As the doors to Tobacco Dock in London closed to what was a heaving and successful EGX Rezzed 2019, what up and coming games stood out for me I hear you ask?! Well let me kick off my Sketchers, upload my photos and I’ll tell you all about it!
Hamsterdam: Paws of Justice
First on the list is Hamsterdam: Paws of Justice developed by Muse Games. Coming out around late Spring to Nintendo Switch, Steam, iOS and Android, you play as a cartoon drawn cute fluffy hamster called Pimm who is out for vengeance after his grandfather is kidnapped by the evil Chinchilla known as Marlo. Set in a mafia/old school gangster environment you must use your Hamster-Fu to bring down the villains as you fight your way through the many combat and scooter-based levels.
Created from a successful Kickstarter campaign, Hamsterdam: Paws of Justice is hilarious to play as games gurus Wendy and James were keen to enthusiastically show me. Before I knew it I had a Nintendo Switch Joycon in each hand and a crowd gathering around me as I frantically thrusted my hands around in a rhythmic fashion to carefully time my hits onto the evil mouse and weasel that were coming at me with glass bottles. Swipe and strike gestures made playing the game energetic and I was soon working up a sweat in front of the screen.
With comic book cut scenes to break up the levels, I was soon progressing through the district thanks to my mentor James helping me achieve those perfect attack combos. Wendy was keen to point out that although the Nintendo Switch version used motion controls, the steam version would allow for mouse gestures to allow people with medical conditions such as arthritis to still be able to play the game, definitely a thoughtful touch!
Hamsterdam: Paws of Justice really tested your idea of rhythm however in the early levels where it was teaching you the basics it was fairly forgiving. This will certainly become a favourite for children, and adults, alike when it comes out.
Wavey the Rocket
Next on my list was developer Upper Room’s side scroller Wavey the Rocket. I spent a while hovering and watching other people play before I sat down in the hot seat. The principle is simple, navigate your space ship from the start to the end of the level while avoiding obstacles. The concept that makes Wavey Rocket one of the most frustrating but also obsessive games you will ever play is the mechanic that is utilised to control the rocket. A waveform. Anyone that has ever played Spiderman on the PS4 will remember the waveform puzzles whereby you needed to line the wavelengths up to fix the signal coming from the tower. Wavey Rocket kinda has that concept in that you need to adjust the amplitude and longitude of the waveform which becomes the path that your ship will fly along. The initial level starts off fairly simple but once it begins to get faster it is surprising how quickly you get the waveform wrong and are left watching your ship follow it’s course into a wall. The trick seemed to be to watch the waveform and not the ship however because you are constantly altering the height and length of the wavelength you need your ship to clear the upcoming obstacle before you adjust it for the next one. Once you have mastered the controls it is down to you to wow the world with the speedruns that can be achieved. Looking at the times on the leaderboard there is some serious competition here!
Wavey Rocket is currently in its funding cycle and is hoping to get a release date onto Steam, PS4 and XB1 in 2020 Q2.
In the Unreal Engine Showcase room, I was fortunate enough to sit down with Yasher, a developer for Ovid Works that are currently working on a wonderful looking game that has taken 3 years in the making called Metamorphosis. Defined as a first-person puzzle platform adventure mystery game, you play as Gregor who one day wakes up as a tiny bug and is unsure why, oh and his friend Joseph has been arrested for reasons unknown and you need to help him. It is up to you, in your new form, to scuttle and jump from ledge to platform in a 3D steampunk looking world where everything is so big in comparison to you. The narrative to Metamorphosis is excellent and keeps you enthralled as you explore the vast area around you, search for collectibles and parkour your way from object to object. One thing that really impressed me is how amazing the graphics looked. When you are close up to a metal cog, for example, there is no pixelation whatsoever and Yasher was keen to point out that all of the graphics were handmade right down to the tiniest of details. It is really something else!
As I advanced through the printing press demo level you are introduced to a wall climbing mechanic that really turns the game (and your view) on its head. Now you have a liquid that you can use to paint onto surfaces to climb them as well as the ability to jump and stick to other items, giving you the freedom to pick your own path to solve puzzles. It reminded me a little of Portal where you are trying to get from one point to another by jumping and using what’s around you for inspiration. With 5 to 6 hours of storyline to play through, I would definitely watch out for this one!
Metamorphosis will be available soon on Steam, PS4, XB1 and Nintendo Switch.
Castle Crashers Remastered
Ok, when I heard about this game I was really really excited! I know there does seem to be remasters coming out everywhere at the moment, however, nearly every time the reason behind a developer re-releasing an old classic is purely down to fan demand. In the case of Castle Crashers Remastered, this is certainly the case. Speaking with Ian, one of the devs at The Behemoth, he was literally radiating excitement that a huge fan base had demanded a remaster as well as finally being able to release onto a Nintendo device, something they had wanted to do since the 3DS launched, however, they did not have the time back then.
