Top 50 Most Anticipated Indie Games Of 2013

2013

As we say goodbye to the year in which it was prophesized the world would end, we’re able to put centuries old fears to rest and look toward a brand new revolution of the Sun in which there are bound to be many more surprises. The past year has been a very significant one for indie games once again, as a number of titles that were highly anticipated for years saw their release, and perhaps even more games came out of the blue and took over the gaming world. It begs the question of what 2013 will bring, which ultimately cannot be answered, but that’s not to say we can’t pick out a few titles we’ve got a keen eye on.

But what to pick?! We’ve been debating this matter for a while now, and, after much deliberation, we’ve decided to include as many of our picks that we could include. However, we thought to put ourselves under a little bit of pressure by narrowing the main list down to just 50, and then including all of the other games we were considering underneath. So while there are probably many that we’ve missed out, overall there’s quite a few so this article should serve you well when looking for something to get you excited about next year’s indie game lineup. But as said, the best ones are usually the surprises, and there’s always loads of them!

So, in no particular order, here is our list:

New Game+ (Superflat Games)

New Game+

No one can be sure of what Jasper Byrne, developer of Lone Survivor, is cooking up next, but we’ve decided to open the floodgates and whack the “Get Excited About This” badge to it. We do know that it takes influences from many different games, including the Legend of Zelda series, Dark Souls and Final Fight. We also know that the game will support 4 player co-op play and PvP. It seems that mostly you’ll be wandering around a desolate landscape from an isometric view and beating up anything that stands in the way. So really it’s a brawler, with probably light RPG elements.

The enemies are granted all of the abilities that you are too, so they can swing whatever weapon they find, roll through bushes and hide in caves to take you out. Whether there’s something more behind the name New Game+ than just a reference to a part of gaming culture is yet to be seen. Oh, and to those who think to say that Jasper has cancelled the project, you’ll be glad to hear that it was actually announced as in-development once again on December 11th. Progress seems to be moving fast.

Lifeless Planet (Stage 2 Studios)

Lifeless Planet

David Board, the lead developer behind Lifeless Planet, says that he wants to invoke the sense of adventure that seems to be missing from so many action-adventure titles. He’s inspired by games like Out Of This World and ICO and has incorporated their alien and barren environments into Lifeless Planet. As the title suggests, you’ll be set free to explore on what seems to be a completely empty planet. You play as an astronaut, who finds themselves skeptical of the chance of extraterrestrial life or there being anything on these distant planets worth the expenses of research and space travel.

That may soon change as you steer this astronaut across this planet and signs of life begin to show up. This isn’t realized in some weird alien technology or architecture; what you discover appears to be of human origin. Soon after that you discover an abandoned Russian laboratory. How could it be that you aren’t the first on this planet? Then, some “phenomenon” occurs and you’re saved by a mysterious young woman. Nothing more is known about the game than that, but from what we’ve seen so far, we loving the ability to explore this wonderful planet and its secrets!

The Underside (Mr. Podunkian)

The Underside

It’s hard to believe that we’re talking about The Underside once again, even more so that we actually expect it to come out in the following year – you never know, it might happen! For those of you that thought waiting for Fez was a bit of a chore, meet your next chew toy. Mr. Podunkian’s Cave Story-like sidescrolling platform exploration game, The Underside, has been in and out of development since 2005. It’s looked great for years, and you can even play a very old preview version of the game here. A while back Arthur Lee, the developer, chased other pursuits though, and so development came to a complete stand still. Then, out of the blue, he turned up once again having quit his previous job, announcing that The Underside now had his full time and attention.

Shocked and surprised as we were, it’s great to hear that the game is being given a chance to live once again. The Underside is touted as being driven primarily by its plot rather than through the player making discoveries through exploration, but the game’s world is fully explorable, as metroidvanias tend to be. You’ll be playing as a Person who is out to prove that there is some good left in this world of two halves. The first half, the Underside, was created by The Universal King, but, much to his dismay, the denizens became corrupt and the world dirtied. So he flipped the world over and created the Overside. Everything was pleasant for a while, but soon the same thing began to happen – corruption spread once again. The whole world will be destroyed by the King unless a single person can prove that there is some good worth saving. We’re hoping to prove that in 2013. Fingers crossed!

Owlboy (D-Pad Studio)

Owlboy

Speaking of games we’ve been chewing through our lips in anticipation for, Owlboy makes it on our list as it looks like 2013 is actually going to be the year of the owl – no, it really is; we swear! Doubt all you want; D-Pad Studio have been gearing up for the release as of late and even mentioning the final version of the game as existing. So there, eat your whole jaw off if you wish! Some of us will probably need a little reminder as to why we’re awaiting the release of Owlboy, the pixel-lovely adventure game that it is, and for that we still have the game’s old playable demo to serve our needs.

This is a game that is simple in its heroic tale of a young owl boy named Otus who attempts to save his village from the invading sky pirates. One of the most unique aspects of this sidescrolling action adventure is the ability to fly – well, you are an an owl, after all. With this you can freely roam the skies as well as the usual lineup of dungeons, villages and caves. Boss battles are spread throughout, as well as many puzzle areas to keep you entertained, or mildly muddled. You’re not alone in your quest as you can bring other characters with you and learn of new powers to unlock the full abilities of an owl boy. It’s coming next year; we swear…

Revenge of the Sunfish 2 (Bizarre Wound Productions)

Revenge Of The Sunfish 2

How do you even start to explain something like Revenge Of The Sunfish? It’s an MS Paint dreamcoat adorned by a shapeshifting marsupial. There, something like that, maybe? Jacob’s cult original links nonsensical songs, visuals and gameplay in a surreal mash-up game with multiple paths that force your face into a constant state of surprise. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any more crazy than that, Revenge of the Sunfish 2 will rise its head (in 2013, we’re pretty sure) and confuse you more than you’ve ever been confused in your life.

Apparently there’s over 1000 songs already put into the game and since the last game was released in 2007, Jacob has been keeping a dream diary and using this as inspiration for this sequel’s madness. The game is very nearly finished, with just the interconnected paths through the game being tweaked until they feel right. We don’t know what to expect when the game releases, other than to be overwhelmed by the weird and random in every way possible. This will also be a commercial release, rather than being available as freeware like the original.

Starbound (Chucklefish)

Starbound

Though Chucklefish are a brand new studio, they’re certainly not holding back with their début release, Starbound. The game is destined to be huge, in both the community and in what players can do inside the game. This is sidescrolling sci-fi epic unlike anything most of us would have ever experienced before, by the looks of it. Listing its many features would cause us to be here all day. So let’s try to keep things succinct and just say that the game starts off with you fleeing your home planet as an unknown enemy destroys it. The space shuttle you escaped upon comes in contact with a space station, and from there you can visit other planets around the universe, building up a crew and your arsenal while completing story-driven quests in this huge sandbox.

Bring other human players in and set yourself apart with the massive range of customization options available to all your gear, weapons, pets and so on. As you land on the procedurally generated planets, you’ll come across all different types of creatures and environments, and not just on the surface either. Spend all of your time digging down to find resources, or maybe build yourself a huge castle, or just go on an epic quest to destroy everything in your wake. It’s said a lot about games that probably don’t live up to it, but in Starbound you really can do pretty much anything you want.

Antichamber (Alexander Bruce)

Antichamber

Sometimes what you need in life is to just forget everything you know and discover something that completely destroys your perception of reality. Weird thing to say, granted, but that’s what everyone will probably be thinking upon playing Antichamber for the first time. This is a puzzle game with a difference. Expect this to be on par with the likes of Portal and Braid, as in it will teach you to think in entirely new ways to progress. Antichamber does something only a computer game can do, and that is question how you perceive space and reality.

You’ll be traveling through non-Euclidean spaces that might as well have been designed by M.C. Escher. But they weren’t. Alexander Bruce has spent the last few years chiseling away at them, getting them play tested, and then chipping away even more to ensure that they’re complex, surprising and most likely mind-blowing. If you’re one for looking at games that are different, impressively so, then Antichamber should already be on your list.

