Wow what a busy weekend I had the other day! I had the great delight of checking out the latest indie offerings at EGX Rezzed in London where there was so much to see and play! With just under 200 games on display set across two floors of Tobacco Dock beside the river Thames, I was in gaming heaven. Showcases by SEGA, Nintendo and Xbox were equally matched by the talents on display within the large Indie rooms that housed the majority of up and coming titles.
Here is my pick of up and coming games that you should look out for!
Another Sight by Italian developers Lunar Great Wall Studios tells the tale of a young girl called Kit who suffers the misfortune of a tunnel collapsing while out exploring. The accident results in her losing her sight, creating a surreal world around her where sound and bright lights serve to both confuse and give comfort. Set in an 1899 London towards the end of the Victorian era, and complete with fantastic steampunk elements, your only guide to getting out of the dark dangerous tunnel and beginning your adventure is a mystical ginger cat named Hodge.
The platform style puzzle game relies on you switching between both characters in order to operate various pressure pads and levers and make your way to the next location. Although Kit is blind, she sees the world around her as a colourful misty aura that aids to conceal dangers that lie before her. It is up to Hodge, to guide Kit through his presence which allows her to see a small glowing area around him. Hodge has the ability to scale certain walls and leap long distances while Kit can climb ladders and pull levers that Hodge clearly hasn’t the muscles to do… because he’s a cat.
Inspired by Neil Gaiman’s urban fantasy “Neverwhere”, the surreal almost Alice in Wonderland type adventure uncovers a world that is visually perceived differently by both Kit and Hodge. The graphics and cutscenes looked amazing and really made me think about what it would be like to not have your sight. Your reliance on Hodge to help Kit safely along and the difference in perception and sound between the two characters is huge. At one point I was walking Kit below London when a loud rush of noise overwhelmed my headset accompanied by strange flashing lights behind me, it was enough to make me jump however it was merely a train of some type. I felt silly for jumping however it showed how much we take our senses for granted. Background music adds to the emotion of the game and has been specially performed by the orchestra of Naples.
Another Sight is no ordinary platform puzzle game in that there is a greater mysterious story lurking behind it that will allow you to meet cultural historical figures from the past such as painter Claude Monet and engineer Nikola Tesla. Each character will add their views to what is happening which will impact visually on the world around you, for example after speaking with Monet, it was though I was then walking around in one of his famous paintings. The difference in how the world was perceived was massively different between Kit and Hodge but so beautiful at the same time. It is definitely a game to look out for.
Another Sight will be coming to PC, PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch in Q3-2018.
Disco Elysium by Zaum Studio is an interesting detective RPG which is currently in development. Due to be initially released on PC but coming to consoles later on I was lucky enough to have a play through the opening moments of the game.
Set in a 1950’s unique urban fantasy town called Rechavol West, you take on the character of a disgraced and very hungover detective who wakes up semi-naked in his hotel room. Predominantly a point and click game it is up to you to investigate the surrounding area using the cursor to explore and highlight objects that can be interrogated. The narrative throughout Disco Elysium is nothing short of brilliant. Your conscious speaks to you when you interact with objects and allows you to select a reply from a series of suggestions. What ensues can be as funny or serious as you wish and at times you find that you have been arguing with yourself just to see what your conscious will say next. When speaking to characters I found myself trying to push the dialogue as far as I could take it just to really wind up the person I was talking to and provoke a reaction. How you play is totally up to you.
The initial quest is to solve a murder however being hungover, and suffering a bit of amnesia from the night before, there are many other distractions and mini quests that you can trigger by simply looking around each area. For example after an argument with my inner conscious over whether I should smoke or not after looking at an ash tray I eventually conceded and was given a quest to “Find smokes”. The various parts of your persona are broken down into traits such as empathy, authority and volition that all appear from time to time in conversation to influence your feelings, doubts and memories. Disco Elysium is definitely not your generic point and click game.
During my chat with George, one of the developers behind Disco Elysium, it was evident that the mechanics behind the game was almost similar to that of “The Sims” whereby it is down to you to develop your character using the 24 colourful skills. At the beginning of Disco Elysium, George was keen to point out that when selecting your playing style the game could either play out as a standard detective saga all the way through to a trippy “Fear and loathing in Las Vegas” style where your detective will be more or less off his tits throughout the game and eventually go completely mad.
