Many people see the indie gaming scene as being dominated by quirky, esoteric platformers and retro shooters. But for fans of fun on four wheels, there are a surprising number of smart driving games to get excited about this year.
If you don’t want to pay through the nose for the latest Forza or Need For Speed iteration, these indie racers are the ones to watch.
Combining elements of driving with RPG mechanics, this game is set to offer classic side-scrolling action mixed with a surprising amount of depth.
Anime fans will get a kick out of the fact that it has echoes of Akira’s bike scenes, but with hover-cycles rather than anything with wheels. Meanwhile, its pixel art styling will appeal to anyone who loves indie games that look like they were made two decades ago, but will run smoothly on modern hardware.
Funded via Kickstarter, it’s possible to download a demo of Desert Child to see what it has to offer. And if it hits its March 2018 release date, backers will be happy they had faith in the project.
Available as an early access title on Steam, this is a racer that sticks with pedal-powered rides rather than anything that guzzles gas.
As the name suggests, it focuses on downhill freeriding, which involves hopping on a bike and pelting down some particularly perilous dirt tracks. It might sound a little bit like a carbon copy of the Trials series, but it’s very much its own beast.
The trailers alone should be enough to get your pulse racing, with first-person camera views putting you in the rider’s perspective as tree trunks flash past at high speed. Third-person views help with tricks and stunts, and Decenders definitely has an arcade feel rather than aiming for ultimate realism. Could this be the next indie game to hit the big time?
Developed with VR fans in mind, Sprint Vector is arriving on PC and PS4. But unlike your average driving game, it does away with vehicles altogether and instead puts players in the shoes of a futuristic athlete.
You’ll be running for your reputation, taking on the persona of one of the game’s wacky, Overwatch-esque characters. And with online competition for up to eight people, as well as tons of different power-ups to try, it should make for a unique experience.
Virtual reality hardware is helping to provide a new outlet for indie games devs with intriguing ideas, even if the cost of buying a headset and having the processing power to run everything is a bit of a sticking point.
Bus Driving Simulator
Not all driving games have to leave you with adrenaline coursing through your body. For a more sedate experience, Bus Driver simulator 2018 will fit the bill.
Like other ‘Simulator’ titles, it lets you take on a real-life job onboard. And all its vehicles are fully equipped with the features you’d expect to encounter on your morning commute.
You can pick up passengers, drop them off and navigate a real city with streets that are packed with traffic. This congestion has even been modelled using real world data, which for some people might seem like an exercise in tedium. But for players who want to de-stress, it might be the indie driving game to buy this year.
If following the best racing line around a track, braking at all the right points and keeping your car as composed as possible doesn’t sound like fun, then Drift19 is the antidote.
This game is all about drifting, but don’t think it’s going to offer arcade-style gameplay. This is a full-on drifting simulator that lets you change almost every aspect of a car’s setup to deliver the best possible performance when going sideways.
The developers have paid a lot of attention to the presentation of Drift19, especially in the audio department. They want to give players the true drifting experience, which means engine noise and tyre squeal are emphasised. Just don’t expect much of a soundtrack to accompany the action.
This game isn’t landing until November, so if it sounds interesting you’ll have to sit tight until then.
Horizon Chase Turbo
This mobile title, available for iOS and Android with a PS4 version in the works, is pitched at people who remember playing classic racers like Outrun back in the 1990s and wish there was a way to replicate the experience today.
A rocking selection of riff-laced tunes act as the backdrop to the sun-soaked action. And there are hundreds of different tracks to choose from in Horizon Chase Turbo, which will also offer split screen play on console.
So there you have it. From the avant garde to the unambiguously entertaining, 2018 is shaping up to be a good year for indie driving games.