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Opinions 31 December 2014, 18:00

author: Jakub Mirowski

Whenever I’m not occupied with writing ungracious TOP 10 lists, I’m complaining about having to write ungracious TOP 10 lists. Would do just about anything for a half-decent remake of Thief: The Dark Project.

25 games of 2015 that you should be waiting for (but you don't)

Right next to the AAA blockbusters, smaller titles, equally noteworthy, struggle for gamers’ attention.

Undoubtedly, 2015 will be full of AAA titles – sequels to known series, new franchises marketed by big companies, and titles from beloved developers. Right next to the blockbusters, smaller titles, equally noteworthy, struggle for gamers’ attention. We’ve compiled a list of 25 titles, that can’t afford multi-million marketing campaigns and front pages of video game magazines, but should nevertheless grace our gaming systems and computers. Most of them certainly can’t be missed.

We omitted titles that have already gathered some attention – on our list you won’t find sequels to successful indie games (sorry Hotline Miami 2) or games that, despite the low budged, have won over the mainstream crowd’s attention (thus the absence of No Man’s Sky). Even without those two categories, we had room for several genres from various developers – both renown and new (such as Klei Entertainment) and even those with their upcoming debut (IMGN.PRO). Apart from that, most of those games can already be tested via Early Access on Steam.

We are well aware that interesting indie titles are announced almost constantly, and our list could be way more different. Please let our know in the comments below if you have anything interesting to add!

25. Interstellaria – space exploration in 2D

Numerous stats and aspects we need to take into account – Interstellaria certainly won’t be a game for the impatient players. - 2014-12-31
Numerous stats and aspects we need to take into account – Interstellaria certainly won’t be a game for the impatient players.
INFO:
  • Developer: Cold Rice Games
  • Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
  • Genre: strategy, simulator, platformer, RPG

We start off our list with a title that seems somewhat familiar. The name can be paired off with the recent film by Christopher Nolan – and that’s not that far from the truth! Despite the differences, both titles feature space travel. The game from Cold Rice Games features old school graphics – we see our ship in the 2D perspective, and in form of edgy pixel art. However, the visuals don’t hold the game back a bit, as the gameplay will rarely bore – as a spaceship captain we can trade, improve our equipment, recruit new crewmembers, fight, defend and even explore the far away planets. The latter being especially interesting, as every world will feature though through puzzles, hostile aliens, and a large area for exploration.

Interstellaria is, in other words, quite elaborate, which will greatly influence the difficulty. As a captain, we must pay attention to a lot of things – our relations with the crew, the condition of the gear onboard and finances. As the developers claim, the title is intended to bring back former glory to old school games, simultaneously expanding upon them. The gamer is to decide on everything – we assemble our own crew, on our own ship, and fly away searching for adventure.

Why is it worth waiting for?

An excessive (well, not graphically at least) combination of a simulator, strategy game and a RPG that will allows us to explore space, fight aliens and explore uncharted worlds.

24. Sunset – dictatorship, as seen by a housemaid

The peculiar, yet unrealistic, graphic style of Sunset is one of the games selling points. - 2014-12-31
The peculiar, yet unrealistic, graphic style of Sunset is one of the games selling points.
INFO:
  • Developer: Tale of Tales
  • Platforms: PC
  • Genre: adventure, FPP

If you thought that a game in which we play as a housemaid would be boring, you must give Sunset a try. A game by Tale of Tales (The Path), which was funded on Kickstarter, combines a story of Angela Barnes and an intrigue involving the dictatorship ruling the country in which the game is set. Everyday an hour before sunset, we visit the apartment of Gabriel Ortega, a dissentient, and slowly get involved in a conspiracy, which is to overthrow the ruling tyrant. We will not only be tasked with housekeeping, but also we will get to solve puzzles, that reveal the reality of the world in which Sunset takes place. Leaving notes and messages for our employer, we can contact him, or, on the contrary, we can become his enemy. Our decisions are not supposed to drastically influence the entirety of the story, but will certainly have an effect on Angela’s fate. Which will allow replayability – and a walkthrough will take from 90 minutes to 6 hours.

Apart from that, we can expect eye-pleasing exploration of the apartment from the first person perspective. As mentioned, every day we visit the apartment an hour before the sunset, which leaves us with some pretty amazing sights. The sights, in pair with a peculiar, not quite realistic, visual style, will make Sunset’s atmosphere unforgettable.

Why is forth the wait?

Toppling a dictatorship as a housemaid? Count us in! The chance to build a relationship with our boss, and influence his role in the aforementioned intrigue seem quite interesting.

23. Darkwood – an weird horror with top-down view

In Darkwood, there are spine-chilling sights around every corner.

INFO:
  • Developer: Acid Wizard Studio
  • Platforms: PC
  • Genre: action, survival horror

As you will get to know from the rest of the list – indie devs simply adore horror games, and it is thanks to them, that the genre has recently seen something of a renaissance. Why did Darkwood made the list? First of all, the game can be already played via Early Access, and the reviews are promising (among 470 votes, merely 18 are negative). Apart from that, the debut work from the polish team Acid Wizard, stands out among other horrors, with some unique elements that are atypical for the genre – mainly the procedurally generated world, seen from the top-down view, and an ability to equip perks that let us develop our character. Most of the praise, Darkwood gets, regards the natural feeling of dread.

