I was lucky enough to play a huge variety of games at EGX this year from the weird to the wonderful. Below is my first impressions of some of these games.
Sonic Mania has been out a while but EGX was my first opportunity for a hands on. Sonic Mania goes back to the series 2D roots and features remastered versions of stages from previous games, alongside original ones as well as mini games that are reminiscent of the series history. The demo was set up to a familiar level which coincidentally, happened to be one of my least favourite although I can hardly blame Sega for that!
The graphics were as to be expected, the colours popped in 3D and the rough pixelated edges kept the charm of the original games. The sound was crisp and clear in all its retro glory, although I had forgotten that there is a sound every time that Sonic jumped which I found particularly grating. Unfortunately, from what I could tell, all of the stations were on the same level so I didn’t get to experience other levels or characters but for those who are a fan of retro gaming, I think this will massively appeal.
Sonic Mania is available now for Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PS4 and Windows.
Jalopy is a first person car-driving/maintenance simulator in which players travel through procedurally generated routes through the Eastern Bloc. Accompanied by the players Uncle, players must upgrade, maintain and care for their Laika 601 Deluxe motor vehicle in order to get from A-B. The game has a very quirky style and although the premise sounds a little dry, was actually a lot of fun to play.
You start by being given the shell of a car in a garage and have to put it together piece by piece before departing on the open road with your uncle. The dev told me that the Uncle is a new addition and has been added to give some narrative as he will talk to you and give information about the landmarks that can be seen on the journey. The gameplay itself was somehow very relaxing and is more about getting from point A to point B in one piece rather than quickly. It won’t appeal to everyone but is worth a look if you fancy something a little different.
Jalopy is available in early access now on Steam.
Yoku’s Island Express
Yoku’s Island Express was a favourite of mine from EGX as it was just so much fun to play! The game follows Yoku, a small red dung beetle who has moved to Mokumana Island to become a new Postmaster, relieving the Pterodactyl that was doing it previously. The game is a mix of open world platforming combined with pinball(?!) and although it sounds very odd, it just works.
The graphics are bright and colourful as expected and the game has an adorable feel to it. Players can control Yoku with the right thumb stick and use the bumpers to activate red and yellow flippers or springs which are mapped to the shoulder buttons. The aim is to traverse the landscape collecting fruit and other items that will help Yoku on his adventure. I’m a huge lover of pinball games and to mix it with a platformer was genius. I can’t wait to see the finished product.
Yoku’s Island Express will be released early 2018 for Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PS4 and Steam.
Dissidia Final Fantasy NT
For those unfamiliar with the series, Dissidia is a fighting game based in the Final Fantasy universe in which players pick their favourite character from the series and fight it out. The series consisted of 2 games for the PSP system but Dissidia Final Fantasy NT will be the series’ first iteration on a home console. Dissidia NT was originally released in arcades with a new battle system in 2015 and the upcoming release is a port of that title.
Dissidia NT focuses on 3v3 team battles and it looks gorgeous, which is expected for the series. The demo featured the lead characters from Final Fantasy 1-13 but many more will be available on launch of the title. The game plays well and seemed easy to pick up, although at EGX, the demo was also a tournament, one in which we were completely and utterly decimated. The game is great fun to play however and I am very much looking forward to playing the final version.
Dissidia Final Fantasy NT will be available for PS4 in January 2018.
South Park – The Fractured but Whole
South Park was one of my most anticipated games of EGX, mostly due to the fact it has been delayed so many times that I thought I would never get to play it! The short time I had with the game didn’t disappoint and it felt as crude and as funny as the show with some interesting puzzle elements and fun combat.
The game looked crisp and sharp in HD and the way the characters moved and spoke felt just like I was playing an episode of the show. The demo saw my randomly generated character (customizable in the final release) teaming with Scott Malkinson to infiltrate a Strip Club to interrogate a stripper about a missing cat. To do this, I had to speak to strippers and solve puzzles in order to gain control of a DJ booth to call out the stripper in question. I also had to do an incredibly uncomfortable mini game in which I gave a Lap dance to an older man before fighting them in the VIP room. The combat works using a gridded square in which players can move and launch attacks that effect different parts of the grid. There was only 1 battle in the demo so I didn’t get a huge feel for the combat but what I played was good fun and seemed like it would be less repetitive than the previous game. The demo was also full of in jokes for fans of the series and nods to prior episodes which I thought was a nice touch. Definitely excited for this one.
South Park – The Fractured but Whole is out on October 17th for Xbox One, PS4 and Windows.
Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom
Ni No Kuni 2 is an action RPG with an animated style similar to Studio Ghibli Anime. Set hundreds of years after the first game, the story follows a young king whose throne has been usurped as he sets off on an adventure to reclaim his kingdom. The game is similar in style to the open world gameplay of the first game but rather than familiars, uses small creatures called Higgledies who are scattered on the battle field. These Higgledies offer buffs, healing or other abilities and it is up to the player to keep an eye on them and take advantage of their abilities.
