My fourth EGX has come to a close (yep, I went to EGX last year as well), and it just keeps getting better and better. This year saw the return of some of the bigger gaming companies. Xbox had a bigger presence, Ubisoft had a whole stand to themselves, and Nintendo had a section in nearly every zone. Even the queues looked bigger in the mornings and while this is a lot of people’s main gripes with the show, there are ways around it.
So I managed to play a number of what you’d consider “big” titles, “Assassin’s Creed Origins“, “Far Cry 5”, “Gran Turismo Sport”, “South Park: The Fractured But Whole” and “Middle Earth: Shadows of War”. For me, most of these well-known titles all felt like I’d played them before, there wasn’t anything particularly new or ground-breaking about them. Some would argue that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, but I expect at least some innovation or new feature. Admittedly, I only had around 15 minutes on each title, so I merely got a tiny snippet of each title.
Sure, I expect I’ll buy some of them, but it’s the Rezzed Zone, again, that really grabs my attention. It’s where I feel that the most risks are taken, the most innovative designers are found. Nevertheless, the most passion can be seen amongst the developers, and it’s where I feel like I’ve found the titles I want to play again as soon as I come away from the show.
So here’s a rundown of seven (lucky for some) of the indie titles that stood out for me this year:
In “Bomber Crew”, you control the crew of a WWII bomber, running various missions over enemy territory. There are options to equip your crew and plane for the upcoming mission, and it all starts nice and calmly. However, that soon changes as you near your target, and all hell breaks loose. You have to contend with enemy fighters and flak cannons from the ground while keeping an eye on your target and completing your mission without sustaining too much damage or losing any crew members. You can zoom in the view to control each member of your crew and direct them to their various tasks. As damage is taken, it’s up to you to decide whether crew members try to fix the problems or continue with the current, sometimes crucial actions.
Do you increase altitude to avoid the ground-to-air fire but contend with freezing temperatures and lack of visibility over targets? Or do you go in low and risk being ripped to shreds? There are so many choices to make and so many options available to you. I loved it, as you have to think on your feet quickly, but it’s easy enough to control your team members and get them to do what you want. The game is easy to control, intuitive and the graphics, well they’re bright and colorful, maybe not what you’d expect from a WWII game, but I thought they worked truly well. I’m really looking forward to this game, and I thoroughly recommend that you check it out.
Developers: Team Junkfish
Publishers: Junkfish Limited
Available: Jan/Feb 2018 (Steam)
At first glance, you’d be forgiven for thinking that “Attack of the Earthlings” was just another turn-based, “XCom” wannabe. However, when I got a closer look at the game, there’s a lot more to it. The story involves you taking control of a band of aliens who are trying to see off the earthling invaders, using turn-based strategy to complete your objective. Sure, it sounds and looks like XCom but there’s a great level of humour in the game. Speaking to the developers, it’s clear that they’ve put a lot of little jokes into the game to help appeal to a wider audience. The aliens that you control have no long-range attacks, so you have to get up close and personal with the enemies.
This involves a totally different style of strategy to achieve your objectives. The setting is all in a space station, so it’s all close corridors and air vents to get around. It’s clear that it’s been influenced by the Alien films, but this is no bad thing. I loved the game. The graphic style was colourful, the audio was atmospheric, and I loved the little jokes here and there. The units you control are varied enough to mix things up, and it’s particularly enjoyable when you surround the enemy with your units and execute a group attack, so it’s very satisfying! If you’re into turn-based games, you need to check this one out. Even if you’re not, I’d definitely have a look. I spoke to one of the QA guys, and he pointed out that there’s enough in there to appeal to those that maybe think twice when it comes to this type of game.
I heard one person describe “HyperBrawl Tournament” as “Rocket League with humans instead of cars”. That seemed a good description to me, pretty accurate given the small amount of the game I got to see. However, that’s no bad thing. Given the success of Rocket League, why not try to tap into that and evolve it? HyperBrawl was set up at EGX as a 2v2 game, reds versus blues. The idea is very simple, just get the ball into your opponent’s goal as many times as possible within the time given.
