The best upcoming indie games of 2020 and beyond are looking bigger and bolder than any year before. As the video game industry inches towards a new console generation with the PS5 and Xbox Series X, developers have already begun exploring new concepts and mechanics to take advantage of the new hardware. Additionally, PC gaming continues to be the preferred method for discovering hidden gems before they explode in popularity. 

Here, we’ll be highlighting the most highly-anticipated indie releases along with some lesser-known titles that may not be on your radar. Make sure to check back as we’ll updating this list in the future with new entries. If you would like to receive more gaming recommendations, consider reading through our other curated lists:

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Empire of Sin

Release Date: Fall 2020 Platform: PS4 | Xbox One | Switch | PC

Empire of Sin is a turn-based action/strategy title that tosses players into the seedy underbelly of 1920s Prohibition-era Chicago. The game tasks you with building a criminal empire from the ground up by mastering a variety of different rackets, such as speakeasies, union protection, and casinos.

To make a name for yourself, you’ll have to broaden your influence by taking over rival territories and hiring loyal street soldiers. However, the journey won’t be easy as corruption and violence pressure you to bribe, intimidate, and when all else fails, go to war. 

Windjammers 2

Release Date: TBA – Platform: PS4 | Xbox One | Switch | PC

Fans of the cult frisbee-meets-tennis sports arcade phenomenon Windjammers will get to experience intense 1v1 disc-throwing bouts when Windjammers 2 releases later this year. The sequel will introduce new features along with updated visuals inspired by the original arcade cabinet art. Replacing the 2D sprites are vibrant, hand-drawn character designs that breathe new life and expand upon the series’ roster of larger-than-life competitors.

The upsides of this new design become clear once you see the game in motion, with characters performing flashy, over-the-top animations that see them launching into the air, charging up for powerful throws, and celebrating between each set. Windjammers 2 is being produced by French developer DotEmu, who also worked on the 2017 Windjammers port for modern consoles. 

Ready or Not

Release Date: TBA Platform: PC

Ready or Not is an upcoming first-person shooter that emphasizes realism and a tactical approach to gameplay. The game takes place in a politically divided world that grows more unstable with each passing day. You play as Judge, the commander of an elite SWAT unit responsible for de-escalating intense situations by any means necessary. 

Scenarios are highly-detailed and require you to carefully examine location layouts, mission briefing details, and coordinate with additional teams and negotiators to determine the best plan of action. Developer Void Interactive has consulted with police teams across the globe to come up with an accurate set of engagement rules based on the real-world challenges encountered out in the field.

Atomic Heart

Release Date: TBA Platform: PS4 | Xbox One | Switch | PC

Originally planned to release in 2018 and then later 2019, Atomic Heart has had one of the more refreshing development stories, with rumors suggesting it might not even be the same game anymore. Categorized as a “first-person shooter with RPG elements,” the game is well into development at studio Mundfish, a Russian-based indie game studio.  

Evoking memories of sci-fi staples like BioShock and Fallout, Atomic Heart takes place in an alternate reality where the Soviet Union’s research has led to a technical revolution. Players assume control of a Soviet KGB officer tasked with infiltrating a secret facility that’s gone radio silent.

Body of Evidence

Release Date: TBA Platform: PC

Empyrean, the studio behind House Flipper, have revealed their next simulation game will focus less on redecorating homes while upping the blood factor. Body of Evidence sees you becoming a “cleaner” for the mob, a specialist in the field of promptly getting rid of dead bodies using all tools at your disposal.

This includes using a lockpick to access locations, hiding corpses in lockers and closets, and cleaning surfaces until all traces of blood have been removed. With the growing number of weird simulation games out there, it was only a matter of time until we would reach this point. However, if black comedy’s your thing and you have no problem getting some blood on your hands, Body of Evidence might just be your new favorite game. 

Carrion

Release Date: TBA – Platform: Xbox One | PC

Carrion is a 2D reverse-horror game set in a sprawling research facility where scientists have been keeping a monster prisoner to study its behavior and biology. One day, the monster finds a way to break free from its containment unit and begins making its way through the facility via ventilation ducts while seeking revenge against the humans.

Current speculation suggests the game will feature elements of Metroidvanias, with new areas becoming accessible based on the creature’s mass. Players can consume more humans to grow in size or “shed” parts of its body to become smaller. The game is currently in development by Phobia Game Studio and is being published by Devolver Digital.

Ooblets

Release Date: TBA – Platform: Xbox One | PC

Ooblets is an upcoming life sim inspired by games like Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing with a little bit of Pokémon sprinkled on top. You play as a customizable human character put in charge of maintaining a farm. Aside from tending to crops, you’ll frequently spend your days collecting and interacting with Ooblets, adorably small creatures that come in all shapes and sizes.

Together, you and your Ooblets will go on new adventures where you’ll battle other trainers, have dance parties, and explore different islands. The game was previously set to be published under the Double Fine Presents label but is now being self-published by developer duo Glumberland with help from Popagenda. A look at the developer’s blog suggests a 2020 release is in the works. 

