Nintendo has been known to kick off the year with a bang. Sometimes this is in the form of a major Direct, and other times (like this year) it’s in the form of an indie-focused presentation. As disappointed as some might be, though, this was probably their best indie presentation to date in terms of the sheer number of quality titles revealed and dated. There really was something for everyone this time around.
Instead of going over everything here, though, I’m going to highlight the four games that shined the brightest out of the bunch. They all belong to different genres, all have different art direction, and all look incredibly enticing. Without further ado, let’s dig into these gems!
Wargroove was one of the most hotly anticipated indies coming to the Switch before the system even launched in early 2017. One of publisher Chucklefish’s star lineup, Wargroove gained just about everyone’s interest when it premiered as a faithful furthering of the classic Advanced Wars formula. This is turn-based strategic gameplay at its finest, but in a much more fanciful fantasy setting. Seeing as there hasn’t been a new Advanced Wars game since Days of Ruin on the original DS Wargroove is poised to fill that decade-long void quite nicely.
Not only does the game offer a full campaign along with online and local multiplayer, but it also comes complete with a fully-featured level and campaign editor! This means customizable maps, cutscenes and in-game events. For those of us who’ve always wanted to try our hand at making games but never wanted to deal with the complexities of something like RPG Maker, this is a godsend of a feature. Because players will be able to share their creations online, this also opens the door to endless replayability à la Super Mario Maker. February 1st can’t come soon enough.
Chucklefish sure knows how to pick ’em. Something of a black sheep compared to the other colorful and/or silly games in this presentation, Inmost makes one heck of a first impression. Its intoxicating atmosphere successfully defies its graphical style and really imposes a sense of dread and unease. Strangely, it’s the brief snippets of story that put me the most on-edge; why did that mother walk away after seeing her daughter fall down? Why is this unassuming man sitting on a bench alone in the rain, seemingly unperturbed by the horrors lurking in the background?
A 2D puzzle-platformer told from the perspective of three different protagonists, Inmost is as somber as it is thrilling. Players will have to balance carefully sneaking past some enemies and taking others on directly. The glimpses of sneaking that we see are genuinely tense, and it’s easy to imagine just how devious some later puzzles get. Color me intrigued.
It goes without saying that Humble Bundle has an eye for quirky and creative video games. Forager looks like a strange concoction of Stardew Valley and classic Zelda dungeons topped with the art style from Scribblenauts. As off-putting as the character animations can be, though, it’s hard to deny just how fun every aspect of the Forager looks.
Like Stardew, Forager offers players a variety of ways to spend their time. Gathering resources, farming, tending to animals, raiding dungeons, base customization, trading goods–there’s a lot to dive into here. Though the studio estimates that it’ll take about 15 hours to finish the game, it’s easy to see dedicated fans dumping two or three times that amount trying to max everything out. As someone who absolutely loves when games give you the reigns and incentivize you to go out and make something of yourself, this one is definitely on my radar.
The SteamWorld franchise is one of the most quality-laden in gaming for my money. 2017’s SteamWorld Dig 2 took the original concept of the 2013 entry–which was already rock-solid–and made it into something metroidvania fans couldn’t stop raving about. SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech will be the studio’s first new game since Dig 2’s massive success and, understandably, there’s a ton of expectation to live up to here.
Luckily, Image & Form seem poised to impress once again. Quest might bare a passing resemblance to something like Slay the Spire (it did for me, at least), but it’s not a roguelike. Players will travel across a wide array of pretty locations, collect hundreds of cards, and experience what studio CEO Brjánn Sigurgeirsson has estimated to be a 20-25 hour campaign, all free of microtransactions and paid booster packs.
If that wasn’t enough, the game just looks good. Environments are deeply detailed and feel lived in, each of the characters shown looks interesting and distinct, and the cards themselves revel in SteamWorld’s signature good-natured humor. The only missing piece? Image & Form’s first real attempt at an in-depth, gripping story. Here’s to beginner’s luck!