A sizeable role in building the atmosphere are the weird and horrific events, the grim soundtrack, and the fact the torch-wielding hero has limited sight. While the procedurally generated world fills us with fear of the unknown – we simply can’t learn the map by heart, as with every attempt it will look completely different. At the same time, the difficulty level is high enough, to ensure satisfactory gameplay. We can’t wait to see the complete game!

Why is it worth waiting for?

Survival horror are aplenty recently. However, games from that genre that combine RPG elements and adventure game aspects, alongside with crafting and an aerial view are quite hard to find. This unordinary mix from the polish studio, is what resulted in great reviews in the Early Access stage.

22. Grey Goo – a RTS from the team behind Star Wars: Empire at War

A chance to control deadly machines, is what makes the game seem so incredibly enjoyable. - 2014-12-31
A chance to control deadly machines, is what makes the game seem so incredibly enjoyable.
INFO:
  • Developer: Petroglyph
  • Platforms: PC
  • Genre: RTS

Despite the decline of RTS games, Grey Goo is brought to us by Petroglyph, a studio created by former Westwood workers, a team behind Command & Conquer.

The conflict between humans, aliens and artificial intelligence is set on a planet called Ecosystem Nine – and it is this planet’s resources that fuel the struggle. The game features the Beta, a race known for their love of space exploration, which is on the verge of extinction, and the new world seems to be their only hope. Humans fight to maintain the dominance of their kind, but decades of peace result in their technology and tactics being outdated. Those two factions are pitted against the titular Grey Goo – an artificial intelligence that wants to take revenge on the creators, who once tired to destroy it. While every group has their strengths and weaknesses, knowing your enemy is what will be crucial to winning.

The developers claim Grey Goo to be a mixture of a RTS, and something of a classic strategy game. The battles for Ecosystem Nine won’t take place in real-time, as the game is focused on tactics and base expansion, rather than commanding our troops. Apart from that, the game is intended to interest both with a singleplayer, and mutliplayer modes (matches, tournaments, rankings) supported by Steam.

Why is it worth waiting for?

The team behind Empire at War is making a space RTS which, apart from a focus on tactics, will offer a chance to play as a blood-thirsty artificial intelligence set on revenge. Isn’t that reason enough?

21. The Witness – the creators of Braid take on the open world

The colorful art style of The Witness, brings to mind watercolor paintings. - 2014-12-31
The colorful art style of The Witness, brings to mind watercolor paintings.
INFO:
  • Developer: Thekla Inc.
  • Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4
  • Genre: adventure, exploration

We’ve been eagerly awaiting The Witness since its’ reveal last year. Sadly, the game from Jonathan Blow – the creator of the successfull Braid – teases us to this day. We can only hope, that next year we will get to explore the vast island crafted by Thekla Inc. We will get to explore an open world filled to the brim with hundreds of puzzles, each containing clues regarding the island’s fate, or visiting new areas. The Wintess will require our awareness, patience, and an ability to put the facts together – without those, the few dozen hours of gameplay offered by the title, might prove annoying. Obviously, we won’t have to solve every singly puzzle we encounter, but uncovering the secrets of the abandoned island will be much mort satisfactory.

The game has won us over, with an original approach to adventure games: solving puzzles from the first-person perspective, and in an open world, is not something very common. At least, on pair with Jonathan Blow, in terms of scale. Above all else, the art style captures the attention: the abandoned island dived into 11 sectors, is picturesque and colorful beyond imagination. How does it play out? The first impressions are positive, which only makes the wait harder. We hope that Thekla Inc. won’t disappoint.

Why is it worth waiting for?

The Witness might be a next breath of fresh air in the adventure games genre, which were thought to be dying out by many. Jonathan Blows has a knack for games, that not only are successful financially, but are memorable.

20. Subnautica – a genre hybrid on the bottom of the ocean

Diving seems dull? Not after a session of Subnautica. - 2014-12-31
Diving seems dull? Not after a session of Subnautica.
INFO:
  • Developer: Unknown Worlds Entertainment
  • Platforms: PC
  • Genre: adventure, action, survival

FPP, adventure, action, sci-fi, sandbox and survival – Unknown Worlds Entertainment has managed to combine all of the genres they could think of. Subnautica is an interesting hybrid, and in a unique setting. After surviving the crash of their spacecraft, our hero is forced to fight for survival on an alien planet, with no information regarding the planet’s fauna and flora. It all comes down to the player being constantly eaten by a monstrous fish or vile creatures, that would make even H. P. Lovecraft tremble. Apparently, this type of gameplay the gamers seem to be keen on (among 68 Early Access reviews, only one is negative).

What makes Subnautica so special? It might as well be its’ variety. It’s a game that is hard to classify to any particular genre – at the same time we explore the underwater world, try to stay alive as long as possible, fight uncanny creatures, develop our character and craft items. The aforementioned variety, and the beauty of the ocean, are what make the game so compelling – the look of the creatures and the plants is so imaginative, that many experienced devs can be jealous of what Unknown Worlds entertainment has accomplished.

