Although there are some major Triple-A games on the PlayStation 5 like Ratchet & Clank Rift Apart and Returnal, Sony has also supported indie titles to a great extent. Chicory: A Colorful Tale is a standout, Zelda-inspired game while Bugsnax helped launch the new system.
As we look ahead, Sony’s indie lineup continues to be stacked with bizarre, mind-bending adventures. While Horizon Forbidden West is the next big Sony game. Several indie titles may scoop up some of its glory as they sneak in under the radar. The following projects piqued our interest and may establish themselves as an underappreciated game of the year candidates.
There is not much to go off of, but what we do have is a one-minute trailer that quickly caught our attention. A woman rides her bike across a sea of tall grass as a peaceful piano riff plays in the background. The woman is exploring the world for the first time and researching everything in sight. At one point, she puts a recorder up to a dragonfly, curious about the mysterious creature.
The game, described as a “bicycle road trip,” strikes a somber tone, especially when we discover the root of this extensive discovery tour. The woman only has one season to record and preserve our world before a cataclysmic event. We don’t know much about the gameplay, but from what we can tell Season will be a euphoric survey of the world’s greatest beauties.
Jett: The Far Shore
Jett: The Far Shore looks to be a smaller, less abrasive version of No Man’s Sky. Players take on the role of an aviator scientist exploring an oceanic planet. The gameplay has two central pillars: flying across a vast planet via a trusty ship and traversing the environment on foot. With the camera zoomed all the way out while flying the planet’s surface becomes a stunning spectacle. So much so that the first person on fooT gameplay makes the player feel minuscule in comparison.
We’ve established that Jett: The Far Shore will be about breathtaking exploration and discovery, but it also adds a few other gameplay flares. The goal is to avoid combat until absolutely necessary, adding some slight stealth encounters. Besides, the goal is to scout and retrieve information, not cause trouble. All of that to say, Jett: The Far Shore does energize the more serene moments with short bursts of combat and expeditious ship flying.
F.I.S.T.: Forged in Shadow Torch
F.I.S.T.: is the worst game title out of the bunch, but its gameplay may spur some interest. The most important thing to know is that players control a humanoid bunny with a mechanized arm on his back. The giant yellow arm is more than a show, but an integral part of gameplay. It’s used for platforming and attacking automatons in this intense action-Metroidvania. The mechanized contraption can turn into a propeller for longer jumps and parry enemy attacks, making it an essential function of our main character, Rayton.
That’s not the only weapon in Rayton’s tool belt. He also brings a whip and drill for arcade-inspired combo chains. It may be odd for a bunny to hold all these weapons and fight robots, but it makes a little more sense from a story perspective. In this world, animals are the predominant species. However, a race of machines invades, threatening their existence. F.I.S.T is definitely an imaginative and fun adventure to look forward to, especially for those who like side scrollers, Metroidvania, and strategic combat design.
Little Devil Inside
Out of all the indie games on this list, Little Devil Inside has to be the wackiest. Neostream’s project, which was sparked by a Steam greenlight campaign, is advertised as an action-adventure RPG that incorporates survival elements. In one trailer our protagonist, a boy with dark black hair is penguin sledding on sand dunes and next hiding from a giant cat. In the same trailer, a series of locations and gameplay elements were shown, indicating that Little Devil Inside will offer a great deal of variety.
For instance, the boy is carrying a knight up a snowy mountain hunting a bear while on horseback and fighting a winged creature in a forest. These intense scenes are contrasted with an older gentleman’s mundane day-to-day tasks. For some much-needed context, this old man is the boys’ master who is constantly sending him out to retrieve bounties and accomplish other varied jobs. While the trailer is action-focused, Little Devil Inside also incorporates survival elements related to the weather, such as freezing to death if the right gear isn’t crafted. Suffice it to say, the sheer amount of variety in both gameplay and setting is enough to set Little Devil Inside apart from its indie brethren.
Kena: Bridge of Spirits
Because Kena: Bridge of Spirits incorporates fantastic top-of-the-line animation it’s easy to forget its nature as an indie title. The animation is only comparable to the likes of Pixar due to the fine work at Ember Labs. This animation studio is known for the short film, Dust and a Majora’s Mask fan film titled Terrible Fate. Ember Labs is now translating its expertise into games and the results are nothing short of amazing. The titular character, Kena, is a spirit guide responsible for aiding restless spirits.
As Kena embarks on her helpful adventure she encounters small, rotund creatures called Rots. These adorable beings must be found in hidden places throughout the world. Once discovered they’ll aid Kena by moving platforming objects and distracting enemies. These enemy encounters look entertaining as Kena weaponizes a magical staff, but Bridge of Spirit’s true charm comes from the gorgeous animation and cute atmosphere. Every time we see Kena: Bridge of Spirit it imbues a wholesome and endearing tone that’s difficult to dislike.
In Solar Ash, our hero named Rei travels inside a black hole to stop its path of destruction. We see her dashing across a puffy ground with astonishing speed and grappling to various objects in the world. Solar Ash’s gameplay is centered around constant smooth movement, which also translates to combat. Rei utilizes several fast slash attacks that complement its quick traversal mechanic. Her biggest threat is the Sentinels – devastating beasts who hold the key to her journey. She must ride these behemoths and defeat them in climatic boss battles.
The massive battles are reminiscent of Shadow of The Colossus and the free-flowing movement takes cues from The Pathless. These two games perfected their specific gameplay gimmick, making them excellent inspiration for Heart Machine’s newest project. A project that couldn’t be more different than their previous work, Hyper Light Drifter. This 2D role-playing game garnered a nine out of ten on Steam and an 84 on Metacritic, giving us confidence in Heart Machin’s development skills, no matter the genre. Essentially, the ingredients are all here: great gameplay inspiration and established talent. Not to mention, the game’s intriguing premise.
Sifu is a Kung-Fu brawler developed by the small team at Sloclap, the same team behind the martial arts multiplayer game Absolver. Sloclap brings their love of martial arts into their next game while differentiating it from every other brawler out there. Sifu’s main contrivance is its respawn system, which ages the protagonists upon each fatal blow. The goal is to beat the game before dying of old age.
Beyond this unique mechanic, Sifu also offers a realistic fighting style based on real-life martial arts. The style in question is Pak Mei Kung-Fu, a practice of close-range attacks and open fist strikes. The result is a devastating envoy of attacks that can annihilate opponents with a sense of gravitas. Sifu’s protagonist can also improvise on the fly by utilizing the environment. Trailers show him picking up a lead pipe and pushing countless enemies off of balconies. Add this impactful combat system to a distinctive premise and Sifu will surely stand out among the flock.