10 upcoming indie games to look forward to in 2020
We're still in the early part of 2020, and there are already a handful of must-play indie games currently playable. Well, there are a lot of other awesome upcoming indie games to watch out for — some just on the horizon, and others a ways out but still coming this year. There's Axiom Verge 2, which is likely at the top of your most anticipated list if you played the Metroid-esque original. Speaking of hotly anticipated titles, who else can't wait for Ori and the Will of the Wisps?
In case you're looking for something to play now, I'd suggest Super Crush KO, a pop-art arcade beat 'em up that's fast-paced and challenging. Or maybe you're looking to quench that Zelda thirst. Lenna's Inception is a great procedurally generated Link's Awakening-like with some really inspired designed. If you need to get your retro RPG fix, Orangeblood takes cues from EarthBound and is set in a futuristic-yet-1990s-inspired world and features some sick hip-hop music. Also, Dead Cells got some rad DLC with The Bad Seed.
With a stacked list of current gems and promising yet-to-be-released games, what else could there possibly be to look forward to? Turns out a lot, actually. Here are 10 upcoming indie games to get completely stoked about.
Spiritfarer from Thunder Lotus Games is shaping up to be a beautiful, sorrowful, and thoughtful game. As the titular Spiritfarer, it's your job to guide dying souls to their appropriate resting places. In terms of its gameplay, Spiritfarer takes cues from a few noteworthy titles including The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker and Stardew Valley. You travel across vast oceans to reach different destinations — all the while you interact with characters on your ship. Here you can farm and harvest crops, prepare tasty meals, and hug your NPC buddies.
Spiritfarer blends feel-good mechanics with somber tones quite seamlessly. This is a game that's equal parts charming and somber. The visual design is especially captivating, with colorful, hand-drawn characters and worlds that are an absolute joy to behold.
An exact release date has yet to be announced, but Spiritfarer has been confirmed for a 2020 launch on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC, Mac, and Linux.
Acid Knife is a very different breed of 2D action game. It has light platforming mechanics, but it isn't quite a brutally challenging, twitch reflex-based run-and-jump game. Instead, it focuses more on precisely timed combat, pitting you against tough baddies that only sporadically reveal their weak points. The art style is really out there. True to its name — or perhaps coincidentally? — Acid Knife looks like a pixelated acid trip. The dark, surrealist art only helps to elevate the dreary motif.
Developer Powerhoof has yet to give a specific release date, stating that the game will be out “when it's done.” I suppose we'll wait then. Also in development from Powerhoof is The Drifter, a 2D point-and-click adventure game that's also worth being pretty stoked about.
It's been four years since Abzu was released. Developed by Giant Squid, a studio headed by Journey Art Director Matt Nava, Abzu was a serene underwater adventure. It looks like Giant Squid is continuing to blend art game and exploration mechanics with its next title, The Pathless. It's hard to tell exactly what The Pathless will be, but one look at it, and you'll know whether you want to play it. The game stars a warrior type character and is set in a bold and colorful world. There are massive beasts and dragons — the whole thing looks really grand.
Originally planned for a 2019 release, The Pathless was pushed back to 2020. Its confirmed platforms are PlayStation 4, PC, and Apple Arcade.
Last year, we got Baba Is You. This year, we're getting Roki. While Polygon Treehouse's project isn't remotely like Baba Is You from a gameplay standpoint, it definitely seems like it'll fill that “chill game” void. You play as a young lady named Tove as you explore a quaint mountain village. Roki is very much rooted in old school adventure gameplay, tasking you with solving environmental puzzles by using and combining items you acquire along the way. The relaxed pacing of this atmospheric game seems perfect for those days when you're home, covered in a blanket, sipping on some tea.
Roki will be dropping on Nintendo Switch, PC, and MacOS later this year.
If you've ever wanted to play as the monster in a horror movie, Carrion has you covered. Developed by Phobia Game Studio, the game is a part of Devolver Digital's lineup of upcoming indie games, and it looks pretty sick — in more ways than one. As the blob-like monster, you go around underground facilities killing scientists and security guards. You grow stronger as you progress, increasing in size and obtaining new abilities.
Having played the Steam demo a few months ago, I can attest to just how enjoyable it is grabbing scientists and flinging them all over the place.
Watch out for Carrion when it creeps its way onto PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Mac.
Way to the Woods
Way to the Woods has been in development for the past couple years. Created by the one-man Studio Happy Bee, the game follows two deer trying to find their way to the forest in a post-apocalyptic landscape. The dreary setting notwithstanding, Way to the Woods is a really pretty-looking game, featuring rich visuals reminiscent of a cartoon.
The game is scheduled to appear on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC. Here's hoping 2020 is the year we finally get to play it. If not, we'll continue to wait with the utmost anticipation.
There's a lot going on in Cris Tales from Dreams Uncorporated and SYCK. At its core, the game features turn-based RPG combat akin to Paper Mario and Chrono Trigger. It's fast and fun, but it also requires a bit of strategy.
Cris Tales also plays around with multiple time frames. The screen is often split up to represent past, present, and future, which affects both battles and the overworld. In combat, you can shift your enemies' time periods and make them young and inexperienced (but physically strong) or old and feeble (but wise and capable of magic offense). Similarly, hopping around time periods in the overworld will open up different side quests.
We won't have to wait too long to play Cris Tales as the game is due out this summer on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC.
One glance at Eastward and it's easy to see the wonderfully weird '90s-era Japanese cartoon inspiration. The game mixes cute, cheery visuals with fun puzzle-solving and action gameplay to create an adventure/RPG hybrid that looks really fun. Like the animation it’s inspired by, Eastward features themes of societal collapse and decaying worlds. Thankfully, you're armed with flamethrowers and frying pans.
Watch for Eastward, which is being developed by Pixpil and published by Chucklefish, on Switch, PC, and MacOS platforms.
Lost Words: Beyond the Page
There's an undeniable artistry to the gameplay of Lost Words: Beyond the Page. In development by Sketchbook Games and with a story written by Rhianna Pratchet, Lost Words lets you write in the young protagonist's journal to alter your environment. Different words will spawn platforms or move existing pieces of surrounding architecture.
I enjoyed what the first Scribblenauts did, and I appreciate that the series has experienced longevity and success, but later games were always sort of missing something for me. Lost Words seems to take similar word-based mechanics and creates a dedicated, focused world around them.
You'll be able to write your Lost Words story on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC.
Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout
If you're looking for some good, hearty laughs and crazy multiplayer insanity, Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is all of those things and more. The game takes cues from Most Extreme Elimination Challenge and builds an online battle royale experience around its insanity. The result is a hilarious multiplayer game that'll probably have you cracking up versus tossing your controller in frustration when you lose.
Fall Guys is coming to PlayStation 4 and PC this year and is being developed by Mediatonic and published by Devolver Digital.
Oh, and one more... SkateBIRD
I know this is supposed to be a top 10, but I couldn't possibly omit the adorable and quirky SkateBIRD from Glass Bottom Games, whose previous projects include Hot Tin Roof: The Cat That Wore a Fedora and Spartan Fist. Three words: budgies on skateboards! Seriously, this physics-based skateboarding game looks like a riot. It's fun — and kind of hilarious — seeing the different breeds of birds in SkateBIRD grinding along rails, skating up ramps, and getting wrecked as they crash into the ground, all the while wearing little sideways baseball hats.
SkateBIRD is being prepped for release later this year on Xbox One, Switch, and PC.
There are a lot of really cool indies out now, and there are more to come. Hopefully we don't have to wait too long to get our hands on these and other rad-looking upcoming indie games.