Sony's been waving the indie flag for the last few years. From when Jonathon Blow discussed The Witness at the PlayStation 4 reveal to when scores of developers showed off their projects at last year's E3, it seems as though there's always another independent game being announced. And we couldn't be happier about that. Sony recently showed off a bunch of upcoming games--including previously covered ones such as Transistor, Galak-Z, and Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number--along with a lot more that we hadn't seen before. So check out six that had us eager to finally gets our hands on the finished experience.
It's those simple games that are so darn humbling. You run and jump, climb some walls, and maybe even laugh at how easy it all is. Just enter the door, right? No big deal. Well, N++ doesn't look kindly on brash punks. Make just one mistake and its the end of the road for your fleet-footed ninja. This is a platformer in which everything looks so doable at first--you see the missile launchers overhead, the alien blobs patrolling the ground--and so you plan the path through the chaos in advance. And then reality sets in. That missile? It hounds you, humming behind you like a death whistle as you race across the potholed ground. Distracted by imminent death, you lose sight of the alien bugger as it speeds toward you. In a blink, you're dead, your legacy splattered on the ground.
Alone, you grit your teeth and utter curses the likes of which have never been conceived. With friends, you sneer at their own failings. You see, cooperative in N++ doesn't just mean another ninja gets thrown into the party. The levels are constructed with tandems in mind, and one false step could derail the progress of the entire team. Just try squeezing through a narrow, bomb-lined path with three friends looking on, willing you to not mess up. But you do. Again. And you can't stop smiling. --Tom Mc Shea
The Aztec-theme, monochromatic brawler Aztez may be friendly to button mashers, but in truth mobility is your greatest ally. I had the opportunity to try out the combat portion of this game, and was able to rack up some lengthy combos just by mashing out the light and heavy attacks. However, I also suffered several backstabs from the sidelines as my foes slowly surrounded me. After a quick death, a tried again only this time I made an effort to stay light on my toes. The game really opened for me after making this simple play style switch as I bounced off walls and sored over the heads of my foes, hopping from one target to the next while evenly spreading out the pain. And despite the game’s 2D presentation and limited color pallet, the different enemy types were easy to discern--and prioritize--thanks to some creative character designs. Aztez also has an empire for you to manage when you’re not spilling the blood of your enemies. However, I didn’t get the chance to try it out. Team Colorblind, developers on Aztez, are hoping to have their game out towards the end of this year on Steam first, and then consoles second. --Maxwell McGee
You float through an alien landscape, utterly alone, and yet completely serene. It's a land of wonder and beauty, where the odd geometric shapes that enclose you seem both understandable and outlandish, floating cubes and spheres that defy their geometric simplicity. Everything is strange, slightly unnerving yet mostly harmless, so as you glide through as a bio-luminescent firefly, you explore with eager curiosity. And it's a world that begs exploration. Those rocky outcrops overhead look so inviting, veiling who knows what kind of secret, and you want nothing more than to head toward them. What awaits you? Is it a glowing ball, a key to open the next part of the world? Or a diving bug whose infinite legs make your stomach turn?
Source is incredibly early, no more than a promise of what's to come, but there's a hint at something powerful even in its early stages. The puzzles intrigued me, as did the myriad crawlies you must contend with, but it's the unexplored oasis of possibilities that kindled my excitement. I could see myself spending hours within this foreign world if only to see what's hidden there. It's rare that a quick peak could spark such eagerness in me, but Source has certainly teased my imagination. --Tom Mc Shea
Velocity began its life as a humble PlayStation Mini on the PSP, where, as GameSpot’s own Mark Walton noted in his review, the game was "a fun and inventive little shooter that offers lots of content for very little outlay." It was then upgraded to Velocity Ultra for the PlayStation 3, Vita, and PC, before finally settling on the recently announced Velocity 2X. Velocity 2X takes the series’ top-down, sci-fi shooter action and layers on new platforming segments to help break up the space faring. In the section I played, the ship portions were much more focused on shooting, while the on-foot segments were more puzzle-oriented. Both had me teleporting around the map to either avoid, or navigate through, obstacles, but when on-foot I also had to find and activate a number of switches to open a gate and allow my ship to advance. It was a fun diversion and should bring a new challenge to Velocity fans from all the way back in the PlayStation Mini days. Velocity 2X is coming PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita sometime later this year. --Maxwell McGee
Everyone must leave at some point. Maybe you're saying goodbye to childhood. Or waving one last wave to a loved one. We've all parted ways with what we once knew--the safe, the familiar--and awaited whatever came next with eager trepidation. To Leave explores that innate change in an abstract manner, asking the question of what's to come and letting you fill in the rest with your own answers. And though its core is so grounded, its realization of this theme is anything but. Doors in To Leave, like doors in real life, lead to a new beginning, and we can only imagine what lays beyond each locked passageway. But that's where To Leave stops dealing with reality, and instead takes a dreamlike bent.
As a young boy, your journey is one of danger. You grab on to a door--your one link between the past and future--and soar through the air while grasping firmly on to it. The nightmarish world reigns you in with sharp rocks and swirling paths, and you must glide unscathed through the tangled web to reach the next part of your journey. It's simple yet tense because just glancing against a wall can end your run. I'm not afraid to admit that I died, frequently, and after each death, I started once more, eager to fly through untouched. To Leave is more interesting conceptually than mechanically right now, though there is still a kinetic rush in flying through the air, hanging on to a door for dear life. --Tom Mc Shea
Chariot sounds far more grim on paper that it actually is. An unnamed princess and her suitor are stuck dragging the casket of the deceased king through a deep, dark cave to find a final resting place suitable for their once noble lord. Both of these extremely dedicated pallbearers can send out a rope with the press of a button that will automatically attach itself to the casket. And, don’t worry, the casket is on wheels. If it wasn’t, dragging it through this 2D, puzzle-platforming adventure would be a real nightmare. Chariot is powered by a sophisticated physics engine, which means when you slip up and let the casket go careening down a steep hill and it bounces off a boulder, it likely won’t land in the same place twice. Of course, if you and your partner do your jobs right this won’t happen. Chariot is coming to the full range of next generation consoles, including Xbox One, PS4, Wii U, and PC. --Maxwell McGee