2017 was a great year for indie games, with Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, What Remains of Edith Finch, and Night in the Woods making our Top 10 list, as well as many others gracing the personal picks of our writers. We’ve already taken a look at last year’s more underrated low-key releases, so now it’s time to look ahead to 2018 and unveil next year’s possible hidden gems. No pretentiousness, we promise.
Part hack-'n’-slash, part dungeon crawler, part Metroidvania, Chasm sees you playing as Daltyn, a young soldier investigating haunted mines in order to find out why the town above has been deserted. Thanks to its procedurally-generated levels and mountains of loot that you can use to customise Daltyn, it should have plenty of replayability, while the trap-laden dungeons and enemies look fun to tackle.
From Highwire Games – a new indie studio of ex-Bungie employees – comes Golem, a PlayStation VR title in which you play as a kid who controls 15-foot-tall sword-wielding giants. Combat can be hard to convert into VR, but Golem looks to have it nailed down, with subtle visual indicators helping the player to block correctly and attack in the right places. Its crumbling ancient world should be interesting to explore, and the hostile golems inhabiting it look terrifying to tackle.
Going in a different direction to the badly-executed drama of Need for Speed and the technical detail of Gran Turismo, Gravel aims to be a more accessible and less serious racing game. With four different off-road disciplines ranging from wide open forests to stadiums, Milestone’s racer is focused more on stunts and destruction, while the Show mode sees you taking on five masters, hopefully with their own cheesy bits of dialogue. It may not be as detailed as DiRT, but it does look like a fun time.
Granted, a steampunk RTS may be a difficult fit for PS4, but games like Cities: Skylines have showed that unconventional genres can still work well on the console. Set in the aftermath of an alternate-history World War 1 in which giant walking machines have laid waste to Europe, Iron Harvest’s world looks fascinating and beautiful in a muted way. While we haven’t seen much gameplay yet, what we have seen presents Iron Harvest as a fluid strategy game with plenty of opportunities to wreak destruction on an already war-torn landscape.
With a thumping soundtrack and plenty of neon, Roll7’s upcoming multiplayer battler Laser League looks like an intense but fun time with friends, with players setting up lasers to defeat the enemy while also dodging them. It’s a simple but effective-looking formula, and the implementation of a class system – each class getting their own special abilties – and in-game power-ups should keep things interesting. That is, if you’re not already enamoured with the game’s visual style.
Yes, a lot of people will roll their eyes when they see '2D platformer with chiptune soundtrack' but Octahedron has style and substance. Though it has a soundtrack composed by Crypt of the NecroDancer’s Chipzel that enemies adhere to in a Sound Shapes way, the focus is on creativity, with the player making their own way through each level by creating their own route with their own platforms. Octahedron looks both difficult and sharp, but with the everlasting success of devilishly difficult platformers, it looks to be a great addition to the genre.
A survival adventure set on a frozen island, Praey for the Gods is all about climbing and taking down huge beasts while keeping yourself in shape. An exhaustion system, dynamic weather, and deep snow are all set up to make your time in No Matter Studios’ first outing an unforgiving one, but it’ll definitely be a beautiful one, too. Sure, it may have its Horizon: Zero Dawn and Shadow of the Colossus influences, but Praey for the Gods should stake its own claim in the wild.
With series creator Greg Johnson back at the helm, Back in the Groove is a welcome return to ToeJam & Earl’s 2D roots: an isometric viewpoint, an obscure setting, and a catchy bassline. While the stock gameplay and additional minigames are closer to the original game, new content comes in the form of multiple new characters and a co-op mode. The new visual style may grind the gears of original fans, but in all other departments it looks like a great blend of old and new.
Now this is a neat idea: from the minds of multiple indie developers, UFO 50 isn’t just one game but 50. Modelled on both ‘80s console games and throwaway “100-in-1” plug-'n'-play games, UFO 50 guarantees bang for buck: the developers estimate that it contains over 100 hours of gameplay, not to mention the fact that many of the games included have multiplayer options. Said games range from platformers to beat-'em-ups to point-'n'-clicks, and with so many titles made by so many good minds in one package, there are guaranteed to be some gems there.
Okay, we’re not actually sure if this one’s coming to PS4 yet, but by god you don’t want to miss it if it does. Its minimalistic visuals and charming animations look great, and its gameplay looks even better: you play as a meddlesome goose that has to harass humans while staying undetected by them. While we don’t know much about it – hell, it doesn’t even have a name yet – Untitled Goose Game, from the minds behind the delightfully weird Push Me Pull You, should be a hoot if it’s executed well.
Are there any other deserving games so off our radar that they're missing from our list? Put on your hipster hat in the comments section below.