No matter how you’re taking in the news that Sony is shying away from first-party exclusives on their still-struggling handheld, it’s hard to find fault in the amazing indie support that has found its way to the Vita as of late. With acclaimed titles like Guacamelee, Limbo, Machinarium and Hotline Miami already available for purchase on the platform, where the Vita may lack in original experiences it flourishes in fantastic digital titles. Nobody as of yet, Sony included, has been able to quite pinpoint the right market Vita needs to satisfy in order to thrive, but with these following five stellar indies heading to the platform this year we might be getting closer to that answer.
1) Frozen Synapse Tactics
Developer: Double Eleven Studios
Release Date: TBA 2014
An evolution of the unique futuristic turn-based strategy title, Frozen Synapse Tactics (FST) aims to be everything fans loved about the original and more. For those unfamiliar with the title, the turn-based mechanics play out in the form of a sci-fi inspired tactical shooter. Each player takes turns giving their unit of soldiers orders to check corners, duck, aim, ect, with the goal being to wipe out the enemy squad. Equipped with specific units such as the sniper and machine-gunners, the player must out-think and out-manuever their opponent in the procedurally-generated battle arena.
Aside from a graphical rework and several refined mechanics, FST makes promises of an optimized Vita experience through a more handheld-intuitive menu system and touch controls. There’s not all that much available for the title as of yet besides some screenshots and the teaser featured below, but it is currently slated for a 2014 release.
2) Child of Light
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Release Date: July 1 (North America)
Combining stunning hand-drawn style visuals with tight and engaging turn-based RPG mechanics, Child of Light has been met with almost universal praise since its console and PC release earlier this year. The fairytale inspired narrative of the game, told entirely through rhyming exposition and dialogue, tells the story of young Aurora who finds herself in an unfamiliar land and must help save her father with the assistance of some interesting characters she meets along the way.
If you’ve yet to experience the charming title or are just looking forward to the ability to play it on the go, you’re in luck: the title will be available in just one week.
3) The Binding of Issac: Rebirth
Developer: Edmund McMillen
Release Date: TBA 2014
Perhaps best known for his co-creation of the wildly successful Super Meat Boy and co-starring in Indie Game: The Movie, Edmund McMillen has been working hard on a revisit of his 2011 hit The Binding of Isaac. The rogue-like procedurally-generated game takes place in Isaac’s basement where he seeks refuge from his mother’s over-devotion to God. The game has players clearing rooms full of enemies (and one boss enemy per floor) in order to progress into the deeper depths of the basement. Playthroughs can range from a few minutes to an hour of playtime, but with tons of powerups to find, unique characters to unlock, varying enemy types, and tons of secrets to uncover, its replayability has seen players locking hundreds of hours into McMillen’s gothic creation that touches on growing up in a house with religion.
Even if you’re one of those I just mentioned that have exhausted The Binding of Isaac to the core, don’t rule out possible interest in the rework just yet. With tons of new content (such as new areas and characters) to encounter and an eerie graphical overhaul that McMillen has claimed achieves the level of isolation and atmosphere he originally intended for the game, Rebirth looks to give players more than one reason to revisit the basement. The game is currently slated for an unannounced 2014 release, but McMillen has recently stated that the game is in the final processes of being balanced and polished.
4) The Wolf Among Us
Developer: Telltale Games
Release Date: TBA 2014
From the same studio as the award-winning The Walking Dead game, The Wolf Among Us follows a similar episodic formula while presenting a stylish story based on the award-winning DC/Vertigo comic book series, Fables.
With widespread recognition of its well-written script and noir-inspired presentation, Telltale’s recent title may not need an introduction. If you enjoy rewarding character and story progression or found something to admire in Telltale’s The Walking Dead adaptation, you’re sure to find something else to enjoy in The Wolf Among Us’ more folklore-heavy offerings. Telltale announced a Vita release for the series in October of last year, but since then the only official word has been that the title is coming in 2014.
5) The Swapper
Developer: Facepalm Games
Release Date: August 5, 2014
In an experience where physics-based puzzles meet dark and eerie cave environments, The Swapper has made its way into the spotlight through its challenging-but-fair gameplay. By making clones of yourself to complete various tasks and roles in order to escape a desolate space station, Facepalm’s title offers some worthwhile new experiences to the ever-changing puzzle genre. Consider giving it a go if you’re craving a mind challenge this summer.
There’s plenty of indie ports heading towards PS Vita in the coming future, and if you own a PS4 your portable offerings will be getting even better. Perhaps we’re moving towards a day where some worthwhile indie titles make their debut on Sony’s handheld, but until then there’s lots of great content to keep owners busy.
Have a particular indie game you’re looking forward to? Let us know in the comments!