The best Artistic Indie Games at E3

You could be forgiven for thinking that E3 does not offer something for everyone, but if you look behind the big headlines, there have been several games that have more heart and soul than any of their AAA cousins.

cuphead1

If a shiny new console complete with another round of FIFA, Madden, Call of Duty, Battlefield or Assassin’s Creed leaves a bitter after-taste in your mouth, or if you think buying re-hashed ports of GTA V or Halo leaves you cold, then I suspect you need something a little demanding from your games.

Some people will scoff at our favourite past time of playing videogames, yet they are more intelligent, unique and artistic than the majority of TV shows that people will sit and watch for hours each night.

At E3 this year, there were several games that stood out from the crowd, offering a little more than an annoying kid with headphones that we endured in the Scalebound trailer.

Let’s have a look at some of the more artistic games that are coming our way over the next few months.

Cuphead

During the Microsoft montage of indie titles at E3, scenes from a game called Cuphead made me lean forward, capturing my attention.

Very little is known about the game, but this 2D sidescroller with images was very reminiscent of classic Mickey Mouse animations, such as Steamboat Willie and instantly stood out from the other titles on show.

This is the first game from developers that consist of a small team of brothers at Studio MDHR who recently announced on their blog that “With Cuphead, we aim to evolve the genre by adding new features such as: super arts, infinite lives, a playable world map and hidden secrets. In addition to that, we will have refined controls, additional boss patterns on harder modes and balanced weapons to equip (that you don’t lose!). We plan to release 10-15 bosses per episode and end up with over 30 bosses. If all goes as planned, we will defeat the current “Guinness World Record for Most Boss Battles in a Run and Gun Game”[25 total]).

Their website also states that “Cuphead is a classic run ‘n’ gun set in the style of a one-on-one fighting game universe. Inspired by cartoons of the 1930’s, the visuals and audio were painstakingly created with the same techniques of the era, i.e. traditional cel animation (hand drawn & hand inked!), watercolor backgrounds, and live jazz recordings

If you are a fan of art, animation and indie games, then this is quite possibly the best thing you could have seen at E3.

White Night

As a massive movie buff and Alfred Hitchcock fan, the survival horror game from Osome Studio called White Night excited me in so many ways.

If you have any friends that think your love of gaming is crazy, you can soon set them straight with this tale that includes the cerebral cocktail of German Expressionism, H.P. Lovecraft, Alfred Hitchcock, Roman Polanski and David Lynch.

White Night is both a survival horror and homage to the first Alone in the Dark, while developing its own identity. Set in America’s early thirties, the game offers to live the nightmare of a man, hurt and trapped in an old family manor where darkness is a constant threat.

Never Alone

The introduction to Never Alone reveals the rather cryptic “Where nature challenges life in the extreme. Where death lies waiting in the cold. Where you must explore the fantastical world of Iñupiaq stories to help a young girl save her people from an endless blizzard.”

Although some may lazily simply compare this tale to Limbo, Never Alone’s real inspiration comes from Alaska Native storytellers and the game is actually based on stories that have been handed down for thousands of years: the centuries-old stories and folklore of the Iñupiat people.

The stunning artistic backdrop, combined with the story and heart appear to give this game both style and substance.

Valiant Hearts: The Great War

Traditionally, to a certain extent, video games have been guilty of over glamorising war, but Ubisoft are releasing a gut-wrenching title about the other side of war that is guaranteed to pull your heartstrings as it tells the story through the eyes of a dog.

The game is inspired by letters written during the Great War and the combination of the endearing art style and raw human heart, make this a beautifully moving game that is sure to stay with you long after it has been completed.

You won’t have to wait too long either, Valiant Hearts: The Great War will be released on June 25th for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and PC.

Ori and the Blind Forest

Moon Studios have an interesting side-scrolling platformer heading to the Xbox One later this year, called Ori and the Blind Forest.

Initially, the game looks remarkably similar to the recent critically acclaimed Child of Light, but seems to consist of much more vibrant colours and has a stronger emphasis on action-packed game play.

Will you be joining Ori and try to solve the mysteries of a dying forest while escaping the evil clutches of Kuro, the dark owl, this autumn?

Inside

The studio behind the acclaimed Limbo have announced that their latest venture will be called Inside. Many have instantly dubbed this Limbo 2, in all but name.

A dark artistic and sombre tale that once again gives the impression of being both creepy and beautiful, in a haunting and monochrome world, much like the studios predecessor.

Unfortunately, you will have to wait until early 2015 to get your hands on this must-have indie title, but I have a feeling that this will be more than worth the wait.

So there you have it, proof that gaming can be art. We haven’t even mentioned the magnificent work that Hello Games are doing with No Man’s Sky.

What unique games are exciting you at the moment? Please let us know what you are excited about over the next twelve months by commenting below. 

 

About the author

Neil Hughes

My gaming journey began as an infant playing Pong, followed by an Atari 2600 with a beautiful wooden finish. Over the years, I progressed onto a Commodore 64, BBC B and my beloved Amiga 600 before entering the golden console years. It seems that if you write with an opinion criticising any platform you are now instantly labelled a fan-boy but this ageing gamer loves the PS4, Xbox One and Steam all for different reasons but if I see something I don't like, I might write about it...