The best indie games at E3 2019

We've seen plenty of big-budget E3 2019 games, but some of the most exciting upcoming titles are also from smaller independent studios who don't get as much time on-stage during major press conferences. Nevertheless, the best indie games from E3 2019 are rolling in, and they look promising, from personal stories and frenetic action games to contemplative puzzlers and plenty more. Here are the best indie games from E3 2019 so far.  

Creature in the Well

Platforms: PC (Steam), Nintendo Switch

Release date: Summer 2019

If pinball was an isometric action game, it'd be Creature in the Well. You play as a robot who's trying a free village from the tyranny of the titular creature, and you do so by diving deeper and deeper into a mountain dungeon. Along the way, you'll need to clear puzzles, challenges, and boss fights where you collect, hit, and reflect fast-moving projectiles pinball-style. You can charge up balls with your sword and send them flying with your bat, and after playing it for ourselves, we can attest to how intense this simple two-part combat system can get. Creature in the Well is an intuitive, exciting, and incredibly pretty take on an arcade classic. Did we mention its levels get re-colored every playthrough? Because they do, and it's mighty cool. 

Sayonara Wildhearts 

Platforms: Nintendo Switch (others TBA)

Release date: 2019

For all intents and purposes, Sayonara Wildhearts is a playable pop album. It's part rhythm game, part action game, part audio-visual spectacle. Sometimes you're a pop singer riding a bike at the speed of light, sometimes you're dodging fireballs in space, sometimes you're chasing a giant moose in what looks like an infinite runner game. It's a meditative and forgiving experience, but its polygonal art is so fun to look at and its custom-made soundtrack is such a good listen that it doesn't get old. As a game you can easily pick up and play whenever, it's also a fantastic fit for the Switch. 

The Sojourn 

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC (Steam) 

Release date: 2019 

The Sojourn has delightfully chill music and pleasingly minimalist art, but the true test of any puzzle game is how quickly (and creatively) it stumps you. Happily, The Sojourn stumped us pretty quickly when we played a bit of it. It's a first-person puzzle game with an ethereal, introspective tone that feels like Everybody's Gone to the Rapture by way of The Talos Principle, and its puzzles are mainly about switching places with angelic statues to create a path forward. It's much more complicated and interesting than merely getting to point B, mind you, and the difficulty ramps up as multiple statues and other tools are added in. 

Lost in Random 

Platforms: TBA

Release date: TBA

The studio behind Fe's next game is another action adventure in a strange, "beautifully dark and vivid" fantasy world. We've only seen the briefest snippets of the game, but it looks like you play as a miniature girl in a land of strange, animated game pieces. The studio isn't ready to share many details about Lost in Random yet, but its work on Fe alone is enough to keep us interested.

RustHeart 

Platforms: TBA 

Release date: TBA

Developer Glowmade describes RustHeart as "a compelling mix of tactical action-RPG gameplay, player invention and spray paint." You explore alongside a robot companion that you build and customize yourself, using its various bits and bobs to aid your journey "across a vibrant, alien multiverse." That's all we know at this point, but it sounds neat in a build-your-own Iron Giant kind of way. 

Sea of Solitude

Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One

Release date: July 5, 2019 

Games don't often dwell on the soul-sucking feeling of loneliness, but Sea of Solitude from developer Jo-Mei takes that somber core and expands it into an emotional, story-driven platformer. You play as Kay, a young woman who vaguely resembles a raven with blood-red eyes, exploring a flooded world by boat and doing your best to avoid the terrifying monsters representing Kay's inner demons. The art style is equal parts vibrant and haunting, with a gorgeous watercolor aesthetic that makes every level look like a painting, and we can't wait to explore Sea of Solitude's surreal, treacherous world.

A new co-op game from A Way Out studio Hazelight 

Platforms: TBA

Release date: TBA

The next game from Hazelight, the studio behind A Way Out, is still tightly under wraps - it doesn't even have a name yet - but EA says it "builds on the studio's expertise and success" and will be "a new cooperative experience." With that description, you can probably expect another character-driven co-op game like A Way Out, possibly with mocap used again for capturing lifelike movements. Josef Fares, the outspoken developer who's been the face of Hazelight, says the three core tenets when developing are "fun, focus, and f**k s**t up." Alrighty then.  

Ori and the Will of the Wisps 

Platforms: Xbox One, PC 

Release date: February 11, 2020

The sequel to the brilliantly stylish, slightly unsettling, Metroidvania-esque Ori and the Blind Forest has finally got a release date. Ori and the Will of the Wisps will hit Xbox One consoles and PC on February 11, 2020, and by the looks of the E3 trailer, it’s going to be much weirder and scarier than the previous game. There’s a giant spider who’s now going to haunt my nightmares, a tentacled monster and a lava-spewing beast to look forward to, and it looks like you’ll be exploring and puzzle-solving in locations outside the familiar forests of Nibel. Will of the Wisps keeps the same aesthetic as its predecessor thankfully, mixing myth and fantasy imbued with a watercolour-esque palette, accompanied by the kind of glorious soundtrack that will make your ears melt with bliss. 

Way to the Woods  

Platforms: PC (consoles TBA)

Release date: 2020

Way to the Woods is a gorgeous adventure game about a small deer family, and it's got a lovely story behind it. It started off as a passion project for solo teen developer Anthony Tan, and now publishers like ID @ Xbox are proudly displaying it at E3. Part of Way to the Woods' charm is how hard it is to interpret. It's a third-person adventure game set in a desolate modern world, and it seems to focus on interacting with the environment using only your hooves and antlers. There's a visual and thematic emphasis on light and darkness, and the accompanying music is pure joy. That's about all we can parse, but quite frankly, the art alone would've been enough to get our attention. 

Phantom Brigade 

Platforms: PC 

Release date: 2020 

Phantom Brigade has been totally overhauled since it was picked up by Crypt of the Necrodancer studio Brace Yourself Games. It's still a turn-based mech strategy game, but its once-standard combat received an intriguing killer app: video editing. OK, not actually video editing, but the combat timeline just screams Adobe Premier. Basically, you place turn actions on a timeline and you can roughly predict their outcomes by scrubbing forward in time. You might think this would trivialize a strategy game, but trust us, the word roughly is doing a lot of work there, and executing the perfect turn is still a fun challenge. It's also a game about overcoming overwhelming odds, and using a mere three mechs to take out entire armies of enemies with perfectly timed strikes just feels good. 

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