The Swapper (Facepalm Games)

The Swapper

To be honest, not a lot of information is known about The Swapper, but this is one of those games when that’s the best way for it to be. Primarily it’s a sidescrolling puzzle platformer, and one that is unprecedented in its visuals, if nothing else. The game is constructed with clay models and all sorts of everyday bits and bobs to give it the detailed and tactile look you can see. There’s also an incredible use of lighting and color in many of the media we’ve seen of the game thus far. Just walking through the game’s quasi-real environments is enough of a reason to be excited for its release in early 2013.

But there’s more, and this is where the mystery surrounding the game lies. We’ve only heard about the game’s central mechanic, which is what gives it the name The Swapper. While you’re busy absorbing the atmosphere of the abandoned space station, you’ll run into the most odd device coined the Swapper. All that is known about it is that it can clone the user and transfer consciousness between different bodies. Obviously there are going to be puzzles based around using this; how complex and unique they are is yet to be seen. We hope for the best, though.

The Witness (Jonathan Blow)

The Witness

Another game that has to be on every list of anticipated indie games is Jon Blow’s upcoming puzzle-exploration game, The Witness. Prototyping and development began on The Witness back in late 2008, so not all that long after Braid became the big success that it is. Living up to something as renown as Braid is going to prove difficult, but considering we’re entering the fifth year of development for The Witness, Blow has hopefully had adequate time to really nail the experience he is after. This is touted as one full of puzzles and a particular “moment” that can’t be spoiled, and so won’t be until the game is released. Blow says it will be surprising, and it’s a moment he had planned years ago and has since worked a game around building up to it and on top of it.

What that is, or at least what we know of it so far, is a puzzle game played from the first person perspective. In the builds showcased previously, the player was tasked with using panes upon which a maze was scribed. Getting through each maze by drawing a line through them, as well as matching up parts of the background seen behind the transparent glass panes, eventually unlocks part of a larger structure. A number of other challenges will have to be completed to further unlock this mystery. That’s all that is really known about the game as of yet. Well, and that there are nearly 500 puzzles in total at the moment. Should be a very interesting title when it’s released, and only time can tell whether that will in 2013 or not.

Cube World (Wollay)

Cube World

For the Minecraft generation (that’s a thing now, right?), Cube World holds a massive appeal just on the visuals alone. It is, of course, using a voxel-based engine and does allow the player a tremendous amount of freedom. However, Cube World is vastly different to Minecraft, so we’ll have no more mention of it! The only games we should be mentioning are the Legend of Zelda series, Secret of Mana, Diablo and Monster Hunter, as they are what the game is modelled on…with Minecraft elements too. Damn! Well, anyway, the game has a lot of features and is best considered as a co-operative sandbox RPG.

There’s a lot of customization available within the game, ranging from the player’s class, to their look, weapons, abilities, building, upgrading, pets and, well, you get the picture. One thing that should be noted is that there will be no mining or digging, but there will probably be some crafting. Fighting is, of course, a big part of the game as you are sent off on quests to defeat enemies, hang glide and do a whole range of other activities, but you’ll also come across a lot of big creatures as you wander around the world. Cube World hasn’t been in development all too long, but it’s looked enticing for a while, and we’re keen to jump on in.

Axiom Verge (Tom Happ)

Axiom Verge

As old-school as Axion Verge may look, there are actually a number of really fresh ideas in the game. That’s not to say it isn’t retro and hard just like old arcade games used to be. In fact, it’s a metroidvania inspired by the likes of Cave Story, Contra, Blaster Master, Rygar and plenty more. So expect lots of exploration around a weird alien environment shooting pretty much anything that moves. You play as a guy called Trace who wakes in this labyrinthine place all alone, but the more you explore the more upgrades and items you’ll find to help you out.

You’ll also find increasingly harder enemies, though, so you’ll need to strap on your dodging boots and make with the blasting. There’s two things that really stand out about Axiom Verge other than the obvious retro vibe. First are the boss fights, which look intriguing and challenging – they’re unique in a way we haven’t seen in a while. Second is the game’s deliberate use of glitches, starting early on with the glitch ray. With this you can alter how everything works within the game, such as slowing and corrupting them. There’s more advanced versions of this glitch stuff too, but they’re not being revealed until the release, which is said to be in Q3 2013.

Among The Sleep (Krillbite Studio)

Among The Sleep

Among The Sleep took over the gaming press and the world for a couple of weeks in 2012. If you didn’t hear about it, then you clearly live under some form of enclosed, hard surface. Survival horror seems to be a fairly big genre among the indie game development crowd and fans right now, so it’s not too surprising that Among The Sleep appeals on that notion. But it’s not just that; there’s something else to the game that really makes it stand out. You play as a toddler that can only just about walk. In fact, the game starts off with you climbing out of your crib and going downstairs, where you start to see some rather weird things.

As you’re a two-year-old, your imagination sends you a bit wild, but because you’re also delving into a realm between the surreal and reality, what’s happening is mysterious and creepy. Eventually you are whisked off to some strange dream land, still attempting to walk and climb from the first-person perspective. Among The Sleep isn’t a survival horror as such, more of a horror experience at times, but only as far as witnessing things that are scary to a vulnerable child. Hopefully we’ll be able to see the game for ourselves this year.

Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs (thechineseroom)

Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs

If you’re not already excited about A Machine For Pigs, then there can only be two explanations – you don’t like survival horror, or you haven’t played Amnesia: The Dark Descent. This is the follow-up to Frictional Games’ survival horror masterpiece, and yes, it is certainly worthy of that prestigious “masterpiece” label. So thechineseroom have a lot to deliver with this follow up – it’s going to have to be absolutely terrifying! Luckily, the concept and what it points towards is pretty harrowing by itself. We’re being transported back to the Industrial Age at a time when experimenting on animals was fairly common and huge steam engines were used to power the murky cities. Somewhere, a horror lies, a machine for pigs…whatever that means.

What made A Dark Descent such a terrifying triumph was its unique gameplay design. You had to hide or run from the enemies as you couldn’t attack them in any way. More so, you had to hide in the dark, and that slowly turned you insane. If you looked at the enemies directly, that sped up your turn to insanity and would potentially give your position away. Most of these elements appear to have been kept in, and thechineseroom assure us that fans of Frictional’s work will be familiar with how the game will play. But they’re also adding some extras in order to surprise fans. We’re hoping to crap our pants in 2013.

Lovers In A Dangerous Spacetime (Asteroid Base)

Lovers In A Dangerous Spacetime

Well, would you look at that?! A giant, neon pink deathstar – why wouldn’t you already be loving the hell out of a game that looks so darn sweet? The thickly spread icing doesn’t stop there with this one either. Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime will also be one of the most unique co-op games of the year, as the two of you scuttle between the various control points on your spherical ship trying to battle back the hostile forces trying to bring you down. The ship’s crew may be tiny, but they clearly welcome the battle; otherwise they would have made the ship a little less obvious looking, don’t you think?

Lovers is touted as a platformer, but it’s much more than just that. It’s a micro-scale blast-em-up set in space to a crazy-fantastic soundtrack and visuals that will likely send you on a decorating spree – I want my house to look like this! Apparently, as jubilant and saccharine as this game appears, death is an inevitability. Which is kind of upsetting, but it makes sense that these two space crew would want to go down with a bang and at each other’s side. The question is: how many enemies can you take with you?

Scale (Steve Swink)

Scale

Being the tarts that we are, it’s pretty much a given that if you make a game that messes with physics in some mind bending fashion, we’re going to be on your game like ants at a picnic. Steve Swink announced Scale back in June of 2012, and we’re just a little bit excited about it already, despite it being in a very, very early stage of it development. As such, it’s probable that we won’t even get to play it in 2013, but there’s a chance, and that’s enough to make it on to our list.

The game itself is all about changing the size of objects…any object. Chairs, castles, houses, butterflies and even the ground itself! You have a scale gun that requires juice to perform the embiggening or shrinking that you desire, so this provides some cap on what you can do on each of the game’s levels. This is a puzzle platformer, as you should all be aware by now, and it’s the game’s physics-based puzzles that has us all in a tiz. Everything you can see about the game at the moment is placeholder, but the basic mechanics are in place and very interesting. Consider us hopeful and intrigued!

