Day two of EX 2017 is done for me, and I think I’ve had a pretty decent show. While I haven’t seen many AAA games, I’m not too concerned about losing an hour or more of my life in a queue for a game that people will buy in their droves anyway. What has always interested is the indie games, and their certainly have been some gems on show this year.
First on my list of games to visit today was Megaquarium, the upcoming economy simulator from Twice Circled, developers of Big Pharma. I’d spent most of Day One trying to find it, only to notice it hidden amongst the tentacles that dominated a small portion of the Rezzed area.
I made my way towards it this morning like a shark smelling blood in the water and got to indulge my joint enthusiasm for economy simulators like Theme Park and Theme Hospital with a love for all things aquatic.
Place your tanks, attach a filtration unit then start choosing your fish. The basics are simple, but when you want to start earning money, and increasing visitor happiness, you have to get smart. You need to ensure your staff can easily get from the food bins and cleaning taps to the tanks without visitors getting in the way. The fish deserve their own TLC, different species have their own needs and desires, some won’t like to be kept with others, some prefer different decorations in their tanks. It’s a balancing act to make sure everything is ticking over correctly.
If there’s on thing I’ve learned from EGX this year, it is that the economy management sim is going strong, Megaquarium and Production Line are two fine examples of the genre.
I love the idea of turn-based strategy games, but all too often the missions themselves are too serious and focused on the combat for my liking. I need to try our Mario and Rabbids, but today I got my first taste of Attack of the Earthlings from Team Junkfish.
I’ll try to write some more about this at another time, but the mission that I completed was an eye opener for how a turn-based strategy can bring comedy and strong action into individual missions. It has certainly shot to my attention, roll on 2018 when this will be out.
Wandering around the Rezzed area, it was striking how many really polished looking games were on show. One of these was Phantom Halls a haunted house survival game. I took charge of the Metalhead character, though Ash from Evil Dead was also available to play with. My objective was simple, venture into a spooky house to find gasoline for the van that Metalhead had been driving in.
Phantom Halls is in Early Access right now, but the fundamental mechanics of searching a haunted house, bashing nasties out of the way and searching for goodies, or other buddies who are trapped inside, are rock solid. I only had a quick blast, but will look to spend some more time with in during Early Access.
I did see a couple of non-indie games at the show today. The first was Sonic Forces, people who grew up on the Sega consoles will likely have some strong opinions on another 3D Sonic game. Let me just say that this was some fast Sonic action, and while I’ve never been a big Sonic man, I found it entertaining. Probably not enough to keep me interested for long though, his games have never clicked with me.
It’s always strange to think about how Sonic has tried and not always succeeded in evolving over the years, whereas Mario goes from strength to strength. Something to ponder…
I also managed to take a peak at Monster Hunter World. It was on one of those Sony booths where nobody is organising anything, and somehow I ended up forming a separate queue to the one that was apparently already there. And then a Sony guy moved everyone else behind me…success!
Anyway, I’ve never played a Monster Hunter game before, but it seemed to play out in a very similar fashion to Xenoblade Chronicles X from the Wii U.
*cue comment rage*
But yes, I took charge of a chap with a meaty switchblade that wouldn’t have looked far out of place in Bloodborne, followed some monster tracks, came across a decently sized dinosaur-like thing. I slashed away at it until it died. Simple!
I don’t know what needs to be said about Guns, Gore & Cannoli 2 apart from the fact that it is full of stereotypical Italian mobsters, zombies and zombie Nazi’s. Side scrolling action that works as well playing solo as I did, as it appears to in co-op which will be available locally, or online. I had a blast sending protagonist Vinnie Cannoli around the levels with his super double jumping ability and classic Tommy gun. It’s a great laugh, no doubt about it.
Mantis Burn Racing was a hidden highlight from the show last year, and I even delivered my Verdict on it last October. Since then, I had lost track of the various DLC packs that had dropped for it, and was pleased to see the team from VooFoo Studios demoing a Switch version at the Show this week.
It is the kind of racer that fits perfectly on the Switch, and might prove to be the spiritual home of the game. The Switch version of Mantis Burn will include all the DLC released for the game. I am really very keen for the release, hopefully in just a few weeks.
The Occupation from White Paper Games is a game that I think will divide critical opinion when it releases next year. I think it will cause debate over what kind of political statement the game is making, if any.
It’s described on the official site as a “politically driven, non-combat immersive sim set in 1980s north-west England in which you play as a whistleblowing journalist.” The controversial “Union Act” is about to be voted on in Parliament, as you investigate the details around the Act, you will determine what happens next, for it, and the country.
From speaking with one of the developers at the stand, he gave me the impression that if you explore the game fully, probably through several play throughs, you will see arguments on both sides of the debate over the Act. I didn’t get to see what the Act actually entails, but it seems like it impinges on civil liberties. This one could cause some serious debate.
That is a decidedly good thing. Games handling serious issues? As long as they’re handled well, I’m all for it.
Dead Cells was the last game of the show for me, and I think my tweet from the show floor expresses my view perfectly.
Dead Cells, extremely cool. How have I missed this roguelike? Would have hours of fun.
— The Reticule (@TheReticule) 22 September 2017
Combining elements of traditional roguelikes, Castlevania-action and Souls-lite combat, this is a game that I should have picked up on when it launched on Early Access back in May. The action I experienced was Castlevania-esque easy slashy, smashy fun. I didn’t get to fight a boss which is where the Souls-lite elements would have come into play, but jumping around the sewers and ramparts of the procedurally generated castle was great fun.
There was plenty of gear to buy from the local merchant, loot to exchange for upgrades that will stick across your entire game, not just one set of lives and thousands of enemies to slay. It was damn good fun, and I could have easily lost myself in it for hours on end. I might just do that once I get home and check out the Early Access build.
That was it for my EGX adventure this year. I hope you have enjoyed these two roundups, keep your eyes out for more thoughts on some of the games I have highlighted over the coming weeks.