I understand that you have a limited entertainment budget. Youve set aside some income for Call of Assassins: Arkham Witcher 5 (Collectors Edition), and cant really spend much more on the new games of 2015. But hear me out - there are plenty of games this year that are worth your attention, including many that lack the marketing budgets of the these entertainment juggernauts.
Right now is your chance to get in on the ground floor of fandom for these potential word-of-mouth hits. Dont wait to discover them months or years later - be there on day one! Who knows, any of the games on this list could be the next Braid, Minecraft, or Geometry Wars. Here are eight smaller titles that you simply cant afford to ignore in 2015...
Citizens of Earth
Why you havent been paying attention: If youve even heard of this game before, thats likely because you saw the titles failed Kickstarter. But, if this tribute to the Earthbound/Mother series cant generate enough interest in a few thousand would-be investors, why should you care?
Why you should seek it out: Even though its Kickstarter failed, Atlus has enough faith in the oddball premise to publish Citizens of Earth, and a closer look reveals the charm that likely earned it a second chance. With a sense of humor that reminds me of classic LucasArts adventures, the plot sees the planets Vice President using his powers of bureaucracy to convince a team of regular folks to fight his battles for him. You help him build an army of civil servants to investigate the weirdness going on in middle America, with a team that replaces classes like wizards and knights with baristas and conspiracy theorists. Its a creative approach to RPG gameplay that also functions as a love letter to the XP-collecting journeys of old.
Why you havent been paying attention: You may have seen this game revealed at E3 2014, but you immediately forgot it when Microsoft showed the snazzy new trailer for Halo 5. It doesnt help that Inside hasnt been seen since the megashow. And who can remember every dimly lit indie platformer, let alone keep track of whos developing all of them? This is probably just another game from a collection of fresh-out-of-college hipsters, right?
Why you should seek it out: Inside is the next game from the developers of Limbo. That information should be enough to grab your attention. Inside appears to share Limbos focus on sidescrolling puzzles, but the world looks more oppressively real, with a young boy trying to step away from the pack in a mysterious, industrial setting. Inside is scheduled for a launch early this year on Xbox One, and its definitely one of Microsofts most promising console exclusives - even if the mainstream doesnt realize it yet.
Code Name: STEAM
Why you havent been paying attention: Like the upcoming Kirby and Yoshi games, this seems to be just another dose of cutesy, sugary Nintendo. And its a new property to boot, so there are too many unknown variables. You also hear its a steampunk strategy game, which sounds far too niche for its own good.
Why you should seek it out: This strategy game has a stupendous pedigree, coming from top Nintendo dev team, Intelligent Systems. Then theres the refreshing visual design - all-American comic book heroes fighting aliens in a steampunk Europe, as imagined by Japanese artists. Where else will you find crosscultural touches like those? Especially with Abraham Lincoln as the teams leader? And then theres the fact that it plays like a more family friendly XCOM: Enemy Unknown, one of the most addictively fun games in recent memory.
Why you havent been paying attention: The colorful screenshots dont really tell you much about the game. Sure, creator Mike Bithells last game, Thomas Was Alone, has an experimental style and hit it big, but Volume looks nothing like his previous work.
Why you should seek it out: Volume uses Metal Gear Solid as inspiration, all in promising ways. That means impeccable stealth gameplay, and hopefully no endless cutscenes. The stages drop a futuristic Robin Hood into blocky rooms as players navigate obstacles in a cybercrimes version of hide n seek. Also, in a world where protagonists kill every person they meet, Volumes hero is strictly nonlethal, adding a refreshing extra level of challenge to the sneaking gameplay. Lastly, Andy Serkis plays a major voice in the game, and who can say no to Gollum?
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 Break Record (3DS)
Why you havent been paying attention: Shin Megami Tensei is one of the oldest RPG series around, but its also stayed confined to a cult audience up to this point. Now the complicatedly titled SMT: DS2BR is coming to the 3DS as a remake of a sequel to a spin-off, and youre already confused before jumping into the 60 hour campaign.
Why you should seek it out: First off, if youre a lapsed RPG lover who wishes for a more mature, grounded approach to the often fantastical genre, SMT titles are what youve been waiting for. And unlike the more complex systems of core SMT games, Devil Survivor 2 features the more straightforward strategy gameplay crystallized in games like Final Fantasy Tactics and Fire Emblem. This portable rerelease is your doorway into the wonders of Shin Megami Tenseis deep action and storytelling, all in one addictive tactics title.
Why you havent been paying attention: Cuphead looks like a weird kids game that somehow teleported to the present from 1937. This artifact of a lost age lacks the coolness of contemporary games, and it stars a dude who looks like Mickey Mouse with a mug clued to the top of his neck. This seems a little too weird and childish for your tastes.
Why you should seek it out: Beneath the exterior of wobbly limbs and grainy film stock beats the heart of 2D action-adventure games of the 90s. Cuphead is cast in the mold of Contra and Gunstar Heroes, only now youre shooting the rejects of a Betty Boop cartoon. Cupheads darker edge is also intriguing, as the games story begins with the hero selling his soul to the devil. How much more effed up will the game get if thats the starting point?
Galak-Z: The Dimensional
Why you havent been paying attention: After the many sci-fi shoot em ups that followed in the wake of Geometry Wars, the retro thrills became a little too familiar. Who needs another shooter for their PS4 when Resogun and Geometry Wars 3 more than scratches that itch? What could this anime wannabe offer that all those other explosive throwbacks dont?
Why you should seek it out: The cel-shaded graphics inspired by decades-old anime should be your first hint that things are a bit different in Galak-Z, but it goes deeper that than. The developer looks to Far Cry and Halo as a big inspiration for the action, which focuses on deeper shootouts that in sandbox-type areas for shootouts. Galak-Z hopes to bring a better emphasis on persistence than anything else in the fast-paced genre when it blasts off this year.
Starwhal: Just The Tip
Why you havent been paying attention: Youre not even sure what youre looking at here. Neon-colored space narwhals trying to stab each other? What the eff is this?
Why you should seek it out: Neon-colored space narwhals trying to stab each other is exactly why you should care. Much like the fast and furious multiplayer fun of Towerfall: Ascension and Sportsfriends, Starwhal sticks four players in a tiny box with the straightforward goal of finding out who can stab the most galactic fish. This indie gem is wondrous in its simplicity, seemingly the type of party game that could keep you occupied for five minutes or two hours. Already a hit on PCs, the console ports could be just the kind of couch multiplayer excitement your life is missing.
I liked it before it was cool...
By the end of the year, when all your friends have rushed to search out these games, youll have tons of hipster cred to lord over them. But are there any other lesser known titles coming in 2015 that deserve the spotlight? Let me hear all about it in the comments!