The Moonlighters (Rad Dragon)

The Moonlighters

More and more games are coming out that are based in a particular era of the 20th century, and with that often comes a finesse in style. The Moonlighters will introduce us to the 1950s, but through the eyes of a 90s style JRPG, so you should be able to sink in to those familiar shoes with ease. In this, you play as a bunch of entertainers all with their own personalities and abilities, and as their careers have faded with the height of rock ‘n’ roll, they have decided to pull off some heists to get rich and fast.

Though this would make the game stand out enough – the style and RPG-heist premise – there’s a lot more to The Moonlighters than just that. Rad Dragon are a student team who are currently looking to build up on the game’s pilot episode, but in this they demonstrate the Narrative Listening technique the game was used to show off. This mechanic basically adapts the whole game world around you as you make decisions, and considering this is a game based on stealth, social conversation and break-ins, one can only imagine that making for some very interesting scenarios. We’re hopeful that we’ll get to try out The Moonlighters later in the year to really explore its depth and, of course, the great style it is blanketed in.

Super T.I.M.E. Force (Capybara Games)

Super T.I.M.E. Force

Sticking with the “games that may see a release in 2013 but more than likely won’t theme, let’s get all kinds of shaken up about Super T.I.M.E. Force! Full of quirk as always, Capybara’s next title is one of time traveling and explosions…lots of them. You play as one of the elite members of the eponymous squad as they travel back in time to various points they deem need some run ‘n’ gun action brought to them in order to make for a more awesome future. You can imagine how many time paradoxes are having to be avoided in the game’s design, considering it’s all about time traveling. Maybe they could go forward in time, witness the final version of the game and then bring it back to now so they can release it pronto?

Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen like that. Capy have to design every single inch of the game from scratch, and we have to wait and itch a lot in the meantime. Why should we be, though? Well, lovers of the old shoot everything on the screen will be kept happy with this one, providing you don’t mind some mild platforming elements too and, I’d imagine, lots of time traveling puzzles to solve on the way. Where the game gets really riveting is when you die, though. In Super T.I.M.E. Force, death means you’re just reset to another version of yourself at the same time among all of the ghosts of your previous self running and gunning across the level too. Confused already? You should be! Just imagine that you never die properly (well, your probably do), but every time you fall from grace you are sent back to the beginning of the level and will have all of your previous efforts there to help you out too. That didn’t make things any clearer, did it?

TowerClimb (Davioware)

TowerClimb

While most roguelikes and platformers of late seem to be tasking us with traveling downwards, there’s one that stands out for its pursuit of the opposite direction, and in the most finest of forms, it has to be said. Davioware’s TowerClimb started off life as a freeware macguffin, but soon became an object of much admiration which caused the developer to deem it worthy of further development. Since those early days we’ve been treated to the game’s glorious beta, and it tastes oh so good.

With permadeath, a harsh and procedurally generated difficulty supplied by the many snoozing creatures, spikes and rising lava, TowerClimb is easily one of the most anticipated platformers of 2013. As is usual with games with such a refined difficulty and learning curve, this is an experience that takes time to master, and even then it can be down to the luck of the draw and your on-the-spot decision making as to whether you’ll ever reach the top of this dastardly tower. Epic in scale and of a legendary status even in this list, we’re very excited for the release of TowerClimb.

FRACT OSC (Phosfiend Systems)

FRACT OSC

Our love of music, especially the electronic variety, is no secret. Our similar love for FRACT OSC should be of no surprise to anyone, then. This is a first-person adventure game inspired by, featuring and even allowing players to create their own electronic music. What’s not to love about that? The setting is an abstract world of geometric shapes, tubes and oscillating platforms. We’ll all invited in to discover whatever we can inside FRACT OSC in early 2013, so feel obliged to when that time comes.

As mentioned, there’s more to the game than those other titles that seem so keen on offering an abstract area to explore. Most impressive is the game’s sound design, with puzzles based around the manipulation of sound in a grand variety of ways, music and sounds reacting to your behaviour and, as said, allowing you to create your own tracks within the game should you wish. That’s a lot of bang for your buck, and an interesting one at that.

SARCIA (Michael Lavoie)

SARCIA

Sticking with the music-driven game theme, let’s next take a look at SARCIA, which we can only hope with every drop of lust within us that we’ll see a release of at least its first episode this year. Saying that, we did get the tutorial and tech demo portion of it served to us about a year ago, so go grab that if you haven’t already. SARCIA is a music-heavy adventure game set in a mysterious land. You play as a creature that has just awakened here and is learning to communicate with the other denizens. The language, Palnia, isn’t so easy to learn, but there is another way of communicating, and that is through music.

So SARCIA has you learning both the language and the musical form of communication so that you can meet the other characters, solve the game’s mysteries and hopefully go on some magical journey. It’s probably not all too surprising that the game is imbued with the same design philosophy as games like Journey and ICO. We love these games, so we’re all too willing to love this one just as much should it be worthy.

Quadrilateral Cowboy (Blendo Games)

Quadrilateral Cowboy

Stealth, hacking and low-fi spy fiction are all cool things taken individually. Blendo Games are putting on their sharpest bartender’s gear to serve them up in a shaken (not stirred) cocktail. It’s still early days yet, but the gameplay footage so far has shown an enticing mixture of planning, agile evasion of security systems and command-line bypassing of any networked obstacles you encounter. Tasked with various high-tech heists in a not-so-high-tech world, you plan out each mission in a VR simulation, preparing code ahead of time and working out the timing needed. In the field, you use your in-game laptop to execute time-sensitive scripts, giving you just a few precious seconds to waltz your way past cameras and laser tripwires as they briefly disable themselves.

All of this is being held together with that familiar brand of Blendo aesthetic charm. Everything is big and chunky, and there’s enough quiet little nods and references to infer that it’s set in the same strange world as Gravity Bone, Thirty Flights Of Loving and even Atom Zombie Smasher. There’s still a few areas where this one could stumble before release – most notably how accessible the command-line system is, and how well structured the levels themselves are – but there’s huge potential here for something special, and if the maps are constructed well enough, then there’s a good chance that replay value will be high, too. Always a good thing in a stealth game. Fingers crossed.

Heaven Variant (Zanrai Interactive)

Heaven Variant

Way back in a forgotten age, before everything fell apart in a series of catastrophic business decisions, Squaresoft made a shmup called Einhander. It was quite unlike any before or since, with a focus on limited ammo, directional armor and complex locational damage on bosses. Call it a love-letter, a tribute or just a clone, but there’s a lot of Einhander genes on show in Heaven Variant, along with a few hints of Thunder Force. It’s bright, loud, and has a fantastic soundtrack already.

While still quite some way from completion, the two gameplay videos doing the rounds already are exciting stuff, showing off a huge range of weapons, constant background story-chatter that somehow doesn’t intrude on the action, and some creative setpieces like a space colony falling apart around the player. It’s all very mid-90s in style, but 201X in presentation. Plus, it’s always nice to see an arcade shooter that isn’t all about little girls dodging massively complex bullet patterns. Good as some might be, we’ve probably had enough of those to last a lifetime.

Cradle (Flying Cafe for Semianimals)

Cradle

Formed after the layoffs at GSC Game World, Flying Cafe for Semianimals have kept hold of the first person, open world nature of the game they were previously working on, S.T.A.L.K.E.R., but that’s where the similarities come to an abrupt halt. Cradle is woven with mystery, and with more of an interest in allowing the player to find character through exploration. Assembling the mechanical female part by part requires a trade off by means of you investigating the details of the Mongolian hills, which isolate you from just about everything except nature itself. Tranquil and absorbing as it may be, your mission will keep you from gazing upon the mighty eagles that soar above for too long.

Ultimately, your goal is not to restore your incomplete companion, but to reveal the mystery of the abandoned entertainment park that lies just out within plain sight. How are all of these elements connected? You can only find out by engaging in the slow-paced discovery that Cradle rocks you to. The game was supposed to have been released in 2012, but with the lead designer, Pavel Mikhailov, having left and over expenditure having been encountered, things have been pushed back to at least the summer of 2013. Hopefully the game’s vision remains intact and the promise it shows ripens.

