It seems that 2021 is shaping as much as be one other improbable yr for indie gaming–and will effectively hit the identical excessive notes that 2020’s unbelievable crop of small-studio wonders did.
Nevertheless, you’d be forgiven for not realizing it; whereas video games like Maquette and Rain on Your Parade have understandably grabbed headlines resulting from their inclusion on PS Plus and Sport Move respectively, a thick-and-fast Q1 launch schedule has meant that numerous fantastic experiences have been missed. With this in thoughts, listed below are 5 2021 indies you’ve most likely missed, however undoubtedly shouldn’t cross over.
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC; coming quickly to Swap
First-person horror journey Mundaun is lower from the identical fabric as Amnesia and Layers of Worry, and explores the mysterious dying of your grandfather, whose grave you go to within the titular Swiss village–solely to seek out it’s empty. Naturally, you resolve to determine it out. Within the day, your environment are secure, if not kooky; at night time, the monsters come out to play.
Mundaun has a attraction all of its personal because of its lovingly hand-drawn Alpine setting, courtesy of Hidden Fields’ gifted lead programmer and artist Michael Zeigler. It’s concurrently stunning and unnervingly ugly; its odd, vacant-looking characters, alongside its frankly bonkers symbolism and depraved humorousness, solely add to these emotions of suspense and unease.
It suffers from a number of issues, for certain. It’s a genuinely troublesome recreation to grasp at first; clues are sometimes devious, whereas fight feels a little bit compelled–particularly because it’s mixed with an Amnesia-style sanity/worry mechanic. Mundaun’s visible calibration is irritating, too–the sport is manner too darkish, forcing you to shut the curtains and max out your brightness settings to make out something in its darker scenes.
Given it’s a horror recreation, possibly that’s the purpose. Mundaun could not actually excel at one particular factor, however the sum of its components creates an intriguing and completely moreish eight-to-ten-hour story that’s effectively price its $20 asking value.
Platforms: Xbox One, PC, Swap
Worth: $14.99 / Included with Sport Move
As one of many newest coups for Sport Move subscribers, day-one addition Genesis Noir is an actual contender for indie GOTY shortlists. This point-and-click journey from developer Feral Cat Den–which efficiently funded the undertaking by way of Kickstarter again in 2018–channels the type and creativity of traditional 90s LucasArts video games, however combines the age-old method with a stunningly distinctive artwork path.
Matching its distinctive visuals is a outstanding story specializing in the very existence of the universe itself, the place you play a detective in a traditional American movie noir, like a high-concept different to shock 2020 hit Hen Police: Paint it RED!. Whereas its puzzles usually swap readability for type, the payoff at all times feels fantastic, and it might be one of the crucial enchantingly unique video games of the yr. At about 5 hours lengthy, it’s quick however extremely candy.
El Hijo – A Wild West Story
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Swap, PC, Stadia
Touchdown on consoles in March after a late-2020 launch on PC and Google Stadia, El Hijo – A Wild West Story is a kind of gorgeous video games that’s simply as satisfying to observe another person having fun with as it’s to play your self–which is nice, as a result of it’s the proper title for households.
This beautiful, isometric, non-violent stealth recreation follows six-year-old boy El Hijo, who’s trying to find his mom after their farm is burned down, and he’s despatched to a monastery for his personal security. The sport’s Sergio Leone-inspired, pink ocher-heavy world is full of bandits and different ne’er-do-wells, who’re crushed by timing, puzzle-solving, and sneakiness.
Few video games supply the easy pacing and cautious skill-building that El Hijo does, and presents challenges no matter your age and data. The tone is sort of not like something that’s come earlier than: emotions of worry and fear bubble away beneath the floor, however it actually encourages you to assume and act like a younger little one; you’re a courageous adventurer who feels invincible, even when your environment suggest the precise reverse.
Platforms: PC, Swap
Given the world’s reliance on supply drivers–even with out a international pandemic driving demand larger than ever–it’s shocking that it’s taken this lengthy to pit rival couriers in opposition to each other in a Mario Kart Battle Mode-style battle for chilly, exhausting money.
Drive Purchase, from BAFTA-nominated British studio Glitchers, could not supply the identical worth for cash as different video games on this record–and it won’t be excellent when it comes to execution–however it’s eccentric and stuffed with coronary heart, leaning exhausting on tied-and-tested vehicular fight tropes whereas delivering one thing new and contemporary, with intuitive controls and frantic gameplay.
Throughout five-minute rounds, its varied recreation modes–together with the excellent tag-like Piggy Financial institution, in addition to the gold-rushing Payday–are paying homage to Blur and Twisted Metallic. Whether or not or not its on-line neighborhood stays sturdy is up for debate, however there’s rather a lot to like right here.
Misplaced Phrases: Past the Web page
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Swap, PC, Stadia
Final however actually not least is Misplaced Phrases: Past the Web page, a story penned by famous person recreation author Rhianna Pratchett–the driving drive behind the primary two Tomb Raider reboots. After over a yr of Stadia exclusivity, this surprisingly emotional story has lastly landed on consoles and PC, and it’s effectively definitely worth the wait.
This story-heavy platformer presents a visible type paying homage to Journey, Trine 4 and Max: The Curse of Brotherhood, with storybook sections that hark again to the excellent If Discovered…; when you could really feel prefer it’s a wistful, happy-go-lucky story, you’ll quickly get the rug ripped from beneath your ft.
At round 5 hours, the sport could also be quick, however these anticipating a fast-paced, challenge-heavy expertise could also be disenchanted. Nevertheless, everybody ought to actually dedicate an evening to this story: the whole lot works flawlessly, underscored by a intelligent artwork path and delightful sound from its narration and rating–and very similar to fellow indie El Hijo, it’s an attractive reminder of the innocence and creativity of youth.