After experiencing my very first EGX last year, and enjoying the games in the Rezzed and Leftfield sections there, I was curious to see what EGX’s sister show was like.
Rezzed is indeed a different experience, due in part to the room layout of the The Tobacco Dock in which it is held, but also due to it deliberately being a showcase for smaller developers and publishers. The absence of big names like Sony, Microsoft, EA and others (Nintendo had a small presence with 8 Switch games on show) certainly does not detract from from the event feeling important.
Another thing that Rezzed has in it’s favour is that the crowd numbers are smaller which means that, apart from a few games, the queues were no more than 2 or 3 people long so actually getting to play a game that you like the look of didn’t take too long. There were also over 200 games being shown (listed here https://www.egx.net/rezzed/2017/show-floor) so there were plenty of games to see and play.
I was only there on the Saturday, but I managed to get around most of the exhibition and saw and played a fair amount of games. I’ll go through my lists of games played and seen below.
Aerea – Soedesco
This is a great looking Bastion-esque action RPG with a music theme. You play as one of a number of disciples and explore the floating world of Aezir to find and return nine instruments to restore balance to the world.
The Signal From Tolva – Big Robot
The Signal from Tolva is making enough noise with games media that it may well turn into the indie darling of 2017. Certainly it seems to have a lot going for it. It has sci-fi, mystery, first person combat, robots, and strategy. Given it’s imminent release date (10th April) we will all know a lot more soon.
InOps – ZRZ Studio
A mobile puzzle based 2D side scroller that borrows some of the aesthetic presentation of games like Badlands and Limbo. The aim of the game is to stay alive and guide all the Inops (think soot sprites from Studio Ghibli films) through each level using the tilt and touch capabilities of a mobile device. I saw this back at EGX last year and the team have used the last 6 months to polish what was already a good game and add more levels.
Night Bizarre – Laura Dodds
Tarot card sims aren’t exactly common in the games industry, and to find one that actually has a narrative to it even more so. You play as Srey, a novice fortune teller learning her trade in a strange, bustling, Cambodian night market. You must prove to your family that you can make a success of your stall, and over the course of 5 days deal with family disputes, dangerous criminals and torrential storms. This is shaping up to be a very interesting game.
Aaliyah – Jameela Khan
Aaliyah is a game that uses a collage effect in it’s visuals and is what Jameela, the developer, describes as a modern day British “Western”. The story follows Aaliyah retracing the steps of her friend Eliza to learn more about the motives for her death. Through a point and click style the game explores female friendship, gender and identity. I am looking forward to experiencing more of this story and eagerly await it’s, as yet unknown, release date.
Figment – Bedtime Digital Games
Action adventure games were plentiful at Rezzed, so how does a developer go about standing out from the crowd? For Bedtime Digital it was choosing a hand drawn art style, unique character designs, and throwing into the mix a dream like quality of atmosphere. When combined these all make Figment stand out as a child friendly, yet nostalgic feeling, game that hits the right level of being easy to pickup but with enough challenge to keep you engaged with the story.
Snake Pass – Sumo Digital
Snake Pass is already available to purchase so seeing it at Rezzed seemed a little strange, but I was glad that I could talk to one of the developers and get hands on with a game that has generated a fair amount of media attention. Considering that Snake Pass has been in development for a little over a year the game is beautiful to look at, feels unique in it’s mechanics, and has learnt a lot from the last 20 years of 3D game environments. The game is essentially a collect-em-up that sees you slither, curl and climb your way through 4 worlds of increasing difficulty. As this was my first go at the game I didn’t initially get on well with the control scheme due to only having a couple of minutes with it, but I could definitely see myself enjoying the puzzling elements of the game if I spent more time with it.
Sure Footing – Tableflip Games
Ramrafstar is evil. His ferocious minion Deletion Dave is also evil. Both of them are trying to destroy the partitions that hold the world of Computra together. You play as one of four playable characters (Pixel Pete, Polly Polygon, Blip & Plunk) as they try and outrun Dave, warn their friends, and try to find a way to stop Ramrafstar. Sure Footing is a bright and fast endless runner that is simply a lot of fun to play, and with in game challenges, online scoreboards and customisation options to unlock there is plenty to keep coming back to.