So what is new and improved in the remaster I hear you ask? Well, The Behemoth has given Castle Crashers a graphical overhaul making the texture sizes 5 times the size of the original and also upped the frame rate from 30fps to 60fps. The result is a very fluid gameplay and a colourful, sharp one at that. They have also thrown in all of the previous DLC such as the extra playable characters like the Blacksmith and the many extra weapons to make your journey back to Castle Crashers a rewarding one. There is also a new and crazy game mode called “Back off Barbarian” which is a grid-based offering whereby you are chased by a….erm….barbarian however the twist in this saga is that the movement alters throughout the game, confusing you and letting the baddy catch up.
Castle Crashers Remastered is out now on XB1 and Steam and is launching on Nintendo Switch and PS4 in Summer this year!
Question, what do you get when you cross some veteran Command and Conquer devs and mix it with the world of Conan the Barbarian? Dammit, I already wrote the title above lol. Petroglyph has certainly made a tidy game with their latest survival strategy game Conan Unconquered based around the 1933 fictional short story “Black Colossus” by American author Robert E. Howard.
Releasing onto Steam on 30th May, your mission is to choose a hero such as Conan, Valeria (a pirate queen) and Kalanthes (a mage who is in the deluxe edition), gather resources, research tech, construct your defenses and fend off the waves of enemy known as the “Hordes of Hyboria” while keeping your base locked down. Featuring randomly generated maps and major decisions as to what you should prioritise, there are 5 campaign scenarios to play through which can be undertaken either as single player or online co-op with a teammate. There is also the option to play a custom match whereby you can specify the number of enemy waves, terrain type, and resource level.
The gameplay for Conan Unconquered looked very well detailed, set in a desert environment with limited resources dotted out around you. As I gathered resources there was a basic element of another of my favourite games, Settlers, seeping through. Where previous resource games of this genre have relied on 1 or 2 resources to construct units and defenses, Conan Unconquered featured a lot more such as building initially in wood and later on upgrading them to stone. I loved the way that when playing co-op these resources could be shared, however, the units you set about creating could only be controlled by the person who made them, therefore communication was key to a successful strategy. Should your hero die during a wave they will respawn, should your stronghold fall then it is game over!
Divinity: Fallen Heroes
Confession time, I have never played any of the Divinity series by Larian Studios…until now. There said it. I am always up to give any game a try and boy/girl was this something else. I absolutely love XCOM style games whereby you have turn-based movement and attacks across a map and Divinity: Fallen Heroes plays exactly like it, all be it set in the universe of critically acclaimed RPG Divinity: Original Sin 2.
Starting off on a ship named The Lady Vengeance you have choices to make as to whether you help defend a harbour full of innocent villagers or attack another threat. What you decide to do affects the storyline as you lead your crew through 60 handcrafted missions.
Each battle allows you to choose a hero and a number of soldiers from various classes to fill your team. Using archers, dwarfs and mages is great fun as you undertake the objective that has been laid out before you.
As I played through the demo, I became more and more engrossed in the action as I recruited new troops, researched better gear and leveled up heroes. The arsenal you have before you allows you to test many combat strategies such as experimenting with rifles, swords and sorcery. There are many interactive elements in each map with igniting puddles of oil being one of my favourites. You definitely need a keen eye when moving your characters to ensure that you are not sending them through poison, ice, water or explosive sulfurium which could severely hamper your soldier’s life span on the enemy turn.
Being new to the series I was a little concerned that I would not understand what was happening however the heavy storyline helps you along as you begin to develop bonds between characters.
Currently Divinity: Fallen Heroes is in pre-alpha state with no release date, however, Adam, one of the creators of the game was keen to say that it would be multiplatform as well as being both single player and co-op featuring tactical combat with simultaneous turns.
I am definitely putting Divinity: Fallen Heroes onto my watch list!
EGX Rezzed 2019 was certainly a busy affair with many Kickstarter funded gaming projects well underway which is brilliant to see for the industry. The careers fair was bustling with people of all ages looking to start out or branch into the gaming sector. From the games that I saw being played around me, as well as the ones I tried for myself, there are a lot of up and coming titles for you to enjoy spanning across all gaming genres. The ones I have written about above were my personal highlights however there was so much more. Every dev I saw was enthusiastic about their title as they explained with a passion to both press parties and the public alike as to what had gone into making their game. If you have never been then I definitely recommend it!
Roll on EGX Rezzed 2020!