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20 indie games to keep an eye on in 2018

20 indie games to keep an eye on in 2018

With the triple-A games market making so much noise and throw millions into marketing budgets, smaller titles can easily get lost. 

But indie titles are important to the market - they are where true innovation and wholly new ideas come from. They can be risky and different in an industry where the games made by risk adverse and publicly trading companies can be rather homogenous and safe.

So we have decided to highlight 20 of the indie titles that you should be keeping an eye on in the coming months. 

We have also rounded up the biggest trends we expect to see in 2018, as well as some of the triple-A projects that should be on your mind

If anything is missing, please do get in touch at [email protected].


Click here to view the list »
  • 1 A Way Out

    Developer/Publisher: Hazelight Studios/EA
    Release date: March 23rd, 2018

    A Way Out is a game of seconds. Its the second title to be made by Josef Fares of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons fame, and it's the second game to be announced for EA's indie-focused Originals label.

    Where Brothers had a whimsical and fantastical feel to it, A Way Out is more of a gritty and action-focused title by comparison. Production began in late 2014, with one focus of the title being a different means of trying co-operative gameplay and multiplayer.

    Despite a focus on co-operative game play, Swedish-based Hazelight says that another focus for the game is telling an emotional story. All in all, this very much sounds like Brothers: Two Sons Go To Prison.

    The game has the backing Electronic Arts, too, who reportedly gave the studio $3.7m in funding.


  • 2 Bad North

    Developer/Publisher: Plausible Concept/Raw Fury
    Release date: 2018

    From Sweden's Plausible Concept comes Bad North, a real-time strategy title with roguelite elements which sees gamers guiding a group of people fleeing from the Viking hordes.

    The roguelite element comes in as characters have to move their way through procedurally generated islands, gathering what materials they can and fending off the nordic invaders. As well as an interesting concept for its gameplay, Bad North also features a beautiful and minimalistic art style which certainly helps it stand out from a see of indie games at the moment.


  • 3 Battletech

    Developer/Publisher: Harebrained Schemes/Paradox Interactive
    Release date: March 23rd, 2018

    by Marcel Hatam, Ubisoft BlueByte

    If you bought a 3d card in the late 90s, chances are it came with a copy of MechWarrior 2 thrown in. That action-sim introduced thousands of gamers like myself to its sci-fi universe, putting us in the cockpits of bi-pedal walking tanks on the feudal battlefields of the 31st century. Despite this successful PC legacy, 2018’s Battletech will be the first time that the eponymous board game will be faithfully translated as a more tactics focused turn-based title. Kickstarted by Harebrained Schemes (of Shadowrun Returns fame) under the watchful eyes of original creator Jordan Weisman, the game places players in the boots of a mercenary as they try to grow their outfit from no-names to elite fighting force. That means that the turn-based missions in which you lead your squad of Mechs across various planets are only half the battle. Customizing your Mechs and training your pilots with earned money and salvaged goods is equally important for success, allowing you to take on more lucrative assignments. It’s the game us Battletech faithful have waited 33 years for, but fans of more contemporary tactics games should keep an eye on it regardless of their familiarity with the Inner Sphere.


  • 4 Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night

    Developer/Publisher: Arty Play, DICO/505 Games
    Release date: March 2018

    Another title in the Kickstarter revival trend is Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. A spiritual successor to the classic Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Bloodstained is being created by the man behind that title, and much of the better regarded entries in that horror series, Koji Igarashi. The creator took to Kickstarter in the summer of 2015, going on to raise $5.5m - not bad when the goal was $500,000.

    For a brief time it was the highest funded video games Kickstarter ever, until a certain Shenmue III, itself a successor to a popular old-school franchise.

    The success of spiritual successors on Kickstarter has been mixed to date, ranging from the 'okay' Yooka-Laylee to the pretty awful Mighty No.9. Fingers crossed that Igarashi and co have learnt from the mistakes of those before them in bringing their vision to the market.


