Most Anticipated Indie Games of 2020
With the arrival of the year 2020 comes a plethora of new indie games to look forward to. While many of their official release dates have yet to be formally announced, all of the games I’ll be spotlighting in this feature have 2020 release windows.
Fingers crossed that none get delayed!
Whether you’re in the mood for an RPG, a platformer, or something that feels distinctly different, you’ve come to the right site. Ready to make your wallet cry? Here are 15 of the most anticipated indie games coming out in 2020 that you should absolutely keep an eye out for (and buy)!
Most Anticipated Indie Games of 2020
Let’s start this list off with a game I had the pleasure of testing at E3 2019. Maneater is touted as being “like GTA but with sharks” and it fully lives up to this description. In the game, you start off as a baby shark and have to defend yourself from other aquatic predators.
As you grow in age and size, you’re able to chomp your way through any and all who dare oppose you. Yes, that means people.
The game is nothing short of wild as you leap out of the water to drag people off their boats (cue the song from Jaws), and flippity floppity on dry land to show that no one is safe. Not even land can save them. I predict this will be a popular game among streamers as there’s no real limit to the mayhem you can cause in Maneater.
If this sounds like something you want to play, Maneater has a confirmed release date of May 5th, 2020 and will release on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC via Steam and the Epic Games Store. To help remind you of the release, be sure to wishlist Maneater on Steam and follow the game’s official Twitter page!
The 2010s saw the rise of dating sims like Dream Daddy… and now it’s time for the 2020s to add some new flavor to the mix. To help accomplish this, we have Boyfriend Dungeon, a dungeon crawler where you’re able to woo the weapons you use to vanquish enemies. Or, as developer Kitfox Games describes it, a “shack-and-slash” adventure.
What’s nice about Boyfriend Dungeon is the varied gameplay. You get the dialogue aspect when romancing your swords, but also the fast-paced slashing action of a dungeon crawler. At launch, there will be 9 hotties to shack up with in Boyfriend Dungeon.
Well, technically 8 as the game also gives you the option to befriend a cat named Pocket (aka the Brass Knuckles) if you’re not big on the whole romance thing.
Boyfriend Dungeon is set to release sometime in 2020 with an expected price of around $20 according to Kitfox’s Itch.io page. To keep yourself up-to-date on an exact release date, you can wishlist Boyfriend Dungeon on Steam and follow Kitfox Games on Twitter!
What do you get when you take the name “Tony Hawk: Pro Skater” literally? Like, super literally? SkateBIRD! Growing up, I poured hundreds of hours into the Tony Hawk games and was ecstatic to find gameplay similarities in the Nintendo Switch trailer for SkateBIRD.
You can do tricks, explore different bird-sized skate parks, and collect secret mixtapes. Speaking of which, you can also drop your own MP3s into the game to create a custom soundtrack (yes, you can even input the actual Tony Hawk soundtrack if you want).
You can also play as different skaters although, instead of recognizable pros, you get to choose between different types of birds. I kind of like the bird option better than the people one. If I fail in the game, I’m not bringing dishonor to an actual skating legend. I’m just flopping around as a cute ol’ birb.
Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout
Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout was another game I had the privilege of trying out at E3 2019 and it was an absolute blast to play. The “Battle Royale” genre feels a little overcrowded at this point, but then you have games like Fall Guys which have the untapped potential to breathe new life into what's genuinely a fun concept.
In Fall Guys, you compete against other players in challenges, obstacles, and races sort of like those old reality shows like Wipeout. It’s bright, colorful, and fast-paced enough to keep you wanting more. If you want to see me play the game, and learn more via an interview with Jeff Tanton, the creative director at Mediatonic, check out the video I’ve embedded below.
Yes, I really named my Fall Guy “Dat Ass” and so can you! Fall Guys is set to release in 2020 and like all of the previous games, you can wishlist Fall Guys on Steam, and follow Mediatonic on Twitter for updates.
The original Spelunky released all the way back in 2008 and remains one of the all-time best indie games. No contest. Over a decade later, a sequel is finally set to drop. While Spelunky 2 has suffered a few delays, there’s a high probability it’ll finally be available in 2020 and I honestly can’t wait to play it.
On the surface, Spelunky 2 closely resembles its predecessor in design and gameplay. However, fans of the original can look forward to graphical updates and a wealth of new features. Not only will Spelunky 2 have local co-op, you can also play with your friends online. Just, you know, don’t use your online friends as a meat shield... it’s a quick way to lose friendships.
It’s hard to breakdown all of the new things to look forward to in Spelunky 2, and sometimes it's better to show rather than tell. To get a better idea, I recommend checking out the game’s trailer as it highlights the character designs, levels, and items in action.
