Anticipation 2015: The indie games to look out for

The Shacknews staff has been revealing its most anticipated games for 2015, but hasn't shown much love for the indie sector of gaming. Let's change that with a look at indie games to look forward to in the coming year.

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Throughout the week, members of the Shacknews staff have been listing their most anticipated games of 2015. However, with a couple of exceptions, many of these games veer more towards the mainstream. The indie gaming sector has some very interesting games lined up for 2015, as well. So today, we'll take a look at some indie titles that should probably be on your radar.

Severed

Drinkbox Studios has a tough act to follow after its phenomenal Metroidvania, Guacamelee. Thankfully, they're maintaining their gorgeous cel-shaded art style for their newest game, Severed. This time around, it's for a first-person dungeon crawler, one which takes full advantage of the Vita's capabilities.

As noted in our preview, the game still has a few kinks to work out. But with a strong story focused on a young warrior, intuitive touch mechanics, and the Drinkbox style of humorous writing, Severed is definitely lining up to be a strong handheld effort and one of the few Vita games to watch out for in the new year.


Cuphead

In terms of visuals, Cuphead stands out as one of the most unique offerings of 2015. Studio MDHR's effort appears to be a standard side-scrolling run-and-gun title on the surface. However, boasting hand-drawn cel animation, watercolor backgrounds, and a vintange film effect, it also looks like a game that's pulled straight out of the 1930s era of early cartoons.

Yes, all of the environments, enemies, and background jazz music feel like they were pulled straight out of the old-school Disney Silly Symphonies shorts, creating one of the most interesting climates this genre has ever seen. Cuphead's weapon and skill system could also prove to be pleasantly deep, showing its reverence to classic efforts like Gunstar Heroes, Contra, and Metal Slug.

It remains to be seen whether Cuphead can live up to its potential, but just the graphic style alone makes this a truly unique addition to the Xbox One and Steam libraries.


Runbow

This was one of my favorite games from 2014's IndieCade. 13AM Games' Runbow is pure nine-player chaos, with participants frantically competing in a race to the finish line. All of it takes place along a colorful background that's constantly changing colors, which also leads to the ground collapsing underneath.

The platform shifts, sudden obstacles, and power-ups keep races intense, while the ability to punch opponents and stun them at inopportune moments will almost certainly lead to shattered friendships. That's the sign of a truly strong multiplayer effort and one that Wii U owners should have lined up for any party.


Affordable Space Adventures

Speaking of Wii U, there's a very interesting single-player adventure that was also present at IndieCade. The combined forces of KnapNok Games (Spin the Bottle: Bumpie's Party) and Nifflas (Knytt) have created a game that expertly puts the Wii U GamePad to use. Taking the equivalent of a space jalopy out along a dangerous foreign planet, the idea is to escape to safety while waiting for your ship to get all of its faculties back.

The GamePad mechanics make Affordable Space Adventures a unique effort, as the player must keep track of the various engine components, making sure to make adjustments on the fly. Players have to make sure to avoid overheating their engine, adjust their density to get through certain areas, boost past dangerous hazards, all while solving the puzzles presented. It comes across as a fine blend of stealth and Metroidvania styles, a combination that's hard to come by on Wii U.


Firewatch

Firewatch is the debut effort from the folks at Campo Santo, a studio comprised of some of the best minds from Telltale, Klei, and the revered Idle Thumbs podcast, among others. This story-based game takes place along an open forest, in which main character Henry keeps watch for forest fires during a particularly dry summer.

Henry soon finds himself exploring some strange disturbances in the distance. As he explores what's happening, his only means of communication is his walkie talkie, which he uses to connect to his supervisor, Delilah. Firewatch promises an unknown environment, meaningful choice-driven gameplay, and a striking narrative. Fans of games like Telltale's The Walking Dead or The Fullbright Company's Gone Home may want to keep a close eye on Firewatch, which will most certainly contain some story twists that Campo Santo isn't about to reveal.


The Witness

Of course, no upcoming indie gaming list is complete without Jonathan Blow's The Witness. The first-person puzzle adventure remains one of the most intriguing of the upcoming indie games, with the first-person puzzle adventure offering more of the mind-bending joy that made Braid such a classic.

The island is a mammoth landscape filled with puzzles that can be taken in just about any order. All of the puzzles will test your lateral thinking skills, including a large number of pattern-recognition puzzles. While some of the puzzles are straightforward, there are others that will require some recognition of your surroundings to come up with the answer.

The island should be a fun world to explore and 2015 looks to be the year it'll finally be possible, with The Witness set to hit PlayStation 4 first.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

From The Chatty