There’s a lot of game development happening in our little island; perhaps not quite as much as there used to be in the big/medium-budget console area, but there’s been a massive surge in independent development pretty much everywhere in the UK in the past few years. There’s a huge number of British games appearing in the coming months.
I actually looked at many more games than those on this list - over one-hundred and twenty! - but some of them were at such an early stage that it was difficult to get much of an idea of what they were about, so I’ve pared it down to the ones that you can have a decent look at (and the ones I think look interesting, of course). Behold: the British games of 2015. Click any of the titles to be taken to the developer’s website.
Best described as Steampunk Spelunky, The Swindle is a wonderfully characterful roguelike in which you must rob a series of randomly generated, well-guarded homes with an ever-growing selection of tools and gadgety-majigs. It’s by Dan Marshall of Ben There, Dan That fame.
Rocksteady needs no introduction. Its Batman titles have changed what we expect from superhero video games. And Arkham Knight has the batmobile.
The Guildford-based rabble-rousers at Media Molecule are DEFINITELY working on something else that isn’t this PS4 remake of Tearaway, which may also be out in 2015, but this is what we know about for now.
Unveiled at The Game Awards last year, Before is a fascinating-looking caveman survival game picked up by Facepunch Studios, caretakers of Garry’s Mod and Rust. I reckon we’ll see at least an early-access launch for Before this year.
Yeah… pretty sure you’ll have heard of this one. Near-infinite space-exploration game No Man’s Sky already has a pretty huge fan following and a LEGO Ideas submission, despite its still-mysterious nature. It’s out on PS4 this year.
Roll7, based in New Cross, London, will be releasing this funny, violent stealing-and-assassination game early this year. It’s like Hotline Miami meets Gunpoint, with gigglesome randomly-generated dialogue and scenarios.
Also from Roll7, OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood is the sequel to the best skateboarding game since Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2. It was already very playable when I went to see it in the summer of last year, and it’s going to be a 2015 mainstay on my Vita.
Fable Legends from Lionhead is a 4-versus-1 multiplayer take on the Fable universe - it’s funny, likeable, bright, and innovative. Its multiplayer dynamic makes more sense once you’ve played it, so look out for the beta before it comes out later this year.
Gunpoint developer Tom Francis might not end up releasing Heat Signature this year - the man takes his time - but I’m going to stick my neck out on this one. It’s randomly generated Hotline Miami in space, basically, and is already looking sweet.
Starbound - which already enjoys a big player-base on Steam Early Access - is likely to come out of beta this year, I reckon. Think Terraria in space. It’s great fun.
The Chinese Room, based in Brighton, has previously released Dear Esther in 2011 and Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs in 2013, and has been working on this for a while now: atmospheric, mysterious, and one of Leon’s picks for 2015.
Creative Assembly had a good year last year with Alien Isolation. I would not be at all surprised if we saw something else along those lines announced this year, but we know for sure we’re getting Total War: Attila.
Greenlit Manchester-based game Beyond Flesh & Blood is about post-apocalyptic war robots. In Manchester. There’s already a demo available.
Radial G is like VR WipeOut, and is a regular mainstay of our Kotaku UK game nights - although you don’t need Oculus Rift to play it, it’s especially cool in VR.
White Space casts you as a space-faring flying bounty hunter in a procedurally generated world (lot of that going around right now, isn’t there?). It’s from Curve Studios, they of Stealth Inc fame. It’s also got rain, which is very British.
An irreverent co-op arcade shooter roguelike, based on '80s TV. Tango Fiesta has been in Early Access for a while now, but will be out properly this year, courtesy of London developer Spilt Milk Studios.
Frozen Cortex is turn-based sci-fi American football with robots. Not sure what else needs to be said there, really.
Surreal, Twin-Peaks-y adventure game Virginia looks really interesting - you play an FBI investigator on your first case in a small town. It’s in the tradition of Kentucky Route Zero, comfortably one of the best adventure games I’ve ever played. Yes please.
Looks like a kind of mind-bending gravity-shifting Portal Lite. Definite potential here. There’s a demo on the website.
Super intrigued by this one. It’s a dungeon crawler powered by Twitter. As in, you can create a dungeon and then tweet it for others to play. It’s already passed the gauntlet of Greenlight.
Neotopia is like PlayStation Home for the PS4 social-media-connected generation, with customisable avatars and loads of public spaces to explore. Uh, I think. There’s a LOT going on with it.
From Thomas Was Alone designer Mike Bithell, Volume is a stealth game whose story is a modern twist on Robin Hood. I’m still not quite sure what Volume’s going for, but that’s part of the charm - and it plays well.
As investigated by Leon last year, The Marvellous Miss Take is a minimalist one-button stealth game starring a character with a passing resemblance to a grown-up Kim Possible.