Mineko’s Night Market

Release Date: TBA – Platform: Switch | PC

Mineko’s Night Market is an adorable adventure/simulation game inspired by games like Animal Crossing that features vibrant environments and more cats than you’ve ever dreamed of. You play as a curious girl still getting accustomed to her new home on a Japanese-inspired island at the base of Mount Fugu.

With an emphasis on story and exploration, the game sees you trying to unravel the island’s many secrets, including the mythological Sun Cat, Abe, who’s rumored to be real. You’re also tasked with managing daily activities such as crafting items, running a shop, and breeding cats. 

Spelunky 2

Release Date: TBA – Platform: PS4 | PC

Spelunky 2 is an upcoming 2D-platformer with some rogue-like elements, being co-developed by self-published Mossmouth and Blitworks. The sequel carries over many of the mechanics from the first while sporting improved visuals and a host of new characters, enemies, obstacles, and treasures.

Players assume control of a spelunker and begin exploring a series of procedurally-generated caves while collecting treasure, battling enemies, and avoiding traps. One of the best parts of the original was how unique each run felt, so it came as a pleasant surprise when Mossmouth announced they would be sticking to the formula for Spelunky 2.

Genesis Noir

Release Date: TBA – Platform: PC

Genesis Noir is an adventure title being developed by Feral Cat Den and was announced back in early 2018. The game tells “a unique cosmic story” about a selfish artist named Golden Boy, a seductive jazz singer named Miss Mass, and the player character No Man, a watch salesman attempting to stop the Big Bang from taking place.

Gameplay will be focused on researching different worlds, getting to know each character, and solving puzzles. Most interesting is Genesis Noir’s gray-scale visuals, which evokes memories of old detective movies and fits in nicely with the game’s sci-fi themes. The project hasn’t been given an official release date yet, however, it’s confirmed to be launching on PC and Mac.

Humankind

Release Date: TBA – Platform: PC

Coming from indie developer Amplitude Studios, Humankind is a 4X strategy game that sees you rewriting history by establishing unique civilizations based on 60 historical periods starting with the Bronze Age up until modern times. Players will be able to influence societies by making tough moral decisions, reacting to historical events, and spearheading scientific breakthroughs. 

The game shares some obvious similarities with the Civilization series but we can’t exactly blame it. The Sid Meier games have dominated the 4x turn-based strategy subgenre for almost 30 years so you could say fans are overdue a worthy alternative. 

12 Minutes

Release Date: TBA – Platform: Xbox One | PC

Described as an “interactive thriller about a man trapped in a time loop,” 12 Minutes sees you taking on the role of a husband whose wife is accused of murder. While trying to prevent her from getting arrested by the police, your character is ultimately killed. Things take a dramatically strange turn upon death, as your character is immediately brought back to the very beginning of the game.

Your task then becomes to replay the events over and over, investigating every possible angle to figure out the truth and break the 12-minute time loop. This is all done in from the confines of your cramped apartment, which goes a long way towards creating a claustrophobic and unsettling atmosphere. It’s an interesting video game concept that’s almost entirely reliant on the quality of its writing, so we’ll be keeping our eyes peeled for a release date. 

Hollow Knight: Silksong

Release Date: TBA – Platform: Switch | PC

Silksong was initially planned as DLC for Hollow Knight; however, developer Team Cherry was very ambitious in creating the project and kept expanding upon their initial ideas until the game felt large enough to warrant a sequel. While the game will keep many of Hollow Knights core Metroidvania elements, it will be using them in slightly different manner.

For one, players will be controlling Hornet, a curious bug-like creature who uses a needle to fight. At the start of the game, Hornet gets captured and taken to an unknown, haunted kingdom. Players will have to escape the kingdom by making their way upwards instead of downwards like the first game, encountering over 150 new creatures along the way.

Naraka: Bladepoint

Release Date: TBA – Platform: PC

It appears the trend of samurai-inspired games is bleeding into 2020 as Nioh 2, Ghost of Tsushima, and Naraka: Bladepoint are all scheduled to release this year. The upcoming indie game sees you taking on the role of a deadly warrior who won’t hesitate to slay anyone who dares to cross their path. 

Bladepoint presents a robust combat system consisting of numerous parry, blocking, and attack mechanics which will no doubt require hundreds of hours to master. This is further complemented by free-flowing character movement along with access to a grappling hook that can be attached to just about any surface. 

Ghostrunner

Release Date: TBA – Platform: PS4 | Xbox One | PC

Cyberpunk games are also another trend that’s sure to keep going strong into 2020 with the upcoming release of games like Cyberpunk 2077, Outriders, and now Ghostrunner. In it, you play as a lethal sword-wielding assassin tasked with leading a rebellion against a villainous figure known as The Keymaster. 

Played from a first-person perspective, the game sees you ascending a massive structure by wall-running and using a grappling hook while killing enemies with a tech-infused katana blade. Considering how hard it is to make first-person platforming look appealing, Ghostrunner is proving to be a slick and stylish attempt that we’ll be making sure to keep on our radar.