Why is it worth waiting for?

If survival on the seabed wasn’t a good enough bait, then the fact that the game is set on alien planet surely does the trick. The complex Subnautica crosses genre borders and conventions in a promising fashion.

19. The Devil's Men – an investigation in the heart of the Victorian England.

Relationships with the characters we meet will often decide their fate. - 2014-12-31
Relationships with the characters we meet will often decide their fate.
INFO:
  • Developer: Daedalic Entertainment
  • Platforms: PC
  • Genre: adventure

German developers know adventure genre like no other, and the Hamburg-based Daedalic Entertainment is one of the developers focused on adventure games in the World. The Devil’s Man is not the only upcoming title from the studio, but is certainly the one most captivating. Paring Victorian era England with steampunk brings to mind the latest cinematic exploits of Sherlock Holmes – which makes for an excellent background to a gripping story. A small remote town, in the shadow of its’ former self, is stricken with mysterious murders of scientists, known as the titular Devil's Man. The player takes control of two characters trying to solve the case: one of them is a poor girl who wants to cleanse herself of suspicion, and the other is a daughter of a detective that went missing without a trace long ago. The relationship of those two investigators is supposed to push the plot forward, accompanied by charming visuals, which bring to mind the works of Disney from two decades ago.

The splendid visuals, and the though-provoking plot are not the reasons why The Devil’s Man stands out – that is accomplished by the game’s decision system. The choices are not only of the moral nature – each decision we make might have unexpected, often severe, consequences. It will also be crucial to build relations with the characters we meet – those whose trust we gain, will be more inclined to do us a favor, be it large or small. That however, can be both beneficial, and tragic for the player. Finally, if we take into account the challenging puzzles, we might have one of the most promising adventure games of the upcoming year.

Why is it worth waiting for?

Artfully crafted atmosphere, the intriguing plot, and the decision system that will ensure no playthrough will be the same – in spite all of this, Deadalic representatives claim that the upcoming Silence will be their biggest game next year. Our bet however, is still on The Devil’s Men.

18. Firewatch – only you can prevent forest fire

In Firewatch, often will we stop to marvel at the view. - 2014-12-31
In Firewatch, often will we stop to marvel at the view.
INFO:
  • Developer: Campo Santo
  • Platforms: PC
  • Genre: adventure, FPP

Firewatch is Campo Santo’s debut, in which we will play as fire lookout – and those two reasons enough make us a bit sceptical. One should not be fooled by the first impression – the people responsible for the game have worked on games such as The Walking Dead, Bioshock 2 and The Cave. If that doesn’t make you any bit excited, we recommend seeing the trailer which showcases the game’s disturbing atmosphere and the unique visuals. The gameplay focuses on exploring Wyoming wilderness, and building our relationship with our boss, Delilah, who we contact via radio. Scouting for forest fires will be diversified by sidequests and the dangers that await us in the forest.

Firewatch stands out among other similar FPP indie games, with its’ atmosphere of isolation and helplessness against the forces of the nature. It is emphasized by the visuals which, despite lacking in realism (the style is rather cartoonish) make up by breathtaking sights. We strongly believe that getting lost in the American woods will be a one of a kind experience – especially, if the Campo Santo team manages to skillfully implement survival elements.

Why is it worth waiting for?

Observing a forest with a high risk of forest fires from atop a watchtower doesn’t seem to be the most interesting experience, but Firewatch can easily change that with its’ disturbing atmosphere, the feeling of isolation, and the relationship with the person on the other end of the radio.

17. Mighty No. 9 – a nostalgic return of Mega Man

In Mighty No. 9, modern graphics meet old school gameplay mechanics. - 2014-12-31
In Mighty No. 9, modern graphics meet old school gameplay mechanics.
INFO:
  • Developer: Comcept
  • Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, WiiU, Nintendo 3DS
  • Gatunek: platformer

If you were obsessed with Mega Man when you were a child, Might No. 9 will be right up your alley. The only thing that needs to be mentioned is that Keiji Inafune is involved. The game is something of a comeback of the visionary who many years ago co-created the boy in the blue suit. With this new title, the Japanese developer intends to bring back side-scrollers to their former glory. It looks like the seemingly forgotten genre still has a soft spot in our hearts, as the crowdfunding campaign for Mighty No. 9 was a spectacular success. Instead of the planned 900.000 dollars, a sum of 4 million has been raised. Now the Japanese team has quite the expectations to live up too.

It seems the odds are in Comcept’s favor, as the developer intends to combine elements typical to the 8-bit and 16-bit eras with efficient graphics. We play as the titular Mighty No. 9, one of the mighty robots who wasn’t infected with a mysterious virus. Our task is to stop our infected brethren. We will accomplish that, relying on an arsenal of typical platformer skills – our protagonist will run, jump, shoot, and transform, until he finally faces the evil that threatens the planet.

Why is it worth waiting for?

The new game from the father of Mega Man might not make platformers as popular as they were in the 80-ies, but it will certainly be a treat for the fans.