  • 5 Crossing Souls

    Developer/Publisher: Four Attic/Devolver Digital
    Release date: February 13th

    The debut title from Spanish developer Four Attic, Crossing Souls looks very much like Stranger Things: The Video Game.

    That isn't meant in a disparaging way - the title evokes the same nostalgia that the Netflix cult classic does, with lots of neon, synth and references to that bygone era. It even has an intro cinematic that is reminiscent of 80s cartoons.

    This is an RPG title that sees the player controlling a group of misfits in an American town who eventually get embroiled in supernatural matters. Crossing Souls uses a really intricate pixel art style, which runs the risk of making it look like an indie game from 2012, but it's done with such skill you can't help but enjoy it.

    This latest title from Devolver Digital is out later this month.


  • 6 DARQ

    Developer/Publisher: Unfold Games
    Release date: Mid-2018

    DARQ from indie studio Unfold casts players as a child called Lloyd, a kid who comes to the realisation that he is in a dream with the world transforming into a nightmare before his very eyes.

    The title aims to have a very unpredictable world, playing with horror conventions to make sure that the player is unsettled at all times. This will no doubt be a hit with streamers and YouTubers, who like nothing more than screaming into a camera and microphone.

    As with any horror game, sound is an important part with five-time ASCAP Award winning composer Wlad Marhulets taking on composition duties. The studio actually says that the game has been designed around the music, so expect big things.


  • 7 Deep Rock Galactic

    Developer/Publisher: Ghost Ship Games/Coffee Stain
    Release date: February 28th (Early Access)

    The debut title from Danish games maker Ghost Ship is rolling into Early Access later this month. The title fuses the exploration and survival of games like Minecraft with a colourful sci-fi setting and the co-op shooter gameplay of something like Left 4 Dead and PayDay. Speaking to PCGamesInsider.biz, the studio says that it feels like this market is under-developed. Indie projects can be very successful when they hone in on a particular niche, so fingers crossed this title finds its fanbase upon launch.

    The title is set to be in Early Access for less than year, so fingers crossed it is out in the wild this time in 2019.


  • 8 Frostpunk

    Developer/Publisher: 11bit
    Release date: 2018

    After taking us through the 1992-to-95 Siege of Sarajevo in the Bosnian War, Poland's 11bit's next project Frostpunk sees players in charge of the last city on Earth. Gamers are tasked with building and expanding said metropolis into the frozen wasteland.

    But this being an 11bit game, it isn't that simple, with the main thrust of the project being how far you should go to allow for the survival of mankind.

    So far, so happy. If this is anything like This War of Mine, then this unity of mechanics and narrative will be utterly fantastic but wholly depressing.


  • 9 Griftlands

    Developer/Publisher: Klei Entertainment
    Release date: 2018

    Klei Entertainment's next project is a sci-fi role-playing game called Griftlands where players are tasked with making their fortune at any and all costs. Speaking to other press outlets, developer Klei says that the game is a sandbox of pirate and mercenary characters rather than a straight-up narrative. It's effectively a game about economics, with the world around players reacting to their own deeds - or misdeeds.

    The world is persistent, with characters you wrong holding grudges against you, for example.

    Cartoony art direction aside, this is something of a change for Klei gameplay wise and we look forward to seeing more of it later this year.


  • 10 Knights and Bikes

    Developer/Publisher: Foam Sword/Double Fine
    Release date: 2018

    This brand new indie title from Foam Sword - aka Lionhead, Media Molecule, Mind Candy and Insomniac vets Rex Crowle and Moo Yu - casts the players as two young girls in Cornwall during the 1980s. This is no Stranger Things, neon and synth affair - largely because by the developers' own admission, the 80s didn't come to Cornwall until the 90s - but instead tries to capture the magic and adventure of being a kid again.

    Knights and Bikes was funded by Kickstarter, with the duo raising £126,447 from 4,796 backers. The game doesn't have a firm release date just yet, but speaking to PCGamesInsider.biz earlier this year the dup said they were aiming to get the title out this year.


