Back in November, former Head of Sony Worldwide Studios Shuhei Yoshida stepped down from his role in order to spearhead a new initiative within the company to work with independent developers on games for PlayStation platforms. This was meant to ensure they were financially supported and had the resources they needed to get the games they were making out into the world. Today, Yoshida has pulled back the curtain on the fruits of this initiative’s labor, including nine games all under the PlayStation Indies umbrella.
“The indie community is increasingly important for the future of the video game industry, as AAA game development has grown so financially demanding that big companies are finding it harder to take risks to invest in new concepts that may or may not work,” Yoshida said on a post on the PlayStation Blog. “We trust indie developers with strong vision will continue to bring ideas that have never been tried before, creating whole new genres of games and advancing the art and meaning of video games. PlayStation has always embraced games with completely new concepts, like PaRappa the Rapper, Katamari Damacy, LittleBigPlanet, and Journey, and we look forward to seeing what surprising new ideas will come next!”
Sony has given each game a bit of spotlight, so let’s run through them:
Where the Heart Is
Armature Studio’s choice-based adventure game Where the Heart Is will come to PlayStation 4 this winter, and is about the life of a man named Whit, beginning at his childhood. As such, you’ll see him at all stages, and watch as he and his family grow and change based on decisions made that will have lifelong consequences.
Environments within the world change based on Whit’s memories and imagination, and according to director Todd Keller, these changes in the environment will be projections of Whit’s exploring his own past and present.
“The lines between the concrete and the imagined blur together as you explore Whit’s past and future,” Keller said on the PlayStation Blog. “This reflects how we live through our experiences — in the real world and in our minds, simultaneously.”
With a gorgeous, hand-drawn aesthetic, Creaks is a puzzle platformer set within a mansion of creepy creatures and inventive ways of dealing with them. Much of the game’s scenarios are based on the idea of “seeing things,” or pareidolia, and how we might mistake something harmless for something dangerous. Lead designer and Artist Radim Jurda explained how Amanita Design used this idea to make environments and hazards one in the same on the PlayStation Blog.
“Just a few minutes into Creaks, you will bump into some strange barking creatures in the mansion’s dark corridors,” Jurda said. “But are they as dangerous as they seem? Try to get them trapped under a beam of light and take a closer look. You may find out that what felt dangerous is a simple night table. Turning these creatures into ordinary objects is the key gameplay mechanic, along with pulling levers, stepping on pressure plates, and manipulating the environment to outsmart your enemies.”
Creaks is coming to PlayStation 4, as well as PC, Xbox One, and Switch later this month.
Heavenly Bodies is among the games spotlighted by PlayStation Indies that will be coming to both PlayStation 4 and the PlayStation 5, as well as Steam, when it launches in 2021. The game is exploration-based, all while requiring you to adapt to doing tasks and traversing in space with zero gravity. This can make things like doing repairs and climbing tricky because you’ve got no ground to stand on. So you have to deal with the physics of it all while doing menial tasks.
While the game will be coming to both PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5, 2pt Interactive is taking advantage of the PS5 DualSense controller’s adaptive triggers and haptic feedback to simulate weight and the actual grasping of things in the environment.
[via PlayStation Blog]
For example, with adaptive triggers you can feel:
- Objects slip from your grip, such as ropes, or your partner’s desperate fingertips
- The density of the object you’re gripping. For example, metal scaffolding will feel cold and hard, whilst a space-suit will feel soft and squishy
And with haptic feedback you’ll learn to understand that, in space, your sense of touch means everything, as you…
- Feel the ship rattle through your bones as it passes through coarse space debris
- Feel a lever snap from its base as you try to close the pod bay doors
- Feel the dreadful loss of all sensation as your body is swept into the endless void
F.I.S.T.: Forged in Shadow Torch
If you’re looking for something on the more action-oriented side, F.I.S.T.: Forged in Shadow Torch is a fast-paced action platformer by TiGames. As part of the PlayStation China Hero Project, F.I.S.T. was funded in part by an initiative to support China-based developers in bringing games to PlayStation.