16. Armikrog – an adventure game in the world of clay

Animating clay figurines is very time-consuming, but the final effect looks really well. - 2014-12-31
Animating clay figurines is very time-consuming, but the final effect looks really well.
INFO:
  • Developer: Pencil Test Studios
  • Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, WiiU
  • Genre: adventure

Some of our adult readers were born after the release of The Neverhood – a game made almost entirely out of clay. After eighteen years, the creator of the game, Doug TenNapel, has decided to bring back his innovative idea with the help of the team he worked with. In the point-and-click Armikrog, we play as Tommynaut who, along with his dog, became stranded on a peculiar planet. It is here, where we will be put in the titular fortress, and will have to escape and eventually leave the hostile planet. As of now, not much else is known regarding the script, but the developers assure us that the game will be filled with charming characters, humoristic elements, great music, and challenging puzzles.

Without a doubt, the visual side is what makes the game noticeable. The developers from Pencil Test themselves admit that this animation method is rather time-consuming – shaping and making the clay figurines move is exhausting. However, the team relies on many solutions dating back to the 90-ies, when The Neverhood was created. Additionally, the team doesn’t shy away from computer-generated effects, and the entirety of the games runs on the Unity engine, which is popular among the independent developers.

Why is it worth waiting for?

Many of us played with clay back in the day. Armikrog will definitely be a nostalgic experience – especially for those, that awed at the sight of The Neverhood all these years ago.

15. SUPERHOT – an innovative FPS from a polish studio

We might not get a second chance like this to feel like Neo from The Matrix. - 2014-12-31
We might not get a second chance like this to feel like Neo from The Matrix.
INFO:
  • Developer: Blue Brick
  • Platforms: PC, Xbox One
  • Genre: FPS

If you had a chance to play the prototype of SUPERHOT, on the game’s official website, you must know why we couldn’t omit that game. In most cases, FPS games aren’t that complicated, are they? Point at something that you wish to destroy and voilá. Not this time though. When it comes to the game by the polish Blue Brick, every firefight turns into something tactical. The game is founded on a simple principle – time flows naturally only when the player is moving. The moment we stop, it slows down significantly, for us to analyze the situation. It’s not that helpful actually, as a chance to lean away from the incoming bullets costs us our own bullets to stop in motion. While the first levels are a breeze, the game gets much more challenging when we’re shot at from all the directions, and are forced to almost acrobatic maneuvers.

On top of that, this original FPS can catch the eyes of many, with its’ graphics, that make it look like a budget version of Mirror’s Edge. Between the sterile white walls red enemies and bullets stand out. Although, that is not the only thing that was inspirational in the works of EA DICE. It is very easy to die (a single well-aimed bullet can end our life), weapons are scarce at first, and every gun we pick up, can only offer us a few bullets.

Why is it worth waiting for?

We can never get enough of unique games, and SUPERHOT looks like one of the most atypical shooters in recent memory. Shootouts, in which the main factor is time control, can be very satisfactory even in a prototype version.

14. The Long Dark – a realistically merciless experience

Don’t fool yourself, you will die at least three times before reaching this hut. - 2014-12-31
Don’t fool yourself, you will die at least three times before reaching this hut.
INFO:
  • Developer: Hinterland Studio
  • Platforms: PC
  • Genre: action, FPP, survival

Survival is a genre that seems to be doing well recently, and we had to ignore many other contenders just to include The Long Dark in our list. The creation of Hinterland walks a different path than many other horrors – instead of generic bandits, zombies and mutants, our greatest foe is nature itself. As a pilot who has survived a plane crash, we will have to endure the harshest conditions: low temperatures, wind, starved predators and the constant deficit of essential utensils. If we can turn a blind eye to the humble graphics, many hours of getting lost in the snowstorm and exploring the wilderness for shelter await us.

The Long Dark will certainly attract the fans of the genre, as surviving the lowest temperatures and without food are no easy feat. While the creators try to make it harder as much as they can – their game punishes every smallest mistake the gamer can make. The calorie meter will make it so, that sometimes even the most basic actions won’t be available – we simply won’t have the strength to do it. A small cut may herald a vital infection. A jump that hasn’t been though through well, will leave us with a movement-crippling contusion. And while a cold, starved, and slow player makes easy prey, a pack of wolves will attack us faster then we will be able to utter: ’Dark Souls wasn’t all that bad after all!’. Do you prefer games that define ‘satisfactory gameplay’ as then one when you’re constantly on the verge of perishing? The Long Dark is a must-play.

Why is it worth waiting for?

Realisitc survival without zombies and mutants is quite promising – from the high difficulty level, to the extensive crafting system and the spine-chilling atmosphere.

13. Adr1ft – interactive Gravity

The environment might be deadly, but the sights are jaw-dropping! - 2014-12-31
The environment might be deadly, but the sights are jaw-dropping!
INFO:
  • Developer: Three One Zero
  • Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
  • Genre: adventure, FPP, survival

I was indifferent to Adr1ft for a while – a game that tries to cash in on the success of the acclaimed movie Gravity and tells a story of a heroic struggle for survival in the vacuum. It all changed in early December, when at the Game Awards gala, the first 2 minute long gameplay fragment was shown. The debut work from Three One Zero looks impressive – a combination of a dire struggle for every breath, along with puzzles revealing the story of the crew and the station that is falling apart before our very own eyes, bode well for the game. Adding to that are the breath-taking visuals, that were brought to life with the Unreal Engine 4, and we have one of the ‘silent hits’ of 2015. That is even more likely, as Adr1ft will use the virtual reality provided by Oculus Rift. Traversing the consecutive demolished rooms in zero gravity, will be an experience that will remind many, why they don’t want to become astronauts.

