Oh no, not again
I actually had to whittle this list down, can you believe it? I guess I didn’t have to, since 42 is already an arbitrary choice, but I really liked the reference to Hitchhiker’s Guide so I settled on 42. Plus, as I approach 50, I feel as if the number is simply too large and it lessens the impact. I don’t want this to become a “here’s every dopey indie game I’ve ever heard of coming out next year maybe.”
These choice 42 are games that I am thoroughly looking forward to. Judging from my past posts, chances are that many of these will not come out this year, but 2017 is the year to put them on your radar if they aren’t already.
If you want to keep up to date on the games listed here, I’ve compiled a Twitter list you can follow/bookmark here.
As a reminder, games I have listed in previous years cannot re-make the list. Those games are: A Hat in Time, Bombernauts, Cogmind, Courier of the Crypts, Cryptark, Cuphead, Distance, Drifter, Due Process, Dying Ember, Ernesto, Gang Beasts, Intruder, Liege, Miegakure, New Game+, Overgrowth, Overland, Paradise Never, Parkitect, Project Zomboid, Routine, Scale, Squad, StarCrawlers, Strafe, Sub Rosa, Tacoma, The Iconoclasts, The Magical Realms of Tír na nÓg: Escape from Necron 7 – Revenge of Cuchulainn: The Official Game of the Movie – Chapter 2 of the Hoopz Barkley SaGa, The Moonlighters, The Long Dark, Tooth and Tail, and Under the Ocean.
Shit, I’m bad at predicting release years.
I had the opportunity to play this game at PAX East 2015, and it was tucked away in an area that didn’t seem to get much foot traffic. That being said, AER always seemed to have a large crowd watching on and waiting to play. It helps that it’s gorgeous, but I think deep down many people want to play a free-flying exploration game.
The game seems pretty unstructured, allowing players to explore and solve its mysteries at their own pace. Although it looks simple, I’m hoping to discover a layer of complexity in the game’s world.
First, read Kevin’s article discussing his time with Astroneer. If you read it and don’t immediately want to play it then maybe it’s not the game for you. But for the rest of us normal people, it seems like it’s going to scratch some great gameplay itches. Cooperative space adventure? That’s all I need in a game these days, I feel.
As with AER, exploration games are just so interesting. Whether the developer has hand-crafted the world or it’s generated by some algorithm, I find it exhilarating to try and find out what is out there. I hope No Man’s Sky hasn’t burnt people out on space exploration, because Astroneer looks like another great exploration game.
Developer Dan Marshall would probably tell you that his game doesn’t belong on this list because he’s humble. Well, he’s right! But I’m keeping it here just to spite his humbleness. Take that!
Behold the Kickmen looks like a top-down version of Super Mario Strikers, also known as the best soccer game to come out ever. Players can super-charge tackles and shots, and even alter the ball’s trajectory after a shot. There’s no out of bounds and no rules, really. Except that you can get more than one point for a goal if it’s from further away. With terms like “goldkeepers” and “goalmouth,” I’m fairly confident that Dan has never actually seen a soccer ball. Seriously though, read through some of the dev diaries — they’re filled with Dan’s tremendous humor.
Developer: Capybara Games
Follow it: Twitter
Can I play it now? No
After Capy’s announcement that the game would be delayed, I was actually a bit excited. Not for the delay, obviously, but for the reasons they gave for the delay. It was obvious from their language and tone that they were taking their time with Below, and it’s a product that they really care about. To me, that’s what matters in game development.
This is the year, I believe it! Capy’s got a great pedigree, and Below looks to keep that trend going. I love the camera in this game — the character looks (and thus feels) so tiny and insignificant. Below has clearly nailed the aesthetic here, now I just hope that the gameplay feels equally satisfying.
This is the only VR title to make the list, and it’s really the only one I can name off the top of my head for next year. The demo blew me away. It’s a must-play for any Vive owner, and feels like an actual game, rather than the shovels of shit that are out there on the VR market. This isn’t a case of “everything is shit so anything mediocre looks amazing,” either.