Asylum (Senscape)

Asylum

Agustín Cordes of Scratches fame returns at long last with a game focused on horror, atmosphere and narrative revelations, all set within the Hanwell Mental Institute. We’ve played the interactive teaser and were enthralled with what was on show – the detailed environments, creepy ambiance and classic adventure game nuances such as finding a key or a particular detail about a character to progress. Setting foot in the asylum is an experience within itself, without all of the horrors, and that’s because the game’s main location is based on blueprints of real asylums. Thus, the game has this essence of realism to it, as if what you’re witnessing in the game could have actually happened.

There’s a lot of supposed horror games in the making right now due to the explosion of Slender in 2012, but Asylum is the kind of horror we’re after. It’s smart and sophisticated and knows exactly how to tantalize players with every step they make. The narration from the main character adds another degree as he voices your thoughts upon looking around the institute. He also comes in handy for providing hints when you get stuck, as you most likely will as with most adventure games. This is one you won’t want to hang around in for too long, though, not unless you love being creeped out by subtle sounds and disturbing images and information.

DataJack (Epic Banana Software)

DataJack

Four years in the making, Epic Banana’s stealth-action RPG DataJack just has to arrive in 2013; it just must! Why? Have you ever dreamt of being a super hacker, spy, gunslinger or corporate assassin? Regardless of whether you have or not, DataJacker puts you into the shoes of a man who can perform all of these roles should the mission call for it. Of course, we can’t just live out these power fantasies without some form of framework, and for that we need to head out to the year 2030. When there, we shall become this extraordinary being and be sent on many missions to earn the dollar.

The easiest way to imagine DataJacker is putting Deus Ex in an isometric view and then shoving it in 30 or so missions with three different factions to work for with endings for each. That’s the most simple way of putting it. So yes, there are cybernetic limbs you can install to enhance your capabilities, there are 28 weapons you can choose from with which to strike down your foe, and there’s a tasteful range of gadgets to sneak around the locations where you intend to infiltrate, eliminate and steal. Lots of variation in these levels in terms of how they can be completed and plenty of unlockables to entice replays – what is not to love here? Oh, and you can punch through walls.

Distance (Refract Studios)

Distance

Pumping electronic music? Parkour? Fast, neon-lit futurecars? Fast, neon-lit futurecars doing parkour to a soundtrack of pumping electronic music? Sounds like Distance, Refract Studios’ debut title and a spiritual successor to the developers’ award-winning student game, Nitronic Rush. Described by the devs as a survival racing game and a combination of Trials Evolution, Rush 2049, Halo, and Tron, Distance will have players boosting, spinning, bouncing and flying their way through a mysterious and obstacle-filled city.

What makes Distance super cool, even to people who don’t care for racing games, is the element of exploration. Thanks to the car’s unique abilities, players are not confined to the limits of the track, but encouraged to navigate hidden roads and alternative paths, uncovering secrets of the city’s history along the way. This shifts the player’s focus away from just the finish line, a generally looping linearity that may turn some away from the genre, and enriches the experience of the track itself. Add in the stellar music of TORCHT, some sleek as hell concept art, and what we believe will be controls as smooth and intuitive as its predecessor’s (more so, even!), and Distance is no doubt the racing game to look out for in 2013. Sort-of-recently funded on Kickstarter, the developers have promised a ton of new features as well, so there’s a lot to look forward to!

Memory Of A Broken Dimension (Data Tragedy)

Memory Of A Broken Dimension

Curiosity goes a long way sometimes, and there’s not many games that we’re more intrigued about than Memory of a Broken Dimension. Last year we saw a number of releases that involved little in the way of physical player-game interaction as they entered the mind with their environments. Sound and visuals play the biggest parts in these types as the player isn’t challenged so much as merely taken to another place where they can really feel a particular emotion. Memory of a Broken Dimension is different, though. Mainly in that it requires the player to slip into its world through a DOS interface, which is a puzzle within itself and will make the emergence in its glitch world even more of a reward.

But it’s in walking around this digitized plane that we hope to be captivated with that sense of discovery once again. Static effects and radio noise are prominent in this monochromatic future world. The vibe given off is one that combines a feeling of fear, as if you are trespassing, as well as glorious discovery due to emerging in this world by yourself and then venturing around it. The idea is apparently to match up various parts of the fuzz to find images within. There’s probably more to the game than that too, and it’s certainly tapping into a very unique idea and aesthetic.

Project Zomboid (The Indie Stone)

Project Zomboid

While The Walking Dead has provided us with all the zombie-themed drama we can handle, there’s still a position open for that one perfect zombie survival sim. Part RPG, part action, part strategy, all terrifying. Theft, billing problems and backup-related drama haven’t stopped The Indie Stone, and they seem well on track to deliver the game that we’ve all dreamed about for so long. Simple isometric graphics are layered on top of a detailed simulation engine with some impressively capable AI, and the whole thing is modulular, ensuring a long life of modding and tweaking.

There’s no winning, just clinging on to life for as long as you can. You’re a flawed, fragile human, susceptible to starvation, exposure, disease and even psychological breakdown, while the undead are a tireless, ever-hungry swarm. Resources are limited, electricity is fading, food is slowly spoiling and all it takes is a tiny mistake on a scavenging run to get bitten, and then the uncertainty sets in – are you infected? You don’t know until the symptoms start. It’s nerve-wracking stuff, and that’s what makes it so compelling.

Barkley 2: Revenge Of Cuchulainn (Tales Of Game’s Studio)

Barkley 2: Revenge Of Cuchulainn

Tales Of Games are a strange bunch, but they’re just about the only people on earth who could make a parody JRPG about the post-cyberpocalyptic aftermath of Space Jam and still end up with something worth playing. While they’re stepping carefully around the copyright-infringing elements for the commercial sequel, it sounds like they’re pulling out the stops on just about every other front, especially now that they’ve raised over $100,000 on Kickstarter, filling in the vast majority of their lofty stretch goals.

What we’re looking at is a full-length 2D action RPG/shooter, procedurally generated guns, many dwarves (in both Cyber and Dark varieties) and ToG’s typically demented sense of humour  It looks like it’s shaping up great already, but let’s be honest; owning a grim and gritty game about a renegade gunslinging B-Baller is reason enough to buy the game. The whole ‘Hey, this actually looks pretty good!’ angle is just icing on the cake at this point. Thick, luscious, luxuriant icing.

Zeno Clash 2 (ACE Team)

Zeno Clash 2

If nothing else, ACE Team’s first person brawler, Zeno Clash, was interesting. The fighting got a little rickety at times and lacked variation, but the punk fantasy world it is set in is one of the most unique created for a game. Undoubtedly, due to the small, closed off playable areas and the unresolved questions, we wanted more from it. And with Zeno Clash 2, ACE Team are ensuring that those who were after that will feel it is delivered, or so they say. It’s looking promising at least considering that players will be able to free roam around the world of Zenozoik and meet its denizens as they like. The story is still linear, and for this we’re relieved as that was a key component of the original, and sticking together some parts of a game this bizarre helps for comprehension sake.

Understandably, the fighting mechanics are smoother and more expansive than before. More time is available to pore into this crucial element of the experience, so afforded now are body part lock-ons with grazes and scuffs, a bigger variety in weapons and different fighting styles among the enemies. On top of that, a co-operative playthrough is an option this time around should players want to team up and fisticuff the creatures of the game side-by-side. Zeno Clash 2 looks to be more bizarre, more liberal and much tighter than its predecessor, and will certainly be an interesting title to watch and play.

Apotheon (Alientrap)

Apotheon

Following up one of my favorite games of the last couple of years, Capsized, isn’t going to be easy for Alientrap, but they’ve managed to give themselves a decent headstart with how stabby and spear-thrusting Apotheon is looking. These folks certainly know how to pull off sidescrolling combat, and they’re not afraid to get all up in our physics about it either. Sure, feel free to gaze upon that Athenian vase art style, but it comes with a bite – that being bloody melee battles. Roll around, pull up your shield, throw spears and hack at limp bodies. Corr, are you not entertained?!

