Written by Jeffrey Alleman
As is commonplace every year, Indies have an enormous presence at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). I’ve compiled a list of some of the most noteworthy ones to keep on your watch list!
Killer Queen Black
Killer Queen Black is competitive eight-player arcade action that pits two teams of four against each other with multiple paths to victory. Each team consists of one Queen and three Workers. While the Queen can dash around the map and is armed with a sword for offense, killing any enemies she connects with, the Workers are essential to all three paths to victory. First, harvesting a berry from numerous places around the map present Workers two options: place the berry in your hive (fill the hive and you claim an Economic Victory) or take the berry to a power-up gate and either transform into a Soldier, or get imbued with a speed boost. As a Soldier, players can utilize weapons ranging from sword to laser gun (random when transforming) to hunt enemy Workers or take a shot at the enemy Queen and claim a Military Victory. The final way to win the game is through a Snail Victory. Each map has a lone snail located somewhere on the map with a finish line at both ends of its path. Workers can ride the snail, moving it along its path toward their finish line to claim the Snail Victory. Enemy workers can go so far as to throw themselves in front of the Snail, sacrificing themselves as a tasty snack but at the same time delaying the enemy team from moving the Snail.
Killer Queen Black is a frantic arcade experience that focuses on cooperation and communication. Knowing where your teammates as well as enemies are at any given moment is critical to success. Killer Queen Black is planned to release on PC and Switch sometime in Summer 2019, with a release on Xbox One in Q4 2019.
Creature in the Well
The developers at Flight School bring this unique game to life by taking your standard dungeon crawler and inserting pinball mechanics. Dubbed a “pinball-inspired hack & slash,” Creature in the Well tasks the player with uncovering the mystery surrounding the city of Mirage by delving deep into dungeons, upgradeable weapons and clothing that changes how you play the game, and powering up the city’s ancient facility. Players do this by slashing “pinballs” throughout the dungeons, bouncing them off of pylons that give the player energy points. With these energy points, doors are opened, and machinery is powered to progress through each dungeon.
Creature in the Well is a fresh take on the classic dungeon crawler, and is set to release on Xbox One, Switch, and Steam in Summer 2019.
Afterparty is brought to you by the developers at Night School Studio, creators of critically acclaimed OXENFREE. This new adventure stars Milo and Lola, two recently deceased friends who are roaming the outermost island of Hell, Nowhere. In this tale, players are tasked with finding and out-drinking Satan to gain re-entry to Earth. Along the way, players will encounter all sorts of characters throughout Hell, conversing with them through the game’s intelligent conversation system that changes the story based on the decisions made by the player. This goes so far as to claim that finishing a quest in a certain way on one island may result in the complete annihilation of another. Players can also partake in a plethora of libations at various bars that unlock “Liquid Courage” effects, enabling more dialogue options to choose from. Many drunken games are found in the bars throughout the story, including beer pong, dance-offs, and chugging competitions that players will need to participate in to impress Satan’s Monarchs and eventually gain access to the big guy himself.
Afterparty’s rating is still pending, but based on the gameplay shown at E3, I would guess it will receive a Mature rating form the ESRB. Afterparty is set to release in 2019 on Steam and will release day one on Xbox Gamepass.
The developers at ANIMAL bring this zany third person “shooter” to life through color and gameplay. RAWMEN at first reminds me very much of Splatoon, with players leaving trails of color in their wake while hunting enemy chefs. The colors pop and make the world feel very vibrant, giving the game an appealing aesthetic that draws the player in. The gameplay is reminiscent of Sunset Overdrive, with players jumping, bouncing, and sliding non-stop, all over the map, trying to gain a vantage point with which to rain down soup on their enemies. Yes, I said “soup.” You play as a cook who flings soup from his pot dressed in nothing but an apron and maybe a headband (depending on your character creation). The soup can also be used as a speed boost of sorts, sliding along the ground. This depletes your total soup so be wary of sliding up to an enemy only to find out you have no ammo (soup). You can refill your pot with pick ups littered around the map and can also pick up special weapons to use on the enemy, including a giant mackerel and some “cock sauce” (with a picture of a rooster on the bottle). Players can also find a backpack which allows another player (teammate or enemy) to ride on their back for a short time, allowing one player to focus on moving and the other to become a soup slinging mega turret! Players fight over areas on the map (think Domination or King of the Hill) in which time spent inside the area net the player points. First to a certain number of points wins.
RAWMEN is a zany third person “shooter” that doesn’t hide what it is, but rather embraces it! RAWMEN is set to release in 2019 on Steam with a possibility of coming to other platforms thereafter.
The Last Friend
The Last Friend is brought to you by Stonebot Studio based out of El Salvador. Play as a human doing everything in his power to defend his canine friends from a variety of enemies. The dogs sit on top of a wall behind the player, and it’s surprising how much the thought of these evil doers getting through you to harm your cute and cuddly canine pals can spur the player to action! The game blends action-based “beat ‘em-up” combat with strategic tower defense mechanics, forcing the player to split his time between placing defenses and putting the beat-down on some baddies. Each level is broken up into lanes (think Plants vs. Zombies) in which the player can place additional walls to slow the enemies advance, or offensive tiles such as turrets and traps. Once the player has placed what they wish to in a set limit of time between each round, they then can hop between lanes fighting the enemies one on one, much like a typical “beat ‘em-up”.
The Last Friend is a great addition to any dog-lover’s arsenal of games and is set to release in Q4 2019 on Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
Bite the Bullet
Have you ever played a side scrolling shooter and wished you could just eat the enemies? Me neither. But if you have, Bite the Bullet is the game for you! Mega Cat Studios has developed a “roguelite RPG shooter” reminiscent of Metal Slug in which what you eat affects the progression of your character. You can dive into four distinct character classes based on the type of enemies you eat: Carnivore, Vegan, Robovore, and Zombivore. Chowing down on special enemy types even has a chance to upgrade your guns! The game boasts over 60 levels, gun crafting, an “Action Hero Bandana” system, as well as a dynamic calorie system.
Bite the Bullet is the world’s first “run, gun, and eat” and is set to release on PC sometime in 2020.
Created by the developers of Brace Yourself Games, Phantom Brigade is a turn-based tactical RPG with a twist. Instead of taking your turn then waiting for the enemy to react, the player has access to a timeline at the bottom of their screen. On this timeline you can see what the friendly and enemy forces are doing at each moment of the turn. Using this, players try to choreograph a favorable outcome, placing commands on the timeline such as deploy shield when the enemy starts to fire at a friendly unit, or have a unit moving to cover while firing on enemy forces at the same time. Once the player has run through scenarios and has decided on the final actions, the scene plays out like it was choreographed on a movie set. Friendly mechs can lose limbs or be knocked down, forcing players to adapt to these new shortcomings on the next choreographed turn. This is only scratching the surface of the turn-based combat system. The game also boasts fine tuning and a wide selection of equipment for friendly mechs, cosmetic option, and a world map management system that sees the player making decisions on how to allocate resources and manage their home base.
Phantom Brigade is a stylized mech turn-based tactical RPG set to release first in early access on Epic Game Store sometime in 2020 followed by full release on both Epic Game Store and Steam in 2021.
The line up of upcoming Indie games showcased at E3 is deep and has something for every kind of gamer out there. This is just a short list of some of the games that stood out the most to me, and I’m very excited to get hands-on once they start releasing later this year!
Jeffrey Alleman is an aspiring games journalist currently pursuing a degree in Computer Science with a minor in Video Game Studies. You can watch him stream at https://mixer.com/IRownanI