The game looks absolutely stunning and considering the scope and scale of most JRPG’s, was very easy to pick up and play. I provisionally avoided it as I didn’t think a quick 10-minute demo would be enough to get a feel for an RPG but the controls were simple and I found myself healing, buffing and throwing spells around within a minute or 2. One to watch if you’re a fan of the genre and perhaps an gentle starting point if you’re not.
Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom is out for Microsoft Windows and PS4 in January 2018.
Falling Sky is in the very early stages of development, having only been started 8 months ago, but the short demo proved intriguing and popular among the gamers I spoke to. The game is a 3rd person mystery game with a similar aesthetic to life is strange and according to the creator, has a very Twin Peaks feel to the story.
The demo starts with a young man returning from college to his family home to find his younger brother has been living alone and fending for himself for some time. When questioned, the boy seems scared and paranoid about a set of rules his mother had put in place before disappearing. When asked where she is, all the boy will say is that she is with the Star Man. The game is due to be open world and the car driving from point a-b was very fun. The demo was short and sweet but I am extremely interested to see where it goes.
Falling Sky does not have a planned release or platform as yet.
Genesis Alpha One
Genesis Alpha One is a first person shooter spliced with a ship building exploration game, which may sound like a lot to take in but somehow works. Players take control of an undisclosed person on-board a spaceship floating through space. Players can enter a ship building menu and place extra facilities on the ship such as barracks, hangers or storage. The game plays in real time so if part of the ship gets damaged or has an issue, the player must come out of the build mode and run to the area to sort the problem. This problem could be mechanical or could be that a harvester ship sent to gain resources has brought back an organism or enemy that needs dealing with. The ship has a crew which need to be sent to different areas to help run the ship and these can be killed or get sick if not looked after properly.
The gameplay is fast and fun and the key focus is on exploration and building with the FPS being used as a secondary mechanic for defence. This is a refreshing take on the genre which is saturated with shooters and gives a level of depth I haven’t seen in a while. In my time with the game, I sent out a harvester which brought back enemy lifeforms leading me to purge that section from the ship by destroying it. I then created a hyperdrive and used it to travel to a planet to explore…. but forgot to put shields up causing an asteroid belt to pummel and destroy my ship one section at a time. Despite my absolutely terrible performance, I really enjoyed it and have high hopes for the final release.
Genesis Alpha 1 is in the early stages of development but is penned to be out late 2018 for Windows, PS4 and Xbox 1.
Knowledge is Power
Knowledge is power is a PS4 Playlink title in which players connect their smartphones to the PlayStation and use them as controllers. As the name suggests, it is a general knowledge quiz and players can gain a range of powerups to make things more difficult for other players. A question will flash up on screen with 4 possible answers and it is then a race for the player to pick the correct answer on their phone. If the player has been sabotaged however, there could be bombs on the screen, slime to obscure the answers or ice that needs chipping away before the question can be answered. As players are scored by how fast they can answer, these are all huge hindrances that are bound to cause a laugh as well as the inevitable dissolution of friendships. A great couch game for a party or a family.
Knowledge is Power is scheduled for release on October 25th.
Frantics is another PS4 Playlink title in which players connect their smartphones to the PlayStation and use them as controllers. This game is a series of party games for players to battle it out and also uses the fact that the controller is a phone to excellent effect. The demo contained 3 mini games which were all different in their approach. The first involved our 4 characters on a frozen platform and the aim was to be the last man standing by knocking the other players to their doom. The controller (phone) was held horizontally and the gyro function was used to move the player. The second game involved shooting players from a cannon to a platform in the middle with the aim being 2 characters had to remain on it for a set amount of time. The third was a car race in which players gave other players ‘upgrades’ to their car in order to stop them winning. Each game was interesting and a lot of fun and between matches, a player would get a call with a secret mission which only they could hear. This was an excellent use of the mobile controllers and I think will add another element to the standard party game dynamic. Another great couch party game.
Frantics will hit PS4 early-mid 2018.
Ascend is a platform style game, similar in aesthetics to Rime, with puzzle based gameplay. I took control of a human (I was unsure of the gender) and had to traverse a beautiful landscape solving puzzles along the way. Part way through the demo, I was given a power to remove evil looking growths from the landscape in order to move past them and solve further puzzles. Unfortunately, the developer/publisher was nowhere to be found while I played the game so I have no further information about the story, but the snippets I did get combines with charming visuals kept me intrigued.
Due to not speaking to a representative, I have no further details about platforms or release dates as yet.
Block ships is a multiplayer space party game and was described to me as “a lovechild between space invaders and Tetris”. The aim of the game is to pick up various square ship components that are floating around space in order to build a superior ship to blow other friends away. Parts can be disconnected and reconnected to fit the ship when needed and the aim is just to stay alive. We only had 1 match but the game has a lot of potential as a couch party game and will definitely be great fun with friends or family.
Block ships is available as early access now on Steam.
