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Microsoft’s blitz of indie games at E3 2017, let’s count ’em down

by Ron Duwell | June 12, 2017June 12, 2017 2:00 pm PDT

In between its first AAA open world action game with RPG elements and its other AAA open world action game with RPG elements, Microsoft shined the spotlight on a few indie titles that will be coming to the Xbox One this year.

To take a break from the headache of 60fps, screen resolution arguments, and first-person shooters, we’re counting each of these unique indie titles as they appeared with brief, initial impressions!

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds

Oh, and here we have a first-person shooter to start things off. Great. I have no idea what this game is, but everyone seemed pleased to see the creator come up on stage. I guess he’s a dude who quit his day job and made a killer indie game. There are plenty of them around.

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is a multiplayer shooter where it seems anything goes. Snipers, explosions, traps you name it. Hundrds of players start the fight and battle all the way down to the last man standing. It doesn’t get any simpler than that.

Deep Rock Galactic

Hive Jump!? Is that you?! I thought you were a 2D pixelated game? When did you make the jump into jagged 3D character models?

State of Decay 2

In 2017, we’ve finally reached the point where seeing a zombie game at E3 is totally lame. Our chat sighed in unison at the very sight of the undead crawling onto the big stage. It’s true, zombies are no longer en vogue, but State of Decay 2 should be the bottleneck point for this angst, at least. The original is an indie fan favorite in the genre, and it carved its own way to the front of the video game world with nothing but its rotten fingernails.

And by that, I mean word of mouth.

This reveal trailer gets a little pretentious in its storytelling because, in the end, you’re just killing zombies and not really questioning the morals or depth behind it, but we’ll overlook that. This could be fine with the right community if not, it’s just one last attempt to get a zombie game on stage before we tire of them completely.

The Darwin Project

Another multiplayer arena game, because we can’t get enough of them. This one committed the sin of making me think it was an Insomniac Game before it revealed its true colors, and then it was more memorable for the bearded guy who suddenly started announcing it like an eSport right out of the blue.

Hey, do you think the developers want this to be an eSport title?

Black Desert

I think this game is going to be more popular for its powerful character creator than for its actual online world. This game became a small sensation when its customized avatars started popping up all over Korea. However, the game came to Steam, and people starting realizing it’s not altogether great.

You spend 20 minutes making the hottest character you possibly can as your avatar, and then proceed to play a boring RPG with her for either two hours or a hundred hours depending on how dedicated you become.

The Last Night

Now we’re talking! I’ll never get sick of seeing developers push the boundaries of pixelated graphics, and setting them against 3D rendered backgrounds in this fashion is just brilliant. I have no idea what this game is, but I want to know more. That’s exactly the kind of impact these trailers are supposed to have during an E3 montage like this.

I will say that, as brilliant as all of these pixelated characters are, nothing beats the martini-sipping dude in the jacuzzi. What can’t pixels create?!

The Artful Escape

I think Microsoft’s press conference had fried my brain by this point because I was done. The insanity of this game pushed me into a level of giggling I haven’t reached in quite some time, and I’m not entirely sure if it was because its presentation was overly silly or if it was because I enjoyed what I saw. There comes a point when indie games need to stop trying so hard to be “different” and “artsy,” and I think this one crosses that line just a hair.

It even has the word “artful” in the title for cryin’ out loud! Upon second watching though, I do like the reveal trailer. It’s got this fun vibe of Robot Unicorn Attack meets the Little Talks music video.

Tacoma

Fullbright, the studio behind Gone Home, returns with another first-person adventure narrative game in which you walk around and push a lot of buttons to advance the story. It’s trippy, weird, and loaded with colorful sci-fi wire people. If you’re into this genre, then I’m sure you’ve found the next game to drool over.

Cuphead

AHHH! A release date!

Ashen

Remember in Fire Emblem Awakening when everyone complained about the characters lacking any feet? Well, Ashen will see that bet and raise Nintendo a pair of eyes! Actually, the people in Ashen can’t see anything at all.

This game inspired a brief discussion in our voice chat about how “ugly” is the new “cool” in video games. I tried giving it the benefit of the doubt and defending it, but yeah, it’s pretty ugly. I can’t say I’m in love with it. Ashen is an open world survival game with a unique art style, and I can’t put my finger on what helps set it apart from the millions of other games that can sell themselves on that description.

Ori and the Will of the Wisp

I know when I’m about to tread on a gaming community that fights back with sharp teeth, and those who love Ori and the Blind Forest certainly do so. I won’t knock it this sequel, but we had ourselves a little chat over indie games trying too hard like artsy movies just in time for the Academy Awards. Now, we know that Ori and the Will of the Wisp is a sequel to an established game, so we’re not calling it out for continuing the style of the first game at all.

But come on, when Microsoft brought that piano on stage and started picking at our heartstrings with soft music, something that should be genuine in the game is clearly being twisted into marketing tricks. I’m sure the game will be just lovely when it launches, though.


So, where do we rank them. By my accounts, I really want to play just four of these games.

  1. The Last Night
  2. Cuphead
  3. Ori and the Will of the Wisp
  4. The Artful Escape

As to which left the biggest impression on me after the show, it has to be The Artful Escape. I was in tears giggling at its reveal trailer, my mind already pounded into mush and willing to accept anything as reality at that point.


Ron Duwell

Ron has been living it up in Japan for the last decade, and he has no intention of leaving this technical wonderland any time soon. When he's not...

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