Spelunky 2 will more than likely release in 2020. To know for sure, and when, make sure you follow creator Derek Yu on Twitter!
In Carrion, you aren’t exactly playing the role of a hero. Instead, you’re an evil, amorphous creature (you’re the bad blob… duh). Other games have given players the ability to take villainous routes to varying degrees, but none have felt quite as violent and over-the-top as Carrion. I mean that in the best possible way.
Carrion is touted as a “reverse horror game” and the main premise is that you’re this terrifying mass that’s been imprisoned in a facility. Displeased with these circumstances, you’ll work to escape by carving a path through any and all who get in your way. Using your red tentacle-like arms, you can swing through levels and tear your oppressors limb from limb.
The farther you get, the bloodier it gets. You can also acquire new abilities to make yourself even more of a threat than you are at the beginning of the game. If blood and gore is your thing, keep an eye out for Carrion in 2020, wishlist the game on Steam, and follow publisher Devolver Digital on Twitter.
Kerbal Space Program 2
As an exciting follow-up to the original game released back in 2015, Kerbal Space Program 2 promises to offer more of the detailed science mechanics made popular by its predecessor.
According to publisher Private Division, new features players can look forward to in Kerbal Space Program 2 include the ability to create colonies, new planets to explore, and new technology to play around with. Even better, Kerbal Space Program 2 will finally add a multiplayer component to the game, allowing you to craft expansive colonies with the help of your friends.
On a technical note, Kerbal Space Program 2 has a different development team than the original as Take-Two Interactive acquired the rights to the game back in 2017 while the talented folks at Squad moved over to Valve.
Taking over in the creation of the sequel is indie developer Star Theory Games. Kerbal Space Program 2 is scheduled to release in early 2020, though an official release date is still pending. On the game’s website, it’s recommended that you sign up for the official newsletter in order to receive email updates.
The Red Lantern
The Red Lantern is the debut title from indie developer Timberline Studio and is set to release on platforms including Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PC via the Epic Games Store in Q2 of 2020. When I watched the reveal trailer, I found myself immediately captivated by the gorgeous visuals of snowy Alaska.
I also found myself thinking of that weird Disney movie, Snow Dogs, where Cuba Gooding Jr. tries to figure out how to care for his deceased mother’s sled dogs. Does anyone else remember that movie? It’s on Disney Plus, although I’m not sure if I recommend it.
Odd movies aside, the description of the reveal trailer for The Red Lantern describes the game as follows: “The Red Lantern is a rogue-lite, narrative game where you and your team of 5 sled dogs, lost in the wilderness, must navigate the ever-changing events of the Alaskan bush to find your way home.”
It sounds like you’ll get a little bit of beauty, adventure, and danger all wrapped up in a neat little indie package. I’m eager to learn more about the gameplay aspect of The Red Lantern, with more details and the game’s release coming later in 2020. To stay up-to-date on The Red Lantern, be sure to follow Timberline on Twitter!
Psychonauts 2 was announced all the way back in 2015, and is apparently releasing in 2020. Will it actually release, though? I have no idea, but I sure hope so because I absolutely adored the original Psychonauts, and I know many other indie game fans feel the same.
Funded by a Kickstarter campaign, Psychonauts 2 looks to build upon the unique concepts featured in the original including creative level design and memorable characters. Story wise, the game takes place after the events of the VR game Rhombus of Ruin with Raz and the gang hanging out at Psychonauts HQ.
A good start, though the game has suffered a wealth of delays which does concern me. The game was first delayed into 2019 before being pushed back into 2020. All in all, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a final, official release date for Psychonauts 2 in 2020. To keep track of updates, you can wishlist Psychonauts 2 on Steam, and follow Double Fine on Twitter.
Spiritfarer is a quaint indie about life, death, friendship, and saying goodbye. Touted as a management game, you’ll work as Stella, a ferrymaster to the dead. In Spiritfarer, you’ll build the boat you use to ferry people into the afterlife all while exploring and meeting new friends along the way.
Among these friends, you’ll be kept company by an adorable, floofy cat named Daffodil. Plus, it’s not all hard ferry work in Spiritfarer as you can also fish, cook, craft, and farm in a magical landscape. Looking at the game’s trailer, it’s hard not to admire Spiritfarer’s beautiful, colorful aesthetic.
I expect Spiritfarer to be a poignant, emotional ride, and I can’t wait to dip my feet in the water (hopefully not literally, I want to live guys) once Spiritfarer releases in 2020.
Way to the Woods
If you love contemplative experiences like Journey or Abzu, you’ll absolutely want to keep an eye out for Way to the Woods in 2020. Developed by a one-man team, Anthony Tan, Way to the Woods follows two deer as they make their way back home through a post-apocalyptic landscape.