The Pathless

Release Date: TBA – Platform: PS4 | PC

The Pathless is an upcoming adventure game created by developer Giant Squid, the studio behind Abzu. The game appears to be just as exploration-heavy and is set on a mystical island with a massive forest where both familiar and exotic creatures roam-freely.

You play as the Hunter, a master of archery tasked with dispelling an ancient curse that threatens to destroy the world. However, to fulfill your quest, you’ll have to build and maintain a close bond with your eagle companion. If we had to guess, The Pathless will pick up where Abzu left off and continue to explore the relationship between mankind and animals in a new setting. 

Little Nightmares 2

Release Date: TBA – Platform: PS4 | Xbox One | Switch | PC

Tarsier Studios’ Little Nightmares is a delightfully creepy puzzle-platformer and one of the standout indie horror games of 2018. The game ends with a very interesting twist that we’re excited to see expanded upon in a sequel due out this year. Published by Bandai Namco, Little Nightmares 2 was announced during Gamescon 2019 for current-gen consoles. 

The sequel will feature a new playable character named Mono accompanied by Six, the protagonist from the first game. The two will work together to clear platforming challenges and solve puzzles in a variety of unsettling new environments. The second character will be AI-controlled by default, however, Tarsier may plan to add support for local co-op before release. 

Saturnalia

Release Date: TBA – Platform: PC

Saturnalia is a survival horror game that sees you controlling a group of characters as they one-by-one explore an isolated village where an ancient ritual is taking place.  Making your way through a sprawling labyrinthine whose paths randomly change between runs, you’ll unlock new locations and gather valuable tools and resources while being constantly stalked by spooky shadow creatures. 

While the game can essentially be considered a roguelike, developer Santa Ragione is known for incorporating elements of different genres in games. Most amazing is the game’s art style, which makes characters and environments all look like they were drawn and shaded by pencil. 

The Last Campfire

Release Date: TBA – Platform: PC 

The Last Campfire is a new property currently being developed by Hello Games, the studio responsible for No Man’s Sky. Described as an adventure-puzzle title, the game sees you guiding an adorably small traveler through a series of dense environments, each packed with interesting creatures and secrets to uncover.

The goal of the game is to make it back home to light the last campfire. However, don’t expect it to be a walk in the park as there will be countless obstacles that attempt to stand in your way. 

Solar Ash Kingdom

Release Date: TBA – Platform: PC

Solar Ash Kingdom is the next project to come from developer Heart Machine, best known for the 2D action RPG Hyper Light Drifter. While the game’s color palette and overall tone feel reminiscent of HM’s most recent game, Solar Ash Kingdom takes place in 3D environments with the player character able to glide across surfaces.

Little is known regarding gameplay details, however, you can see the main character in the trailer jumping to attack a towering, one-eyed monster. This leads us to believe the game will focus on combat and exploration, similar to HLD.

Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout

Release Date: TBA – Platform: PS4 | PC

Fall Guys adds a unique twist to the Battle Royale formula by dropping up to 100 players in challenging game-show style obstacle courses designed to test players’ platforming abilities. The game comes from Mediatonic, whose credits include Hatoful Boyfriend, and is published by Devolver Digital.

You control adorable little guys who can be customized with different accessories to make yourself stand out from the competition. As matches progress and the number of remaining contestants gets lower and lower, you’ll notice that challenges start to ramp up, introducing more obstacles designed to throw you off.

Kerbal Space Program 2

Release Date: TBA – Platform: PS4 | PC

The critically-acclaimed space-flight simulator Kerbal Space Program will be receiving a sequel anytime between now and early 2021. This is after having development shifted from studio Star Theory to a new in-house team at Private Division, an indie-publisher under Take-Two Interactive. 

KSP2 looks to introduce a wealth of content and requested features including more spacecraft parts, colony building, graphical improvements, online multiplayer, and upgraded modding tools. Additionally, the sequel will include comprehensive tutorials and a more streamlined UI. If you’re one of the many players who found the original interesting but was ultimately intimidated by its steep learning curve, perhaps give it another shot. 

Sable

Release Date: TBA – Platform: PC

Sable is an upcoming adventure title currently in production by UK studio Shedworks. Described as a “coming-of-age tale of discovery,” the game sees you controlling the titular protagonist as they embark on a personal journey across an alien planet learning about its history and place in the world.

The first thing that caught our eye was the fact that you can ride a hoverbike while exploring Sable‘s unique world. It’s not often that we see desert environments depicted as vibrantly and engrossing as Sable’s appears to be so we’re hoping there are plenty of possibilities to stop and explore its many destinations. 

Rawmen

Release Date: TBA – Platform: PC

Rawmen looks to answer the question, “What if Splatoon replaced inklings with naked men who love to cook?” The game is still very early in development; however, developer ANIMAL appears to have an interesting concept on their hands.

Matches see you controlling a customizable chef and battling against other players using kitchen equipment such as pots, pans, ladles, etc. You’ll also have control over what dishes your character uses in battle and can even run around slapping enemies with a fish.

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