De Blob – THQ Nordic
If you are reading the name de Blob and thinking “hasn’t that already been out?” you would indeed be right. de Blob was originally released back in 2008 on Wii and iOS. It did well enough to warrant a sequel in 2011 as well. Since then the THQ that published the de Blob games went bankrupt in 2012, and several of it’s titles were acquired by Nordic Games. In 2014 Nordic Games acquired the THQ trademark and rebranded in 2016 as THQ Nordic. As de Blob was one of the licences it acquired they announced in March that they would be bringing the game to the PS4, XBox One and Steam in 2017. The game itself is a 3D platformer where players maneuver their hero, de Blob, to replace the drab, lifeless gray coloring that the I.N.K.T. Corporation has imposed on Chroma City and its inhabitants, the Raydians, with a range of vibrant life-giving colors, all the while avoiding and battling the gray-clad forces of the Inkies. I played this in local multiplayer with my son and the game has held up well in the 9 years since its release.
Wargroove – Chucklefish Games
When Wargroove was announced as part of Nintendo’s Switch Direct everybody said “So it’s basically like Advance Wars?” (the Wargroove website even answers this question) and that seemed like a bold move by a developer to put a game so very heavily influenced by Advance Wars onto a Nintendo console. Wargroove, to it’s credit, is more than what Advance Wars was as it has 4 player battles, higher resolution pixel art, robust online play and deep modding capability, and a few other new-to-the-genre features that Chucklefish Games have yet to divulge. The game itself absolutely scratches that Advance Wars itch and will be a great portable game on Switch. Other formats have yet to be announced, but I was playing it in the ID@Xbox area so expect this on at least one other console soon.
Sonic Mania – Sega
It’s fair to say that for a lot of gamers there is no love lost with Sega’s blue hedgehog, and for some he even seems anachronistic in the world of 4K 3D action games. A lot of this is down to a slew of mediocre games that failed to stay true to what people liked about Sonic. Sonic Mania hopes to change that and bring Sonic to a new generation of gamers. This is an all-new adventure, but feels like a well thought out HD remix of the original Sonic trilogy. It will satisfy the blue hedgehog’s fans, but it’ll not change the hearts of the haters.
Juncture – Neon Souls
Juncture is a mobile game about bringing 2 friends back together across across a warzone. It has war torn scenery, there are rhythm elements to making progress, and (according to the developer) has a good soundtrack. I wish I could tell you more, even link you to the developer’s website for the game, but this isn’t even listed on the Rezzed playable games page. The photo above and the brief chat with the developer are all I have to prove that the game actually exists. It looked good and I hope more information will be available soon.
Aaero – Mad Fellows
Aaero is stunning to look at. It really is. Gameplay wise though it felt a little on rails. Literally on rails as part of the gameplay is to follow ribbons of light that appear on screen and release the energy in the music. The other part of the gameplay is that it is a shoot’em up, but even this part felt somewhat on rails. I can see this being a Games with Gold or PS Plus game sometime in the future, but until then I wouldn’t go out of my way to pick it up.
Chalo Chalo – Richard Boeser and Tomasz Kaye
Not to name drop or anything but I played this with my kids and Jordan Erica Webber of The Guardian and The Gadget Show fame. The game is a local multiplayer racing game for three to eight players on the same screen. For a racing game it doesn’t focus on speed, but instead relies on ruthless tactics and planning to outsmart your friends to make it to the goal. An enjoyable experience that I could see being a big favourite between very competitive friends at gaming nights.