  • 11 Laser League

    Developer/Publisher: Roll7/505 Games
    Release date: February 8th, 2018 (Early Access)

    After making wonderful pixel art titles such as the OlliOlli skating series and Not A Hero, London-based Roll7 has teamed up with 505 Games for a much more ambitious game.

    Laser League is a high-speed futuristic sports game that bears more a resemblance to Tron than to Roll7's previous games with its neon art style. Players have to maintain control of nodes within an arena - being caught in your opponents colour is bad news, so teams have to be quick to not die.

    Given the studio's pedigree for making deep, satisfying and engaging experiences such as OlliOlli, there's certainly reason to have high hopes for this latest title.


  • 12 Lazarus

    Developer/Publisher: Spilt Milk Studios
    Release date: 2018

    Having previously focused on critically acclaimed but lo-fi titles such as Hard Lines Tango Fiesta, seeing Spilt Milk's next title be an MMO is certainly interesting. To achieve this, the studio is teaming up with cloud gaming specialists Improbable and is using that firm's SpatialOS technology to create a persistent world.

    The focus of the game is on space combat, with larger numbers of players loading in and fighting in a sizeable playing area. Lazarus persists for one week at a time, thanks to SpatialOS, and after that reverts back to a vanilla state. But during that time, the game reflects the state of the world, defences made by players and so on.

    The game is in a closed alpha right now with an Early Access release on the cards at some point this year.

     


  • 13 Long Gone Days

    Developer/Publisher: BURA
    Release date: March 2018

    Following a demo back in May 2016, Long Gone Day is set to finally launch this year. From developer BURA, this title casts gamers as a soldier in the army of an unrecognised country who is then deployed into Russia. Upon discovering what the mission he is on is actually about, he deserts and attempts to prevent the upcoming war.

    Long Gone Days features role-playing game elements - such as turn-based combat - alongside those of the visual novel genre, with a heavy emphasis on dialogue that can have huge effects on characters, such as their morale. Depleting this makes players lose their will to fight.

    The demo was received with a positive reception, with many critics and gamers curious how the final product will turn out. We'll find out next month.


  • 14 Morphies Law

    Developer/Publisher: Cosmoscope
    Release date: 2018

    So Morphies Law is a first-person shooter with a bit of a difference - rather than guns shooting bullets, they instead transfer mass. So, if we shot someone in their right arm, their right arm would shrink but ours would grow. This leads to some hilarious encounters where people with massively disproportionate bodies fighting for dominance. This has a nice side effect in that larger players, ones who have dealt the most damage, are big targets, versus those who are smaller being more difficult to hit.

    There's also a Day of the Dead-inspired aesthetic, which is a bit different.


  • 15 No Truce With The Furies

    Developer/Publisher: ZA/UM /Humble Bundle
    Release date: 2018

    The latest title from Humble Bundle's new publishing label is No True With The Furies, described by the developer as a mix of isometric RPG and cop show elements that's set in an "urban fantasy" location.
    Players have to sold a "huge open ended case" with a huge level of options available. Want to become a criminal mastermind? You can go for it, becoming any cop you so desire.


  • 16 The Occupation

    Developer/Publisher: White Paper Games/Humble Bundle
    Release date: 2018

    by Alexander McHugh, Green Man Gaming

    In a grim dystopian Manchester, a reporter sneaks through a government building seeking the truth. This is The Occupation and that reporter is you.

    Set in real time over the course of a few short hours after a terrorist attack, you are a whistleblowing reporter who must infiltrate, investigate, and find out just what the hell is going on. In response to this terrorist incident The Union Act is being drafted: a piece of legislation which will severely curtail the civil liberties of British citizens. It ís up to you to decide the future of the act.

    The Occupation is an immersive sim without combat set in an immense warren of 1980s bureaucratic offices. It weaves together big themes like a BioShock game, multiple routes like a Deus Ex game, mouse-trap-style cause and effects like a Hitman game, real time actions and NPC movements like The Last Express, and an in-world, diegetic interface. The Occupation feels like it could be a breath of fresh air for the immersive sim genre, and one I cannot wait to get my hands on later in the year.