Nevertheless, certain concerns may arise – in the end, won’t the exploration and the puzzles revealing the story bore at some point? Perhaps, but on the other hand, when looking at Adr1ft, one can’t deny that the game will be something where we hold our breath when escorting a survivor clutching at our leg with the last supply of Oxygen. While a moment when we forget to fasten the safety belt, and fly off straight into the cosmic space, might be one of the most traumatic moments of the year.

Why is it worth waiting for?

To never again reconsider a career of an astronaut, that’s for sure. Honestly, Adr1ft has a great deal of potential within, and if it manages to combine the struggle for survival and puzzles well, it might be a game for everyone to marvel – especially for those, who invest in Oculus Rift.

12. Timespinner – old school is back, baby!

If you can’t stomach the archaic graphics, Timespinner won’t excite you as well as the others. - 2014-12-31
If you can’t stomach the archaic graphics, Timespinner won’t excite you as well as the others.
INFO:
  • Developer: Lunar Ray Games
  • Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux, PlayStation 4
  • Genre: adventure, platformer

Many of us have a sentiment for the SNES, or the PlayStation eras, and it looks like the team from Lu nar Ray Games has one as well. Timespinner, is not only to be a enjoyable platformer, but it is also intended to be a homage of sorts – honoring the long past era, which results in both the retro-like graphics and simple gameplay mechanics. The developers claim, that much inspiration was drawn from the likes of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Star Ocean or Megaman X, some of the best games released in the 90's. The game will be quite a treat for those who reminisce ‘the good old consoles’. That doesn’t’ exactly mean that gamers brought up on modern titles won’t appreciate it.

The plot follows Lunais – a girl who sets out on a path towards vengeance on a technologically advanced empire, that is responsible for the death of her parents. What makes her special, is the ability to manipulate time. The heroine’s power gives us various options such as: using our frozen enemies as platforms, or exploring the history of the vast and varied world. Careful exploration of every level is supposed to play a big part in the game.

Why is it worth waiting for?

Timespinner will let the younger players feel what was it like to own a SNES and experience old school gaming. While for the older players, the game might prove a enjoyable nostalgia trip.

11. Return of the Obra Dinn

An old school adventure game, in a not so much old school packaging – the experimental Lucas Pope strikes again. - 2014-12-31
An old school adventure game, in a not so much old school packaging – the experimental Lucas Pope strikes again.
INFO:
  • Developer: Lucas Pope
  • Platforms: PC
  • Genre: adventure, FPP

The bad news is, that the man behind Paper, Please!, Lucas Pope, departs from ambitious, political themes in his new game. The good news is, that Return of the Obra Dinn looks absolutely promising – as the mystery we will get to solve is one of a kind. In this adventure game, via a first person perspective, we play as an insurance agent working for the East India Company, who takes on an investigation regarding the titular ship – Obra Dinn, which has recently arrived at a port in London. There wouldn’t be anything extraordinary about that, except the fact that the ship was considered lost few years back, and it has returned with no crew on it. The title is intended to be a detective story in the fashion of old school adventure games, where uncovering clues, gradually leads us to solving the mystery of the ship.

The ambiguity that the previous game from the developer managed to cause, due to the experimental mechanic and the political subtext, sadly won’t be present in Return of the Obra Dinn, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the new work of Lucas Pope will be a ‘just’ a adventure games. Above all else, we are given a chance to solve the mystery earlier, if we are persistent enough with puzzles. Worth mentioning are the graphics, kept in a monochrome tone. If all of it is accompanied by a strong script, the title has a chance to be one of the best adventure games of the year

Why is it worth waiting for?

A chance to explore the mysterious ship is compelling – especially if we take into account the developer and his tendedncy to experiment, both with the gameplay, as well as the visuals and the sound.

10. RimWorld – a colony on the other side of the galaxy

The ever-changing weather guarantees a tougher challenge. - 2014-12-31
The ever-changing weather guarantees a tougher challenge.
INFO:
  • Developer: Ludeon Studios
  • Platforms: PC
  • Genre: RTS

Visiting far-away planets is always an entertaining pastime – and that, involuntarily I might add, will be our task in RimWorld. After our spacecraft crashes, with a few survivors to worry about, our goal is to establish a colony, that will let us survive, in the newly-discovered world. Interestingly enough, our wards won’t be specialists in any particular field, but ordinary people, who happened to be onboard – they don’t even know the basics of survival. Their contribution towards the common goal will be defined by who they were before the crash – if, for example, you happen to order around an engineer, you can count on an easier development of your shelter. Additionally, RimWorld features many elements typical for the genre: fighting enemies, taking care of the economy, production of food or gathering resources. Despite the typicality, Ludeon Studios’ production, has an ace up its’ sleeve.

