Indie games have always been a haven for the obscure or niche game idea that may find success with a small, targeted audience. But with news of Activision looking to cut costs and EA’s recent franchises coming up short, 2019 may be the year where indie developers experience increased first-party support. With programs in place for small studios to partner up with big organizations such as Playstation and Microsoft as the publisher, some small teams have found major income to publish their work.
These indie teams are continuing to produce more experimental game ideas, but the larger budget and backing has brought a high level of shine to some otherwise obscure games. Other developers are looking to gather a community using social media and charming game designs. Still others are pushing the limits of popular game engines such as Unity and Unreal to see what all is possible. It’s made for quite the interesting calender for indie games in 2019, and all of them bring their own bit of originality.
The list of actual releases for 2019 is quite long already, but here are the top 15 indie titles with set release dates in 2019. With such small teams, and regular game developer snags, these dates are always subject to change, but this is the best list with the knowledge available.
The Most Exciting New Indie Games of 2019
1. Genesis Alpha One | January 29th, 2019
Developer: Radiation Blue Publisher: Team17 Platforms: PC, Xbox One, Playstation 4
Space Exploration, gene editing, and first-person shooter all mix together to form Genesis Alpha One, the newest game to be released by developers Radiation Blue. It’s a relatively bleak take on the future of humanity, the remnants of who are forced to explore a hostile universe in the hopes of finding a habitable world to replace Earth. The videos show the game as something like Starship Troopers mixed with base building, though developers mention the shooting is more roguelike. Either way, Genesis Alpha One is certainly a game to keep your eye on.
2. Untitled Goose Game | March 2019
Developer: House House Publisher: Panic Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC
Geese are assholes, and that was probably the entire pitch for developer House House’s new game, Untitled Goose Game. True to its premise, you play a goose, who is an asshole and is looking to ruin some days. Interaction is vital as you seek to complete some vaguely named missions through running around and quacking at the world. It’s an exciting little package that is built upon puzzle solving and being the best jerk you can be.
3. Wargroove | February 1st 2019
Developer: Chucklefish Publisher: Chucklefish Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC, Xbox One, Playstation 4
Advance Wars was the greatest tragedy of the handheld era, and that’s not at all an exaggeration. Luckily, indie studio Chucklefish saw that tank-shaped hole in our hearts and decided to fill it with medieval fantasy trebuchets in their new game, Wargroove. Boasting a pixelated art style, Wargroove sticks closer to its influences than 2017’s Tiny Metal while also adding deeper mechanics and customizable units. That, along with the complete shift in setting, could be a major revival for an underutilized game genre. Advance Wars was still tragic, though.
4. Ancient Enemy | April 2019
Developer: Grey Alien Games Publisher: Grey Alien Games Platforms: PC
The details are bit scarce for a game coming out in April, but what’s there sounds awesome. Based on British mythology, Ancient Enemy has collectible cards, henchman recruiting and stronghold building all being combined for a single-player-focused package from the all-star team at Gray Alien Games. Taking a page from Into the Breach, the enemy’s move is telegraphed the turn prior, so it’s up to the player to react accordingly. Hopefully, Ancient Enemy will hit it’s projected April release, but it’ll be a good time no matter the drop date.
5. Super Meat Boy Forever | April 2019
Developer: Team Meat Publisher: Team Meat Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC, Xbox One, Playstation 4, iOS
Nothing is more indie than Super Meat Boy, so its sequel is a safe bet for this list. Looking to change things up a bit, Super Meat Boy Forever does away with the concept of standing still, instead opting for a consistent run function in the same vein as Nintendo’s Super Mario Run. Though that may seem to be a significant shift, the platforming looks to be just as complex as the first go. Developers Team Meat mention on their site that the levels are to be designed around only two buttons, with levels being procedurally generated along with difficulty scaling. Perhaps it’s not as infuriatingly tough as the first, but it includes punching now, so who cares?
Developer: Snapshot Games Publisher: Snapshot Games Platforms: PC, Xbox One
Phoenix Point is billed as the spiritual successor to XCOM, and that’s mostly because it comes from the creator of XCOM. Rather than aliens, though, horror monsters from Dead Space seem to have taken over, created through a deadly virus known as the Pandoravirus. Playstyle appears to be quite similar, though now the enemies evolve rather than just upgrade, adapting to tactics and plans you’ve implemented prior. Giant boss battles even take the stage to ramp up the intensity from regular skirmishes. It’s gory, customizable, and definitely an excellent choice for the turn-based-tactician in all of us.
7. Concrete Genie | Spring 2019
Developer: PixelOpus Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment Platforms: Playstation 4
Of all the games on this list, Concrete Genie stands out as the most unique concept that could tell a marvellous story. You play as a young boy who’s found a magical paintbrush that allows him to give life to his two-dimensional art painted on buildings around his otherwise lifeless city. The gameplay centers around artwork and creativity, though it doesn’t take an actual artist to build some fantastic landscapes. Even the story looks pretty weighty for a game with minimal human interaction. It should be noted, however, that this has been pretty heavily backed by PlayStation as the publisher, so that’s likely to have been a big boon for developers PixelOpus.
