The 2016 indie games you don’t want to miss

UPDATED! We've added four new games to our indie wish list

2015 was a fantastic year for independent games, as evidenced by the release of hugely inventive and genre-bending titles such as Her Story, Kerbal Space Program and SOMA – but 2016 just might top it.

With Jonathan Blow’s The Witness arriving on 26 January, we’ve already seen the release of one of the year’s most anticipated indie games, but don’t worry: there are plenty more to come. We’ve picked out ten of the titles that have most piqued our interest, ranging from number-crunching grand strategy to blood-drenched brawling.

By the way, if you’ve noted one or two glaring omissions from our selection below (*cough* No Man’s Sky *cough*), it’s probably because they’re so darn exciting that they’ve transcended the indie tag and made it onto our overall most anticipated games list. By all means check it out, but not before you’ve perused this round-up of the gaming underdogs most likely to win your heart in 2016.

N.B. at this point just about every game here is listed only as due for release this year. As more accurate dates are announced, we'll update accordingly.


It’s everybody’s dream: to live on a deadly island populated by dinosaurs and hostile humans. Or is that just me? Anyway, that’s the idea in this multiplayer adventure/survival title, which maroons you, in full amnesiac Robinson Crusoe mode, on a perilous landmass around 36 square kilometres in size.

You must explore, gather materials and food, build a shelter, plant crops and defend yourself against the wildlife and other players alike using improvised, constructed and found weapons. You can also tame dinosaurs in order to ride them – including beasts that soar through the air or swim in the ocean – and team up with other players to complete goals together. And yes, we know: you may have already played ARK. It’s already available, in early access form, on all formats aside from the PS4. But that’s far from the finished article, and you won’t get that until it’s released later this year.

Formats: PC, Mac, Xbox One, PS4

Release date: 2016

Aliens are out there


According to Alan Turing, the yardstick for determining if a computer is truly “intelligent” is its ability (or lack of ability) to fool a human into thinking it is another human, rather than a machine. And that’s one inspiration for this first-person sci-fi puzzler – the other looks to be Valve’s Portal series. As with Portal, it appears that Derby-based developer Bulkhead has made The Turing Test a puzzler that reveals a compelling story as you make your way through its trials. We can’t wait to get tested.

Formats: PC, Xbox One

Release date: 30 August


You might have already played The Long Dark, because it’s been available through Steam Early Access and Xbox One Game Preview for some time – but it’s getting a full release this year, in which the game’s current sandbox mode will be bolstered by a proper story.

Set in the Canadian wilderness after a geomagnetic event has torn civilisation asunder, it’s a first-person open-world game in which your main goal is simply survival against a scarily long list of potential hazards: starvation, thirst, exposure, fatigue and the local wildlife. You’ll be searching for supplies, hunting for food, scavenging for objects and seeking shelter, and basically trying to stay alive for as long as possible. Succumbing to a threat causes permadeath (i.e. your save will be deleted and you’ll have to start a new game), but the sheer number of variables means no two playthroughs will be alike.

Formats: PC, Mac, Xbox One

Release date: available now on Steam Early Access and Xbox One Game Preview. Full game due later in 2016

Indie horror masterpiece

Mother Russia Bleeds

If you’re old enough to remember (and miss) the likes of Streets of Rage, Double Dragon and Final Fight, Mother Russia Bleeds is ready to spark your nostalgia. It might then pour petrol on it and stamp on its face, but that’s just because it’s one of the most OTT gory games we’ve ever seen.

A side-scrolling beat ‘em up that supports up to four players and takes place in an alternative history USSR, it features more stabbings, limb-snappings and head-crushings than all five seasons of Game of Thrones, all rendered in a garish, pixellated retro style that appears to have been fed through an imaginary Instagram “Narco-Haze” filter. If you loved Hotline Miami’s balls-out take on top-down shooters, Mother Russia Bleeds appears to be the same for classic 80s and 90s brawlers.

Formats: PC, Mac, PS4

Release date: 2016


It’s Gunstar Heroes meets Steamboat Willie! Cuphead is a run ’n’ gun platform game with a distinctive 1930s cartoon art style. And those authentic looks didn’t come easy: every frame of animation was hand-drawn, inked and coloured, just like in traditional animation; even the in-game text comes via the brush of a professional sign-painter.

The gameplay is frenetic, with some platform sections and a strong focus on tough-looking boss battles, but if you want to make things a little easier, you’ll be able to team up with a friend to tackle Cuphead in co-op.

Formats: PC, Xbox One

Release date: 2016