Need some motivation to get your arse through the Land of the Dead, up Mount Olympus and to strike down that scornful Athena? Apart from saving humanity (and let’s be fair, that’s the easy part), you’ll probably rise into godhood should you be able to complete your task. That’s just the single player, though, as in the simple stuff. Introduce human opponents and battle against them, why don’t you? Then we’ll truly be able to see how well you fare in your attack and defense!

Octodad: Dadliest Catch (Young Horses)

Octodad: Dadliest Catch

Octodad sure knows how to pitch itself – a catchy-yet-informative theme song, adorable character design, a concept reminiscent of Chicken Boo (of Animaniacs) and even a hint of pathos – it’s an exciting bundle of concepts, and in any other situation I’d be worried whether the gameplay could even begin to live up to the ideas behind it. It’s nice, then, that we already know that Octodad works as a game, thanks to its origins as an experimental freeware project. A simple and deliberately fiddly control system lets you wobble and flop your way around daily life, trying to complete simple household chores and family interactions without revealing your true and shocking nature.

Dadliest Catch looks like it’s doing everything a good sequel should, expanding on the concept, offering more of the same stuff that worked, and adding some interesting tweaks to the existing formula. The game-world looks larger and more varied, and the gameplay seems to be mixing stuff up as well, with more navigation-related challenges in addition to the inherent difficulties of using tentacles to manipulate objects meant for human hands. It’s a formula that we already know works, and there’s every indication that this is going to be the definitive Octopus-In-A-Suit simulator that we’ve all been waiting for. At the very least, it should be worth a few squid.

Monaco (Pocketwatch Games)

Monaco

Monaco is another title that’s been a long time coming, and given that we’ve already played it and squeezed out a Spotlight, we’re quite confident in saying that it has certainly been worth the wait. Currently, the game is available at a discounted price when preordering, so if you haven’t done so already, then now is probably a good time to pick it up. You shouldn’t need reminding why you’ve been patiently awaiting Monaco, but if you do, then hopefully the phrase ‘that co-op heist game’ will trigger those cogs in your head to start churning once again.

There’s not much more to elaborate upon the game than that, really. Not to imply there’s not a lot to the game, as there certainly is enough to get familiar with across its many levels, eight classes and several security measurements within each building. This is a game that you can understand and become quite skilled at pretty fast, though, so where you’ll find more gameplay hours is in the local and online co-op capabilities. Monaco is definitely the kind of game that introduces raucous laughter to a get-together, as you will need keen teamwork to worm past guards and cameras, using your various class-specific skills as you go. Stealth is obviously the best way to go about pulling off a heist, as well as speed. Should things go a bit haywire, though, it’s not game over, but it does mean everyone has to panic a little and get out of there before they’re taken down.

Path of Exile (Grinding Gear Games)

Path Of Exile

I must make a confession which will likely make me some enemies here; I didn’t much like Diablo 2, and Diablo 3 left me completely cold. The memories of the original were just too strong – the slow, methodical movement, the meaningful choices and flexible character-building and the overwhelming atmosphere of death and decay were just a perfect mix for a dungeon crawler. From what I’ve played of the current beta of Path of Exile, it might just be the one to recapture that feel.

Designed with genre fans in mind, Path of Exile offers incredible freedom in how you build your character, with classes acting less as archetypes and more as basic starting equipment and stat packages – there’s nothing stopping a hulking barbarian from picking up some magic along the way, or a waifish witch from wading into melee with a sword twice her size. The game is also somewhat tougher than genre standard, letting players challenge themselves with customized endgame dungeons once they run out of content. Oh, and the best thing? It’s free to play, and nothing in the beta suggests that spending money is required.

Depth (Depth Team)

Depth

From the original creators of the classic multiplayer shooter Killing Floor, Depth is undoubtedly one of the most heart-pounding titles destined to grind its sharp teeth along our monitors in 2013. As is always the case with these competitive multiplayer experiences, there are two teams to choose from in Depth, and both of them are completely different embodiments to anything you’ve had before. One team will be a team of divers, armed with spear guns, flippers and knives with the intention of stealing treasure at the bottom of these Mexican waters. The other team are the sharks that patrol this stretch of the ocean and are hungry for human meat.

If that’s not one of the greatest set-ups for a multiplayer experience, then maybe we’ll have to jump in shark-infested waters ourselves. Yeah, maybe not. Seeing gameplay of Depth really drives home how intense an experience this is going to be, particularly when playing as a diver. You’ll need to use stealth to get to the treasure you seek as an upfront confrontation with a shark really won’t end well. So hiding in seaweed and in sunken ships is your only real hope of getting through. The sharks, on the other hand, have shark vision and their enormous jaws to seek the divers out, with the ability to turn the quiet waters into a thrashing bloodbath within seconds should they spot their prey. We’re already crapping our pants in equal parts fear and anticipation.

Dungeon Dashers (Jigxor)

Dungeon Dashers

No matter how many dungeons we crawl through, there always seems to be another game that entices us to once again travel through their underground innards in search of loot. How this continues to happen is beyond our comprehension. So let’s not question it and instead just accept that Dungeon Dashers is one mighty fine looking game for a number of very valid reasons. First up – this is a co-op dungeon crawler, and there’s not too many of those lying around, even less so of any that are actually fun to play. Up to four online players can traipse through this pixel art beauty and there’s a class for each. There’s much more than just hustling your way through monster battles, though, as the different terrain supplies a cause for puzzles to solve and traps to avoid. Can you work together and look out for each other?

Surprisingly, perhaps, Dungeon Dashers is a turn-based crawler, but one that still manages to supply a fast pace, so you won’t end up waiting for eons as a team mate decides what their turn will be. Mostly it’s all kept rather simple to align with the pace, but given that there’s plenty of turn options, there’s no loss of tactics and strategy. There’s even a crafting system which will be vital to consult in order to pass some of the tougher creatures and most certainly the traps and puzzles…unscathed. We’re pretty sure this game is destined for greatness, especially if you can get a good team together.

Castle Story (Sauropod Studio)

Castle Story

So you’ve got to build a castle. This is something you’ve done many times before, but this time it’s different. Your foe from which your castle will defend your people (the Bricktrons) are a little more conniving in their makeup. They’ll find flaws in your bricked walls, your towers, the surrounding landscape. If there’s a weakness, anything at all, they will find it and exploit it. Then you have physics to worry about. Mess that up and everything could crumble in an instant. Hours of work lost within seconds and your humble yellow workers dead because of your failures. This is Castle Story, and we accept its challenge. Though we already doubt our capabilities and mettle.

Surprisingly, Castle Story is one of the very few voxel-based games on this list, and to think everyone was hating on those volumetric cubes after Minecraft made them so popular! They’re put to good use here too, as you carve into mountains atop the floating islands that feature in Castle Story. Once you’ve gathered your resources, you’ll then carve out your castles. Of course, to truly realize a proper defense, you’ll also need to armor up and weaponize your Bricktrons, so ensure that they don’t spend every second of their wearisome days stacking bricks. Would be handy if you taught them some magic too. Those dark creatures won’t know what hit ‘em! Unless it’s a clumsily placed brick on one of your walls…do try to think things through.

else { Heart.break() } (Erik Svedang + Friends)

else { Heart.break() }

What Erik Svedang hints towards with else { Heart.break() } is exactly the kind of game experience we’ve been after since watching The Matrix back in 1999. Though this upcomer seems to brandish more style and is probably even more smarter while it’s at it too. First off the game’s cyberpunk world is one we’ll gladly jump into given what we’ve seen drawn up already. What’s more, it’s intended as a self-preserving world too, so that characters will go about their lives with or without your presence. Part of the game is immersing yourself within this space and having an “interactive drama”.

