It’s once more time for the biggest fighting game tournament event in gaming. The Evolution Championship Series, commonly referred to as EVO is here once again, with the best fighting game players in the world duking it out in competitive matches streamed for everyone to go wild over. In honor of such a momentous event, we’ve compiled a list of ten indie fighting games for you fighting game fans to enjoy at home. Two of them are even being played at EVO itself!
Skullgirls 2nd Encore
I don’t know if any game has the right to the title of the indie fighting game, but if one does, it’s Skullgirls. The game is well known for its stylish hand-drawn art, gorgeous world, and colorful cast of monstrous warriors for you to play as. Skullgirls has a full story campaign with voice acting and the full game has a glowing review from the late great TotalBiscuit, who referred to the title as ‘a good entrypoint for learning fighting games.’ Skullgirls 2nd Encore is one of the EVO events this year.
Melty Blood: Type Lumina
The other EVO event on our list, Melty Blood: Type Lumina is the latest in a series of spin offs from the Tsukihime visual novel, which some of you may recognize as being part of the Nasuverse, like the Fate/ franchise. Notable for being rather story heavy, as you might expect from a spin off of a visual novel. Type Lumina in particular is based on the recent Tsukihime remake, updating the cast and narrative accordingly. Melty Blood: Type Lumina is designed to be approachable for novices and veterans of the franchise alike.
Lethal League Blaze
I’m gonna need you to follow me on this one. You know how most fighting games involve people hitting each other really hard in order to score KOs? The Lethal League franchise instead posits a world in which you score points by hitting someone in the face with a ball moving at approximately 100 miles an hour. Lethal League is all about volleying a ball back and forth between two fighters, the ball getting faster and faster with each hit until someone slips up and gets nailed. The game is highly intuitive and newcomer friendly and supports up to four players.
UNDER NIGHT IN-BIRTH Exe:Late[cl-r]
Yes, that is the actual name of this game. You should count yourself lucky I didn’t add the entire actual poem written under the title. I’m not making that up, you can see it on the cover. Under Night In-Birth is made by the same people as the earlier Melty Blood franchise. Much like its spiritual predecessor, the game features a fleshed-out narrative in addition to its solid core fighting game systems. While Under Night In-Birth isn’t at EVO this year, it has been in years before.
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Rivals of Aether
Rivals of Aether is about a bunch of animals aligned with the four classical elements—fire, air, water, and earth—duking it out. You know, the kind of thing that can only happen in an indie game. Unlike the previous entries on this list, Rivals of Aether is a platform fighter, a burgeoning genre that I really, really want to refer to as Smash Clones. This game is also notable for having full Steam Workshop support, allowing for the creation of your own personal stages and even custom characters. Also, for some reason, Shovel Knight is there.
Another entry in the Platform Fighter/Smash Clones genre. (If me calling them Smash Clones offends you, never ever look up what we used to call first-person shooters.) Brawlhalla is not only free to play but features a large playable cast including appearances from other video games, shows, and movies. The game features up to eight players at once in a variety of game modes and despite being almost five years old now is still going strong.
Them’s Fightin’ Herds
This is a game with a bit of history, and another one that’s previously been at EVO. This game started life as a fan-made My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fighting game. Yes, you read that right. Unfortunately, the game was too good and Hasbro caught word of the original project, issuing a Cease and Desist because capitalism is a nightmare and I don’t have time to explain why Hasbro was more or less forced to do this. Luckily, Lauren Faust, the actual MLP creator, enjoyed the game and helped them switch out all the copyrighted material for an original cast and setting. Also, this game runs on the Skullgirls engine, so that’s fun.
Fight of Steel: Infinity Warrior
Here’s the most recent game on the list, having come out in mid-July. What caught my eye about this particular entry is that it’s the kind of fighting game I would make if I were given infinite time and money. Specifically, you have full character customization, including your move set. Set in a post apocalypse where humans are extinct and martial artists robots duke it out, this game has a full story campaign and promised DLC. This is by the same team as Fight of Animals and Fight of Gods, so I’d like to believe they know what they’re doing.
It’s been too long since I’ve called a game a Smash Clone and I’m starting to feel the withdrawal. Slap City is the kind of indie game ideal, being a fighting game featuring characters from developer Ludosity’s previous games, like Ittle Dew, Card City Nights, and Iji. Slap City is a game that is very clearly not taking itself too seriously while still being as fleshed out as you’d expect from a fighting game. Also it has a story campaign for each character.
Unpopular opinion, I liked the first Nidhogg’s art style more. The grunge look just doesn’t do it for me. Of course the gameplay is as strong as ever. Nidhogg is a weird fighting game. It’s a symmetrical fencing game where the goal is not to kill your opponent but to feed yourself to a giant worm. You do this by… killing your opponent, yes, but that’s only so that you can run past them and continue in your designated direction on the 2D plane until you reach your designated worm eating area. Ow with more weapons!
And that’s ten fighting games for the EVO celebration! Running the full gauntlet from games that are or were at the EVO competition itself to games that EVO games and competitors probably avoid eye contact with. Now go forth and destroy all of your friends with complicated button inputs and weird stick movements.
You should all consider yourselves lucky I didn’t add the Les Misérables fighting game to this list. Yes, it exists, and it might be bad, but it also has Robot Valjean in it so how bad can it really be? It’s called Arm Joe and I swear I am not making any of this up. If you’re after more indie news, reviews, and coverage, then stick around a while at Indie Game Fans.
Liked this list? Why not try Josh’s List of 5 Indies that Belong in a Museum or Jamie’s List of 5 Relaxing Indies to Chill With.