It is an ability to adjust the type of our gameplay, by using three different sets of AI. This drastically changes the game: one of the options provides an easy and predictable game, perfect for relaxation, while the other gradually tries to make our life miserable. The last one holds most promise – as it embodies chaos. After activating it RimWorld becomes completely unpredictable. This will certainly, grant the game a significant lifespan.

Why is it worth waiting for?

The colonization of planets, and taking care of many aspects of the development of our shelter looks promising. Especially, when we take into account three different AI types present.

9. Axiom Verge – a spiritual successor of Contra and Metroid.

Retro graphics, high difficulty and simple gameplay – Axiom Verge goes back to the roots. - 2014-12-31
Retro graphics, high difficulty and simple gameplay – Axiom Verge goes back to the roots.
INFO:
  • Developer: Tom Happ
  • Platforms: Xbox 360 (early 2016), PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita
  • Genre: action, platformer

Do you look back with a smile at all those frustrating nights with Contra? Tom Happ’s project might interest you. Axiom Verge takes all sorts of cues from the platformers such as Bionic Commando, Contra or Metroid. What sets this game apart, is the equal focus on exploration and action. There will be 60 unique items and attacks, so repeated playthorughs are recommended. This 16-bit era love letter, strictly follows the genre’s rules – an 8 hour long trip to the world of Axiom Verge will guarantee combat with the constantly improving gear and a worthy challenge.

For Tom Happ, the game was supposed to be minor side project, as he was also working on some sport franchises for EA Sports, but soon after it grew to what it is today. The plot revolves around Trace, a man who, after a nearly mortal accident, awakens in a mysterious world. The bizarre world features both elements of advanced technology, and those of an antique style, and to make matters worse – every inhabitant is hostile. Time will tell if this retro combination of action and platforming will only manage to attract an old school audience, or a greater group.

Why is it worth waiting for?

Nowadays, games such as Contra or Metroid aren’t the most popular, but they still manage to be fun. Especially when they combine the elements of all the classics and focus on a demanding difficulty.

8. Renowned Explorers: International Society

Renowned Explorers lets us search for artifacts in places, where civilization hasn’t reached. - 2014-12-31
Renowned Explorers lets us search for artifacts in places, where civilization hasn’t reached.
INFO:
  • Developer: Abbey Games
  • Platforms: PC
  • Genre: strategy, turne-based

Abbey Games has a knack for making colorful and optimistic games – that much we already know after Reus, and it seems that the team doesn’t back away from their habits when it comes to Renowned Explorers: International Society. The game makes us an explorer of uncharted lands – we won’t have to worry about such trivial things such as economy or resource management – our only goal is the exploration alone. Those who already had a chance to try out the newest game from Abbey Games, compare the experience to Indiana Jones films and Jules Verne’s literature. The player shouldn’t worry about establishing a colony or trading on the discovered land – we only need to gather the interesting things worthy of showing at the world geographic fair.

Turn-based combat plays a large role in Renowned Explorers, and victory is crucial to explore further. One should also take notice, that despite the fact that we visit locations on our planet, we will often encounter mythical creatures from the mythologies of the visited areas. For instance, when in Egypt, we will face giant scorpions. The developers aim for a vast world, and a varied one at that. Exploring ruins of lost mountain cities, or jungle temples, we will savor the colorful, drawing-like art style.

Why is it worth waiting for?

If Renowned Explorers really is inspired by Indiana Jones, we are easily convinced. Exploring the diverse world and searching for artifacts looks like it could be a lot of fun.

7. Everybody's Gone to the Rapture – apocalypse meets Dear Esther

Sights to behold, personal stories and the gloomy atmosphere – Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture shares many elements with Dear Esther. - 2014-12-31
Sights to behold, personal stories and the gloomy atmosphere – Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture shares many elements with Dear Esther.
INFO:
  • Developer: The Chinese Room
  • Platforms: PlayStation 4
  • Genre: adventure, FPP

Video game developers have accustomed us to grab a shotgun, every time we hear the word ‘apocalypse’, to fight through a wave of monsters, and desperately try to survive. Not this time however – when the creators of Dear Esther do their take on the subject matter, we can be certain that the game will be emotional, and yet calm. A single walkthrough of Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, a Playstation 4 exclusive, gives us about a hour in a small English town in the mid 80-ies. After the end of the world, how we spend our last 60 minutes on Earth, will depend solely on us. Explore the vast location? Find all of its’ secrets? Or maybe focus on interacting with the 6 remaining people in the village? An opportunity to play the game several times, and still unlock new things while creating individual experiences, is the aspect of the game we look forward to the most.

Other promises look equally tempting. The creators intend to utilize all of the games features, to create real emotions – the script, and the looks and sounds of the game are supposed to make even the most cold-hearted cry. The atmosphere will be underlined by the splendid soundtrack and the amazing visuals achieved with CryEngine 3. Best of all, The Chinese Room has a completely different approach to the end of the world. No combat, no desperate attempts to stay alive – the production from the team responsible for Dear Esther will be a depressing story of awaiting the inevitable. Another bold attempt to make video games art? We certainly hope so.

Why is it worth waiting for?

After the likes of Fallout, DayZ or Wasteland 2, an apocalypse where we don’t play as the survivor, but as someone who simply won’t make it, seems like a welcome change. Next to that, the creation of personal stories foreshadows some amazing playthorughs.