Budget Cuts has a great movement mechanic and strong stealth mechanics. I already love stealth games, but to actually have to physically be stealthy is something on a whole new level. During the demo I was peeking around corners and even lying down on my floor to evade being seen. Also, I threw knives at the back of robots’ heads and felt like a complete badass. This is one of my most anticipated games of the entire year, regardless of category.
I already wrote down my thoughts on an early build of this game, but I’ll reiterate some of it here. The narrative-driven aspect to it is certainly a big hook; many roguelikes tend to have a passable story and focus entirely on mechanics. And that’s okay! But after playing the game, I was excited when a story bit played out with some of the characters. The characters, both playable and not, are animated so well that you can’t help but think they’re endearing.
One of my favorite things in games is having multiple playable characters. I love how everyone has a gameplay style that they enjoy, and will lean towards one character or the next. Personally, I enjoyed all three of the characters I played as so far, except maybe bow lady, but always prefer the heavy-hitters. I stand by my preview headline in that this has all the right ingredients to be the next best roguelike.
Playing Insurgency was always something special. A “realistic” shooter that was still damn exciting to play. The same goes for the developers’ next game, Day of Infamy, which is currently in Early Access. I know, “World War II shooter” doesn’t sound the least bit appetizing, but the core design of Day of Infamy is what keeps people playing.
Accomplishing objectives feels like a truly cooperative feat since death comes quite easily. It’s exhilarating to have so much of the game (like your ammo count) unknown, and it does a great job of striking the balance between “way too realistic and lame” and “holy shit my heart is pumping.” That’s not to say there won’t be (intentionally) dull moments, though. I’ve spent plenty of time laying prone while defending an area, but even those moments have their tension.
Another game from the Stasis team? Sign me the heck up! Unfortunately not much is known at this time about Desolation, but I’m sure plenty of information will come about during its upcoming Kickstarter campaign. For now, all we know is that it takes place in the future, in a post-apocalyptic Africa.
If you haven’t played Stasis, I urge you to so you can experience what this team can do in the genre. Isometric puzzle games are rare these days so it’s nice to see someone creating more quality entries.
Hopefully, you know of Windjammers. If not, please, go educate yourself because you’re missing out on one of the most exciting multiplayer games ever created. There’s a reason it’s being remade! Anyway, Disc Jam clearly takes inspiration from the title, but changes things up enough to give it a clear reason to exist, even with the recently-announced remake of Windjammers.
For one, Disc Jam is on PC. Also, it’s more focused on the two-player cooperative aspect. The camera is behind a single side, which would make a four-player game impossible (or terrible). Seems like the intention here is to grab a friend, go online, and kick some bootay. With different characters and abilities, I’m just hoping that the “proprietary netcode” can hold up!
If you’re curious why Divinity 2 is on this list, well, you probably didn’t play the first one. I had never really followed the original Kickstarter or pre-release information, so when I sat down to play Divinity: Original Sin, I didn’t know what to expect. Needless to say, I loved it. That’s the main reason I’m so excited for their next offering in the series.
The feature I’m looking forward to most is certainly the four-person co-op. There was a mod for the first game that allowed for it, but it was very bare-bones and wasn’t super great. Having the game built from the ground up with this in mind will be amazing.
The first Door Kickers game was a bit of an overlooked gem in the strategy world, but it delivered some high-quality gameplay at a budget price. I can’t wait to see what the development team does with a sequel, since they clearly understand the genre and are very talented. A bigger and more polished strategy game from these guys is certainly enough to land them a spot on this list.
This game will live or die based on its controls. It looks amazing, so it’s already got the hook it needs to draw people in. But a Steam page that constantly boasts “exceptional combat” a few times needs to back it up. Let’s take bets on how long it takes for someone to compare the game to Dark Souls.
The combat looks to rely a lot on positioning: rolling away from incoming attacks and taking careful shots at the enemy. The attitude looks bleak and dreary, and bosses (maybe?) look gigantic and intimidating. Kind of like Dark Sou— ah shit!
For the past year or so, I’ve been playing a lot with Rubik’s Cubes. I have a couple in my classroom and am always tinkering during my prep periods. I began with just working towards memorizing the “formula,” but have evolved into understanding why those moves actually work. It’s a lot of fun! I recommend it for those looking for a cathartic time-killer that takes you away from the constant screens in your life.
