A still of the artwork in Hello Games' No Man's Sky announced during Sony's press conference at E3.
Independent games made their mark on E3 this year, from the surprise hits of major press conferences to the titles stealing hearts on the show room floor. It’s impossible to not admire the passion these designers and developers have for their work.
While strong emotions and technical skill were on display in spades, the 2014 crop of indies was certainly noteworthy for the depth and breadth of art styles. Attendees got to see a range of visually unique and creative games.
These are eight of the independent games that showed just how much artistry and beauty an independent game creator can share.
The creators have said they wanted Hohokum to be all about exploration, and they’ve given us a weird and colorful world for that task. This charming and cartoony art style, especially when paired with lush electronic dance music, gives the game a unique appeal.
2. Ori and the Blind Forest
It’s impossible to not see shades of Hayao Miyazaki in this title from Moon Studios. The lush natural world in this game seems to have taken cues from the master of animation, and that mystical quality makes this entry in the fantasy platformer genre seem a little extra special.
Think of how James Bond might look with the sleek lines and bold colors from the late fifties art style, and you’ve got a good idea of the visuals for CounterSpy. This stealth game has a gorgeous retro look that perfectly evokes the alternate reality version of a cold war between world superpowers.
4. White Night
Film noir is one of the most iconic styles of the silver screen, and White Night takes it as a clear inspiration. With only a box of matches to light your path, this arresting black-and-white game tasks you with puzzling your way out of a mansion. But strange monsters lurk in the darkness, and you need to find stronger light sources to fend them off and continue your sleuthing.
Considering how many games push the envelope on modernity and envisioning the future, it’s refreshing to see such a luxurious take on the past. Apotheon places the player amid the world and the art of ancient Greece.
6. No Man’s Sky
E3 attendees got a first glimpse of this indie game, which for many people was a highlight of the Sony press conference. No Man’s Sky promises to start each player on a totally unique, procedurally generated science-fiction planet, and from there they will explore the game’s infinite universe. The trailer demonstrated that they may just have the artistic chops to accomplish that goal.
7. The Talos Principle
The Talos Principle is a puzzle game crossed with philosophical questions. And along with those intriguing game elements, players will enjoy the lush natural world encompassing those puzzles and questions.
8. Elegy for a Dead World
It’s worth noting at the outset that this is a game about writing. But although the focus might be on encouraging the players to tell stories with language, the art in this game is also lovely. The visuals provide the inspiration and subject of your writings, and the team at Dejobaan Games has created a vivid muse for their audience.