Beyond that, the game is really intended for the player to gradually learn how to code things into the world. Out of this puzzles will emerge, but in a way that hasn’t really been explored before. The idea is for there to be an open-endedness about the emerging of puzzles. As you learn more about how to manipulate the game’s world, you’ll become more powerful in a sense, and there’s even capacity for you to hack beyond the limits of what the designers have provided, so that you’ll have an experience that borders the metaphysical. We’re intrigued and hopeful to say the least, and loving that more and more games are based around coding – it seems to be a rising interest.

StarForge (Code Hatch Corp)

StarForge

Starforge is a rather confusing game to follow. What was once planned to be a free-to-play pseudo-MMO is now an alphafunded retail game, and seemingly in constant need of funding. Understandable, as it can’t be cheap or easy to develop something this downright fancy-looking. I suppose you could call this Minecraft In Space, but that would sell it short. There’s tower defense and FPS elements (both competitive and cooperative), but they’re just parts of the whole. It’s a game where your character’s body is fully physically modelled, and where you can glue guns onto your guns so that you have a wall of machineguns powerful enough to use as an impromptu jetpack. One early gameplay teaser even featured aerial chainsaw-duels between players.

It’s hard to shake the feeling that Starforge is biting off more than it can chew in trying to be all things to all people, but the current playable alpha builds suggest that they might just pull it off. The building system is impressive, with ground deformation looking natural and smooth, while block-based structures mesh together using modular tilesets that flow logically into one another. The physics-driven nature of the gunplay already makes shooting stuff feel rather satisfying, even if the wriggling alien worm-beasts are a little on the bullet-spongey side. With so many interconnected elements, this is a very ambitious project for a tiny studio, but what’s on show already is reason enough to be hopeful.

Intruder (Superboss Games)

Intruder

It’s not often that we’re able to get excited about an FPS when focusing on indie games, and when we do it’s often the case that the game falls short of everything it seemed to promise. But Intruder is different, and it’s very worthy of this list. Fortunately, we’ve already put many hours into Intruder and had a lot of fun while doing so. This is a tactical online multiplayer shooter, which doesn’t sound all that fresh. However, what makes Intruder stand out is its gadgets, which have a profound effect on the gameplay and how players handle matches in general.

With a variety of paths through the levels, such as vents, rooves and through shrubbery, players can really get the sneak on each other. But it’s additions such as the cameras, sensors, remote explosives and walkie talkies, that make the difference. The last of that list is especially important as you call out enemy spots to those on your team, but do so with care as your voice is projected in the game space, so if an enemy is near, you’ll want to whisper. As you can imagine, due to parts of the game’s design such as this, a lot of tension is created, and it can all be over in a matter of seconds should a firefight break out. And that’s only the basics! There’s a lot more to come from Intruder, and we can’t wait to jump in and start arresting people.

Charlie Murder (Ska Studios)

Charlie Murder

Mixing dark overtones with metal and gory brawling. That’s Charlie Murder in a bean tin. The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile is Ska Studios last release and, my word, was it ever an epic and heart-throbbing slash ‘em up. Most outstanding and looking to be further expanded into Charlie Murder is Ska’s understanding of combo flow and weapon mixing to enable the player to create a spectacle that rivals their own lurid art style. Not being about cyber-ninjas and talented samurai, though, Charlie Murder’s move sets focus more on picking up weapons from the environment and hurtling them, as well as capturing the feel of a proper street fight between rival gangs.

The two parties going at each other’s throats are two rival metal bands in this case. So it’s a mix of overtly testosterone-driven nutjob punks and black-laden beefcakes banging heads in this instance. Their limbs and the environment isn’t their only means of bloodying up their surroundings either. Using Anar-chi they can cast spells of various sorts for some explosive effects. Also worth mentioning is that the game comes with five playable characters to choose from, and it supports up to four players for a co-op rampage around gig venues and the grimy streets. This will probably be the most brutal co-op brawler on XBLA when it finally arrives, and we wouldn’t expect any less from its developers.

The Banner Saga (Stoic Studio)

The Banner Saga

True, you may already be playing the beta version of The Banner Saga: Factions, but you’re missing at least half of the game. The turn-based multiplayer battles to the death that makes up Factions will soon be complemented by the game’s much-anticipated single player. This, it is suspected, will be the meat and potatoes of the game, the reason being that it will justify the Viking world the game is set in. So far you’ve had a decent glimpse at the epic arenas and mountainous landscapes that decorate the scenery, but you don’t know much more about it. The characters are unknown: their stories, relationships, upbringing. And given the game’s compelling art style and tough rules, we can’t wait to jump in and become further acquainted with what The Banner Saga has to offer.

As the development studio consists of three ex-Bioware members, you can expect many familiar aspects of those huge RPGs that they made a living creating. Character conversations are very important, as well as dictating how each relationship is forged and continues. There’s even going to be choice wheels to select from during dialogue. Likewise, as you take your party of warriors and sorcerers across the game’s narrative, you’ll have to accept what fate hands them. This will fit with the harsh outcomes of the multiplayer we have seen so far as we outlined previously. You won’t be reloading save states here – this is a Viking world and death is accepted as part of life, and so it is in The Banner Saga. You’ll form very personal connections with the people in this world and battle on all fronts to save them and ensure they have the best future, but Stoic Studio won’t hesitate in ripping them away from you.

Starfarer (Fractal Softworks)

Starfarer

It says a lot when a game hasn’t even left the Alpha phase of development, but already boasts a huge and productive modding community, primed and ready to port just about anything into the engine. Inspired just as much by Mount & Blade as classics like Star Control, Starfarer is a game of two halves – a tactical action/strategy combat engine, and a grand strategic layer where you build up your forces and bid for power across a dynamic galaxy. Right now only the former element is anywhere near complete, but the foundation is laid for something special.

There’s a lot of clever, subtle ideas that help set Starfarer aside from the competition. Probably the most notable is that rather than act as an omnipotent god-figure commanding your fleet as if they were an extension of yourself, you play as an Admiral. Instead of commanding ships directly, you’re passing orders to Captains with their own personality quirks and agendas. It’s initially tough to adjust to, but once you learn to trust the remarkably capable allied AI, it’s a joy to fight alongside your CPU-driven forces, rather than try to babysit them.

STASIS (Christopher Bischoff)

STASIS

Given the surge of impressive adventure games at the moment, you’d have to be on to something pretty special to stand out, and that’s exactly what STASIS is doing. It’s not just its premise: John Maracheck awakens on a huge and abandoned research facility with no idea how long he’s been asleep and where his wife and kids are. It’s not just its atmosphere: the facility may be abandoned but you’re given the sense that something lurks in the glowing green corridors, something other than the hazy monitors and dormant machines. It’s not just its mechanics: STASIS is a classic adventure game through and through with puzzles and inventory sorting, though it’s realized from an isometric viewpoint and teases a horror theme too.

It’s all of these things together. It’s an ordinary man who finds himself in an extraordinary situation, and you’ve got to help him overcome it. There’s a little quirk regarding how the game handles inventory too that gave us a giggle. You know how in adventure games the protagonist seems to have endless pockets? In STASIS a reasoning is given for how you can hold so much stuff. The stasis-plug suit breaks down objects to their base elements and can reform them to their original state instantly. That solves that great gaming mystery! But the mystery of John Marachek, this research facility and his missing family is still at large, and we’re looking forward to cracking it.

The Iconoclasts (Joakim Sandberg)

The Iconoclasts

To be honest, we don’t exactly need any other reason to get wet around the mouth about a game that is being developed by Kojak (Joakim Sandberg) other than the fact that it’s a game he is making. His previous titles have proven his capabilities on a number of different levels. First off, his pixel art is some of the most attractive we’ve ever seen, and The Iconoclasts is probably his most attractive looking title so far. It’s a colorful and lush world that justifies exploring it one screen at a time based just on the visual contents alone. Of course, you then have its characters to drag you in further, and the quirky mechanic, Robin, of The Iconoclasts is the strong female we look for in his games, but more important are the other personalities you’ll interact with. In typical game fashion they’ll want to talk to you for quest giving reasons, but there’s more to them that as they’re often quite madcap, emotionally unstable and full of gossip.