Oort Online is like a Minecraft MMO with giant Titans to take on with your friends. It’s a very good-looking player-built universe that’s had a very good Early Access reception on Steam.
Alternative-Victorian steampunk turn-based mech combat, successfully Kickstarted last year.
An indie game with a conscience, So Hungry is a very minimalist game about homelessness. “Fun” isn’t the right word, but it looks thought-provoking.
By contrast, Super Exploding Zoo looks very cute and funny, and slightly twisted in a Happy Tree Friends kind of way. Herd and explode 30 different animals in an attempt to ward off an alien attack.
Sky Scrappers is being made by a chap called James Parker and it’s a four-player, competitive, hardcore version of Doodle Jump, basically.
A cinematic shooting action game for iOS, set in London, by developer Splash Damage. Sounds ambitious, right? I think they can pull it off.
Surrealist, hilarious, and actually somewhat dark, I am Bread follows a humble piece of bread’s desire to become toast. It has echoes of Katamari Damacy and will be coming out of Steam Early Access soon. Here's Leon playing the game with developer Bossa.
In a world where sick people are good for business, can you run a pharmaceuticals conglomerate that isn’t totally evil? Big Pharma asks this question. It’s a strategy game that aims for the conscience, in the tradition of another morally challenging British game Sweatshop.
We wrote about this last year - it’s a game that involves no graphics whatsoever, only sound. Most intriguing.
Flagship is a first-person space RTS developed in Manchester, in which you control and observe battles from inside an individual spaceship. It missed a Kickstarter goal last year, but development’s continuing anyway.
Yet another space game, yes, but for iOS. It’s an Elite-like combat and trading spacefaring experience on a mobile phone. On a PHONE. We live in the future.
Capital is a long way from being playable (it might be the earliest-stage game on this list), but it’s a noir adventure game set in London made by some of the talented people who work at video production company Explosive Alan (I’ve worked with them before). The above screenshot is its take on Baker Street. One to keep an eye on.
Definitely the best-named space game on this list, Gratuitous Space Battles features huge fleets of spaceships and lots of explosions. It’s coming to PC/Mac this year; there’s already a demo.
Shu - not a tribute to Shuhei Yoshida, sadly - is a 2.5D side-scrolling platformer coming to PS3, PS4 and Vita, developed by Coatsink and Secret Lunch. You rescue little villagers as you climb through the levels, and can then make use of their unique abilities.
A startlingly addictive fire-fighter roguelike that sees you trying to quench flames and save office workers and kitties in a series of randomly-generated buildings. Can’t wait to play this properly on Vita.
This is a lovely-looking game about growing up in rural Scotland (SCOTTISH BIAS). It looks like a memory. It was successfully Kickstarted a wee while back - technically it came out on December 14th but I’m bending the rules for it slightly.
Sorcery! is a beautiful-looking and beautifully-written episodic choose-your-own adventure for tablets - its first few episodes got widespread acclaim, making a few Game of the Year lists, and the next episodes will be out in 2015.
A jaw-droppingly gorgeous, absurdly technically advanced racing game that has anyone who likes automobiles drooling. You need to look closely to tell it isn't real. Out in March.
The premise is simple. Escape Basingstoke… OR DIE. I mean, it’s a hellish Basingstoke full of monsters, but otherwise this is a pretty good representation of British life.
This tragically missed its winter release window, but I’m still into the idea of a puzzle game about being a monster who builds snowmen in the Spring.
Think Command and Conquer meets Lego with more wheels and guns. Leon loves it. It’s in beta now, out properly later this year.
I LOVED DmC on PS3. Its Dante is amongst the hottest game characters ever and it was varied and sharp-tongued enough to hold my interest. Ninja Theory is bringing it to PS4 and Xbox One this year.
Gone Home, except a horror game set on an abandoned spaceship. *shudders*
A Pixel Story is an immensely likeable 2D puzzle-platforming adventure coming to Steam later on this year. It has a magical teleportation hat and the kind of 'die, die, repeat' challenge that will grab plenty of masochistic gamers.
A survival horror labyrinth game set for release on Early Access in 2015: you’re on an abandoned ship and something is hunting you.
Alright, not a full game, but I am really, REALLY looking forward to this. After more than a year of extra work at Rockstar North, it’s sure to be amazing.
Remember the bit in Aliens when the xenomorphs attack and Gorman freezes up? Now's your chance to be Gorman as you use a tablet to guide a four man squad via their camera feeds on your PC. Here's Leon playing an early build.
That’s it! If you have another game to show off, or if you spot any typos or errant info/links on this list, please let us know. I have spent much of the last week compiling it and it’s got to the stage where I go cross-eyed whenever I look at words on a screen.