Diamonds in the rough: Indie games you probably missed at E3 2017

Done reading up on your most-anticipated E3 blockbusters? Check out these stellar indie titles we caught at the show.

Ashley Esqueda Senior Video Producer
Ashley Esqueda is an award-winning video producer and on-air talent based in Los Angeles. She has been playing video games since she was 3 years old, and loves the history of television. She currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband Jimi, son Wolfgang, and two very squirrely Italian Greyhounds.
Sean Hollister Senior Editor / Reviews
When his parents denied him a Super NES, he got mad. When they traded a prize Sega Genesis for a 2400 baud modem, he got even. Years of Internet shareware, eBay'd possessions and video game testing jobs after that, he joined Engadget. He helped found The Verge, and later served as Gizmodo's reviews editor. When he's not madly testing laptops, apps, virtual reality experiences, and whatever new gadget will supposedly change the world, he likes to kick back with some games, a good Nerf blaster, and a bottle of Tejava.
Ashley Esqueda
Sean Hollister
4 min read

One of my favorite E3 pastimes is wandering the show floor, looking for the weirdest and most enjoyable indie games I can find. This year's E3 was no different, and I'm happy to report there were more than a handful of really cool indies out there with excellent potential. 

Here are some of the best indie games I got to check out at E3 2017:

Star Child (PSVR | TBA)

Playstation's indie game lineup never disappoints, and this year, there's a VR gem in the mix. Star Child's trailer showed off a traveler exploring a mysterious cave and running into massive robot technology. What that technology is -- and how it plays into the larger story -- is still under wraps (developer Playful wasn't telling), but this 2.5-D, side-scrolling "cinematic platformer" is what my indie dreams are made of. While PlayStation VR wasn't heavily promoted at E3 2017, there's another PSVR title that made the list...

Moss (PSVR | Q4 2017)

I didn't get to play Moss, because the line to try it was outrageous and I ran out of time! Fortunately, our very own Sean Hollister got to play it, and here's what he had to say: "Moss is cute and whimsical as heck. The trailer doesn't do it justice, because you the player aren't right up close to the mouse -- you're a puppet master, as tall as a tree, looking down into a gorgeous 3D diorama of an environment while you figure out how to get the delightfully animated Quill (the mouse) to the other side. You can both directly control the young mouse (who has a leaf for a sword!) and act as a friendly guide, manipulating machinery to solve that stand in Quill's way. 

"It's a bit like Chronos for Oculus Rift, but with a cute companion whom I instantly felt responsible for, and wanted to protect."

Laser League (PS4, Xbox One, PC | 2018)

I wasn't expecting much when I sat down to play Laser League from 505 Games, but after about 5 minutes launching laser attacks at my opponents, I was hooked. This is a multiplayer combat game that's easy to pick up, but really tough to master. It's kind of like if "Gladiator" met "Tron," and that's a very, very good thing. 

Every game drew a small crowd and elicited cheers and gasps from onlookers, which is the kind of game that's perfect for a party or the competitive gaming scene. My only wish? That Laser League would make its way to the Nintendo Switch , where it would be a perfect pairing.

The Artful Escape (Xbox One, PC | TBA)

Francis Vendetti wants out from under the shadow of his mega-rock-star uncle, and The Artful Escape is his journey to discovering his own stage persona. That sounds a like a great movie plot, but instead, it's a game rife with ridiculously colorful visuals and powerful musical roots. If the demo I played was anything to go by, the gameplay itself isn't necessarily challenging, but after experiencing a bit of The Artful Escape's hallucinogenic rock opera, I'm desperate to play more of it.

Matterfall (PS4 | Aug 2017)

Bloodstained and Star Child were already on my list of "games that will satiate my 2.5-D side-scroller fix," but then I got my hands on Matterfall. Developed by Housemarque, the same company responsible for the excellent shooter Resogun, Matterfall is what would happen if Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Metroid and Resogun had a glorious baby. Nonstop pew-pew, multipliers and various power-ups/objectives make this a must-get for PS4 when it hits this fall. (Bonus: This will tide us over until we get those two Metroid titles Nintendo announced at this year's show!)

The Last Night (Xbox One X, PC | 2017)

Pulling deeply from neo-noir films like "Blade Runner," The Last Night is a cyberpunk game set in a dystopian future. It'll be a "launch exclusive" for the Xbox One X, but an earlier build is already available on PC, if you're so inclined. And just like in "Blade Runner," the hero is a bounty hunter kind of guy. Regardless of whether you're planning on picking up a newly discounted Xbox One S or the upcoming Xbox One X, The Last Night should be on your radar. 

It wasn't playable on the E3 show floor, but after seeing the trailer during Microsoft's showcase I knew all I needed to know.

The Last Day of June (PS4, PC | 2017)

Okay, this is my second 505 Games title on this list, but you need to check this one out. The Last Day of June is more an interactive work of art than a traditional game, but if my short demo was any indication, we're all gonna need signed permission slips for the intense feels trip we're likely to take while experiencing it.

The story revolves around Carl, who loses his wife June in a car accident and later obtains the power of time travel to potentially change his destiny. The art looks like an impressionist painting, with the characters' faces blank and the environments dotted with what looks like splotches of richly colored paints (taking inspiration from Steven Wilson's Drive Home music video). This game is stunning, and reminds me of the hopeful melancholy I felt while playing games like What Remains of Edith Finch