Anyway, it’s no wonder Euclidean Lands caught my eye, since it’s basically Monument Valley meets a Rubik’s Cube. It’s a puzzler/strategy game that involves attacking enemies and dodging traps while changing the level so you can actually traverse it. I can’t wait to sink my teeth into the levels and see if my newfound hobby helps me out!
I doubt many people played Expeditions: Conquistador, but those who did were met with an satisfying yet difficult strategy game. And by difficult, I mean soul-crushingly difficult. I had the opportunity to play Vikings at PAX East last year, and it was exactly what I wanted.
The Expeditions dressing on a vikings-themed game felt like peanut butter and chocolate. The decisions in Conquistador tested my morality, but when you elevate that to the brutality associated with vikings? Oh boy, lots of killing is on the horizon. While there are tons of strategy games out there, Expeditions: Viking stands out among the rest.
This game has taken Steam by storm already. There’s just something about building a system of machines and watching them do your work for you. It’s never enough, either. The innate desire to make things better is what fuels Factorio‘s gameplay. The prevailing question is always “how can I automate this?” That’s usually followed by “damn, I should have planned this out way better” and some serious workarounds.
Throw in cooperative play and consistent updates to the Early Access version, and you got yourself a game that will almost certainly make a lot of “best of” lists after it comes out. Don’t wait for a Steam sale or bundle price though, because the development team has already stated that they will not be participating in either of those. So just go buy it now. It’s 100% worth it!
Frozen Synapse was such a brilliant game. It was relatively easy to comprehend, but the strategy was through the roof. The sequel ramps things up further than I thought it would. Hell, I’d be okay if they simply kept adding expansions on to the original, though now that I’ve seen what’s coming, I’m even more excited.
Frozen Synapse 2 takes place on a huge scale — you’ll be playing in entire procedurally generated cities. It’s possible to go into any building as you vie for control among many AI-controlled factions. The new classes and mechanics will help ensure this sequel feels like a big step up.
You play as a mouse! I didn’t Kickstart this, but I definitely wish I had. It’s an action-adventure game that involves some combat, sneaking, quests, conversations, and who knows what else! It’s out in Early Access right now, and what I’ve seen of early gameplay is super promising. I haven’t bit so far because I don’t like to buy story-driven adventure games before they’re complete, but I am just itching to jump into this world. Plus, if you don’t look too hard, it’s a Redwall game!
Hanano Puzzle 2
Follow it: Twitter
Can I play it now? Yes because in between me starting and finishing this post this game actually released. It’s free!
I was lucky enough to play a brief demo of this recently, and holy cow is it difficult. Not unfairly so, but it’s one of those puzzle games that will really wrack your brain. It’s a “simple” block-moving puzzle game that tasks the player with moving their blocks next to certain squares that will make flowers bloom from the blocks. Once all the flowers are bloomed, the level is completed!
As more and more elements get introduced, this becomes a real head-scratcher. If you enjoy the type of puzzle game that has you staring at a level for five to ten minutes, plotting out your every move, then go play to Hanano Puzzle 2.
I was also fortunate to play Heat Signature in its early state, and boy is it a blast. The premise has players beginning in a tiny pod that can latch onto much larger ships. Then, you simply board the ship, kill everyone on board, and take it for your own! The ‘heat signature’ aspect comes into play when attempting to board a ship — you’ll be detected if you just boost into the ship. You need to be an ace space curler and push your ship in a trajectory before cutting the engine and drifting towards the docking station. It’s something that never began to feel boring.
This is likely still a while away from release, and I trust Tom Francis to do right by this game.
Ever wanted to take care of your crappy car as you drive across eastern Europe? While that may sound a little too close to real life, Jalopy is one of those quaint experiences that finds entertainment in the mundane. It’s got a tongue-in-cheek vibe and some great style to it, which is good because otherwise it might be a hard sell. Although really, the success of the Truck Simulator games has proven that there is a market for “boring” games.
Costume Quest, eat your heart out! While not completely identical, it definitely puts out the same vibes. The development team has experience with games like Tearaway and LittleBigPlanet, so of course it’s the cutest game on this list! Any game that has me damaging enemies by jumping in puddles and throwing Frisbees at them has my attention.
