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10 Indie Games to Watch for in 2014

If you only were to play 10 games this year, it would be hard to find any better than these.

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2013 was a fantastic year for indie games. There were titles like Gone Home and The Stanley Parable that changed the definition of what a game is. Sony dedicated a portion of their E3 conference to bringing eight indie developers on stage to demo their games on PlayStation 4. Resogun and Contrast rounded out the PS4 launch lineup and managed to score higher reviews than some launch titles from large publishers. 

Indie support outside of Sony also grew by leaps and bounds with Steam Greenlight and ID@Xbox. 2014 is the year that many of these newly implemented programs start to bear fruit. Many Kickstarter funded games from years past will launch as well. So in no particular order, here at ten indie titles that I'm particularly excited to get my hands on. 

Transistor [TBA 2014]

It has been nearly three years since Supergiant Games' breakout action RPG Bastion. They are sticking to the same genre with Transistor, but with a drastically different sci-fi setting. The game also introduces a planning mechanic that allows you to pause the action and set up strategic attacks at the cost of some of your red bar. This gorgeous game will be hitting PS4 and PC this year.

Mercenary Kings [Early 2014]

Mercenary Kings is Scott Pilgrim vs The World meets Metal Slug, with a touch of Borderlands. Tribute Games has already proven themselves using the Double Dragon formula for their excellent Scott Pilgrim game; so it comes as little surprise that taking a similar approach to the Contra formula was going to produce an amazing title. Layered on top of that is a very deep gun-crafting mechanic that takes into account things like reloading and recoil. Mercenary Kings is available in beta form through Steam Early access, with a full release coming in the next month or two on PS4 and PC. 

Nuclear Throne [TBA 2014]

That Vlambeer game formerly known as Wasteland King;. Nuclear Throne is a top-down, roguelike-like shooter in a post apocalyptic setting. Combining the randomized elements of a roguelike title with the ridiculously fun gameplay Vlambeer is known for leads to a highly addictive title that is sure to eat away hours of your time this year. The game is currently available as a beta through Steam Early Access, with the PS4, PSVita, and PC full versions coming soon. 

The Witness [Early 2014]

Love him or hate him, Jonathan Blow has become the poster boy for indie games. Braid paved the way for the indie game movement and Blow was prominently featured in 2012's Indie Game: The Movie.

The Witness is another brain teasing puzzle title, but where Braid was a time-bending puzzle platformer, this time Blow is evoking the style of the classic Myst. Sony has heavily invested in the title with a timed exclusive for the PS4, but a PC and IOS version are also in the pipeline. 

Starbound [TBA 2014]

In Starbound, you’ll embark on a quest to survive, discover, explore and fight your way across an infinite universe. There is so much to do in this game, it's almost ridiculous. Starbound is currently in beta through Steam Early Access, but is also planned on PS4, PS3, and PSVita. Thanks to procedural generated weapons, creature, and environments... no two playthroughs will be the same and leads to infinite replayability. I could see this game reaching a Minecraft level of success. 

Super TIME Force [TBA 2014]

If you've noticed a trend of all these indies hitting the PS4, Super TIME Force is not among them. This will be one of the first titles to release through ID@Xbox, with a simultaneous Xbox Live release.

The developers have described the game as Gunstar Heroes meets Braid. You are given 30 lives to make it through a bullet hell environment where dying is a certainty. The catch is you then can play a sort of co-op next to a ghost replay of your dead character. It's hard to describe and has to be seen or played to fully appreciate it. 

Incognita [TBA 2014]

There is a chance that Incognita might not make it out in 2014, but it still deserves recognition. The turn-based strategy genre is making a comeback, largely in thanks to the successful XCOM reboot.

Icognita takes that same formula, but makes it into the first turn-based tactical espionage game. The alpha build is currently available to download and PC is the target platform for the title. However, as we saw with Klei's Don't Starve, a console port will likely not be too far behind. 

BROFORCE [TBA 2014]

BROFORCE is a balls to the wall action side scrolling shooter, developed by a South African indie studio, inspired by American action movies. The parodies of American action movie icons, mixed with destructible environments and raw firepower, work in tandem for an amazing experience. You can download the "BROTOTYPE" version for free and the game has already been approved through Steam Greenlight. 

No Man's Sky [TBA 2014]

No Man's Sky recently debuted at the 2013 VGX awards, and is yet another large game taking advantage of procedurally generated features. The game is certainly very ambitious and is targeting both next gen consoles and PC. Development has been set back a little due to a recent flood at the offices of Hello Games, but hopefully it is still on track for a 2014 release. 

Broken Age [January 2014]

Many of the games on this list were the result of a Kickstarter campaign, but none as successful Broken Age's impression $3.45 million in crowdfunding. This game marks Tim Shafer's return to the point and click genre that he had left (alongside LucasArts) in 2000. The Walking Dead from Telltale Games has done much to revive the genre in recent years, and the all-star voice cast on this game is bound to draw in even more fans to the genre. 

So there you have it, ten games that were not the result of an executive board room meeting or victims to endless focus testing. 2014 could very well be the best year for indies yet. 

Originally Published Jan. 10th 2014

Featured Columnist

Lifelong gamer, artist, writer, lurker, occasional troll, and 1994 Blockbuster Game Tournament Store Champion.

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Comments
  • 1
    Kubat Software 6 months ago
    What do you think about http://www.aggressors-game.com ?
  • 8
    Vendorattack 8 months ago
    Contributor
    You just had to expect Transistor in one of these lists ;)
  • 60
    Amanda Wallace 8 months ago
    Associate Editor
    I would also have included NIDHOGG.

    I got to play Super Time Force at Pax Prime and it was pretty awesome! Super hard (at least for my skill level) but still pretty awesome.
  • 6
    Mike Acciarino 8 months ago
    Featured Contributor
    Nice read. I was looking forward to some of these prior to reading this (Transistor, Broken Age, No Man's Sky), but now I've found some new games I'd like to check out, too. The only game I'd add is the Hotline Miami sequel.
  • 66
    Ashley Shankle 8 months ago
    Associate Editor
    Starbound isn't a roguelike, it's a sandbox.

    There are very stringent rules pertaining to what makes a roguelike, including permadeath and a lack of progression. Starbound has very clear progression and no permadeath, among the wealth of other points that separate Starbound from the roguelike genre.
  • 36
    Ryan Kerns 8 months ago
    Featured Columnist
    how right you are, I saw the randomized elements and lumped it into the wrong category... will definitely make the appropriate edits
  • 60
    Fathoms_4209 8 months ago
    Featured Columnist
    I'm actually more excited for some of these than I am for the big AAA games on tap.

    Can't wait to see what Hello Games can do with No Man's Sky.
  • 5
    Chris Hendricks 8 months ago
    Featured Contributor
    I've been tempted to buy early access to Starbound on steam but am still not convinced I will like that game. Still, many of these looks like they could be great hits.
  • 36
    Ryan Kerns 8 months ago
    Featured Columnist
    I'm not a fan of steam early access... you're basically paying to be a beta tester for the game. I'm much more willing to take a risk on a game if it only retails under $20 anyway, so I rather wait for the finished product
  • 10
    Samuel Smith 8 months ago
    Featured Contributor
    I think the 2014 indie scene has a lot to strive for after such a great 2013 season for indie games. I can't say I'm too excited about many of these (not because they don't look great, simply not my tastes).

    Transistor will be a big one I hope and I see Starbound gaining even more traction as the game evolves from its current state.
  • 56
    Rothalack 8 months ago
    Staff Editor
    Saw the title, clicked. Very much expected to see Transistor, BAM first one. Good call Ryan haha.