I’ll be the first to admit, I was never really into indie gaming. Being a primarily console guy, the allure of indie gaming slipped by me for the most part, but that all changed when I joined this site. My first couple of reviews were primarily indie focused but most of them were just variations on games I’ve played before. However, one game came along that blew me away with its incredibly simply concept that shouldn’t have been fun on paper, but excelled at delivering an experience that had me stressed from start to finish. That game was Papers, Please and it began my love for indie gaming ever since.
I began to think about what indie gaming really was, to me personally. I always thought of it as the more “creative” aspect of game development, where developers were allowed to run free with their imagination and not be as tied down by the need for profits, sequels or DLC but rather make a game for fun over money.. Indie gaming is definitely something that’s stilll growing and thanks to next-gen, the envelope is being pushed incredibly far. As the console processing power get stronger, so too do the indie games concepts and creativity and one team is setting the bar higher than ever before.
Hello Games are a small indie company based in Guildford, England with a number of impressive accolades under their belt including Best New Studio and Best Micro Studio. However, if you head over to their website, the first thing you see is the cheerfully written line “We are Hello Games. We make games! Hello!”; no mentions of how many trophies in their cabinet or GOTY nominations, just the fact that they make games and are excited about doing such a thing. It’s a very refreshing thing to see an indie company that is in the spotlight but still retains that mentality of “We just want to make games because we love to do so.”
Hello Games have been making games for a few years now, including the incredibly fun Joe Danger series. However, as of late, the team have been making serious waves with their new project “No Man’s Sky” which they proudly announce is “the most exciting adventure we’ve ever been on.” No Man’s Sky is a project that feels a lot beefier than any indie game we’ve ever seen before, at least on a console. Promising a procedurally generated open universe, No Man’s Sky is set to capture the feeling of exploration and discovery of space travel and has the attention of gamers everywhere.
What excites me the most about this game is the passion and source material this game comes from. Sean Murray of Hello Games, who also took the stage at this year’s E3 to showcase the game, has mentioned how No Man Sky was inspired by science-fiction novels where the main characters take off on adventures to the furthest reaches of the galaxy, discovering new life and planets as well as engaging in dog fights with other rogue space travelers. In No Man’s Sky, you can live the life of a space explorer and become your own version of Han Solo or Captain Picard, traveling far and wide with a unique story to tell your friends the next day. No Man’s Sky is definitely a title that inspires those type of “playground whispers” you were used to when you were younger. From finding a secret in Legend of Zelda or a discovering Big Foot in San Andreas, you would often hear a rumor that your friend’s friend’s cousin discovered you can do something amazing if you travel to this spot at a certain time. Is it true? Only one way to find out. No Man’s Sky reminds me of this because there is a lot of discoveries to be made and to brag about as well as finding out if other people’s discoveries are true. Maybe no Big Foot this time though.
So while No Man’s Sky is an incredibly ambitious project that certainly looks like its coming along excellently, the team at Hello Games have been experiencing a lot of love from gamers and companies alike. Who would have imagined that amongst the Triple A titles we’re used to at E3, an eager yet nervous indie developer shows off their upcoming title with giddy excitement? Who also would have imagined that many people hailed the project, even going as far as saying that it “stole the show”? You have to give Hello Games credit where credit is due as they’re showing that indie games can play ball with the big wigs like Naughty Dog, From Software and the like.
So what does No Man’s Sky mean for indie gaming? As a gamer, it means that you can probably expect more big companies to pick up ambitious titles, if there’s considerable excitement for it. While indie gaming is still evolving, it makes sense that with the hype behind this game, Sony and Microsoft are anxious to cherry pick the hot titles from the indie farm. We even saw this at E3 this year, with Sony proudly announcing partnership with Devolver Digital and Microsoft giving us a huge list of upcoming indie titles. Indie gaming is something that’s getting bigger and No Man’s Sky is a shining light into how much they’ve grown.
The PS3 and Xbox 360 had Braid, Limbo and Journey. Now, next-gen has No Man’s Sky and other upcoming indie games like Below, which has us jetting off into the sky and discovering whole new worlds, packed with animals, rocks and oceans unlike you’ve ever seen before, capturing your child like imagination of space and presenting it in an engaging and exciting way. How far we’ve come indeed.