The most exciting indie games to watch at E3 2017

Matt Sayer 8 June 2017

songbringer

Size doesn't matter when small games look this good.

Big names and even bigger budgets are sure to be in ample supply at E3 this year, wowing us with photorealistic visuals and battles on a scale to rival The Lord of the Rings. But as much as we're looking forward to the grand spectacle of the AAA offerings, we're just as excited to see the many smaller games lurking in the background.

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Thanks to initiatives like the Indie MEGABOOTH and Devolver Digital's indie showcase, we already know what a bunch of these games are going to be, so we've run down the list and picked out the ones you'll want to keep an eye on as E3 unfolds. Take out your digital notepad because here they are:

Songbringer

Coming to: PS4, Xbox One, PC

Infinite Zelda is a lofty promise to make, but Songbringer looks like it may well deliver on it. The 2D, top-down action RPG takes the exploration and puzzle-solving of games like A Link to the Past and turns it procedural, randomly generating both the overworld and the dungeons for a completely fresh experience every time you start a new adventure.

With local co-op support, online leaderboards tied to each uniquely generated world and some of the most gorgeous pixel art we've ever seen, Songbringer is sure to be one of the highlights of this year's E3.

Sundered

Coming to: PS4, PC

From the developer of the Norse-themed 2D action game Jotun comes Sundered, a hand-drawn Metroidvania set in a ruined world full of tentacled horrors and ungodly abominations eager to spill your blood.

Like Jotun, the game features massive boss fights designed to push your reflexes to their limits, and with the addition of a procedurally generated world, you'll never know what nightmare might lurk around the next corner. For its striking art style alone, Sundered is a game we can't wait to see more of.

Nidhogg 2

Coming to: PS4, PC

The first Nidhogg was a beautifully chaotic local multiplayer game that took the tense one-hit kills of the classic Joust arcade game and wrapped it in a 1v1 tug-of-war between two pixelated fencers.

Nidhogg 2 builds upon that basic formula by adding in a whole arsenal of pointy stuff to jab into your opponent, ranging from heavy battle axes to long-range bows and arrows. The visuals have been given a revamp, too, abandoning the minimalist pixel art of the first game for a unique pseudo-claymation look we're equally captivated and disturbed by. We'll be keeping one eye open and one eye closed when Nidhogg 2 slices its bloody way through this year's E3.

Overland

Coming to: PC

We've seen plenty of survival games recently, but few have grabbed us as immediately as Overland. Presented in an attractively minimalist art style, the turn-based strategy game tasks you with leading a squad of survivors on a road trip across a randomly generated, post-apocalyptic America.

Your journey is split up into small, diorama-like levels you'll need to scour for supplies while avoiding both human and alien threats. Honestly, we were sold as soon as we saw you can use your car as a weapon, ploughing through otherworldly monsters like so much alien roadkill. After that, Overland became a mandatory pit stop on our E3 road map.

YIIK: A Postmodern RPG

Coming to: PS4, PS Vita, PC, Nintendo Switch

Weird is an understatement when it comes to YIIK: A Postmodern RPG. Taking inspiration from games like Earthbound, Catherine and other quirky JRPGs, YIIK explores worlds both surreal and supernatural with a tone that promises to be as humorous as it is absurd.

What interests us most is the battle system. It combines traditional turn-based combat with real-time minigames that look to draw heavily from Nintendo's wacky WarioWare games. Repetitive fights are one of the JRPG genre's biggest weaknesses, and we're keen to see if YIIK can buck that trend.

Kingsway

Coming to: PC

Forget +1 swords and magic missiles—true adventurers fight the forces of evil with the power of Windows 95. Well, that's what they do in Kingsway, a novel-looking RPG that switches out the traditional mechanics of dungeon crawling for the kind of mundane Microsoft Office tasks anyone who worked on a computer in the 90s will remember all too clearly.

Instead of directly controlling your plucky adventurer, all interaction with Kingsway occurs via a mock operating system: quests are delivered via email, enemies appear as popup windows and your inventory is sorted like an old-school file system. It's a premise so crazy it just might work, and we can't wait to dig deeper into Kingsway's arcane interface come E3.

A Case of Distrust

Coming to: PC

Any game that lists both Phoenix Wright and 80 Days as its main inspirations is certain to pique our interest, and if it follows that up with slick noir visuals and a catchy jazz soundtrack, we've got no choice but to investigate further. What we found was A Case of Distrust, a narrative-driven adventure game set in San Francisco during the smoke-filled 1920s. Playing a female private detective, it's up to you to untangle a sleazy mystery cloaked in themes of racism, emancipation and poverty. We're suckers for a good mystery game, so we'll be keeping

Playing a female private detective, it's up to you to untangle a sleazy mystery cloaked in themes of racism, emancipation and poverty. We're suckers for a good mystery game, so we'll be keeping A Case of Distrust on our radar as E3 rolls around.

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