2019 wasn’t a great year in terms of video games for me personally. The industry trend of producing sequels, remakes, spin-off and ports makes it seem as though less space is being devoted to new ideas; and the ridiculous level of hype that’s the norm for big-budget releases nowadays leaves me feeling cold.
But this month is the start of both a new year and decade, so it’s time to look forward to brighter days and new releases. Forget Cyberpunk 2077 and The Last of Us Part II: indie games will continue to be the focus for me because they aren’t afraid to take creative risks in order to bring us something new and inventive. There are plenty waiting on my wishlist right now and it seems like the perfect time to share some of these, so here are the titles I’ve got my eye on for 2020.
1. 12 Minutes
Although I wasn’t particularly impressed by Microsoft’s E3 presentation in June, 12 Minutes by Luis Antonio was the one title which stood out for me. Players take on the role of a husband who’s due to spend a romantic evening with his wife but things take a turn for the worse when a detective breaks into your home and you find yourself caught in a time-loop. Use the knowledge gained from repeating events to change the outcome – or relive the same terror over and over again.
2. 3 Minutes to Midnight
I didn’t think I was going to enjoy 3 Minutes to Midnight when it was recommended to me by nufafitc from Emotional Multimedia Ride. But after playing the demo at EGX in 2018, it earned its place on my wishlist thanks to its light-hearted humour and detailed cartoon visuals. It seems like it’s going to have an awful lot of appeal for adventure lovers with a fondness for the classics. I went on to back the Kickstarter campaign in October and can’t wait to get my hands on Scarecrow Studio’s release this year.
I backed 2018’s Kickstarter campaign for Backbone for three main reasons. First, everyone knows how much I love a point-and-click game; second, I’m partial to a good bit of pixel-art too; and third, you play as a detective raccoon. I had the chance to check out the prologue a few months ago and if the full release is of the same quality then we’re in for a treat. I highly recommend giving it a try yourself but be prepared for some pretty dark subject matter: take a look at Luke’s preview on Hundstrasse for more details.
4. Beautiful Desolation
I was a Kickstarter backer for The Brotherhood’s first campaign in 2013 and really enjoyed isometric science-fiction adventure STASIS when it was released in 2015. It’s therefore no surprise that I pledged to their next project when it was announced in 2017. Beautiful Desolation is set in a post-apocalyptic future where mankind has hurtled forward on an alternative trajectory, and it looks gorgeous thanks to its use of photogrammetry to take hundreds of pictures before generating 3D-models.
5. Beyond a Steel Sky
We’ve had to wait 25-years for a follow-up to Beneath a Steel Sky, but Beyond is a Steel Sky is almost here. I had a chance to play Revolution Games’ sequel at EGX in September and then got to see Charles Cecil speak about the game in a developer session. This idea of ‘subversion’ has been a big influence: the team wanted to implement puzzles that not only felt as though they belonged to the world and the story, but which could be solved by changing the behaviour of objects and characters around you.
6. Book of Travels
Eastshade was my favourite game of 2019 thanks to its atmosphere and artwork, and was the reason why I backed the Kickstarter campaign for Book of Travels as soon as I saw the promotional video. It seems like Might and Delight are going to give us a lovely experience. Advertised as a ‘tiny multiplayer online’, its world is being built with a lot of content but few players on each server so temporary alliances are meaningful and your encounters are turned into powerful experiences.
Driver protagonists seem to be having a moment in the spotlight – take a look at Neo Cab and Night Call, for example – and Rania from RPG Cloudpunk is the latest one in my sights. Your first night in the city of Nivalis working for a semi-legal delivery company will see you meet humans, androids and artificial intelligence (AI), each with their own story to tell. It sounds as though it’s going to be a game more about narrative than action and what you find out may change everything.
8. Fable IV
I know I said my list was made up of indie titles, but I’m a huge Fable fan and couldn’t leave this one out. The only reason I tuned into Microsoft’s E3 presentation last year was because of the rumour there may be news about the game so I was sorely disappointed. Maybe the announcement of a series resurrection was a little premature; or perhaps there were so many other games to unveil that Microsoft decided to hold onto the next instalment until there’s more progress to show off. Hopefully we’re hear more details very soon…
It’s no surprise I showed my support for Firmament on Kickstarter after backing Cyan’s previous campaigns for Obduction and Myst 25th Anniversary Collection. The story begins when you wake up in a glacial cavern, crowded with metal pipes and clockwork gears. Massive doors open to a chamber containing an ancient table holding a tea-cup on one end and a frozen body slumped over the other, the corpse’s hand clutching a strange device. Expect a title full of atmosphere and mystery just like the Myst series.
I love cyberpunk and detective games, so RPG Gamedec by Anshar Studios was added to my wishlist right away when it appeared in my Steam suggestions one day. You will hunt down the criminals of virtual worlds: spoiled businesspeople, mothers who want a better life for their children, or corporations with plans to rewrite humanity. Each decision you make shapes your character’s personality and the world around them, with the title continually adapting to your choices.
Let’s stop right there before the excitement gets too much! The next ten on my list for 2020 will be shared on Wednesday, so keep your eyes open for more games for your wishlist then. Which releases are you looking forward to this year?
Video game lover, Later Levels blogger and SpecialEffect volunteer. Big fan of wannabe pirates and fine leather jackets.