In an age of internet spoilers and general over-saturation of digital content, it is a rare pleasure to be able to experience and play games you haven’t heard of previously or seen a dozen ‘preview trailers’ for in the first week.
We were fortunate enough to be invited to a publisher double bill featuring 10 games from Plug in Digital and The Sidekicks. Not only were the games unique and engaging, but they also provided a refreshingly broad selection, which contained a little something for the majority of audiences.
Pankapu: The Dreamkeeper
Channelling the art style of Bastion with the crushing pixel-perfect platforming of Super Meat Boy, this brightly coloured and vivid action platformer may initially deceive with its simple controls, but once you advance past the initial few sparingly distributed checkpoints, the game shows its true colours, rewarding patience and timing. The game will be released in episodes with the first arriving later this summer.
Arguably the most surprising game of the group, this tablet adventure and puzzle game is an interactive experience designed for both parents and children to become involved in the storytelling process. Designed for the iPad’s touch controls, the player must arrange the words in a certain order to proceed to the next part of the story, but experimentation is encouraged with lots of different combinations resulting in alternate storylines and pictures, ideal for multiple playthroughs.
A devilishly challenging twin-stick shooter, this game supports 4-player co-op and allows for customization of robots with weapons and armour sets. Each level carries three separate ratings on loot, difficulty and size of dungeon, which gives the player a satisfying risk and reward balance and lends itself to being experienced more than once.
Who Must Die
After the success of Sam Barlow’s Her Story, live action storytelling has re-entered the gaming scene in new and innovative ways. Who Must Die puts you in charge of three strangers’ lives, with the task of finding out who among them is contaminated and disposing of them in whichever way you see fit. The player must study each live camera feed with the actors reacting to each condition you set upon them, be it loud music or turning off all the lights to see how they react. Whilst still in the early stages of development, the premise was intriguing and I look forward to its release.
A 2D scrolling shooter with 3D graphics, Boiling Bolt is similar to the PS4 exclusive Resogun, however the player is given much more freedom in terms of movement which you’ll definitely need with the challenging waves of enemies taking up the majority of the screen. Experimentation is key, with each weapon variant employing a different style that works effectively with different enemy structures. The game also features cooperative play if you find the daunting number of enemies too challenging.
A solid stand out from the showcase, both from a design and mechanical perspective, Splasher is a delight to play. A hybrid of the aesthetics and level design of Super Meat Boy mashed with the paint heavy focus of Splatoon and you get Splasher, a platformer which has the player rescuing his friends while progressing through various levels populated with hazards and paint coordinated puzzles. You will traverse walls, and use various colour coordinated paints to progress through the level, but the mechanics, while simple, do rely on speed and coordination which can prove difficult when first learning the basics, but will soon have you bouncing from wall to paint plastered wall in no time.
Old School Musical
Old School Musical is a rhythm game which tugs on those nostalgic gaming heartstrings of old with chiptune remakes of all your favourite classic game music from Megaman to Metal Slug. OSM is a trip back through gaming history using Dance Dance Revolution-style rhythm based button combos to advance the characters in each world through the levels. Get too many notes wrong and they fail tragically. The game features more than 20 exclusive songs in the original 8 and 16-bit formats to bask in as you make your way through the missions.
Hover: Revolt of Gamers
For those of you unsatisfied with a simple port of Jet Set Radio to various consoles, or feeling that something that you just couldn’t quite put your finger on was missing from Mirror’s Edge rejoice – all your itches are about to be simultaneously scratched with Hover. Inspired by such titles, Hover combines the beloved free flow traversal with a futuristic city environment and an interesting art direction to create a promising continuation of the genre. Upon launch the game will feature more than 10 characters to choose from and different stats and abilities to customize. The game can be played in either third or first person perspectives, with VR support being added later to give the player the ultimate choice in how they want their experience to be.
Crazy Pixel Streaker
This is a game that hands down won the award for craziest game of the showcase. I had very little idea of what was happening during my surreal experience with this game, though I certainly enjoyed every minute of it. The player finds themselves in the middle of a World Cup final and has to survive as long as possible, gathering support from the crowd. They in turn morph into bombs which you can use to halt the forces of ever growing security (who resemble mini Agent Smiths) who try and take you down as you run around the pitch. While only one level was available, the fun came from trying to figure out all the mechanics – each run lasted mere minutes before being taken down.
Edge of Eternity
Towards the end of the event we were treated to a demo of this JRPG and the combat system utilised during battles. Midgar Studio’s contribution to the ever-popular western JRPG fan base includes several vast open worlds to explore and an in-depth weapons upgrade system that works in a similar fashion to other RPGs such as Skyrim.