As an aside, I’m not big on bikes. I’m evidently terribly coordinated and always feel uneasy on a bike. I’m always scared that the tire will hit a thin divot where I can’t turn the wheel and it hits against the ground and I fall real bad. That’s a normal fear, right? I’ll stay on my feet, thanks.
I cheated! I’m lumping two games into one entry here because they’re both made by the same people (person?). HackyZack is a platformer that looks like it requires some insane dexterity. In order to collect items, you’re going to need to juggle and ricochet a ball while also performing perilous platforming. It’s a simple concept that I can see being used to create some interesting, intense challenges.
Loadworld may not come out in 2017, but developer Zack Bell is chronicling the development on his blog. He describes it as a mix between Zelda and games like Undertale and EarthBound, while taking further inspiration from Adventure Time and Rick & Morty. I can feel your excitement bubbling after that, so my job here is done.
— meowza (@meowza) March 13, 2016
With a tagline on the website of “Eat stuff. Sell stuff. Eat more stuff,” I’m pretty sure most of us are already on board. Then you throw in the adorable art style from the Alphabear artist and you’ll definitely be aching to play Mineko’s Night Market. The game itself is a bit of a management game, where players will make decisions on how to manage Mineko’s crafts stand during the day and seemingly enjoying the markets at night time. If you’re looking to get a better feel of the game, just scroll through the amazing GIFs on the developer’s Twitter feed.
I can’t say I’m a big fan of the art style, and I’m also not sure that Nidhogg really needed a sequel, but somehow I’m looking forward to it! The first game is just so masterfully crafted that I can’t help but want to see what’s in store next. New weapons looks like a neat touch, so long as it doesn’t lead to any balance issues.
The core gameplay remains untouched and seems just as competitive as before. The constant tug-of-war mechanic is such a thrill that even if this sequel doesn’t do much to alter the formula, it will still be a go-to game at any local multiplayer opportunity.
I played Of Guards and Thieves about a year or so ago, and it was a blast. A little shallow at the time, but still entertaining. At that point, I didn’t know if it would go any further in development, or just hang out on Indie DB forever. Well, it’s currently in Steam’s Early Access program and is getting rather frequent updates!
It’s a free-to-play title that plays out sort of like cops and robbers. Guards and thieves each have their own objective on the map, and gameplay for the thieves is very stealth-based. There is some excellent asymmetrical gameplay here, and there’s really no reason not to have this in your Steam library right now.
I think the best way to describe Ooblets would be Pokémon meets Harvest Moon. It’s an adventure-RPG where you battle little monsters called ooblets and plant the seeds they drop to grow your own ooblets! It seems like it is still in a relatively early phase of development, but judging from the posts on the website, it’s headed in a wonderfully adorable direction. If you’re curious what some of the ooblets look like, check towards the bottom of this post.
Nevermind the talent behind this project with developers from BioShock and Dead Space, this game is just an awesome idea. Perception is a horror game where you’re essentially Daredevil. You can’t see the world around you unless there is sound to illuminate it; the main character is blind and uses echolocation to navigate.
If you’re like me, you’ already thinking of how well this can translate to a horror game and are similarly scared as hell to try it. The trailer does a great job of showing off just how spooky things can be when darkness isn’t the limiting factor in a horror game. I’m not sure I’ll end up playing Perception (I am a scaredy cat), but damn if it doesn’t have my attention.
— Riv Hester (@Ahr_Ech) January 4, 2017
Developer: Riv Hester
Follow it: Twitter
Can I play it now? No
This game just got a name, but I’ve been saving small GIFs of it for a bit now. It’s a bit like Drill Dozer I suppose, but looks insanely fluid and way more precision-based. Although all I’ve seen has come from the aforementioned GIFs on the developer’s Twitter feed, every time I see one I instantly want to get my hands on it. I know that Riv Hester is also working on Reliquary (which looks awesome as well), but I hope to see both of his games out sooner rather than later!
This is the next title from Supergiant Games, the team behind Bastion and Transistor. If you need more explanation than that, there is no hope for you, but I’ll continue anyway. I remember seeing the Pyre announcement trailer and thinking “without even playing this, I know they’ve done it again.” The music was especially perfect, putting me in the mood to dive into whatever world they’re building.