The game will feature music from composers Aivi & Surasshu (Steven Universe), and will feature a nice blend of exploration and, to some degree, survival. You’ll be able to learn more about “Cat Town” according to the description provided by the game’s trailer, and evade foes including a hungry pack of wolves.
There’s no guarantee that Way to the Woods will release in 2020, but because that’s the projected release date provided by Anthony Tan, I felt the game more than worthy of inclusion among IndieObscura’s list of most anticipated indies of 2020. To keep up with the game subscribe to the mailing list and check back as we’ll be updating this list once release dates for games like Way to the Woods are announced.
Axiom Verge 2
Axiom Verge 2 was announced fairly recently in December of 2019 for Nintendo Switch as part of their Indie World livestream. Axiom Verge 2 is projected to release in 2020 and will serve as a proper sequel to the original game released back in 2015.
Developer Tom Happ reportedly started working on Axiom Verge 2 around four years ago, so it’s been in development for a decent amount of time already.
In the press release, it’s teased that players will be able to “discover the origins of the Axiom Verge universe” while playing as a character named Indra. It’ll be interesting to play as a character other than Trace, but at the same time, it makes sense given the way the original ended.
If you’ve yet to play Axiom Verge, I highly recommend it. It’s one of the best indie “metroidvania” style games, and I’m positive Axiom Verge 2 will deliver the same powerful experience. Again, Axiom Verge 2 is expected to release in the Fall of 2020 and has so far been announced for Nintendo Switch. You can follow Tom Happ on Twitter for updates and visit the official Axiom Verge 2 website for more info.
Indie studio Sidebar Games is back with a proper follow-up to their hit game, Golf Story. Despite its name, Golf Story was about way more than simple golf. Part RPG and part sports game, Golf Story is full of humor and charm. As of right now, there isn’t a lot known about Sports Story, though it’ll likely build upon the tenets of the original.
Additionally, it’ll move away from golf and include other sports activities like soccer and baseball. The description provided by the game’s release trailer promises gamers with the following experience: “Sports Story is a game about sports, but not always. Various non-sporting pursuits provide variety.
Alternative activities like dungeon exploration, stealthy infiltrations, and fishing expeditions mean something unexpected waits around every corner. Sometimes, it is even sports.” Sports Story will release mid-2020 for Nintendo Switch. For an exact release date, follow Sidebar Games on Twitter and check out the developer’s official website.
Murder By Numb3rs
Fans of investigation and deep analysis, like the gameplay featured in the Phoenix Wright series, will find a lot to love in Murder By Numb3rs. For example, the game boasts a soundtrack composed by Masakazu Sugimori, who also worked on games like Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney.
Plus, the game’s characters were designed by Hato Moa, who worked on Hatoful Boyfriend. With such a powerful team at its helm, Murder By Numb3ers is truly a game I (and many other indie lovers) can’t wait to play in 2020. Like Sports Story, Murder By Numb3rs was announced as part of Nintendo’s Indie World Showcase.
If you’ve yet to purchase a Nintendo Switch, there’s good news as the game is also expected to release on other platforms, like PC.
Set in 1996, Murder By Numb3rs follows Honor Mizrahi whose boss dies under mysterious circumstances minutes after he fires her. To clear her name, Honor will have to unravel this mystery… and more. Murder By Numb3rs will release in 2020, though (like so many other games on this list) no exact release date has been provided. Follow Mediatonic on Twitter for updates and wishlist the game on Steam!
Dreamscaper is a self-funded indie from three veteran game developers who founded Afterburner Studios and centers around the nightmares that plague one’s subconscious. Specifically, it follows a character named Cassidy who suffers from depression. Gameplay in Dreamscaper will offer a nice roguelite blend of dungeon crawling and brawling.
Every time you sleep, you visit a different dungeon with new enemies to defeat. On the game’s Steam page, Dreamscaper is described as a “Binding of Isaac-style hack-and-slash” which makes me genuinely curious to experience the game for myself in 2020. Of course, there’s also a demo available for download right now that offers a small taste and hype you up even more for the full release.
Dreamscaper looks absolutely beautiful and sounds as though it’ll offer a unique, unforgettable experience. Dreamscaper will release in Early 2020 (exact release TBD). Be sure to wishlist Dreamscaper on Steam, and follow Dreamscaper’s Twitter page!
Check back to the IndieObscura site for cool features on indie games throughout 2020, I have a lot of stuff planned. Also, be sure to subscribe to the IndieObscura account on Twitch as I’ll be streaming new indies every Friday.
If you’re on the fence about a game, checking it out on stream can be a great way to make a decision to buy or not. If you feel there are indie games that should be on this list that I missed, comment below and let me know what your most anticipated indies of 2020 are!