The games we’re getting giddy about this month.
October can be an odd month for indie games. Most small studios do their level best to avoid a launch at this time of year, lest they do battle with some of the biggest brands in gaming. It can often lead to a quiet patch, or – worse for the talented people behind the games – a selection of exceptional titles being launched to very little fanfare, as triple-A publishers dominate the headlines.
There are noticeably fewer exciting indie games to pick from this month, although whittling it down to five has still been a challenge. Most have a distinctly ‘triple-I’ feel to them, too. Perhaps we are now in an age where indies need to mimic the biggest games to compete with them in the autumn months. Still, there’s a lot to be excited about in the indie world as we head into peak season. Here’s what we’re getting giddy about this October.
5. My Memory of Us
On first glance, you might be forgiven for thinking My Memory Of Us is yet another moody 2D indie puzzle platformer. And, well, it is. But it’s one of the more imaginative ones, with players switching between two characters of different abilities while exploring a story of friendship that gels seamlessly with the game mechanics.
There are distinct vibes of Trine, Braid, Limbo and more besides. But My Memory Of Us has already won its fair share of awards during development, so even though it looks a little derivative, we’ve definitely got our eyes on this one. It’s due out for PC and console on 9th October.
4. The Hex
Unlike some of this month’s picks, The Hex is about as indie as they come. Supremely meta and self-referential, it’s a murder mystery story steeped in video game cliché, in which players journey on a Cluedo-like quest to identify a killer. The suspects are a set of video game archetypes, and the setting is a universe filled with video game tropes.
Riffing on various established genres, The Hex risks being a bit too knowing for its own good, but from what we’ve seen it looks like a laugh. It’s out on 16th October, via Steam.
3. Party Hard 2
Sticking with the sneaky format of the original, but upping the ante in terms of production values, is Pinokl and TinyBuild’s Party Hard 2. The ludicrous stealth-strategy game returns, inviting you once again to infiltrate and shut down parties by any means necessary, and it looks every bit as gleeful and gruesome as the original.
There’s been a noticeable visual upgrade this time around, Party Hard 2 retaining the pixelated style of its predecessor but rendered out in full 3D. The result is a distinct and rich aesthetic, with gorgeous lighting adding to the already fabulous artwork. If the gameplay is anything close to the fun of the original game, this looks to be a no-brainer when it hits Steam on 25th October.
2. The Occupation
Update: Since this article went live, White Paper Games have announced that The Occupation has been delayed until February 5th next year.
The Occupation is a big, bold and ambitious indie game from Ether One developers White Paper Games. It’s a real-time thriller that sees you play as a journalist investigating a massive bomb blast in North-West England in the 1980s. Working against an ever-ticking clock, you’ll need to interrogate suspects and dig into the mysterious plot that led to the explosion.
Its presentation is immediately evocative of BioShock Infinite and, while the game itself is very different, its impressive production values seem every match. Ether One was an impressive debut that suffered a little from ‘first game syndrome’ – and having learned those lessons, it seems White Paper Games could be onto something very special with The Occupation. It’s out on
Tuesday 9th October.
1. Call of Cthulhu
Studios like Cyanide represent the upper echelons of the indie game studio – a large, independently owned developer with decades of proven experience. Sometimes it feels harsh giving visibility to these established ‘triple-I’ companies over and above smaller indies. But when a game like Call of Cthulhu comes along, it’s impossible not to sit up and pay attention.
An official digital take on Chaosium’s classic Lovecraft pen-and-paper RPG, Call of Cthulhu takes place in 1920s Paris and sees you investigate the tragic death of the Hawkins family. It is, of course, the Cthulhu Mythos, so it’s safe to assume they didn’t die of carbon monoxide poisoning or in a tragic gardening accident.
Fusing RPG, adventure and action mechanics, this beastly story-driven horror game launches for PC and the consoles on 30th October – just in time for Halloween!
Looking for more games to get excited about? Check out our Previews section for more upcoming gaming goodness!