Pyre is a party-based RPG where battles take place in real-time and in an arena-type format. It kind of looks like a sport, actually. To win a battle, you need to extinguish the opponent’s pyre (get it?) by hitting it with some orb thingy. To do so you must avoid the other defenders, while still defending your own pyre. The gameplay available looks rather basic, but I can’t wait to see how it evolves over the course of the game.
Again, this is an instance where the developer’s pedigree is basically all you need to be excited. Return of the Obra Dinn is by Lucas Pope, the same person who created the brilliant Papers, Please. It seems like we’re entering a time period where some standout indie developers are releasing their next projects, aka an amazing time to be a gamer.
Obra Dinn is described as a 3D first-person mystery game and uses a 1-bit art style. Essentially, the ship went missing at some point but has now returned, and the player assumes the role of an insurance adjuster exploring the ship and trying to ascertain what happened. While it’s a bit of a silly premise, the game itself looks incredibly serious and even spooky!
Some have called Rimworld a more approachable Dwarf Fortress, and I’d have to agree with that statement. The simulation will never be as deep as DF, but that’s not the point of Rimworld. Instead, this is an approachable game that still delivers the same end result: personal (and often hilarious) stories that result from emergent gameplay.
For example, here’s the story of one of my early colonies. My starting characters were actually all related. A mom and her daughter alongside the mom’s new husband/the daughter’s step-dad. Everything seemed to be doing okay, until the rabbit showed up. Not any normal rabbit, mind you, but a crazy feral rabbit. No matter what I tried, I just couldn’t kill this damned rabbit.
So fast forward a bit and the family is literally cowering in a room as the rabbit begins to burst down the door. I realized that I could whittle down the rabbit’s health enough, so eventually I killed it. Then the kitchen caught fire. That fire would eventually be my undoing, and that family eventually withered away into nothing.
Also, if you’re wondering if you should pick it up now or wait, I’d say to pick it up now. This is the kind of game that can (and hopefully will) be updated forever. I’m not sure when the Early Access tag will be removed, but even if it were tomorrow I’d feel comfortable recommending it. Go buy it!
I’ll admit, I’m not the biggest fan of Runner 2. In fact, I didn’t like it very much at all. That being said, I’m looking forward to the next entry in the series. The first game is just so perfect, I’m hoping they can hit that balance between challenge and skill again. I’d like to see the removal of the bullseye at the end of the level, since it felt way out of place and was super frustrating in every aspect. Now I know they’ve already addressed this by saying they’ll make each character have a unique target mini-game, but there’s still time for them to realize it’s lame and should be removed entirely.
I did enjoy the music and checkpoint system from Runner 2, but do hope that they include better obstacles. Maybe it was because I’m colorblind, but I had a very hard time noticing many of the objects until it was too late. Anyway, I know that Choice Provisions (rip Gaijin Games) has some great ideas in those noggins, and I’m excited to see them fleshed out in Runner 3.
This is another title I’ve been following for a few years, and it looks like 2017 will finally see it released upon the world. Skytorn puts players into a procedurally generated world and has them exploring the ruins of some ancient world. Judging from the media that’s out there already, it looks like this will be more structured than, say, Terraria or Starbound. Exploration is at the core here, and I can’t wait to start exploring whatever the developers have in store for us.
OH MY GOSH EVERYTHING IS SO CUTE! Once someone told me that they had Chao Garden and Tamagotchi vibes while playing Slime Rancher, I picked it up immediately. I haven’t spent time with it as I await it to be fully complete, but god dang is it tempting. Tending to the little slimes is the main hook here, other than the adorable art style, but there’s also exploration and even traditional farming involved. I’m hoping that this can hit some of the same high notes as Stardew Valley did last year.
I just recently purchased Subnautica in the Steam winter sale, but haven’t had much time to spend on it. I finally jumped aboard (heh) because I saw that it had Vive support, which was all I needed to hear. I already knew it was a quality title because of online buzz and the fact that it’s developed by Unknown Worlds.
