Sony dropped an atomic bomb of indie announcements at GamesCom this week. The sheer number of titles confirmed for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, and Vita has been unprecedented over the past few days, as evidenced by the empty coffee jars and film of human filth that’s infected our office. The company backed small studios hard at GDC and E3, but its message was fortified with several layers of steel armour during its press conference on Tuesday, where the platform holder rattled off title after title in an hour-long assault on the senses. With so much software on show, we figured that it was time that we applied a filter to the cavalcade of content, and focused on the cream of the very fruitful crop.
Bullfrog meets X-Factor in On the Metal’s simulation experiment. BigFest brings the business aspects of Theme Park to the Vita, but mixes in an intriguing indie soundtrack hook that will see you discovering, breaking, and (presumably) horribly exploiting the careers of eager college kids. You’ll need to arrange portaloos, hire hot dog stands, and erect gaudy glamping sites to satisfy the demands of wellington wearing music lovers, all while raising the stakes of your headline acts from snotty-nosed nobodies to the next New Found Glory.
Fez (PS4, PS3, Vita)
What do you get if you cross Tommy Cooper with the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man? It’s not a perfect descriptor for the protagonist of Polytron’s brilliant Fez, but it should get the job done while we’re running against the clock. Marcus Beer may have battered Phil Fish in a childish Twitter spat, but that hasn’t scraped the salt and vinegar off this sizzling announcement. Coming to all of Sony’s flagship systems, the former Xbox Live Arcade award winner will see you scratching your head and messing around with QR codes. The game deserves all of the plaudits in the world for finding a purpose for the latter.
Gravity Crash Ultra (Vita)
Originally released during the ‘Play, Create, Share’ period that defined post-LittleBigPlanet era PS3, the neon drenched Gravity Crash added a shmup spin to creating your own levels. Yorkshire-based developer Just Add Water’s been busy breathing life back into the Oddworld series since, but that hasn’t stopped it from resurrecting the gem that put its name on the game development map. This is largely a remake of the 2009 digital download, but does include remixed music, a handful of new levels, and the same slick performance that made its home console predecessor a hit.
Guns of Icarus Online (PS4)
One of Kickstarter’s earliest success stories, Guns of Icarus Online has a premise that triumphs over all others. An aggressive deathmatch-esque game, you must pilot steampunk blimps and shoot out your opponents in turret sequences. Muse Games claims that the core mechanic was inspired by the on-rails sections that tend to appear in first-person games, but its biggest differentiator is that it makes those moments fun. With communication a necessity in order to achieve success, this is both one of the most fiercely competitive and rewardingly collaborative experiences on any platform.
Dutch developer Abstraction Games is handling this port of Pascal Bestebroer’s side-scrolling sensation, which means that you can pretty much bank on the conversion being pixel perfect. Gunslugs is an action-packed shoot-‘em-up with larger than life bosses, a sensational sense of style, and a kickin’ chiptune soundtrack that will have you dancing in your armchair like a young girl at a Katy Perry concert.
Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number (PS4, Vita)
The sinister sequel that requires no introduction, Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number is not even out until next year and has already made an assault on the headlines due to its implied rape scene. Controversy is part of this series’ makeup, and while it’s understandably not everyone’s cup of tea, we’ll be hitting the restart button over and over until we land that last all-important melee kill and fulfil the requirements of our puppeteer’s questionable over-the-phone instructions.
Minecraft (PS4, PS3, Vita)
One of the bigger surprises at GamesCom, as Microsoft had presented Minecraft as an Xbox exclusive at E3. While there’s some debate over whether the construction simulator actually qualifies as an indie game these days, the global phenomenon certainly embodies everything that’s great about the underground development scene. It’s quirky, incredibly intelligent, and, at its very core, delightfully simplistic. It's also a license to print money, which we're sure has all of the involved parties rubbing their hands over the prospect of this port.
