Thanks to things like crowdfunding and increased coverage of games in the media, through platforms like Twitch.TV and YouTube, the gaming industry has seen a massive influx of new developers trying to make a name for themselves. In 2017 alone it was reported an estimated 4,500 games were released onto the PC game platform, Steam. While many of those games were subpar, to say the least, there were a few gems that made it through. We’re here today to look at some of the better indie studios that have emerged recently, with a focus on studios you should be keeping an eye on.
A relative newcomer to video game development, Fullbright may be best known for the indie masterpiece Gone Home, a first-person adventure exploration game described by critics as a “realistic, engrossing story that’s beautifully told through environmental clues and audio narration”. Their latest release, called Tacoma, is another single-player adventure title though this one takes to the stars, being set in a seemingly abandoned space station in the year 2088. Reception for the game has been favorable, with the title already having picked up awards from a number of industry supporters such as IGN and Destructoid and, with its release now out of the way, I personally cannot wait to see what else the studio has up their sleeve.
A small independent games studio based in the UK, VooFoo Studios made a name for themselves through their work on the “Pure” games series, a set of games dedicated to offering players authentic-feeling, ultra-realistic titles based on popular games such as Chess and Pool as well as the casino classic poker with their release of Pure Hold’em for the PS4, an online title based on the increasing popularity of live Texas Hold’em games which is storming the industry. Their latest project, Mantis Burn Racing may not be in the same genre as their previous titles but that didn’t stop the team from delivering a racing title that offers players an immensely accessible, visually stunning game that delivers intuitive and tactile gameplay. If the quality of Mantic Burn Racing is anything to go on, we should be seeing some exciting things from VooFoo Studios in the years to come.
Known best for their LittleBigPlanet games, Media Molecule have made a name for themselves as game developers with big ideas, endless creativity, and the know-how to make their insane ideas a reality. Luckily for gamers, Media Molecule has been hard at work on a new project which we should finally see released this year (after years of teasers). Titled Dreams, the new game focuses on allowing players to create their own content. “Play, Create and Share” is the goal of Dreams and honestly, from the trailers and gameplay we’ve already seen, Dreams looks like it could set the bar for a new type of gaming, one less focused on gameplay and more on allowing players to build their own content. We’ll have to keep an eye on Media Molecule and Dreams to see if their goal of “reinventing creativity” is achieved when Dreams releases later this year.
Unknown Worlds Entertainment
An independent game company based in San Francisco, you may know Unknown Worlds for their work on triple-A titles such as Mass Effect and Bioshock Infinite though most recently it has been their nautical adventure-survival game, Subnautica, which has truly seen this development team shine. Taking players into a vast and dangerous underwater environment, Subnautica is a visual feast that offers an immersive storyline, beautifully crafted locations and a building system that has you hooked into gathering resources for hours. Their next project, called the Future Perfect interface, is still in the early development stages though it already has many players hooked with its promise to “break down the barrier between having an idea for a game, and playing it with friends”. This 1980’s, retro-themed game builder gives players the resources to build their own adventure and, should it be successful, it could usher in a new era in game creation. We will have to see what Unknown Worlds has to offer in the future as Future Perfect is still pre-alpha with no ETA on a release date expected anytime soon.
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Nerd Stash. An avid gamer since I could walk and can be found in Ashland, KY, where he hopes to find inspiration and uniqueness in life by meeting awesome people, development friendships with companies, and become more nerdy.