I know many people are burnt out on the survival genre, but Subnautica still seems to stand out among the crap. Exploring the ocean is such an exciting (and scary) premise, I just hope that this game sees version 1.0 before it’s too late.
The reason Super Sportsmatchen caught my eye was because it immediately reminded me of Snoopy’s Silly Sports Spectacular, which I have incredible memories of. This is a very non-sports sports game, so don’t tune out if you are averse to sports in general. A quick look over at the news posts will show you exactly what to expect: quirky sports mini-games that are more about fun and execution than game knowledge. I can’t wait for this to come out so I can add it to the rotation in my local multiplayer game nights alongside the likes of Duck Game and Gang Beasts.
42! How appropriate. This is another game I was able to play at the last PAX East. I had some concerns going in like controls in an isometric world and visual overload, but found myself pleasantly forgetting about those concerns as I played. It’ll always be a little tough to navigate quickly in an isometric perspective, but being able to rotate the angle helps a ton. It’s got stealth, it’s got action, and it’s got style.
I think I’m more interested in the multiplayer component, though. It’s got a SpyParty or The Ship type of element where players change their costumes to blend in with the crowd and eliminate others. I cannot get enough of this design element, as evidenced by the amount of hours I spent playing the Waldo custom map in StarCraft II (it’s a lot). I look forward to Tokyo 42‘s spin on it.
DISCLAIMER: I BACKED THIS GAME ON KICKSTARTER WITH MY MONEY
After Tyranny left me wanting more thanks to its sudden ending, my attention immediately went toward Torment: Tides of Numenera (which I’ve been calling “Numeria” this whole time). I can’t believe that we’ve had Pillars of Eternity, Wasteland 2, a Baldur’s Gate expansion, and Tyranny, and now a new Torment all within a couple of years! If you told young-me about this while he was reading the spiral-bound manual to Shadows of Amn, he would think that this genre never went anywhere.
Despite the long absence of the cRPG, it’s back with a vengeance now. I didn’t get into Planescape: Torment until about five years ago, but as soon as I saw the Kickstarter for Numenera, I backed it. I love being able to talk my way out of encounters, and this game looks to keep that trend going.
Developer: Reborn Interactive
Follow it: Steam
Can I play it now? No, but soon!
This one comes out soon! This is a city-builder-esque game that focuses more on the politics of the city than the actual construction. In fact, the game’s Steam page uses the term “City Ruler” instead of “Builder,” so there’s that. I enjoy the political side of most empire-building games, but they’re almost always behind a huge learning curve.
My hope with Urban Empire is that it strikes a good balance between casual city management and intense political intrigue. Since its focus is on the latter, I have high hopes going into this one.
I always love playing as bards in RPGs. Something about inspiring others based solely on sound just always resonated with me (boom). Wandersong isn’t an RPG, but it does revolve around a singing mechanic and that’s good enough for me! The singing mechanic works on a radial dial, and it seems as if players will use it to solve puzzles and achieve some elements of platforming. The paper-cut-out art style puts the cherry on top of what should be one of the most unique games to come out in quite some time.
Ever want to play a JRPG-style game but with hipsters instead of anime tropes? Probably not, but only because it never occurred to you before! YIIK promises to be a weird-as-hell game with some solid RPG flavor. It helps that it’s soaked in some ’90s nostalgia as well, because we all know that ’90s kids are the coolest. I always love when indie devs take on the JRPG format, and I expect YIIK to reach my expectations based on what I’ve seen so far.
Do I really need to write why you should be excited for Yooka-Laylee? It was mentioned like ten times on our most wanted list for 2017! People got on me for not including it last year, and look how that turned out! It seems like 3D collect-a-thons are coming back via Kickstarter. Now, if only they’d actually release one of them…
Okay, I need to talk about Multi-Bowl. The reason it makes this list as an honorable mention is because you will likely never play it. Multi-Bowl is like the Robot Chicken of video games; players will go through rapid-fire moments of local multiplayer games, constantly moving on to the next one. It’s made by Bennett Foddy (QWOP) and some others, but can never be released just due to the nature of the game. It’s an event-only game like Johann Sebastian Joust, so if you happen to see it anywhere, PLAY IT!