6. Satellite Reign – a cyberpunk metropolis, filled with opportunity

The future in Satellite Reign might look high-tech, but is certainly not that joyful. - 2014-12-31
The future in Satellite Reign might look high-tech, but is certainly not that joyful.
INFO:
  • Developer: 5 Lives Studios
  • Platforms: PC
  • Genre: strategy

Cyberpunk, an open world, and the developers who have previously worked on Syndicate Wars – Satellite Reign at first glimpse offers many elements that make it interesting. What is more, the quality of the upcoming game has been tested in Early Access – with almost 90% of the 68 reviewers having good impressions. That was probably mostly thanks to the uncanny atmosphere of the world pictured in Satellite Reign, which isn’t a nice place to live in. Players set foot in the dystopian future, where above the governments, large companies rule everything, and the poor that are persecuted by the police, are sent to slums. In this world we will get to play as four agents, amongst which, every single one has their own faults, qualities and certain abilities. We can either contribute to the upcoming revolution, or take the place of those on top.

This strategy is made distinct by the open world and an interesting mission structure – the metropolis where the game takes place, is quite spacious, and everyone will find something to their liking. Instead of merely questing, we can simply rob a bank, or start pursing lesser bandits. Every such action will have a corresponding reaction – in Satellite Reign our actions will be judged by both the police and the regular citizens. The reputation we gain, will have a great impact on the story.

Why is it worth waiting for?

A strategy in an open, brutal futuristic setting offers many possibilities, and it seems, we won’t be bored with the new game from 5 Lives Studios.

5. SOMA – another thriller from the masters of indie horror.

If the first level looks like this, we’re rather sure that there won’t be a happy ending. - 2014-12-31
If the first level looks like this, we’re rather sure that there won’t be a happy ending.
INFO:
  • Developer: Frictional Games
  • Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4
  • Genrek: adventrue, FPP, survival horror

All the horror fans out there should by now be well acquainted with Frictional Games. The team behind the horrifying Penumbra or Amnesia: The Dark Descent, regarded by many as the scariest game of all time, have a new production in plans, and it seems to be much more ambitious. SOMA mixes up the traditional elements known from the previous titles of the studio (survival elements, first person perspective) and a script greatly inspired by science fiction, tackling the subjects of free will and consciousness. In the game we will visit a devastated, underwater research facility PHATOS-2, which has lost contact with the outside world. Soon enough, we will discover, that instead of monsters, like in Amnesia, we will face machines, guided by artificial intelligence. Naturally, our first encounter, will result in a quick death, so careful and silent exploration will be the essence of SOMA.

According to the trailers, the new game from Frictional Games looks well-done. At first sight it might look like a mashup of Amnesia and science-fiction, but most of the audience seems to be okay with that. The graphics look nice, crafted with the use of the HPJ Engine 3. At the same time much more stress is put on revealing the story of the facility, mostly through the clues that the creators will leave us. That alone would make a good game. Along with ambitious themes, and the atmosphere, that is closer to that of a psychological horror, rather than that of a slasher flick, SOMA might end up as a true independent gem.

Why is it worth waiting for?

Horrors by Frictional Games rarely go below a certain standard and SOMA, with its’ focus on the story similar to a grim science fiction story and subject matter touching upon human nature, looks like it can be the studio’s best game yet.

4. Invisible, Inc. – a spy’s blend of genres

We might have expected Invisible Inc. to hit this year, but the exceptionally good reception, make us forgive Klei Entertainment. - 2014-12-31
We might have expected Invisible Inc. to hit this year, but the exceptionally good reception, make us forgive Klei Entertainment.
INFO:
  • Developer: Klei Entertainment
  • Platforms: PC
  • Genre: strategy

Invisible Inc. might have disappointed us with its’ delay (the game was featured in numerous anticipation rankings last year) but that doesn’t change our enthusiasm. It’s hard to dishearten anyone, towards the new game from the team that has brought us gems such us Mark of Ninja and Don’t Starve. Meanwhile, Klei has been cooking up quite a blend of genres – Invisible, Inc. is at first glance a strategy with an isometric look, but on the other hand, a spy game and a stealth game. Leading a team of undercover agents, trying to steal the best protected secrets, can be both challenging and extremely addictive. The creation of the high difficulty can be credited to elements such as: the randomly generated levels, permanent death of our operatives if they get caught or a need to manipulate cameras and security systems to gain the advantage.

Our eager anticipation is that much greater, as the reviews from the august debut on Early Access are equally promising – among the players the game has received 360 positive reviews, and only 18 negative ones. On top of that, the game was praised for an option of replaying levels without getting bored, and the overall borderline addictive gameplay, which made players take risks, within reason of course. We just can’t wait to get our hearts stolen once again with the finished product.

Why is it worth waiting for?

This wild mix of a turn-based strategy and a stealth game, does not only have the reputation of the studio, responsible for Mark of the Ninja or Don’t Starve, behind it, but it also has great reviews of the alpha version.

