If you’ve not heard of WASD before, it’s the new games show that everyone’s talking about and that no one knows how to pronounce (wazzed?). It’s taken the old springtime slot of EGX Rezzed down in London’s Tobacco Docks, after Rezzed became EGX Birmingham and then became, well, cancelled. Back in January, the organiser stated that many of its partners and brands were not yet ready to return to live events because of COVID, although they have plans to try again next year.
Thankfully WASD was still able to go ahead this week, and I was able to attend on Thursday and Friday. I’m pleased to say that it’s basically Rezzed in all but name – which is good, because Rezzed was my favourite of all the game shows, and I know it was dear to a lot of other people’s hearts, too. That said, WASD was about half the size of Rezzed, covering just one floor instead of two, and it was definitely a lot quieter than Rezzed shows of old. It seems that exhibitors and the general public are still a little reluctant to head back to live shows just yet – although hopefully WASD will go from strength to strength in years to come.
As well as catching up with old industry friends and acquantainces, I spent a good few hours trudging around the various booths to sample the latest games. Here’s my pick of the best games from the show.
How To Say Goodbye
The art style of How To Say Goodbye is absolutely gorgeous – it’s all based on illustrated books from the mid-20th century, and the eye-catching colour palette and stylised line drawings really made it stand out from the crowd. The game tasks you with helping a recently deceased man negotiate the afterlife by solving puzzles, which involve tugging at conveyor-belt-like tiles to line up various objects in clever ways. It’s the work of Paris-based developers Florian Veltman and Baptiste Portefaix, and it was one of the most unique titles I saw at WASD – definitely one to watch.
To Hell With The Ugly
Like How To Say Goodbye, this is another title from French publishers Arte France, and it has similarly beautiful and highly stylised graphics. To Hell With The Ugly is based on a novel by Boris Vian, and it takes the form of a 1950s film-noir point and click adventure, with all sorts of bar fights, plot twists and enduring mysteries. I enjoyed the demo I played, although it needs a little work on signposting, since there were a few times where I was left with absolutely no idea what to do next, instead having to rely on the PR fellow to point out what to do.
Golf Gang is the work of Lazy Monday Games, a Scottish studio founded by two brothers, and it slots right into that Fall Guys genre of chaotic multiplayer mayhem. You and a group of friends take control of anthropomorphic golf balls and battle to get to the end of a twisting course by holding the mouse button and pulling back to power up shots. Cleverly, coming first doesn’t guarantee victory – you also get points for taking the least amount of shots, so there’s a lovely tension between trying to bag the points for coming first and trying to keep below par.
Billed as a ‘Pixel Pulp’, Mothmen 1966 is a visual novel that’s designed to be finished in a couple of hours, and it’s all done in a highly distinctive visual style reminiscent of eighties PC graphics. The story is centred around paranormal occurences during the 1966 Leonid meteor shower, and the demo had me absolutely hooked. The writing is superb, and I can’t believe I have to wait until later this year to find out what happens next. This one is headed to PlayStation, Xbox and Switch as well as PC.
The Curios section was WASD’s equivalent of Rezzed’s Leftfield Collection, and Schim was the standout title from that little cubby hole of weird games. You have to guide a tiny frog-like spirit from shadow to shadow, manipulating certain parts of the world along the way to create more shadows and open up routes.
Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus and Butterfly
The gaming world was shocked to learn of the passing of Mohammad Fahmi, creator and writer of Coffee Talk, in March this year. He worked on that game while he was at Toge Productions, but later left to form his own studio, Pikselnesia, and was working on Afterlove EP at the time of his death. Somewhat confusingly, now we have Coffee Talk Episode 2, which has been created by Toge Productions without Fahmi’s involvement. A strange turn of events indeed – but I was impressed with the brief segment I played of this sequel.
Team17 is publishing The Unliving, which played a bit like a cross between Overlord and Diablo. You have to raise an army of the undead, which you command to go and kill the living – and once your foes are dead, you can raise them up to join the swelling ranks of your zombie army. The demo I played was a bit buggy, mind, so hopefully they’ll get those kinks ironed out before release.
Card Shark is being published by Devolver Digital, and it tells the tale of a mute youth being taught the ways of cheating and trickery in eighteenth-century France, over a series of high-stakes card games. There are around 28 minigames to master, including false shuffles and deck switching, and I had a thoroughly good time pulling the wool over my opponents’ eyes.