Where is the next Ori?
We’re well into the year 2016, in fact, E3 has now been and gone, and while we’ve seen some exceptional games released thus far (Uncharted 4, The Witcher 3: Blood & Wine and XCOM 2 to name but a few), one thing has been abundantly clear – we’ve not yet seen this year’s Ori & the Blind Forest. No, you’ve not missed a press release, Moon Studios are not working on a sequel to last years masterpiece (that we know of), but we’re yet to see an indie game of that caliber in the nearly 15 months since Ori hit digital stores. So what is it, and when is this game coming?
We’ve been graced by some truly exceptional independently developed games over the last decade. We’ve seen Shovel Knight, Braid, Limbo, Gone Home, Journey and hell, even Minecraft, but the most recent independently developed game to have resonated with gamers so heavily was of course Ori & the Blind Forest. We’ve still seen some quite enjoyable games release out in the time since then; Enter the Gungeon springs to mind, as does Undertale, and while they’ve been awesome – neither made the same impact that Ori did. So perhaps it is worth casting our minds forward to what is to come – maybe then we’ll get that 2016 version of Ori that I’m craving.
Casting our minds forward there are a few games that could be contenders. Cuphead immediately leaps to mind with press and fans alike raving about the gorgeous art design and brutally difficult bosses. Initial criticisms of the game surrounded a possible lack of gameplay, with the game appearing to have only a very limited number of bosses playable, but this has been rectified with fast-paced platforming levels that lead up to those bosses. Inside releases within days of this article being published and has the next game from the team that delivered Limbo, one can hope that it will be of the same extraordinary quality.
Of course, we can’t be discussing upcoming indie games without discussing the most hyped one of them all – No Man’s Sky. The hype train left the station for this particular game long ago, and has disappeared into the distance but with an August release date now quite close, things will soon start ramping up once again. No Man’s Sky promises the world, no, the universe to us, a game that with the collective hours of millions of gamers combined, will not necessarily see all there is to see in the massive persistent world.
Meanwhile, titles like Ghost of a Tale, Hollow Knight and A Hat in time all pay the deepest respects to those that walked the path before, taking inspiration from some of gaming’s best and brightest franchises. Each is looking to build upon the groundwork of the classics that inspired them, while evolving them further, leveraging the power of modern hardware and combining it with old-school tastes and tendencies. Each of these could tug heavily on the nostalgia strings and consequently become hits for the more niche groups that await them.
History says however that it’s not evolution that makes a game into an iconic tentpole, but innovative ideas. It can be in terms of their artistry as with games like Limbo, an interesting gameplay mechanic as seen in Braid or Shovel Knight, a thought-provoking narrative such as in Journey or Gone Home, or a combination of all of these. There aren’t defined boxes that the game must tick, but there is always one defining factor that makes the game so appealing, for any one of the aforementioned candidates to have that resonance within the industry, they’ll need to tick at least one of those boxes.
Of course there are countless other indie games that I’ve not discussed here, many I know of, much more that have yet to cross my radar, but I’m still scratching my head trying to work out what this next game changing indie game will be. Who knows, within days of this article being published Inside may come along and may each and every point I’ve made completely mute. There’s a lot to anticipate, and here’s hoping that one of (if not more) of the aforementioned titles, or one from out of the box comes along and shakes up expectations, and knocks our socks off just as Ori did 15 months ago.