I have seriously never played a game quite like this before. The graphics are well drawn using a “croquis” method which gives to an artistic sketchy representation on the screen for both the characters and scenery. The voice acting is brilliant and I particularly enjoyed the many horror sounding British tones of your conscious played by a band member from metal band “The Sixth”. Interacting with yourself has never been so fun and the outcomes serve to develop your persona further, causing various hilarious reactions in the narrative while giving you either better or worse chances at succeeding when questioning or replying to suspects.
Boasting 50+ hours of gameplay and a massive open ended case, Disco Elysium is definitely one for the gaming wishlist!
Steel Rats by Polish based Tate Multimedia (the devs behind the Urban Trial games) is a futuristic 2.5D motorbike combat game set in an explosive diesel-soaked world whereby you ride through levels destroying pretty much everything that gets in your path using your motorbike. With the ability to turn your front wheel into a firey spinning disc, robots and even parked cars feel your wrath as you speed along the various platforms of the levels slicing through them like a hot knife through butter, all be it with a few explosions along the way.
There are 4 characters to choose from, each with their own motorbikes and special abilities such as firing guns and rockets, helpful when taking on a boss if jousting with the front wheel isn’t your thing. Each level consists of a variety of platforms that you must jump between and even ride vertically up and down while destroying the menacing robots who stand in your way in order to collect junk and power-ups to help upgrade your ride. Should your character be killed you can select one of the other remaining characters and begin the level once more, hopefully learning from your mistakes. Although there is a helpful bright neon sign to direct you which way to go I still found myself hurtling at full speed from platforms repeatedly into the dark abyss and at times getting a little lost!
Control of the motorbike is probably a lot easier than I was showing off to the crowds that were surrounding me. I put it down to peer pressure! Tapping a button on the control pad allows you to spin the motorbike around, great for making a rapid U-turn to hurtle up onto a ramp and also to deflect the enemy gun fire back at them. Keen to impress my timings were slightly off and when the going got heated I found myself poodling around in circles performing donuts while getting my front wheel stuck against the barriers of the platforms!
The final version of Steel Rats will be around 30 levels that will take upto 20minutes each to complete. There will be a huge map of the city to chart your progress through the story and between 4 and 5 specific environments to navigate your way through.
Steel Rats will be coming to PC, PS4 and Xbox One later this year.
Another game that caught my eye over at the Unreal Engine Showcase was Tyred by developers Sekrit Games. It’s simplistic but competitive gameplay made for a really funny multiplayer party game. Currently supporting upto 4 players locally, Tyred allows each person to take charge of a comically named tyre such as “Tread Milliband” and “David Camroll” in a series of fast paced arena challenges consisting of events such as Bash (knocking your opponents off a shrinking arena), Pole Hog (landing your tyre onto a pole and hogging it), King of the Hill (first player to 100 points by staying on the designated spot) and Tyre Pong (be the first player to land your tyre in all of the cups).
The physics of your tyre is brilliant and you have the ability to roll, slam, dash and jump around the arena in an attempt to push each other off the edge leading to hysterics from the players as plans backfire and karma is served. Power-ups appear from time to time such as increasing the size of your tyre and other obstacles appearing like tornadoes serve to test your ability to control your inflated rubber as you get battered across the screen. Tyres can be renamed, customised with rims, colours and new skins.
I do love a good party game and Tyred looks to tick the boxes nicely.
Tyred is currently available on PC in Alpha mode with a free version available on Google play. The full release on PC is around September time with an online mode being currently developed that will support larger games alongside single player modes and further co-op and vs levels.
After wandering around two floors of Tobacco dock for the best part of a day taking in some great games and some that were in their infancy I found myself in the basement level staring at a large sign for “Conan Exiles“, a large free roam exploration survival game whereby you start with literally nothing and craft your way to greatness. Naturally I sat down at the nearest vacated chair and donned the headset and away I went.
