Last weekend, a horde of PC gamers descended on Birmingham’s NEC for Rezzed, an annual celebration of all things indie, unexpected and otherwise awesome with regards to PC gaming. I met up with Chris on Sunday, and together we ventured forth to prod, peer and poke at all the show had to offer.
Amidst the showings of remarkable indie games on offer, Creative Assembly had calmly laid a trap for me – By casually placing a playable build of Total War: Rome II in my path, all they had to do was wait. Having found it, I wasted no time in trying out what’s looking to be one of this years most amazing strategy games, and the finest Total War to date. I’ve documented my triumphant disaster for prosperity here.
One of my biggest surprises of Rezzed was the return of an old friend. Chaos Engine was a top down cooperative shooter developed by the Bitmap Brothers back in 1993, and it’s a game I remember reading excitedly about in ST Format, back in the days where Atari made computers instead of racing games. From what was on show, it’s looking to be a faithful recreation of an old gem, reusing old assets and adding new ones where appropriate to bring the game up to date. Set for a triumphant re-release on an unconfirmed date in the near future, I’m looking forward to seeing how younger gamers react to this ancient classic.
Another return of an old classic materialised in the form of Space Hulk. Whilst I was initially excited about the return of Games Workshop’s ancient franchise in digital form, now I’ve seen it in action I simply cannot wait to play more of it. The decision by Games Workshop to licence their franchises to more smaller developers looks like it could have been a very lucrative move, as despite being created by a team of only twelve, Space Hulk is looking as polished and smooth as many AAA titles.
Meanwhile, off in a corner Sir, You Are Being Hunted met with an admiring crowd of onlookers as the small team at Big Robot, (naturally dressed in tweed) showed off their procedurally generated rural robot rambling simulator. The game’s looking astonishing considering how much of its terrain is created through the random roll of its procedural engine.
Pleasing to see was Rezzed veterans The Indie Stone, who were on the floor showing off the most recent build of their zombie survival simulator Project Zomboid. I’ve been playing PZ for over a year now, so spent a fascinating few minutes watching newcomers just getting to grips with what I’m beginning to consider an old classic. Whilst there’s clearly a long way to go before the game reaches all of its design targets, the Indie Stone are showing every sign of being in this for the long haul, with excellent community relations and developer communication keeping the game in their fans’ watch-list.
I was disappointed I didn’t get to lay my hands on the Oculus Rift. Whilst there were a couple on show, naturally massive queues had formed to experience one of the PCs newest phenomenons. I cannot comment first-hand as to the effect of the devices, but the impact of them on those who did get to try them was certainly noticeable.
Countless other games were on offer and I regret not being able to get my hands on all of them. Surgeon Simulator, Company of Heroes II, Dear Esther, Gone Home, some game called Minecraft and dozens more. What separates Rezzed from a show like E3 is the sheer intimacy of the event. You can comment on something you like about the game only to have one of the developers look up two feet away and shout ‘I made that!’ After the X-Box One reveal demonstrated how even the most polished publicity campaign can fall flat on its face, it’s refreshing to see how many developers are still willing to put themselves directly in the path of their customers and welcome feedback.