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The 10 best indie game trailers of Q1 2016

M. Joshua showcases the best trailer work in indie games from the first quarter of 2016.

The best game trailers distill your interactive experience into a non-interactive shorthand that feels like shadow of something greater. These trailers bridge that player-shadow gap very well:

10.

 

 

Accolades drive the economy of indie game trailers most of the time - I mean who wouldn't want to leverage positive press - but STRAFE’s latest trailer manages to leverage the quotes for another purpose: being ridiculous, and setting the bar for the game’s crooked sense of humor.

9.

 

 

Nothing is more effective in a narrative game’s trailer than WTF moments, and this trailer illustrates master-level WTF-usage.

8.

 

 

This game is borderline unreadable to untrained eyes, but simple text and visual progression guide the viewer through the complexity so they can understand what’s going on. When you're completely lost on the action, titles explain what’s happening by telling you "this is online multiplayer" or "this is two-on-two couch multiplayer." It's a masterful mix of confusion and hand-holding.

7.

 

 

Anytime you can turn a trailer into a faux-documentary for an unlaunched Atari Jaguar game, it's an absolute must. Gotta love the apt use of lame 1990s stock footage and royalty-free music.

6.

 

 

This trailer is about fifteen times more fun than the actual game was for me. A lot of that is thanks to great visual design where on-screen action is extremely readable, but the emotional intensity comes from the fast-paced editing to a song selected prior to the editing process. Take notes on this trailer if you're making a remotely similar game.

5.

 

 

Differentiation goes a million miles with your game’s design - especially when nobody else is making a game with a twangy bluegrass soundtrack. This trailer goes far beyond those laurels with character-animation-based edits to delineate different scenes while maintaining a clear flow of action. And to emphasize the salty with the sweet, there’s a fair dosage of getting knocked around and mauled to death so you keep in mind that this is indeed a game about overcoming hardship.

4.

 

 

Accolades smear the intro, prepping in your mind that this is a “normal trailer,” but no! This is a one-shot trailer that focuses on advanced-level play. It's easy to watch, but very hard to pull-off.

3.

 

 

Amazing sound-effect design punctuates this trailer’s soundtrack with punchy player-driven percussion. I actually thought at first that the player’s actions were the music in the game - in some kind of rhythm-action mashup. Ultimately it’s the quirk and charm of the game that settles and leaves me wanting to play the game.

2.

 

 

I may be a bit biased on Darkest Dungeon (since sinking seventy hours into it), but this trailer captures everything great about the game’s risks, rewards, and those terrifying “WTF” moments.

1.

 

 

I. Must. Play. This.

That's all that I can say.


M. Joshua Cauller makes game trailers that leverage the player experience. He offers free consultations. Reach him at [email protected]. Check out his work at mjoshua.com.

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