  • 17 Ooblets

    Developer/Publisher:Glumberland /DoubleFine
    Release date: 2018

    Ben Maltz-Jones

    Look, I miss Monster Rancher. I miss curating a farm filled with delightful critters, and then taking them into battle without a moment’s hesitation. Ooblets, a curious hybrid of Pokemon, Animal Crossing and Harvest Moon, looks like it’s going to give me exactly what I want, and not a moment too soon. It’s being made by a tiny team, and looks like an absolute delight. If you had told me there’d be a game coming out in 2018 that would let me cultivate a farm, harvest crops, do battle, and take part in a spot of interior design? I’d have said ‘yeah, probably, that seems like something someone would make’, but inside, I’d be dancing for joy. Dream game


  • 18 Pig Eat Ball

    Developer/Publisher: Mommy's Best Games
    Release date: Q1 2018

    By Steve Bailey, IHS
    Pig Eat Ball is a top-down, 2D puke 'em up. Hoover up 'yummies' to plump your pig, which can then be vommed out as bullets, to defeat enemies or slim your pig down for further navigating the level. And then hoover the barf-balls up all over again for a stomach-churning reload, as required, across a pile of puzzle-shooter stages.

    This isn't just about the repulsive, gross-out setting: Nathan Fouts (aka Mommy's Best Games) is one of my action-gaming heroes. He counts 'weapons programmer/designer' among former job roles on big-name console titles, and successfully retained the spirit of Serious Sam with scrolling side-on offshoot Double D XXL. Not to mention a number of imaginatively lurid indie shooters over the years, such as Explosionade, Shoot 1-Up, and Weapon Of Choice.


  • 19 Underworld Ascendant

    Developer/Publisher:OtherSide/505 Games
    Release date: 2018 

    By Dan Griliopoulos, Improbable

    Twenty-five years ago, the two Underworld games defined the modern immersive sim with rich, strange story-heavy and system-heavy worlds. So to see Paul Neurath (Ultima Underworld, Thief, System Shock 2) escape the clutches of Zynga and restart the series as Underworld Ascendant is a joy.

    Rather than a straight remake or a shallow open world, Neurath and his studio OtherSide are applying Underworld’s design ethos of incredibly rich systems to the modern RPG, to make a rich subterranean adventure. Underworld Ascendant is mixing those traditional rich systems - stealth, combat, magic - with modern physics, storytelling and AI in innovative, smart ways. That makes for an RPG that rewards creativity and experimentation in your encounters with its strange, dangerous creatures, inhuman spaces, and intrigue-laden factions.

    Oh, and OtherSide is also making System Shock 3 on the side…


  • 20 Unworthy

    Developer/Publisher: Aleksandar Kuzmanovic Games
    Release Date: 2018

    By Callum Agnew, freelance journalist

    Unworthy is a 2D metroidvania esque, pixel art beauty that just oozes atmosphere. It’s described as a combat focused Castlevania and wears its Dark Souls inspirations proudly. With each and every enemy a clear threat, management of your stamina and the correct utilisation of your various weapons is crucial to progress.

    Each weapon has its own unique skill that will aid you in combat, exploration and sometimes even both. My personal favourite is the short teleport, dodge and follow up with a clean headshot from your bow and you’ll feel as slick as you look.

    Unworthy evokes an almost Dante’s Inferno vibe with its hellish world and stylish combat effects. The moody soundtrack, minimal use of colour and the ever present christian iconography all come together to create an overbearingly oppressive environment. Currently penciled in for a Spring/Summer release date, Unworthy is most definitely worth adding to your Steam wishlist.


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Editor - PC Games Insider

Alex Calvin launched PCGamesInsider.biz in August 2017 and has been its editor since. Prior to this, he was deputy editor at UK based games trade paper MCV and content editor for marketing and events for London Games Festival 2017. His work has also appeared in Eurogamer, The Observer, Kotaku UK, Esquire UK and Develop.

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