I’m back from four solid days of hardcore networking and game playing at this year’s EGX in London, and I am tired – hence why I’m only just now getting around to writing this round up. (I was actually so exhausted and run down by the last day of the show that I fell asleep in the press lounge – I dearly hope that no enterprising journos took candid snaps of my sleeping form.)
A quick word before we get into the nitty gritty of the best games. Although there were plenty of big AAA games at the show, I was mostly hovering around the indie bits and didn’t play the ‘big’ games, hence the lack of titles like Death Stranding and The Avengers here. (Although from the rumours I’ve heard, Death Stranding might be a bit disappointing – don’t @ me. Reports from people who played The Avengers were generally excellent though, and it got a much better reception than the lacklustre E3 demo from earlier this year.)
Beyond a Steel Sky
Twenty-five years I’ve waited for this. TWENTY-FIVE YEARS. The mere fact that this sequel to Beneath a Steel Sky exists at all is reason to rejoice, but it also comes with a massive weight of expectation. Thankfully, judging from the demo I played – which sees Robert Foster attempting to gain entry to Union City – it seems to be shaping up well. The art style is very different from the original but it works, and the most important bit – the whimsical dialogue and hacking/puzzle stuff – seems pretty solid. I was also delighted to hear some Australian accents from the locals – famously the original game used mostly American and British voice actors even though the game is set in Australia, but that oversight has finally been corrected. Hooray!
The beautiful snowy world of Roki had already piqued my interest before EGX, but the demo itself was even better than my expectations. One thing that doesn’t come across from screenshots is that rather than being a 2D left-to-right affair, it’s actually a 3D adventure game (you can totally go up to that house in the above image). I spoke to Alex, one of the developers, and he said they are aiming for a Day of the Tentacle-style adventure where rather than fighting, you progress by helping people (or in this case monsters) and being kind. Sounds wonderful.
More here: https://www.polygon-treehouse.com/roki
I haven’t laughed so much at a game in ages. Actually, scratch that, Untitled Goose Game was hilarious, and that was only a couple of weeks ago. But hey, look, Table Manners is really funny – to the point where I was laughing like a drain while watching it on the show floor, and laughing even harder when I got to play it for myself. Think Surgeon Simulator but with dinner dates and you get the idea. In attempting to pour your date a drink with your big wobbly hand, you inevitably knock over the candle and set fire to the table, or sweep her steak onto the floor, with hilarious consequences. It’s great. I don’t know whether it will get repetitive after several hours of play, but this one is bound to be a hit with streamers eager for the lolz.
Steam wishlist: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1019450/Table_Manners/
The developer of Flotsam tried to explain the game to me by saying it’s a bit like Waterworld but with less fighting (and presumably no Kevin Costner). You start off with a group of villagers who have survived a flood but are left stranded in an ocean surrounded by floating rubbish, and the aim is to build a new floating community using the flotsam around you. It’s an intriguing idea, and I spent a long time eagerly growing my floating town – this game has massive potential. Also, it’s very, very pretty – and has some of the best video-game whales I’ve seen.
Steam wishlist: https://store.steampowered.com/app/821250/Flotsam/
Yes, Your Grace
The relatively new publisher No More Robots is one a bit of a roll at the moment – they’ve already released the excellent Hypnospace Outlaw and Nowhere Prophet this year, and Yes, Your Grace looks like another winner. You play a king who is constantly approached by subjects asking for help, and your choices dictate how the game unfolds. I only had a short time with this, so I can’t really say how your choices affect the game yet, but I can say that the dialogue is great, as is the lovely pixel art.
Steam wishlist: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1115690/Yes_Your_Grace/
Iron Man VR
The demo for Iron Man VR only featured a tutorial level, but it was fun enough that it made me want to play the full game. Holding the Move controllers down by your sides to hover, just like Iron Man does with his hands, felt brilliant. And the controls are very responsive, too – angling the controllers in different directions adjusts your little hand jets, meaning you can move very precisely. One to watch!
Eeeeeeeeeee, what a beauty this game is. It’s been years in the making, and this shows in the insane level of detail on the pixel art. Gosh darn, Eastward looks good. The game itself plays somewhat like a top-down Zelda, with simple puzzles to solve and areas to return to once you’ve learned new tricks. You can also swap between the two protagonists to use their different abilities, and even separate them to solve puzzles, like getting one to stand on a switch.
More here: https://eastwardgame.com/
Bookbound Brigade almost didn’t make it onto this list – the demo I played had some big flaws, but the idea of the game is so interesting that I feel it warrants some attention. The plot (which features some very funny writing from the chap behind LittleBigPlanet‘s words whose name I can’t remember now, ugh) sees a series of literary characters head off in search of missing pages from the Book of Books (aka B.O.B.), and the game takes inspiration from The Wonderful 101 in that you can flip your characters into different formations to solve puzzles and fight enemies. Great idea – but the downside is that the combat currently feels chaotic and imprecise, while the difficulty curve goes from incredibly simple to incredibly frustrating in the blink of an eye. If they can iron out the problems though, Bookbound Brigade could be something special.
More here: https://www.facebook.com/BookboundBrigade/
Those are my highlights, but which ones piqued your interest? Are there any other games that should have made the list? Let me know in the comments!