F.I.S.T. stars Rayton, an anthropomorphic bunny whose primary weapon is a big metal fist, and he is just straight up whipping the ass of robots who have taken over the city inhabited by intelligent animals. And while everything else we’ve talked about so far is more lowkey and introspective, F.I.S.T. looks dope as heck, based on what we’ve seen so far. It’s coming to PlayStation 4 “soon,” based on what TiGames says on the PlayStation Blog.
Also on the fast-paced side is Recompile, which is coming to PlayStation 5 from Phigames.
Here you’ll be taking on the role of a sentient virus dead set on causing the first technological singularity. As you’ll be traveling through a mainframe, you’ll have to fight off defense systems in place, but given that you are a virus, you can also hack and take a more methodical approach. Ultimately, your playstyle will determine the nature of the first artificial intelligence created by the singularity, but co-founder, programmer and game designer Phi Dinh says it won’t be a simple binary between whether you go in guns blazing or hack.
“You can imagine what kind of fate this kind of intelligence will have on the future of humanity,” Dinh said on the PlayStation Blog. “There are many outcomes to the story, so we hope players will try to experiment with multiple playthroughs to see what kind of AI they end up with.”
Graceful Decay’s Maquette is a first-person puzzle game about worlds within worlds. Like a Matryoshka doll, Maquette’s world has smaller versions of itself inside itself, but by interacting with objects in a smaller space, you’ll also affect these same objects in larger ones. So, for example, if you have a key in your hand in your smaller world, you can place it on the diorama of that world to use it as a bridge.
It’s one of those things that’s more difficult to describe with words than it is to just understand when you see it in motion. But manipulating these worlds through an understanding of its rules looks challenging and rewarding, and I’m really excited to try it out when it comes to PC, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5.
From Humble Games and Sunhead Games comes Carto, a puzzle game centered around manipulating the environment by rearranging your map. This can be for things as simple as rotating areas so you can more easily get to the other side, or just straight up moving something from one side of the world ot the other.
Along with changing how you traverse the world, much of Carto will involve talking with folks of different cultures of its world. The dialogue is being written by Nick Suttner, who is best known for his work on games like Guacamelee! 2, Celeste, and Bloodroots.
The Game Bakers’ Haven has been a known quantity for a bit, and it’s coming to PC, Xbox One, and thanks to the PlayStation Indies initiative, PlayStation 4. Creative director Emeric Thoa says the game is meant to be a more lowkey palate cleanser to the action-driven Furi, which launched in 2016, as well as a break from the demanding mechanics and bloat of most AAA games.
“That feeling was at the core of what I wanted to make with Haven: a game that feels like a gentle breeze,” Thoa said on the PlayStation Blog. “A game that lets you relax. A game that’s like holding hands on a nice outdoor walk. One way to achieve that was of course with Haven’s concept: the love story of a couple trying to stay together. A couple gliding over tall grass on a deserted planet. “
As such, some of the main design pillars of the game are specifically designed to keep things simple, including: not having a quest log, a simplified in-game economy, communicating through visual design instead of numbers, easy crafting, no weapons or skill trees to manage, and very simple, minimalistic UI design.
Closing out the day is Worms Rumble, the latest in the long-running, beloved series. But instead of strategic, turn-based combat, this entry will have real-time, 32-player, cross-play battle royale and deathmatch modes when it comes to PC, PlayStation 5, and PlayStation 4.
As for why the game will be going for real-time combat instead of turn-based, producer Danny Martin explained on the PlayStation Blog that it was both out of a desire to see if the team could pull it off, as well as a desire to do something new.
“We of course love the turn-based versions of Worms and it’s what we’ve done for so many years,” Martin said. “Working on Worms W.M.D was an absolute blast and we’re really proud of it. But we’ve always wanted to push the envelope that little bit further and scratch that “what-if” itch. Sure, we’ve done spins offs of Worms before, but we wanted to go all out and see if we could pull off a real-time version of Worms.”
And that’s all we saw today. Odds are, no matter what style of game you’re into, you probably found at least one thing that piqued your interest in this eclectic bunch, right?