Of course, we’ll mostly be sticking around for the variation in puzzles and combat that’s already appetized us in the game’s alpha demo. Using a huge wrench, you’ll shift the mechanical land itself as you hop around the game fulfilling your heroic deeds. You see, Robin’s father was a mechanic, and she intends to continue his legacy after he was killed by shady government forces. In this world, a mechanic is quite revered as they oppose the strict rule of the oppressors who restrict the usage of mechanics and science. The moon is also crumbling and its debris is destroying houses, so Robin is most certainly needed by the people at this instance. Through the overt comedy, glorious pixel art and fresh feeling mechanics, there’s plenty of reason to get excited about The Iconoclasts. Hopefully, Konjak will deliver this year, but progress has been delayed before, and as he’s keeping the game as quite a mystery still, we have no idea how far along it actually is.

Gunpoint (Tom Francis)

Gunpoint

It’s chilly out, so you pull the collar of your brown overcoat up to shield your neck. Shoulders hunched and hands shoved in pockets, you emerge from the subway greeted by the light patter of drizzle. There’s the building up ahead. No one around. So you break into a run with the glowing monitors from inside guiding you like a beacon. You skid to a halt, bend your legs and leap two stories high on to the side of the structure. In just a jiffy you plan your entry – smash through the window, leap onto the guard and smack him in the face until your knuckles are raw with the sound. Now it’s just a case of tapping out a rhythm on the keyboard as you hack and diving through the window on the other side, gliding through the air among the glass and rain and landing gracefully on the ground to walk off unnoticed.

Gunpoint is a jazzy, noir detective novel of a game. You’re a freelance spy and infiltrating buildings without meeting death or detection is your puzzle. Sure, the capabilities of your character to leap and overpower guards feels great. But there’s nothing more satisfying than managing to uses the game’s intuitive crosslink mechanics to completely rewire a building’s electronics so that you may slip by security with just a flick of a switch. First you’ll probably use brawn, but eventually switch to your brain and then revisit the short levels to really conquer them. Yes, this is another that we’ve played already and can happily encourage you to anticipate!

Rawbots (Rawbots Team)

Rawbots

It could be argued that Rawbots is cheating a little by having its customized fighting, driving and flying machines held together by springy electric tethers. Of course, anyone who would seriously argue that needs to be slapped around the face with a fish, because being able to assemble the custom robot of your dreams without having to worry about tensile strengths, socket connections or wiring is brilliant. The basic construction screen already brings back fond childhood memories of a huge bucket of mixed Lego pieces and the potential that they held. There’s just something to be said for the tactile joy of rummaging through a pile of bits and bobs and stumbling upon the perfect component.

It helps that it looks the business already, and promises have been made of both local and online multiplayer. You can even use just about any USB or bluetooth device as an improvised control panel for your machine, which brings back fond memories of Lego Mindstorms and related tech-toys. My only real reservation at this point is whether the levels themselves will be interesting enough. Construction-focused games have come, been and gone over the past few years, and while they were often fun, it was in spite of the level structure, rather than because of it. Here’s hoping that there’s as much heart and soul put into the game structure as the underlying tech.

Ether One (White Paper Games)

Ether One

One aspect of games we’ve been after for a while, but are only just starting to get a decent delivery on, is a mature story. Many of us don’t know what we mean by that, but it’s imperative that we celebrate it upon recognizing some form of maturity or sophistication in the telling of a story. One of the recent breakout titles based on this aspect is To The Moon, and Ether is actually making many of the same moves. You play as a stranger whose job it is as a Restorer to enter people’s minds and fix their memories. In Ether, we’ll be travelling into Jean’s mind and witnessing the wonders and horrors that exist within.

Ether One is the first half of this two part adventure and will soon be with us, and yet White Paper Games have managed to keep most of the game a secret. Just about enough has been revealed to earn the game a very deserving place on this list, though. What’s really got us ticking regarding this first person adventure title is the story-led puzzle design along with the possibilities of entering someone’s mind. As we rummage through the game’s detailed environments, turning sentimental items over in our hands, we should discover the secrets of Jean, of the character we play and maybe, just maybe, we’ll learn something about ourselves. Could this one leave us emotionally drained and forever thankful of its existence? We’d like to hope so.

Routine (Lunar Software)

Routine

The thought of being alone in space is terrifying enough by itself – only the sound of your own breath and heartbeat to focus on, and the looming threat of the slightest mistake becoming a life-threatening disaster. Space is not a friendly place, and outside of a cozy starship bridge, it’s probably not somewhere that sane people would want to go. Routine sounds like it’s compounding this terror by ensuring that you aren’t alone up there on the moon – everyone but you seems to be dead, and there’s something hunting you. You probably won’t hear it coming.

So, we know that Routine is a first-person survival horror game with a few interesting twists. Probably the most important is that there are some light roguelike elements. Various gameplay facets are randomized each time you play, and there’s no traditional save system. You’ve only got one life, and if you die, then you’ll be going in blind the next time too. We also know that it’s really, really pretty. There’s not been much in the way of solid gameplay footage so far, but the few clips released are nothing short of stunning. Oh, and as with Amnesia and other such horror masterpieces, they’re going for maximum immersion. Low on HUD, high on hands-on involvement. If this one even plays half as well as it looks, it’ll be special.

Radio The Universe (6e6e6e)

Radio the Universe

This one’s a mighty tasty looking sandwich. Grab yourself some Dark Souls, Yume Nikki, Symphony of the Night and Silhouette Mirage and spread it thick across the bread of your choice. Bite into it and discover what Radio the Universe is going to taste like. It’s a moody and dark sci-fi 2D action RPG and one that is promising to challenge us, and with the artstyle and cityscape reminding us of Tsutomu Nihei’s cyberpunk worlds, it’s a doubly thick arrow to our hearts. This appears to be the opposite of a standard run ‘n’ gun experience due to showcasing a multi-faceted gameplay designed more around evasion and defense rather than all out blasting in all directions possible. We like that – the steady pace and the tactical movements and striking it encourages in your playstyle, which is highly fitting for the overtones provided by the game’s atmosphere.

Appealing to our tastes even further, Radio the Universe boasts a slightly surreal edge to it, one that the developer seems to adopt themselves and filtered into the game. The aim is for the game to feel “slightly off”, just so you tread carefully and are led to question things about the world, the character and the gameplay as well. Death is clearly a big part of the game, with it being treated as an inevitability and one that comes with unknown consequences; for example, it is stated that players “who die in-game die in real life.” Mind you, this is coming from a person who plans to destroy the Sun should they raise the money needed on the game’s Kickstarter page. Need your curiosity be piqued any more? Thought not. We’re looking forward to seeing what this game is all about and how its odd and mysterious premise will play out.

The Rest Of ‘Em

As previously mentioned, the above our are top 50 after much discussion, but there were a lot more than that in our original list. Rather than discard that brilliant bunch of games aiming for a 2013 release, we thought to list them below for future reference.

Brave Earth: Prologue
Brave Earth: PrologueKitaru
KitaruSaturated Dreamers – The Lake Rises
Saturated Dreamers - The Lake RisesEuropa
EuropaOliver & Spike
Oliver & SpikeSamorost 3
Samarost 3The Blackwell –
The BlackwellBattle Keep
Battle KeepCrashtastic
CrashtasticRépublique
RépubliqueChildren Of Liberty
Children Of LIbertySignal Ops
Signal OpsCloudbuilt
CloudbuiltMFP: Fighting Is Magic
MLP: Fighting Is MagicSir, You Are Being Hunted
Sir, You Are Being HuntedDreadline
DreadlineClockwork Empires
Clockwork EmpiresMaK
MaK

Broforce
Broforce

Mew-Genics
Mew-Genics

The Swindle
The SwindleSTEALER
STEALEREnvironmental Station Alpha
Environmental Station AlphaThe Inflicted – A Battle For Sanity
The Inflicted - A Battle For SanitySpy Party
Spy PartyUFHO 2
UFHO2Secrets of Grindea
Secrets Of GrindeaMercenary Kings
Mercenary KingsCastaway Paradise
Castaway ParadiseIr/rational Investigator
Ir/rational InvestigatorAudiosurf Air
Audiosurf AirMaia
MaiaMushroom 11
Mushroom 11Hostile Takeover
Hostile TakeoverAztez
AztezKnock-Knock
Knock-KnockRichard & Alice
Richard & AliceSportsfriends
Barabariball