3. Inside – a dark side-scroller from the makers of Limbo

Add more colors they said, it will be less depressing they said. - 2014-12-31
Add more colors they said, it will be less depressing they said.
INFO:
  • Developer: PlayDead
  • Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Xbox One
  • Genre: platformer

After the phenomenal Limbo, which turned out not only to be one of the best games of 2010, but also of the entire previous console generation, PlayDead studio could have cashed in on the success or invent something new. They choose a third option – changed the 2D perspective to 2.5D, which obviously will have a great impact on their game, but remained true to their legacy. In Inside we will once again play as a little boy, who finds himself in a world of evil. We can certainly count on a unsettling atmosphere and a game of trial and error – our hero will be probably dying on a regular basis.

The graphic style might have changed significantly since Limbo, but the similarities are still visible. The colors are dim, with black, white and shades of grey – although other colors appear, the atmosphere doesn’t change much from being dark and depressive. The game will be a timed Xbox One exclusive, and will run on the Unity engine, which has greatly helped develop 3D backgrounds. After some time, the game will hit other consoles.

Why is it worth waiting for?

As of now, we don’t know much about Inside, but we don’t need much to get excited, when it comes to PlayDead, the team behind Limbo. Especially if their upcoming game is looks that much familiar.

2. Kholat – an Ural horror based on a true story

Kholat will have a much more subtle effect on our mental state than most horrors. - 2014-12-31
Kholat will have a much more subtle effect on our mental state than most horrors.
INFO:
  • Developer: IMGN.PRO
  • Platforms: PC, Mac
  • Genre: survival horror, FPP

Nine people killed, ruined tents, corpses laid in the snow with only undergarments on, and the mountain that is called by the locals as the ‘Mountain of the Dead’ – the mysterious tragedy that occurred in 1959 in northern Ural mountains, is both frightening and intriguing, and it is interesting that up until now no one has made a game about it. The debut of IMGN.PRO, Kholat, makes many promises. The developers claim that the feeling of dread will not leave us for a second. Typical ‘jump scares’ will be rare, as the creators don’t deny that they focus more on telling a story, that might not exactly explain what has happened during the excursion, but will present the probable theories and small riddles. We can expect long hours spent on exploration of the deserted mountain, filled with paranormal activities, with a feeling similar to the likes of Dear Esther or The Vanishing of Ethan Carter.

Apart from the promises, IMNG.PRO already has a few things to boast about when it comes to Kholat. It is the game that will feature the legendary Sean Bean (Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, Silent Hill) as the narrator. Certainly the most exceptional of the revealed elements is the system that adjusts the events on screen, to increase the players feeling of dread and angst. What is also frightening, is the fact that we won’t be able to fight or use a map and a compass in real-time – what makes us even more vulnerable. On top of that, the Ural will be that much more realistic, thanks to Unreal Engine 4.

Why is it worth waiting for?

If there is something more scary that a harsh survival horror game, it’s a harsh survival horror game based on true events, and besides, after Ethan Carter we crave for another climatic polish game.

1. Darkest Dungeon – let’s meet the madness

Darkness, mud and the omnipresent madness – Darkest Dungeon won’t be a game for everyone. - 2014-12-31
Darkness, mud and the omnipresent madness – Darkest Dungeon won’t be a game for everyone.
INFO:
  • Developer: Red Hook Studios
  • Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita
  • Genre: RPG

We all know what classic RPG games are like. Is that a reason why Darkest Dungeon shouldn’t grace the top of our list? It all takes a unique gimmick, to win fans over. Red Hook Studious present their newest game featuring a peculiar element of sanity of our heroes. In the end, it is only natural that a journey to the darkest dungeons filled with monsters and other terrifying forces of evil, ends up as a experience we can’t forget over a relaxing afternoon. Each visit to the dungeons can result in different reactions of certain party members – if they meet an exceptionally terrible monster, they can panic, or even go mad entirely. That is why sanity plays such an important part in the game, and the player is tasked with taking proper precautions, to minimize the unwanted reactions of our party. Visiting the inn on the regular basis, and finding expensive loot, seem to do the trick.

Apart from all of that, at its’ core, it’s a turn-based RPG, in which we travel across enormous dungeons, manage equipment, and acquire new gear. The game is in 2D, and we see our heroes from the side. The lack of the third dimension, didn’t stop Red Hook from crafting an overwhelming, and particularly grim atmosphere, filled with not only horrific monsters, but also with hunger, blood and constant threat. The creators strive for creating an atmosphere in which both the players, and the characters will be scared. The dark artistic style supports that ambition with washed out colors and darker shades managed with a unique, characteristic stroke and a grim soundtrack. For us, Darkest Dungeon is one of the most interesting, and less known upcoming games of 2015. We simply can’t wait to try out the Early Access planned for February.

Why is it worth waiting for?

Managing a party on the verge of a mental breakdown, a dark atmosphere, and a high difficulty level – we can only hope that we won’t go mad along with our characters in Darkest Dungeon.

Jakub Mirowski | Gamepressure.com

Darkest Dungeon

Darkest Dungeon

SOMA

SOMA

RimWorld

RimWorld

Inside

Inside

Kholat

Kholat

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture

Axiom Verge

Axiom Verge

Satellite Reign

Satellite Reign

Invisible, Inc.

Invisible, Inc.

Renowned Explorers: International Society

Renowned Explorers: International Society

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