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5 Indie Games to Watch in 2012

Contending with the likes of The Binding of Isaac, Frozen Synapse, Dungeons of Dredmor, and Superbrothers: Sword & Sorcery EP, 2012 has a tough act to follow. By no means is this an exhaustive list, but it does represent some of the most promising indie games to keep on your radar this year.

From: Polytron Corporation
Platform: Xbox Live Arcade
Release Date: Early 2012

After more than three years in development, I can only imagine how much pressure the developers are currently feeling, but I don’t think that they have anything to worry about. After a life of two-dimensional living, a hidden third dimension is suddenly revealed to Gomez. In terms of gameplay, this gives players the ability to twist environments in order to shift platforms and reveal new paths in the 2D world. Much like echochrome on PSN, it’s not the physical location of a platform that matters so much as the perspective from which it is viewed. FEZ has no combat to speak of, placing the emphasis squarely on exploration, puzzle-solving, and soaking up the wonderfully colorful world.

Spelunky Mossmouth screenshot

From: Mossmouth
Platform: Xbox Live Arcade
Release Date: TBA

You may have played Derek Yu’s freeware version of Spelunky on PC, but the upcoming XBLA rendition features completely overhauled graphics and four-person multiplayer. Taking a nod from roguelikes, this platformer features randomly generated levels with tons of surprises to uncover as you climb, jump, and bomb your way through stages. During one demo, I rescued a damsel in distress, had to carry her after unintentionally knocking her out with a rock, and further compounded the disastrous situation when I dropped her on a bomb. Circumstances like these don’t occur in your average platformer. Although Spelunky was originally slated for release on XBLA back in 2010, recent appearances at conventions and IGF 2012 suggest an impending arrival.

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YouTube video

Lone Survivor
From: superflat games
Platform: PC, Mac
Release Date: March 2012

Remember when survival-horror games were unsettling, drenched in lonely atmospheres, and more importantly, challenging? Lone Survivor features plenty of horrific monstrosities, a smattering of random events, and boss-battles, but most intriguing to me is that side-quests for getting supplies like food and water and coffee imply that survival will require more than a gun. On top of that, developer Jasper Byrne has bluntly revealed that most of Lone Survivor’s multiple endings are thoroughly depressing. It sounds like his heart is in the right place.

The Hunger Games Girl on Fire iOS screenshot

The Hunger Games: Girl on Fire
From: (see below)
Platform: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch
Release Date: March 23. 2012

I wouldn’t normally be so excited about a movie-based game, despite being a fan of The Hunger Games, but the talent behind Girl on Fire is undeniable – Adam Saltsman (Canabalt), Doomlaser (Hot Throttle), Paul Veer (Super Crate Box), and Daniel Baranowsky (Super Meat Boy composer). Saltsman wants to create something beyond an adaptation, thus Girl on Fire is set before the timeline of the books and focuses on the main character’s affinity for archery and tactical approaches to problems, and draws inspiration from “classic Sega Genesis games.”

Gunpoint Game Pentadact PC Screenshot

From: Pentadact / Tom Francis
Platform: PC
Release Date: TBA 2012

Tom Francis is a video game journalist attempting to put his money where his mouth is by developing a game of his own. The act of rewiring doors, elevators, lights, and security systems to distract guards makes Gunpoint a puzzle-game at heart, but there is no set solution for any given stage. As Francis told Gamasutra, “I wanted to make a game with the idea that the player might be smarter than me. Let him think of solutions that never occurred to me in hours of playtesting, and give him the tools to be more creative than I was when I designed this level.”

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What indie games are you most looking forward to?

Brian Rowe

Writer, videographer, and perpetual purveyor of geekdom. Brian has contributed to gaming outlets such as GameShark, GameRevolution, and GameZone, and thinks too many websites have "game" in their titles.

6 thoughts to “5 Indie Games to Watch in 2012”

  1. Great feature, now I really want to play Lone Survivor. I also wish I had one of those fancy iOS dealies, as that Hunger Games game pulls on my unabashed fan wallet-strings.

    I’m not too sure about what’s coming up in the indie-verse, but I do want to give Jon Blow’s new game a try when that hits. Other than that, I expect I’m expecting to get notified of good indie games from you all, just like this post!

  2. Glad you enjoyed it. There were so many games I wanted to include that you can look forward to another round next week. And, I too feel your lack-of-iOS pain. Thankfully, I have a friend who lets me play with his toys from time to time.

  3. Oh man, let’s see. I’m interested in Kenshi, Monaco, a bunch of Minecraft and Dwarf Fortress inspired games, Starfarer, StarDrive … and a bunch of stuff I’m forgetting.

  4. Really enjoyed this feature and I’m looking forward to the next installment. I’d never even heard of Lone Survivor, and now I’m looking forward to it.

  5. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Fez is the Duke Nukem Forever of Indie gaming. This game was announced in 2007, which means it’s been in development for about five years.

    I’ll believe it when I see it. We’re going to see the Last Guardian released before we see Fez come out. It looks cool, but the whole project has more than just a whiff of vaporware around it.

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