10 lovely-looking indie games to look out for in 2020

Every year, an event called Day of the Devs in San Francisco showcases some of the most promising indie games currently in development. This year, the event’s seventh, was no exception. The dozens of games on display show how indie gaming remains a source of originality and artistry.

“These games are so important to the health of the overall industry,” says Double Fine CEO and Day of the Devs organizer Tim Schafer. “You can see their ideas filtering back into AAA games. They keep everyone in the industry focused on new ideas. These are great games that deserve to be seen and played.”

We picked out just a few that look especially promising.

Carrion (Phobia Game Studio)

https://youtube.com/watch?v=o-L0_TJ4i-o%3Frel%3D0

Carrion is a Metroidvania-style room-crawler in which I play as a monster, finding my way through rooms and tunnels in search of victims. I take the form of a slithering, amorphous creature that feeds on humans. The game has a lovely animation style that feels satisfyingly yucky. It’s coming to PC and consoles next year.

Cloudpunk (Ion Lands)

https://youtube.com/watch?v=A-QQ5R52PZA%3Frel%3D0

Visually and audibly, Cloudpunk feels like a nice tribute to Blade Runner, and if that has you interested, then it only gets better. You play as a courier, delivering stuff around a massively vertical cyberpunk city of neon, interacting with human inhabitants, androids, and artificial intelligences. It’s coming to PC early next year.

Minute of Islands (Studio Fizbin)

https://youtube.com/watch?v=OMruEYKRtxg%3Frel%3D0

Minute of Islands is an exploration/puzzle game, painted in a lovely comic book style. It’s coming out on PC, Mac, and consoles next spring, and features the journey of Mo, a skilled mechanic who comes across all manner of strange machines that are in need of a fix.

Nuts (Joon, Pol, Muutsch & Char)

https://youtube.com/watch?v=xaAy3sbH86k%3Frel%3D0

Nuts looks like a unique and fun puzzle game about surveillance. I am dropped into a prettily stylized forest of blue, green, yellow, and orange. My job, as directed by a boss on a telephone line, is to set up night cameras which will record the movements of a family of squirrels. Each day, I review the footage and move the cameras in order to find out more. There are also helpful items scattered about the world. Platforms and release date are TBD.

The Other Side (Florian Veltman)

https://youtube.com/watch?v=rmSma6jqa3E%3Frel%3D0

This mobile puzzle game is a story about a family of ghosts who set out on a journey to find out who they were. They navigate a strange world made up of conveyor belts that also act as puzzles.

Plaything (Niall Tessier-Lavigne and Will Anderson)

https://youtube.com/watch?v=CBgNv44cpgc%3Frel%3D0

Plaything is best described as a Tamagotchi with feelings. I spawn a creature by pulling together different shapes and colors. It’s my job to understand the creature’s personality through small interactions like touching, giving gifts, and playing with them, while at the same time nurturing its basic needs. It’s a question of trial and error, of creating a mutual language of trust. Each creature has their own personalities, and will react differently to various inputs. For example, some enjoy cuddles, while others are more standoffish. Eventually, like a child grown to adulthood, the creature will leave you behind. Release date and platforms are TBD.

The Procession to Calvary (Joe Richardson)

https://youtube.com/watch?v=Yxc7KK-3S9U%3Frel%3D0

The Procession to Calvary is Joe Richardson’s follow-up to Four Last Things. Once again, it’s an animated montage of Renaissance art that has been cut, mangled, and pasted to create a smart and funny tableau of Monty Python-style jokes. It’s coming to Windows PC, Mac, and Linux.

The Red Lantern (Timberline Studio)

https://youtube.com/watch?v=tJuZxy65BrM%3Frel%3D0

We liked the look of The Red Lantern from Timberline Studio when it was shown during a Nintendo Direct earlier this year. Coming to Switch, it’s the survival story of a woman who enters the Iditarod dogsled race in Alaska and is forced to cope with extreme natural obstacles, such as a bear attack. She must manage her meager resources, and make smart choices, in order to survive.

Saturnalia (Santa Ragione)

https://youtube.com/watch?v=Kktwk5z_7fc%3Frel%3D0

Saturnalia’s art style is an animated world of haunting pencil sketches. Developed by Milan, Italy-based Santa Ragione, it’s a horror game in which different characters try to survive in an abandoned village. It looks like a beautifully designed piece of macabre storytelling. This is a game for anyone who thrills at the thought of creeping around in the dark. It’s coming next year, with platforms to be announced.

Wayward Strand (Ghost Pattern)

https://youtube.com/watch?v=xBrp39A2274%3Frel%3D0

This Australian narrative game follows the adventures of a teenage girl as she explores an airborne hospital. Using dialogue trees and her own abilities as a snoop, she learns of the hospital’s history — and its secrets. It’s coming out on mobile devices, Mac, and Windows PC next year.

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