Forgotton Anne – Throughline Games
For anybody with even a passing interest in animated films the names Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki will evoke imagery from numerous lushly animated and well written films that delight both children and adults alike. It is no surprise then to find out that the artists for Forgotton Anne are massive fans of Studio Ghibli’s films. To add to the visuals of the game is a score composed by Throughline Games’ in-house composer Peter Due and played by the Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra, which marks the first time for the orchestra recording music for a video game. In the game you play as Anne, who is trying to keep order in the Forgotton Land, among the creatures made of mislaid objects hoping to be remembered again, and fighting to squash a rebellion that might stop her returning to the human world. With the backing of the Square Enix Collective program, and a tentative release date of late 2017 this is one to definitely keep an eye on.
Serial Cleaner – Curve Digital
No-one expects the Spanish Inquisition, and no-one can guess what the team at Curve Digital will pull out of their box of tricks next. Between working on ports of games for consoles like Thomas Was Alone, The Swapper, OlliOlli, and Dear Esther: Landmark Edition, the team have also release the Stealth Inc. and Fluidity games. Serial Cleaner sees them playing with 1970s aesthetics and a dark humour to the subject matter of cleaning of murder scenes. Being a “cleaner” has never looked so stylish.
Pocket Rumble – Tokitchen
You know you are old when Pocket Rumble reminds you of SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium on the Neo Geo Pocket Colour (a game that is very nearly 18 years old). That’s not a denigration of Pocket Rumble by any means as I loved both that game and console back in the day. Tokitchen even cite the influence on their website. The game itself looks like it will absolutely be the lapsed fighting gamer’s friend as Tokitchen have streamlined the genre into a beginner-friendly fighting game that reduces the level of execution and memorization necessary to the bare minimum. Also a 2 button control scheme is a god send for those of us who’s reaction times have reduced to the speed of a sleepy snail. This was announced as a Nintendo Switch title back at the start of the year, and it will also be available on other formats too (it’s already available on Steam as an early access title).
For a lapsed gamer knowing the length of a game before you start is a plus. Knowing that a game is completable over an evening or two is a definite plus. The Occupation fits this bill as the narrative takes place over 4 real time hours and sees you cast as a whistleblowing journalist in North-West England on October 24th 1987. A terrorist attack has left 23 dead. This was the catalyst for The Union Act. This act threatens the civil liberties of the British population. Over the 4 hours your decisions based on evidence around you will determine the outcome of the act and the future of the country. No pressure!
Rime – Tequila Works
Despite the fact that I am barely into double digits on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild I am already looking at Rime and thinking “Yes! Yes! OMG! YES!”. While direct comparisons between the two games will litter the reviews of Rime when the embargo drops it is hard not to be tempted by another adventure in the same vein. Even if Rime turns out to be inevitably inferior to Breath of the Wild it is only because Breath of the Wild set a new bench mark for adventure games to aspire to.
For the rest of the games that I saw I’ll do a quick thoughts. Persona 5 (Deep Silver) looks as good as Mark and Cev hoped it would. They’ll be talking about for the rest fo the year I’ll defer to them on how good it is (http://www.deepsilver.com/en/games/persona-5/). Oniri Islands (Tourmaline Studio) looked like an intriguing co-op game for mobile that used physical figures to move the in-game characters (http://www.oniri-game.com/). Smash Up (Nomad Games) and Fable Fortune (Flaming Fowl Studios) are trying to take on the might of Hearthstone (and to a lesser extent Magic) as new digital collectible card games. Neither seemed quite as engaging or easy to get into, but without getting hands on with them I have no issue with being proven wrong on this opinion. Phantom Halls (Incendium) looks like a 2D Resident Evil, and has the bonus of a licensed Ash from The Evil Dead playable character choice, but initial reviews suggest that the controls are detrimental to the experience (http://phantomhalls.com/). Sine Mora EX (THQ Nordic) adds 4K and 60FPS support, and a couple of other tweaks, to what was already a very polished and enjoyable experience. Fingers crossed for a free upgrade on Steam (https://www.thqnordic.com/games/sine-mora-ex).
Thanks for reading, and if you have any opinions on any of the games mentioned, or any of the other games at EGX Rezzed let us know either on Twitter at @lapsedgamer or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org