Developer: Glumberland Publisher: Double Fine Platforms: PC, Xbox One
The selling point of Ooblets comes from its quirky premise. It’s a creature-collecting game with dance battles, and that’s all you need to know. Along with some farming sim elements, Ooblets could demonstrate what it means to relax with a game. The art direction takes on a similar style to 2018’s Donut County, adding that extra layer of charm on top of an already-sweet premise. Coming from a team of just two people, Ooblets is an ambitious project that could pay off in the happiest of ways.
9. Sea of Solitude | Early 2019
Developer: Jo-Mei Games Publisher: Electronic Arts Platforms: PC, Xbox One, Playstation 4
Sea of Solitude reminds me of indie games like Inside or Limbo but set on a three-dimensional plane. As a girl-turned-monster named Kay, you’re just looking to find your own humanity once again as you explore the sunken remnants of what was once a great city. Perhaps a personal story of loss or depression, or maybe just a story about monsters, Sea of Solitude will most certainly tell a tale worth hearing.
10. Afterparty | 2019
Developer: Night School Studio Publisher: Night School Studio Platforms: PC
From the makers of Oxenfree comes a game about partying in the afterlife. As the two characters Lola and Milo, you are looking to gain entry back to Earth by outdrinking Satan, and winning Game of the Year is just a formality at this point. With an art style similar to Broken Age, Afterparty is driven by dialogue choices and the chemistry between both lead characters. From the trailer, there’s a good blend of buddy hijinx with a mixture of witty dialogue and a ludicrous story that could be loads of fun. It may not be as interactive as some of these other games, but outchugging the devil seems like a story beat that could never go wrong.
11. Mineko’s Night Market | 2019
Developer: Meowza Games Publisher: Humble Bundle Platforms: PC
If you like cats have I got the game for you. Mineko’s Night Market from Meowza Games prominently features a load of cats, from the local denizens around your town to a mysterious giant cat running around like Bigfoot. And though those cats add to the relaxing mood of this game, that’s certainly not the only intriguing feature. The game sees you also running a kind of curio stall in your local night market, looking to make money from the knick-knacks you find around town, which could also be crafted into bigger and better devices. Releasing on the Nintendo Switch and PC, Mineko’s Night Market promises mini-games, crafting, and tons of cats all wrapped in a soft, cuddly mystery.
12. Star Renegades | 2019
Developer: Massive Damage, Inc. Publisher: Massive Damage, Inc. Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC, Xbox One, Playstation 4
Self-described as a rogue-lite RPG, developer Massive Damage’s Star Renegades is a whole lot to take in. You command a crew of rebels fighting an endless war against an oppressive regime, who inevitably die but leave cool stuff for the next lot of rebels. If you’re familiar with rogue-lites, you’ll know what this game looks to entail: players get a set of soldiers who then venture out to try and get as far as possible in their quest but will inevitably meet their end. However, they’ll gather resources for the next crew to build off of, allowing them to get a bit further. Rinse and repeat. What’s really captivating, though, is the beautiful pixel art and potential depth of the traditional turn-based combat at play here. The developers have even used the term JRPG to explain fighting mechanics as that level of complexity is undoubtedly going to turn away more casual players. It looks tough but beautiful in its difficulty, and that’s why it’s an exciting release.
13. Spelunky 2 | 2019
Developer: Mossmouth Publisher: Blitworks Platforms: PC, Playstation 4
Spelunky was a wildly successful indie game back in 2012 when a polished remake was released, so it’s no surprise that fans are pretty excited to delve back into the caves of Spelunky 2. Utilizing the tried-and-true sequel formula of “just add more,” Spelunky 2 doesn’t shy away from its namesake, but it does add a plethora of new features to keep the spelunkery feeling fresh. With the inclusion of native online multiplayer, this could be the perfect sequel to an already excellent original title.
14. Tunic | 2019
Developer: Andrew Shouldice Publisher: Finji Platforms: PC, Xbox One
With just a quick trailer and some screenshots to go off of, Andrew Shouldice’s Tunic looks a bit like an isometric Legend of Zelda. As a little fox equipped with a sword and shield, you venture out to make sense of the vast world around, cutting down monsters and collecting money along the way. Described as an action adventure game, just the one trailer shows real promise for a game built from the ground up by a singular man. That feat alone deserves a spot on this list, but the level of polish on that trailer makes Tunic one of the most exciting titles to debut this year.
15. Void Bastards | 2019
Developer: Blue Manchu Publisher: Humble Bundle Platforms: PC, Xbox One
Void Bastards is what you get when crossing Faster Than Light with System Shock. A first-person shooter at heart, Void Bastards tasks you with transporting a bunch of prisoners to their new home, but nothing’s ever that simple. As you move from planet to planet, random occurrences will force you into fighting invaders, fixing your ship with parts found elsewhere or otherwise battling your way through waves of baddies. The artwork looks straight out of a comic book, even going so far to include sound effect words popping up on screen as you play. Death is imminent, but also a learning and growing experience. Void Bastards is a game dripping with style, and that’s good enough for me.