I chose to play as a man and there I was completely naked in the middle of a desert. As the controls slowly fed to me I could hear much mirth and tittering coming from the watching audience behind me each time I made my character jump in the air. I soon realised that the level of detail on the character was enough to include a fairly large scrotum that was evident swinging about like a wrecking ball between my thighs every time I hit the space bar. Yep it was definitely time to scavenge and quickly clothe myself!
Items/resources are quickly collected from the floor by tapping the appropriate button on the keyboard, thankfully there wasn’t any of the minecraft style harvesting of chop, chop, chop before an item could be gathered. Entering into your inventory allows you to access your “recipes” to craft weapons, clothing, armour etc. There is a build time allocated to each item to be crafted however in the early stages a pair of grass pants doesn’t take long! As you gain knowledge points through adventuring along you can buy further recipes to upgrade your gear and stats.
Being a survival game you must keep an eye on your health bar which slowly depletes requiring you to stock up on any food you can find and also water. Like real life you must remember to cook meat that you scavenge from a slain animal otherwise you will get food poisoning. Yep I managed to do that while thinking I was offering raw meat to a camp fire to be cooked my character chose to eat it instead.
The map I saw was huge with a good variety of grasslands, deserts, forests, lakes and curious looking villages to visit. The detail that has been put into Conan Exiles is very good with some awesome looking textures. The idea of the game is to build your own secure settlement to store your food and weapons while out adventuring and taking on your enemies. The free form building system lets you construct buildings anywhere you want and similar to other crafting games you need to build forges, armour benches, a tannery and wood working benches to create more intricate wears. It is certainly impressive as to how much you can do. Your building can be designed entirely to your taste and even have trophies mounted onto the wall showing the heads of slain beasts. To build up your workforce you can capture people and bring them to your settlement, in doing so you also unlock access into their unique skill set and knowledge.
From what I saw of Conan Exiles the game is pretty much endless, the plan is to allow players to setup a server and have their friends join their clan and play together. If this works well then this could make for an amazing game however you really need to put in those hours of play to get there and reap the rewards.
Conan Exiles is available now on early access for PC and Xbox One with the full release including PS4 on May 8th.
One last stop for me was the Wired Productions room where having enjoyed the likes of Victor Vran and Max: The curse of Brotherhood I was keen to take a look at Shaq Fu: A legend Reborn. The new Shaq game is touted as a “successor to the worst game ever” (circa 1994) in an attempt to restore the legacy of Shaquille O’Neil (an old famous american basketball player to the youngsters out there) and give him the game that he deserved. Personally I did play ET back in the day and that was certainly a lot worse!
Shaq Fu is pretty much a streetfighter come streets of rage coin-op style arcade game whereby you play as Shaq and pretty much punch and kick your way through level after level facing off against bosses every now and then. The new Shaq Fu has been completely redesigned from the ground up sporting a new soundtrack featuring the main man Shaq himself on vocals as he takes on the hordes of Hell and Hollywood. With new moves and some random devastating slow-mo moments throwing enemies around the screen using his huge size 22 shoe there is enough to keep you interested for a while.
I played through one of the levels, mashing the buttons of the control pad and enjoying the early stages as I beat enemy after enemy to the floor however I found myself getting frustrated later on with the shielded enemies that quickly turned on the spot to face you as you jumped across their head making each attack long and laborious as you dance side to side waiting for them to try and hit you and then open themselves up for retaliation. Having never played the original Shaq Fu game I cannot compare it to the latest offering however it made for a bit of fun. For the die hard fans of beat-em ups it maybe worth a look-in.
Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn is released on PS4 and Xbox One June 5th.
Well there you go folks, my feet ache, my eyes are square but wow there was so much to see and to be honest I could easily be writing about the games I saw and played for the next few weeks! I would like to say a big thank you to all of the developers who took time out to chat with me about their future releases as well as allowing me to test them out. Thanks to the PR firms for setting up my appointments, you lot seriously kept me busy!
I highly recommend you all to check out the next EGX in Birmingham later on in the year where many more games and companies will be on display. EGX: Rezzed was a great day out for everyone and brilliant to see so much support for the rising indie developers!