We’re already a month into 2020, but the good times are just getting started. Everyone’s eagerly awaiting the next Nintendo Direct to flesh out the first-party lineup, but I’m looking forward to new projects from smaller studios. There are tons of small-time developers producing quality games that are well worth your time, and it’s easy for them to get lost in an increasingly crowded eShop. With that in mind, I’d like to highlight the Top 5 Indie Games that I’m excited about in 2020. This is by no means a comprehensive list, and there may be more articles to come. But these are some of the games I can’t wait to get my hands on right now. Let’s dig in!
Top 5 Indie Games coming in 2020
Axiom Verge 2
It’s no secret that Axiom Verge is one of my favorite games of all time. It’s a love letter to Metroid fans, but it has no problem standing apart in a crowded genre. Massive, challenging boss fights and unforgettable soundtrack are two highlights, but I was especially intrigued by its sci-fi plot. “Life. Afterlife. Real. Virtual. Dream. Nightmare. It’s a thin line.” The game’s mysterious motto is dead on, and we still have more questions than answers.
Axiom Verge 2 looks both familiar and foreign. The Metroid-style gameplay will be returning, albeit with a splash of Zelda, but much has changed. There’s a new protagonist (a billionaire named Indra) and a new world to explore. Developer Tom Happ believes sequels need to strike a balance between fresh, new ideas and established ones, and it’s exciting to see how he’ll do that here. Oh, and that confusing and engrossing plot? This game is somehow both a prequel and a sequel. I can’t wait to dig into all that lore! The original game is undoubtedly one of my Top 5 Indies already, and the sequel should only add to that greatness. Axiom Verge 2 launches sometime in the fall of 2020. In the meantime, you can check out our interview with Tom Happ.
Hollow Knight: Silksong
Okay, clearly I have a thing for Metroidvanias. I promise this is the last one on the list! Hollow Knight has one of the most massive, sprawling, open worlds of any game in the genre. It also boasts gorgeous, moody visuals, a soundtrack that perfectly sets the tone, and some of the most intense combat around. This is one of those games that pushes you to your limit, which makes each victory all the more satisfying.
Much like Axiom Verge 2, Hollow Knight: Silksong features a new protagonist and a new, but familiar world. Hornet, a recurring NPC in the original game, is off to the mysterious land of Pharloom. The gameplay should be quite similar to the first, but with some upgrades. Most notably, it’ll feature more RPG mechanics, including a robust side quest system. How will it resolve all of the questions left by Hollow Knight‘s five different endings? I can’t wait to find out! Silksong does not yet have a release date.
I’m not really that into sports games (outside of the glory that is Tecmo Super Bowl) and I’m picky about my RPGs. So how did I end up falling in love with an RPG about golfing? Golf Story was one of the most charming and addictive (and affordable!) games I played in 2017. The zany characters and scenarios kept me smiling all the way through, and the gameplay was fun in its simplicity.
During Nintendo’s most recent Indie World Showcase, developer Sidebar Games surprised us with a sequel announcement! Sports Story looks to have all the charm of the original, but in a bigger, more diverse package. In addition to golf, the debut trailer shows off tennis, volleyball, soccer, baseball, and more! You can look forward to this member of the Top 5 Indie Games list releasing sometime in mid-2020.
3 Minutes to Midnight
E3 2018 had plenty of AAA experiences to offer, but one of my favorite games on the show floor was an indie game tucked away in a quiet corner. 3 Minutes to Midnight is a point-and-click adventure made by people who grew up playing LucasArts classics. Developer Scarecrow Studio hopes to bring that magic to a whole new generation while leaving any clunky, outdated gameplay mechanics in the past.
3 Minutes to Midnight aims to be an incredibly interactive experience. You can combine items you find to create new ones, solve puzzles in different ways (depending on your arsenal), and impact the story with your actions and dialogue choices. Actions have consequences, which generates multiple alternate endings and plenty of replay value. And if you ever feel like all of this is a bit confusing or overwhelming, there’s a built-in hint system to guide your way. 3 Minutes to Midnight launches late in 2020.
All it took was one look at Eastward, and I wanted to immerse myself in the game world. The upcoming action-RPG features beautiful pixel-art graphics inspired by 90s Japanese animation. Add in some catchy tunes and a charming cast of characters that invoke memories of EarthBound (okay, yeah, I have a type), and you get a spot on the Top 5 Indie Games list!
The world itself is in ruins, as society has begun to collapse in “the near future.” Sounds about right. You play as a hardworking miner named John. While working deep underground, John stumbles onto a secret facility containing a mysterious young girl named Sam. Together, the two of you fight your way through monsters to learn the truth about her past. Eastward launches on Nintendo Switch sometime in 2020. You can check out our preview of the game’s demo by clicking here.