Each year, in addition to the Entertainment Areas of gamescom that host the biggest and best of the AAA gaming industry, there's plenty of other lesser known fun to be had. The indie village is a constant addition to the halls of gamescom gathering independent developers from all over the world to share their latest projects, but there's also indies scattered beyond the 10.2 corner square of the Cologne Trade Fair. We went exploring to see what kind of delicious indie goodness we could dig up.
Exploring the gamescom 2019 indie village
The gamescom indie village is the main ground for people to try out some of the showcase of independent developers at gamescom. As previously mentioned it sits in Hall 10.2 of the venue, taking up a corner among three other attractions. In stark contrast to the main halls of gamescom, one might be tricked into thinking that there's less to find in such a comparatively small space when things like Google Stadia and Borderlands 3 are taking up massive amounts of space in the Entertainment Area halls. One would be wrong.
For our experience, the indie village may take up a smaller volume, but it is packed to the gills with games. They make use of their area well to bring in projects from numerous nations together in that space. We saw games from Australia, Spain, Brazil, puzzlers, action games, retro-style jaunts, and a multitude of other projects of various depth and design on display.
One of our favorites among the bunch in the indie village was Unrailed from Indoor Astronaut and Daedalic, which is a bright and blocky multi-player game in which you have a train at a station and you and your friends have to lay track and remove obstacles to get the slowly moving train to its next station.
As players split up the work of making sure the train doesn't go off the tracks and get destroyed, it can get chaotic as you race against time and other threats. There's also a PVP mode in which you can split into teams online or locally and race to get your train to safety first or sabotage each other. This was just one of many games that caught our eye and delighted as we ventured through the indie village offering.
Beyond the gamescom indie village
You didn't think that indie fun was strictly confined to the indie village at gamescom 2019 did you? Certainly that's where much of the scene can be found, but venturing out into other halls had some fun surprises for us too. Xbox and Nintendo have been in solid support of the indie scene recently, so you could find games on the Xbox One and Nintendo Switch at their respective booths in addition to their major titles.
Moreover, there were plenty of other groups showing off some indie flair outside of the village confines. In Hall 10.1 near the merchandise areas, we came across 1C who had plenty of games to show this year. You may have heard of action shooters like Ion Fury or RPG strategy like King's Bounty 2 - both awesome-looking titles by the way - but it was Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones from Cultic Games which absolutely captured our hearts.
Based on the HP Lovecraft universe of mind-bending gods like Cthulhu, Stygian is a point-and-click RPG that puts players in the role of a character surviving in a world where the dark beings have won and humans must simply do all they can to survive. Though you have a mission to pursue a being tied to the cataclysm, there's a lot of directions you decide for yourself. Are you a doctor who cares for the well-being of people or an ex-police detective concerned only with materialistic gain? Borrowing from the control styles of games like the original Fallout and Planescape: Torment, along with the health, sanity, and interactions of intricate board games like Arkham Horror, Stygian brought together a fantastic collection of good elements that delighted us in our playthrough and made us want more.
All in all, our purpose during Day 2 of gamescom 2019 was to venture into the indie scene and come away with some treasures we had never seen before. Such as the case, we gleefully succeeded. Anyone making the trip to gamescom and Cologne is likely going to make a beeline for some of the biggest games in the world like Doom Eternal and Cyberpunk 2077, but completely skipping on the awesome possibilities of the indie scene is something we'd absolutely advise against when you're running around this event. Indie gaming is as varied as ever and you never know what fantastic games you might find.