Designed to celebrate the N series’ tenth anniversary, Dyad creator Shawn McGrath is collaborating on this enhanced version of the ninja platformer. Canadian developer Metanet Software aims to make this the definitive version of the physics-based affair – though we’ve got a feeling that it said that about the Xbox Live Arcade exclusive version, too. Still, the studio’s promising new multiplayer modes, enemies, and even a level creation component. It’s being funded as part of Sony’s popular Pub Fund initiative, so expect the platform holder to push this one hard in due time.
Rogue Legacy (PS4, PS3, Vita)
An announcement that garnered rapturous applause during Sony’s press conference, Cellar Door Games’ brilliant Rogue Legacy has blossomed into something of a cult hit since its release in late June on the PC. Developed by Toronto-based outfit Cellar Door Games, the self-described rogue-lite sees you exploring a randomly generated dungeon and attempting to off a sequence of brutal bosses. The twist is that your offspring will gather up your gold and fight in your honour each time that you die, so there’s a sense of persistence between playthroughs. Oh, and sometimes you’ll play as a hero with irritable bowel syndrome.
Switch Galaxy Ultra (PS4, Vita)
The devastatingly underrated sequel to Atomicom’s early PlayStation Mobile title, Switch Galaxy Ultra is the closest that you’re going to get to a new WipEout on the PS4. Running at a blistering 60 frames-per-second, the delicious arcade racer promises a much more content-driven experience than its mobile predecessor. However, it aims to maintain the same eye-watering action as its smartphone companion – just with way, way prettier graphics.
The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth (PS4, Vita)
The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is yet another roguelike, but one that’s infinitely more bizarre than its comparable counterparts on this list. A complete overhaul of Edmund McMillen’s original Flash adventure, this delves into the ordinarily unexplored subject matter of childhood rejection, humiliation, and more. Fascinatingly, a Nintendo 3DS port of the title was at one point mooted, but the Japanese manufacturer rejected the title on the basis of its “questionable religious content”.
Velocity 2X (PS4, Vita)
A sequel to the PlayStation Mini – later re-released on the PlayStation Vita – that rocketed Brighton-based developer FuturLab to stardom. The studio has promised the same mix of heady vertical shooting action, with the added twist of side-scrolling platforming. The company’s keeping the specifics of that under wraps for the time being, but judging by the frankly phenomenal pun in the title, we’re expecting this to be just as imaginative as the studio’s previous releases.
Volume (PS4, Vita)
Destined to debut on PlayStation the moment that creator Mike Bithell mentioned that he was meeting with Sony earlier in the year, this follows in the footsteps of eccentric indie hit Thomas Was Alone. The rectangles have been replaced by a more familiar premise, however, which is reminiscent of the VR missions from Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance. While the developer is promising that this will offer a similarly compelling plot as its two-dimensional predecessor, the game’s LittleBigPlanet-esque creation engine will allow you to tell your own tales, too.
War Thunder (PS4)
One of the many free-to-play titles set to deploy alongside the PS4 at launch, War Thunder is a World War II-themed online combat affair that will allow you to pilot a slew of period appropriate vehicles. Even more impressively, the game will boast cross-platform battlefields, allowing you to prove to your PC playing competitors who’s really part of the gaming master race. There’ll be exclusive content included in the console version, PlayStation Eye-powered head tracking, and more firepower than Guy Fawkes' famous gunpowder plot.
Wasteland Kings (PS4, Vita)
The product of a 72-hour charity game jam, Wasteland Kings blends arcade action with, er, roguelike-like sensibilities. The product of Super Crate Box developer Vlambeer, the pixelated excursion aims to relay the sordid stories of mutants in an old-fashioned sci-fi world. You’ll use radioactive waste as a way to evolve your character and earn new abilities, allowing you to explore numerous approaches to different combat scenarios.
Which of the aforementioned indie titles are you most looking forward to? Are there any indie titles not announced for Sony’s systems that you’d like to see converted to the platform holder’s consoles? Let us know in the comments section and poll below.
Which of the following indie hits are you most looking forward to? (51 votes)
Gravity Crash Ultra
Guns of Icarus Online
Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number
Switch Galaxy Ultra
The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth
Please login to vote in this poll.