It’s not E3 week — it’s better. It’s fake E3. Although the Electronic Entertainment Experience (what E3 stands for, as of 2021) didn’t formally happen this year, indie games still found their way to shine this week. There were so many directs we could have done a direct of directs. But enough of repeating that joke; cue the boilerplate language for this week.
We have lots of Es and more in Cool WIP, Polygon’s weekly roundup of eye-catching clips and screenshots of works in progress. Each week, the Polygon staff scours the internet for the most interesting games still under construction to give you a sampler of the coolest up-and-coming projects.
This week, we’re doing something a little fun. We picked five indie streams from the past week — Wholesome Games, Day of the Devs, Future of Play, Guerrilla Collective, and the PC Gaming Show — and pulled a few games from each to highlight. I did the math and there’s, like, over 200 games included between the five. So let’s get to it.
Wholesome Games traces its not-so-humble origins to a mega-popular Twitter account that highlights cute, cozy, and beautiful games. Since then, it’s grown into a bona fide brand within the gaming sphere. The showcase shared over 90 games, and while what “wholesome” means can be hard to pin down — it’s one of those terms that iykyk — it’s become a vehicle to show off some of the most dazzling work in the game development pipeline. Polygon already rounded up some of the biggest announcements, which include the lo-fi puzzle game Spirit Swap and a kaiju dating sim called Kaichu.
Future of Play
Somehow, the best thing about Future of Play isn’t the fact that it’s hosted by a Vtuber. The direct, put on by a games ecosystem called Glitch, puts on a veritable variety show. In addition to showing indie games, this stream featured an original performance by funk composer extraordinaire Alex Moukala and had a developer of Unpacking read funny game reviews. Some highlights include the rhythm game Infinite Guitars, the monster-taming game Creature Keeper, and the queer rom-com and visual novel Pen Pal Princess.
Guerrilla Collective is a regular games showcase that shares new work coming down the pike, and this year the showcase included plenty of promising titles. From what we saw, we liked Witch Strandings, a new “strand” game from the makers of Space Warlord Organ Trading Simulator. There’s also a snowboarding game called Slopecrashers, where you play as a cast of wily animals, and the 3D frog platformer Frogun.
PC Gaming Show
PC Gamer showed dozens of titles as part of the PC Gaming Show livestream. The event had plenty of dazzling games from smaller teams and even one game by a group of modders. Polygon rounded up some of the coolest looking games, which included Necrosoft Games’ tactics game, Demonschool; the business management game, Nivalis; and more. You can check out the full writeup for a closer look at each game.
Day of the Devs
After the main Summer Game Fest presentation, Day of the Devs treated us to a wonderful array of indie games. The titles were truly stand-out and we highly recommend watching if you’re fond of visually and mechanically interesting games. Among the games shown, there was Time Flies, a flight simulator where you play as a lonesome little fly. The showcase also showed trailers for an un-bear-ably cute game called Bear & Breakfast, as well as a visually stunning game starring a water nymph, Naiad.