You play over three stages, and the winner is whoever gets the most goals over those three matches. You can punch and kick your opponents to gain the ball. You can sprint for a short time to outrun them. You can pass to your team-mate or shoot directly for goal. Pillars randomly appear in the arena, just to make life a little harder, a little more interesting and varied. The cartoony graphics lend themselves well to the style of game. Myself and three mates had a great blast playing this and will definitely be investing in it for our regular gaming nights.
I’d be interested to find out how this handles as a single player experience, apparently there are trials available to hone your skills and develop your players. Meanwhile, the online/local multiplayer is where it’s at, in 1v1 or 2v2 matches. The quick matches keep you on your toes, and it’s all round great fun, so I definitely recommend you check this one out.
“Blockships” is another quick-match, 4-player game with very simple rules. You control a core, in the shape of a block. You’re up against three other opponents in the same situation. Around the square arena lie three different types of blocks, a gun block, a power block (enables you to carry more blocks) and a speed block (allowing you to fly faster). You fly into the blocks to attach them to your ship and try to destroy your opponents’ cores.
Blocks can be attached to any part of your ship and the guns can be set to point in different directions depending on how they attach to your ship. This game was frenetic and great fun. Do you grab a gun and try to take out your opponents straight away? Or do you grab as many blocks as possible to protect your core? It’s up to you, and this is what adds to the variety of a very simple game. Add to that the ever-decreasing arena size and rounds are over very quickly. Again, not sure how this would hold up as a single-player experience but with a few friends, I could easily see you sitting for hours playing this. So it’s well worthy of a look.
“Smash Tanks” is a 2-player, augmented reality arena combat game. You control a team of three tanks, and the idea is to take out your opponent’s tanks while protecting your own. The arena is set upon a tabletop and is procedurally generated with varying obstacles between you and your opponent. Each tank takes it in turns, and you pull back for power and release to send it spiraling to its target. I’ve played games like this on my mobile, and they’re great fun =)
You really have to think out your strategy, do you go piling in straight away or try to set your tanks into position for a big onslaught. There’s the addition of special weapons on each tank. When you hit an opponent, a gauge fills up, and then you can unleash. You can also pull of combos as you bounce off the arena walls or other tanks. Each tank has a weak spot on the rear that I was constantly trying to exploit. This was only a very early build that was available, but it already seems great fun, especially given how quick the matches were. The developers said that they were looking to add further tanks and arenas at a later date. So it’s most definitely worth checking out.
Max is, on the surface, a simple platformer. Jump from platform to platform to reach the end of the level. The environments are absolutely gorgeous, and I was totally engrossed from the moment I sat down. I played in a rocky, deserty world followed by an overgrown forest world. Both environments were beautiful and gave the right amount of atmosphere. Max is clearly more than a simple platformer though.
At one point, I found myself running from a huge monster, making quick decisions and testing my reflexes to keep out of reach of the brute. I made it across an enormous ravine and breathed a sigh of relief. Later though, I was left with a gap far too big to get across. This is when I had to break out Max’s magic marker. There were spots on the level that I could draw out with the marker or erase, allowing me to traverse across, what seemed at first, to be insurmountable obstacles. This is the bit I really enjoyed and gained the most reward from. I found myself grinning hugely and nodding when I worked out a puzzle correctly. Max is a gorgeous game and definitely needs to have more time spent with it to truly enjoy everything it offers.
I loved the Buzz series, and I’ve been left severely disappointed by the lack of similar titles on the current generation. Imagine my delight when we came across It’s Quiz Time! The use of mobile phones as controllers seems to be escalating, and this game is no exception. You can play with up to eight players, if you can fit that many around your TV. Anyways, you name yourself and use one of the available icons as your avatar or take a selfie.
The AI presenter uses your name to address you and does a pretty good job of it. You can even correct her (which I had to do for my name), and it works really well. You work your way through a number of rounds, with points awarded for correct answers and points sometimes deducted for incorrect responses. The rounds are really varied. We played twice across the two days and had different rounds each time.
Robin Ek – Editor
This is a personal opinion of the writer, and it doesn’t necessarily represent the other writers (nor The Gaming Ground´s) opinions.
The Gaming Ground
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