This is the part of the round up that I’m dedicating to the Rezzed area of EGX. For those who don’t know what that is, it’s basically the indie section. It’s one of my favourite visits of the show. Whereas when I played games like Shadows of Mordor or Alien: Isolation the people working there weren’t devs or even employees of the respective development companies, that’s pretty much all the Rezzed area is made up of. Devs who are excited to see players play their games and get some feedback. It’s really cool being able to try a game out and talk to a dev throughout, or to chat with a dev after the playthrough. Helpful too, because I learned a lot more about some games than I otherwise would have.
This was one of my games of the show, hands down. LA Cops drops you into a 70’s themed, pop-art styled shooting experience that is hella fun to play. In terms of its gameplay it’s similar to Hotline Miami; you go into a building and must eliminate all the bad guys, sometimes completing side objectives, in a control scheme similar to that of a twin stick shooter, but with a mouse and keyboard. In a fantastic twist to the formula you control two characters (out of a possible six, each with their own personalities and weapons), the game allows you to switch between them in realtime throughout the level. Whichever character you aren’t controlling is in sentry mode, meaning that if an enemy walks past their line of site they’re going to get lit up like a Christmas tree. What I got to see and play at EGX was a lot of fun and left me wanting more. LA Cops is currently available on Steam in Early Access for £8.99 and the developers seemed very keen to take on player feedback.
Beyond Eyes was one of the most interesting games I played at EGX. For starters it has an art style that I find absolutely beautiful. You play as a young blind girl who ventures out into the world to find a lost cat. Because Rae is blind as she goes forth the world begins as a completely blank canvas, slowly unfolding like a watercolour painting around her as you guide her. My description isn’t really doing the game nearly as much justice as I would like so I’m going to link the gallery from the Beyond Eyes website here, so you can see for yourself how gorgeous the art in the game is. It’s not just the graphics that are interesting, as Rae can focus on her surroundings to pick out the sound of birds, running water and a host of other environmental noises. I’m sure it would have been a very relaxing game were it not for the booming noises of EGX just outside my headphones. Beyond Eyes is a really interesting, visually outstanding game that I’ll be looking forward to in 2015.
Quest of Dungeons
I’m cheating a little with this one, as after playing the game for about 20 minutes at EGX I have played about another hour at home after buying it on Steam. Quest of Dungeons is a rogue-like, randomly generated dungeon crawler. What sets it apart from other similar games is that it’s a turn based game that is incredibly fast paced. You can absolutely take things slow as you delve deeper and deeper into the dungeon, but inevitably you’ll be storming around the dungeon quite quickly as one of four classes, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. The game is already complete and has been out on Steam for a few months, but at EGX developer David Amador was showing off new content that includes a brand new dungeon and a custom dungeon. The custom dungeon lets you choose how difficult/easy a challenge you’re after, as well as letting you select a length for your dungeon, which adds a huge chunk of re-playability to a game that is already bursting with it. It’s an addictive game with that “one more turn” gameplay loop common in excellent turn based games; give it a try, it’s currently available on Steam for only £3.99.
I’m a huge board game fan, so after a quick playthrough of Living Dungeon the only yardstick I had to measure it by was “is this a game my friends and I could sink hours into?” The answer is an emphatic yes. Living Dungeon is a game of death; when I sat down to start playing the developer outlined the many, many ways in which I would probably die. What at first glance looks like a straightforward survival board game contains an incredible amount of depth. Each player gets a 5 dice and can customise them depending on how he or she wants to play the game. You can choose to favour combat, speed or tile manipulation (the latter allowing you to rotate or flip tiles to your advantage). The object is to be the last player standing, but here’s the twist: you can only kill a certain player. Player 1 can only kill player 2, player 2 can only kill player 3, and player 3 can only kill player 1. There’s also a computer controlled DM out to kill you too. No matter how you die, whether as a result of direct action from your would-be assassin or an act of random chance, the player attempting to kill you gets the point. It’s not a straight forward game and involves a lot of strategy, which is my favourite kind.
I’ve talked about it a lot, but it bears mentioning again; I have a big soft spot for a good noir story. Game, TV show, movie, book, comic…doesn’t matter. Calvino Noir is a stealth based, 2D noir game that got it’s hooks in me from the first exchange of dialogue. The game revolves around sneaking past guards to obtain information, or at least the demo did, and it was a lot more challenging than expected. Either that or my non-existent stealth skills were impeding me. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know how I feel about stealth games; I’m really bad at the majority of them, so unless they’re designed in a specific way I’ll suck at them. However I will grit my teeth and press through them if it gives me something else to get invested in, which Calvino Noir definitely looks like it will, with it’s really well done atmosphere. Speaking of which…
I missed Mike Bithell at the Volume stand (sadface) but I did get to meet his girlfriend. While I was waiting for a turn at the demo she asked if I was a stealth game fan or a Thomas Was Alone fan. (I think) I successfully managed to avoid gushing all over about how much of a TWA fanboy I am (it’s my favourite game about geometric shapes ever made). Let me be clear, I sucked at the Volume demo. Big style. But I pressed on for several reasons. The interactions between the main character and the gun obsessed AI (the latter voiced by Danny Wallace) were fantastic, the humour was exactly my kind of humour, and I really dug the art style. With how incredible Thomas Was Alone is there’s no way I’m not picking up the next Mike Bithell game, but Volume won me over despite how many times I got shot to pieces by robots.
Soul Axiom is a very interesting puzzle game. In it you wield a glove that is capable of phasing certain objects in and out of the world, and must use these powers to solve puzzles and fuel your progression. The puzzles themselves required some measure of thought and a lot of trial and error, but I wasn’t bored when I was playing it. In fact now I think about it I didn’t even get frustrated when I got stuck (which was all the damn time). Unfortunately for the game my head was nowhere near the right place for a cerebral puzzle experience so I wasn’t able to get too far into the game (when I apologised to the dev he informed me I got further than most, which made me smile). However the brief stint I played of Soul Axiom left me with a positive impression and it’s definitely something I’ll be keeping an eye on.
While at EGX I was constantly on the lookout for games designed for PS Vita, the most underrated games platform this side of the Dreamcast, and found myself playing Flame Over. It’s a twin stick shooter in which you play as a fire fighter. Each level is a different type of building and you must charge in and put out a fire. It has a lot more depth than it’s cartoon-like graphics would suggest. You’re in a race against time, but you can extend your time by rescuing people trapped in the inferno, some of whom refuse to leave without their personal belongings (I’m sure there’s some kind of safety memo about that). You also have to keep refilling your fire extinguisher, watch out for electrical fires and backdraft, rescue trapped kitten, keep an eye on your health. There’s a lot going on in Flame Over but at no time did I feel overwhelmed.
War for the Overworld
One game I’m very excited for is War for the Overworld, being a big fan of the old Dungeon Keeper games, of which this is a spiritual successor. It brought back a lot of memories for me as I made my way through the tutorial, nailing both the God sim game mechanics to perfection and the humour as well. It’s officially endorsed by Peter Molyneux too!
I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to moving to the left in a platformer, but that’s the general premise of Spoiler Alert. You begin at the end by killing the final boss and rescuing the princess, and then must work your way backwards through all the levels of the game, making sure to do everything exactly as you did it the first time to avoid causing a Temporal Anomaly. I had so much fun playing this game that I completed an entire world before handing the tablet over and buying the game on Steam. What intrigued me most about Spoiler Alert is that it comes with Steam Workshop support and a level editor, so when you’re done with the game you can create your own levels and download ones other players have created. I still won’t ever get used to running backwards in a platformer though.