Last week was one of the busiest of the year when it comes to video game news. We took a break to try and keep up with the deluge of reveals, announcements and trailers, but we return today to bring you another edition of our hidden indie gems feature.
We’re doing things a little differently this week. We’re focusing entirely on games announced, showed off or something new at or around gamescom. Some of them even have demos available right now, and we’ll make sure to mention how you can get a hold of them.
We’re absolutely spoiled for choice this week, so we thought we'd tell you about our favourite indie games of gamescom. As always, this includes everything from entirely new reveals to fresh looks at existing games and the like.
Let’s get started.
Hot indie games of gamescom
Hellish Quart is a 1v1 sword fighting game taking inspiration from Bushido Blade; every hit is lethal, and if you’re not careful, a single hit is all it could take to kill you.
This combat model is based on accurate ragdolls, which is what gives characters weight and makes swings and thrusts feel impactful. The swords themselves are physically simulated, so that every move could exist within the 3D space. If it looks like it should connect, it will, and it's probably going to deal a lot of damage.
Motion-capture data provides the reference for all the animations you see in the trailer, creating a level of fidelity I don’t think I have ever seen in a game of this scope. The developer actually attached those bright dots to their fencing suits and went at it.
Hellish Quart features weapons and swordplay from the 17th century, so anything from rapiers to broadswords and even sabres can be yours. You’ll get to experience the game’s deep combat solo in the campaign, free play mode or against another player in local co-op.
Hellish Quart is the passion project of Polish developer Jakub Kisiel, who spent years working on animation at People Can Fly and CD Projekt Red. The game is coming to Steam Early Access at some point soon.
Everspace 2 debuted a new trailer at gamescom, focusing on the in-cockpit view. The original game, of course, had an option for first-person flying, but the sequel revamps those ship interiors significantly.
For one, given the sheer variety of new ships compared to the original, the number of unique cockpits has gone up. This time around, developer Rockfish made sure that every dial, gauge and monitor are functional. You can rely on them well enough, in fact, that you could turn the HUD completely off. The various tech upgrades you decide to go with, and even your own touch on customising the look of the ship itself, will all be reflected in the dashboard, which makes for interesting variations on existing cockpit designs.
December remains the Everspace 2 Steam Early Access release target. Alongside the new gameplay, Rockfish revealed a little more about the Union system, which will be available in the Early Access build. Union is a trading hub, and it’s unlike any of the environments players of the first game are familiar with. It’s essentially a series of complex, interconnected structures that test your control and manoeuvrability skills, not to mention offer an experience that’s quite distinct from the typical sparse layouts we’ve seen before.
Everspace 2 currently has a free demo on Steam, where you can also wishlist the game while you wait for December.
Midnight Fight Express
If the genre of brawlers only just came to be, Midnight Fight Express would be the game to announce it to the world. Midnight Fight Express is a brawler that wants you to cut through hordes of enemies using (mostly) hand-to-hand combat.
This is another game where every move is motion-captured, which gives them a realistic look you rarely see in brawlers. More than their appearance, it’s how well they flow together that’s mesmerising - judging by the reveal trailer, at least. Character momentum, direction and the environment itself all play a role in how each move comes out, and the impact it leaves behind
Midnight Fight Express’ combat model is mostly based around rapid attacks, in an Arkham-style cadence of flinging yourself between enemies as you dodge, counter and strike. The customisable move sets and fighting styles remind me of Absolver, though I doubt it’s going to be as cumbersome.
This is not a button masher, however, as developer Jacob Dzwinel wants it to be as challenging as Dark Souls. It's hard to judge how thoughtful you’ll have to approach combat from small snippets of footage, but I can't get my eyes off those GIFs.
Midnight Fight Express is absolutely a game you should keep on your radar, something this Steam page will help you do.
Exo One is a game about traversing vast, beautiful landscapes in a flying saucer. Though it may look simple, manoeuvring the ship actually requires an understanding of its alien mechanics.
The momentum-based movement system will see you gliding through cloud cover, skating down steep sand dunes and diving into oceans as you wait for the perfect moment to fling the ship and get a burst of speed. Exo One relies on a particular art style that blends realistic visuals with a sort of low-fi, diffused filter that gives it the look of an old sci-fi novel.
The desolate landscapes you’ll travel through, together with the game’s distinct look and its minimalistic soundtrack make for an otherworldly experience. This is not a game with involved combat or challenging enemies, you’re meant to just fling your ship around its magnificent alien worlds as you master the movement techniques.
If you want to see how it feels, there’s a fairly short free prologue on Steam you can download today. The full game is coming later this year to PC and Xbox Series X.
Endling is the story of the last Fox in a future where global warming has all but truly ravaged the planet. You play as a vixen who must scavenge for food while fending off predators, and avoiding human hunters and their traps, on its search for the last safe place on Earth.
You’ll also have to look after its three cubs, who start out defenceless. Time and again, you’ll need to feed them and care for them, so that they can one day join you on your daily hunts. Endling plays out as a survival/stealth game hybrid where you get to decide how the mother and her cubs survive each day.
The story is told through the events you run into. In a gameplay trailer released at gamescom, one of the cubs gets kidnapped and the mother now has to use whatever clues it can to find it.
The desolation across the game’s environments is based on potential disaster scenarios that could befall our planet. Despite its dilapidated, grim setting, Endling's foxes steal the show with their bright colours and intricate animations.
Endling is coming to PC, PS4, Xbox One and Switch next year. There’s a Steam demo you can download and play right now.