A new year means a new year of gaming to which to look forward. While there are a few AAA co-op titles set to release over the next few months that we're excited about, there are also quite a few independent co-op games that are slated to come out within the first 6 months of the year. So, without further ado, we present to you our most anticipated indie co-op titles of 2013, in no particular order.
This is a very recent one to show up on our radar. Really Slick, the one-man independent game studio run by a former NASA employee, is currently developing this cooperative “cave shooter” that draws inspiration from classics like Asteroids, Lunar Lander, and Choplifter. The demo for the game was fun and while there wasn’t a lot of direct interaction between myself and co-op partner, e.g., sharing health/lives, rescuing your ally, there were some interesting moments. The physics at play within the system means one player can boost/float past enemies to draw their attention and fire, while the other player lazily swoops in to shoot them down. No release date has been set just yet, but it should be out some time in the second half of this year.
Check out our interview with Terry where he discusses what to expect from Retrobooster, some of the difficulties he’s faced in the game’s development, and what else he may have planned.
Divinity: Original Sin
With the rise of “Western” RPGs like Mass Effect, Skyrim, and even Diablo, to a degree, the RPGs that were more directly based on the pen-and-paper style (such as Baldur’s Gate) seemed to be on their way out. However, these RPGs are not entirely forgotten, or gone. Larian Studios, developers of the Divinity series, seems to be comprised of gamers that miss those days as the next entry, Divinity: Original Sin, will be “a return to the roots.” From item combination and management, to dialogue where both main characters have a say in what the party does, this RPG seems to be shaping up to be the kind of experience that will attempt to truly immerse the players into the world as much as possible and capture some of that pen-and-paper charm.
Divinity: Original Sin is currently slated for a Q2 2013 release. Watch our discussion with Swen Vinke, Larian Studios’ founder, about the cooperative elements of the game and why they decided to make this kind of a game.
It’s rare to see a major development studio make a drastic shift in the genre/type of game they produce from their first game to the second, yet independent developers are afforded a few more opportunities and face different constraints than those developers that fall under the protective wing of a major publisher. Take, for instance, Cadenza Interactive. Their first title, Sol Survivor, was an action tower-defense game to which I lost countless hours playing its cooperative modes. Retrovirus, their upcoming six-degrees-of-freedom shooter, is a radical departure from this. What’s more, it’s attempting to revitalize a particular gaming genre that was considered to be “dead.” From what I played of the alpha back in August of last year, they’ve done a good job of recreating the 6 DoF feeling and co-op play would definitely enhance the overall gameplay experience.
The beta version of the game is currently available by pre-ordering the game through GameStop or Desura (and Steam soon), with a full release later this month or in February.
Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine
The first news post we had about Pocketwatch Games’ Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine was from April 26, 2010. At that time, the game was roughly slated to come out in about a year. Fast forward to 3 years later, and we believe the game is actually close to being ready for prime time - and I can’t wait. I was able to play some of the beta with a few other Co-Optimus staff recently (we’ll post the recorded play session of it soon) and it was... well, it was a bit of a mess at first, but that’s more on us than the game. It’s definitely a situation where coordination with your fellow thieves is key. Getting past all of the guards, alarms, and trip wires can be achieved in several different ways, but if everybody decides to do it their way, then you’re more likely to wind up in a situation akin to the infamous heist scene in “Heat” than you are with the slick maneuvering in “Ocean’s Eleven.”
There’s still no official word on when the game will see full retail release, but you can pre-order your copy now at a slight discount and get the prototype version of the game along with two songs from the soundtrack composed by Journey’s Austin Wintory.
Wyv and Keep
I am a sucker for puzzle platformers and cooperative puzzle platformers, in particular. I remember hours spent in front of the NES playing games like The Adventures of Lolo and then The Lost Vikings on the SNES. When I caught wind of A Jolly Corpse’s Wyv and Keep, it was a game I knew I’d be watching as it developed and I have not been disappointed. The titular characters manage to convey more personality than you would think possible in a 16-bit sprite-based world, and the puzzles quickly ramp up to a level of cooperation that’s equal parts crazy and fun - similar to last year’s Portal 2 co-op mode but expanded to 60 levels. The game will also come with a level editor upon release so you’re free to tweak your favorite levels to even greater difficulty/insanity.
When last we spoke with the game’s creators, the title was nearing completion and should see a release within the next couple months. You can pick up the current beta build from their website, which will allow you to access the full version of the game when it releases.
There you have it - our most anticipated indie co-op titles for 2013. It should be said that by no means is this list exhaustive of all the independent games that are sure to be released this year, just those that are rumored or confirmed to see release within the next several months. As always, we'll continue bringing you all the latest co-op news, be it AAA or indie, and look forward to even more co-op gaming in the new year!