is.
I hope I could help spread the word about these upcoming games. All five of them seem like they’re going to be something special.
I also hope that I was able to encourage someone to dig around Twitter to find these smaller developers. It’s fun to search around the site looking for them. A lot of interesting titles are on my radar now, and I wouldn’t have discovered them otherwise.