Deadbeat Heroes is a cartoon style brawler set in 1970’s London and supports co-op of up to 4 players. The demo provided 3 levels, 2 of which I played; The Streets and The London Underground. The core mechanic is a standard brawler in which waves of enemies enter each area and need defeating before the next area can be accessed. Players have a light attack move and can use a turbo move if enough power is collected. Players can also jump, evade and dash and when a dash is used on a wall, can do a very cool wall run move which can be chained into attacks. Deadbeat Heroes was easy to play and fun although the demo didn’t give much in the way of variety. This could well change in the main game however.
Deadbeat Heroes is available from October 10th for Xbox One and Steam.
King of the Castle
King of the Castle is a local multiplayer party game which combines both combat and building mechanics. Players take control of a robot and aim to build towers in order to take control of sections of a map, capture the flag style. Players can build blocks in front of them and use them to reach higher platforms or to build walls making it more difficult for other players to recapture flags. Players can also hit other robots to defend their areas or to attempt to steal new ones. The game was a lot of fun to play and was simple in its delivery which worked very well It had a very retro toy-box style that fitted perfectly with the gameplay. Another party game with a lot of potential.
Oil is an iOS based game that can be used with Apple TV and is a fresh take on the classic board game Battleships. Players share a controller (for the Apple TV version) and place Oil on a diagonal grid, one after the other. The game then plays out like Battleships, with each player picking a square on the grid to either uncover their own oil or their opponents. If a player successfully finds a cluster of oil and is the last to find the final piece, a building will spring up in its place which is worth more points. If a player picks a grid square in which both players have placed oil, then the square will explode due to the added pressure and the player will lose a point. The game looked slick (excuse the pun) and played well although the desire to cheat when the other player is placing oil was near torturous. If this game was able to be played over a network connection, I can see it being huge! One to look out for on mobile devices.
Phogs was one of the stranger games we played at EGX but was also one of the most imaginative. The game is a local co-op puzzle game with a twist, both players use the same controller. The lead character is a double headed dog (think Catdog from Nickelodeon) and each player uses a thumbstick and the shoulder buttons to control a head each. The dog can use its mouth to cling on to items or scenery and can stretch itself as long as needed to solve puzzles. The control scheme was very simple and easy to use and the bright cartoony graphics will appeal to younger gamers. The demo was quite short but the potential is there for a superb couch co-op.
Supremely Excellent Goblins
Supremely Excellent Goblins is a top-down puzzle adventure game….with an adorable lead character. The game follows a goblin and a human travelling through a dungeon picking up parts of another Goblin on the way. The style is that of classic dungeon crawlers from the 16 bit days and the combat is fun and challenging in the same way. The demo was short but the puzzles were fun and the enemies/boss had a good level of variety. A fun game for those who enjoy a retro style and old school gameplay.
The Peterson Case
The Peterson Case is a first person horror game with puzzle elements and an interesting story telling mechanic. The game is similar to other walking sim but tells the story by flitting back in time. The story follows Franklin Reinhardt, a detective searching for a missing person through the streets of Paris in 1947. As Franklin investigates, he may trigger an event or pick up an item that will cause the area around him to revert to how it looked years before, adding to the story and helping with puzzles in the present time. This mechanic worked will and I felt fully immersed in my time with the demo. The game is gorgeous to look at and I enjoyed the way the story was fed to me rather than the standard way in which most games of this ilk deliver it. I walked through the doors of a Parisian hotel and was transported back to wartime with soldiers talking and laughing filling the lobby. I walked around the lobby of the hotel and investigated before it shifted back to 1947 for me to continue the investigation. I really enjoyed this mechanic and am itching to see where the story will lead!
The Peterson Case will be available for Xbox One, PS4 and Steam, the release date is TBC.
Jettomoro is an adventure game set in space in which players take control of a clumsy robot using procedurally generated graphics and physics-based animations. Players are tasked with exploring planets and defending them from other giant robots/creatures while trying to preserve the human race. Jettomoro looks gorgeous with bold, bright cel-shaded graphics and the planets and space felt detailed. The titular robot walks like a toddler or particularly inebriated person and the flight mechanics are similar but this all adds to the charm as he bumbles between planets and stomps through towns. The demo was only a few minutes long but was definitely worth playing.
Jettomoro is out now on Xbox One and Steam.
Silent Streets is an iOS game that is part game and part interactive book. It is in an episodic format and follows a story of mystery through Victorian London with players actions towards the characters shaping the story. As the story plays out, it has AR elements as well as having to move in real-time, reminiscent of other AR titles like Pokémon Go. In my time with the game, I had to investigate a body which involved viewing a corpse on screen and physically walking around the gurney to investigate and find clues. I then had to travel from one location to another which meant having to actually walk the required steps to reach the goal (this can be bypassed via a minigame). This was a completely new take on the interactive books I am used to playing and what I saw worked very well.
The first episode of Silent Streets is available now via the app store.
You can find further first impressions of our time at EGX here.
What did you think of the games on display at EGX this year? Did you attend and play something that we missed? Let us know in the comments section below or Tweet us!