Eador: Masters of the Broken World
Eador: Masters of the Broken World

Running With Rifles
Running With Rifles

Overgrowth
OvergrowthBADLAND
BADLANDHumans Must Answer
Humans Must AnswerAmericana Dawn
Americana Dawn0x10c
0x10cCross of the Dutchman
Cross Of The DutchmanSang-Froid: Tales of Werewolves
Sang-Froid: Tales of WerewolvesTINK
TINKKenshi
KenshiProject AM2R
Project AM2RUnderrail
UnderrailNeo Scavenger
NEO ScavengerIbb and Obb
Ibb and ObbMiegakure
MiegakureAgainst The Wall
Against The WallA Short Tale Of Solitude
A Short Tale of SolitudeMoments Of Silence
Moments Of SilenceRamBros
RamBros

Star Command
Star Command

NAVE
NAVE

Cannon Brawl
Cannon Brawl

Volgarr The Viking
Volgarr The VikingPlatformines
PlatforminesReset
ResetPrison Architect
Prison ArchitectShadow Of A Soul
Shadow Of A SoulGone Home
Gone HomeRing Runner – Flight Of The Sages
Ring Runner - Flight Of The SagesDrunken Robot Pornography
Drunken Robot PornographyStrike Suit Zero
Strike Suit ZeroLeaper
LeaperXenonauts
XenonautsWalter
WalterUnder The Ocean
Under The OceanTengami
TengamiThe Stanley Parable HD
The Stanley Parable HDRunner2: Future Legend Of Rhythm Alien
Runner2Tiny Barbarian
Tiny BarbarianFlightless
Flightless

Folk Tale
Folk Tale

Cardinal Quest 2
Cardinal Quest 2

Related Posts

  • xDrakeZx

    A beautiful list made by the staff of IndieStatik, my greatest thanks to all of you. I can’t wait to play all the games listed here. Happy New Year and onwards towards another year of Indie greatness. :D

  • Jess

    SO STOKED. I shouldn’t have even looked at this list. I was already obsessing enough over the games I new about. Now this. This is too much to bare. Bookmarking for future reference though.

  • Soysauze

    Cant wait for Monaco and Machine for Pigs!

    • Wonkyth

      As a Beta tester for Monaco, I can confirm it’s awesomeness. :D
      Machine for Pigs is gonna be awesome too, I hope! ^__^

  • http://waxy.org/ Andy Baio

    Amazing list. I’m excited for Double Fine Adventure and Kentucky Route Zero, myself.

  • LadyAijou

    You guys forgot Edge of Space! XD

  • http://www.dungeondashers.com Andy

    Thank you for featuring Dungeon Dashers! It’s really motivating to know that people are excited by the game. I’d better get back to work on it! :)

  • http://lmnopc.com/ Thom

    Great list of games!

    One missing game is the Kickstarter’d Legend of Dungeon, from RobotLovesKitty.

    http://www.robotloveskitty.com/LoD/

    Been playing the alphas and so far it’s a pretty fun little time-killer. I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes from here.

  • http://indiegamehunt.tumblr.com Phack

    Great list! I don’t want to be the guy saying “you missed one!” but, well, I’m really excited about EDGAR http://edgarthegame.wordpress.com/

    Also, STEALER looks amazing, but I wouldn’t bet on it being finished in 2013 (unfortunately).

  • Inf3rnal

    Your missing another amazing indie game.

    Renegade X.

    http://www.renegade-x.com/

  • Tommy_f33

    “Running with Rifles” shouldn’t have only been in the “Rest of ‘em” list if you ask me. They have awesome reviews on desura and I enjoy every second of the beta.
    Check out for yourself if you are into top down shooters with TONS of action:

    http://www.modulaatio.com/runningwithrifles/

  • http://syrenamontes.blogspot.com/ syrenamontes

    A huge THANK YOU to indiestatik.com for this amazing list! Definitely looking forward to playing most (if not all) of the games listed here, but the one game I am stoked to play is AMNESIA A MACHINE FOR PIGS. Happy new year to everyone! :)

  • Maikuboy

    Nice list. Most excited about Starfarer :)

  • http://www.thedklounge.com Rufus

    great list! really looking forward to a ton of these awesome games! stealer and axiom verge look AMAZING~! i do a lot of indie game reviews as well. check out thedklounge.com!

  • http://kayin.pyoko.org Kayin

    Nice to see Brave Earth at the end. Due to my lack of marketing at this point of the project, I’m pleased to still be noticed at all. :)

    Anyways, hopefully I’ll make 2013 happen.

  • Crayven

    I suppose everyone forgot about Vector Thrust *sigh*
    http://www.moddb.com/games/vector-thrust

    But it could be caused by the developer’s own almost no promotional campaign or whatsoever at all, even at Ace Combat fanbase itself.

  • http://gabrielverdon.com Gabriel Verdon

    Basically a perfect list.

  • Slayker

    Man… so many awesome games, I’m hell keen for RAW though http://www.detour-games.com/home.html

  • Jason Fletcher

    This was truly a beautiful post! I can’t wait to play so many of these games that I’ve previously never heard of.

  • Matt Schramer

    What an amazing list! There’s one more game I would add – Halfling Wars – an iOS RPG/simulation.

    http://www.halflingwars.com/

  • Glorian

    Path of Exile but no Grim Dawn?! Grim Dawn raised over $500k on Kickstarter last spring, I’m pretty surprised that it isn’t in this list if you’re at all interested in ARPGs…

  • dave

    You mnissed Avernum2: The crystal souls, and Avadon 2..both from Spiderweb Software ‘the’ best indie rpg game studio..xP ^^

    • Wonkyth

      Considering Exile 2 is probably my favourite RPG to this day, I’m DEFINITELY looking forward to this one! :D

  • Gloria

    Runner2 is huge on my list.

  • Emanuel Garcia

    I can’t believe that Cardinal Quest 2 is on the list, nothing bad to say about the game itself. I though their Indie GoGo didn’t prove to big a huge hit…I personally like the series and I can’t wait for the next one to come out. :)

  • Joseph McClory

    Wow, this is an amazing list! It’s the love poured into articles like these that really attract me to the site. Keep up the good work.

  • Biligum

    I… I want to play all of these. 0.0

  • Plop-

    No Kerbal space program?

  • sean

    Im very excited about ether. It was the reason I found this website :) Also the witness and starbound look really good among others on the list.

    • sean

      Woops almost forgot lifeless planet will be a certain buy for me :)

  • http://www.AncientBeast.com Dread Knight

    Also keep an eye on Ancient Beast. It had it’s first release about a month ago, but it still has a long way to go though.
    It’s nice that development is pretty fast. Keep in mind it’s free open source, so you could help out as well http://www.AncientBeast.com

  • anon

    Missing the most important one, probably due to timing: Spire

    http://hitboxteam.com/mystery-and-mastery

    Probably my most anticipated game, indie or not.

    “Plus, it’s always nice to see an arcade shooter that isn’t all about little girls dodging massively complex bullet patterns. Good as some might be, we’ve probably had enough of those to last a lifetime.”

    Nope. And their distribution is severely limited unfortunately.

  • http://www.portablegamingregion.com Poklogat
  • Gaz
  • http://www.krillbite.com/ats/ Norweagian

    I really know the creator of ATS (Among The Sleep)

  • Mominito

    Wooooow!! Really love this site. Congratulations on such a good article!

  • Sean

    Disappointed to see no mention of Stardew Valley and Malevolence: Sword of Ahkranox.

    I think it says so much about the indie community though that you list about 70-80 indie games and still you’re getting “you missed this” comments.

  • :(

    cant believe kenshi didnt make the 50 also btw Depth is shelved now :(

  • http://www.indiedb.com/games/stone-rage sypzzz
  • Robert

    Wow this was an awesome list! Usually lists this long only have ~10 actually good items, but every game on here is a gem and you guys did a great job finding and compiling them!