By Matt Peckham
June 22, 2015

They’re not the most popular games of this year’s show. Neither Doom nor Fallout 4 are on this list, nor game franchise all-stars like Star Wars: Battlefront, Just Cause 3, Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 or Uncharted 4. You can read about that stuff anywhere.

Here’s a look at the games you maybe didn’t see (or see as much of), a.k.a. the ones I’m at least as excited about as any of those others.


Beyond Eyes

Imagine a game that let you guide a 10-year-old girl, who at some point lost her ability to see, through an amorphous, painterly world, a world that forms or dissolves in response to aural cues or interference. Beyond Eyes appears to be an attempt to craft an adventure that may, if successful, in some small but meaningful way manage to convey some of both the travails and epiphanies of experiencing the world absent visible light.

PC, Mac, Xbox One

TBD 2015


Cuphead

Cuphead looks like Betty Boop meets a shoot ’em up meets miracle. Over the course of the game, its teacup-noggin protagonists do battle with giant paranormal carrots, boxing frogs, angry birds, queen bees, gambling contraptions and not-so-little mermaids, all staged and immaculately animated in the most astonishing hand drawn and inked, cel-based, and watercolor-painted backdrops in the history of video gaming.

PC, Xbox One

TBD 2016


Dishonored 2

This long anticipated sequel to one of the better post-Thief sneakers transpires in a coastal city where you’ll hunt new adversaries, optionally playing as Dishonored‘s original (male) protagonist, or a new one (female) with her own abilities and retro-futura gadgets. Crucially, as in the original, you can experience the entire game, if you so choose, without killing a soul.

PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

TBD 2016


Firewatch

Firewatch, “a mystery set in the Wyoming wilderness,” lets you play a volunteer fire lookout officer circa the Yellowstone fires of 1988, “your only emotional lifeline” ongoing chats with an unseen supervisor by handheld radio. It’s anyone’s guess where that goes (Twin Peaks or Always?). But it’s the game’s striking look that’s been grabbing attention: vast, clear-lined, color-saturated backcountry, styled after 1930s National Park Service posters.

PC, Mac, PlayStation 4

TBD 2015


Horizon Zero Dawn

Guerrilla Games (the Killzone series) is apparently making a post-post-apocalyptic action-adventure titled Horizon Zero Dawn, which with its cast of robo-dinosaurs and low-tech, archery-adept heroine had me thinking Transformers: Beast Wars meets Vikings.

PlayStation 4

TBD 2016


The Last Guardian

The Last Guardian still exists, thank goodness, and stars a boy (controlled by you) and his giant sphinx-like companion, who both wend their way through vast, precipitous, architectonically elegant backdrops. As in Shadow of the Colossus (by the same director), you can cling to all aspects of your animal companion, clambering around its feathered bulk and guiding it between platforms to help buddy-solve environment-based puzzles.

PlayStation 4

TBD 2016


Mirror's Edge Catalyst

Finally, a Mirror’s Edge sequel…or technically prequel, since it transpires prior to the original game’s events and focuses on the futuristic message-sneaking protagonist’s backstory. The biggest change: instead of executing flawless first-person parkour maneuvers along linear rooftop routes, you’re handed access to a fully traversable, open-world version of the last game’s gorgeous but mostly off-limits alabaster metropolis.

PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

February 23


Rise of the Tomb Raider

Microsoft demonstrated a terrifying gameplay slice from this sequel to the 2013 franchise reboot during its E3 showcase. Yes, there’s no way anyone in human history could pull off those kinds of moves, but we’ll doubtless have fun pretending when the game ships this fall—so long, crucially, as developer Crystal Dynamics managed to carry along (and further develop) all of the character-building virtues that consistently elevated the last installment.

Xbox One, Xbox 360

November 10


Super Mario Maker

Want to build your own side-scrolling Super Mario Bros. levels? Skin those levels to look like different Mario games, ranging in visual style from the NES’s 8-bit glory days to the Wii U’s slick, 3D, high definition New Super Mario Bros. U? Do all that from the comfort and convenience of the Wii U GamePad? The only catch: you have to first beat your own level at least once, before Nintendo will let you share your level with others online.

Wii U

September 11


Unravel

It’s cute, and yes, too much in gaming gets by on “cute” these days, but Unravel–about a yarn-creature platforming through the world using string from its body to solve physics-related puzzles–looks like more than just a riff on Kirby’s Epic Yarn. Think LittleBigPlanet meets cat’s cradle (the string game) meets silk-spinning, and I think we’re close.

PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

TBD

Read next: This Nintendo Fan Took 800 Hours to Crochet a Giant Replica Super Mario Blanket

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