You bet we’ve got the second half of this series to go. If you haven’t seen part one, then here’s the handy link right here. We’ve got 6 games, and the Game of the Show to unveil like the prize hog in a Somerset fete so let’s burst into the other games I got to preview, along with their grades.
Game: King Under the Mountain
Developer: Rocket Jump Technology
Release Date/Price: Unknown/£17
Like the idea of Dwarf Fortress but hate how the aesthetic style is as pleasing to the eye as concentrated boiling bleach? Now, what if the aesthetic style was Prison Architect? Ta da!
Verdict: Here’s my core problem I find myself in: King Under the Mountain has a long way to go. I mean to say that while the ground work is there, you can maybe build three rooms and that’s it. However, the description will either coax your interest enough to fork out the £17 price on Kickstarter, with the hopes to see it bloom into something wonderful, or leave you sure that if you mod Dwarf Fortress then maybe THIS time you can stand to look at the graphics. That said, some claims such as alternative races, adventuring out and some neat stretch goals could sway people over to it.
As it is rather hard to really judge it as it is such an early build, I’m going to grade it N/A.
Developer: Piranha Bytes
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Platform: PC, PS4 and Xbox One
Release Date/Price: 2017/Unknown
ELEX (which I’m only going to write in block capitals once) is a survival title that blends sci-fi and fantasy in a blender into a nice thick smoothie. You are forced to survive on a planet as a meteor introduces a new element that can allow for great leaps of technology or even magical manipulation. Of which the game suggests equal parts “kill orcs with magical swords” and “gun down the drones”, with some crossing over so you can fix all problems with guns.
Verdict: So, I boot the game up and, gullible me decides to pick a fight with a sword against a gang of gun-toting guards. I nearly manage it, but finally collapse from too many ballistic-induced air holes in my body. Then I spawned, so I stumbled over to a farm. Upon which a near by ogre creature decided to punch me in the back of the head and kill me in a single swing. So I respawn in the same spot, try to get away and then get made to eat my own teeth with a similar one-shot punch by the same ogre. So, I guess you could say I wasn’t having the best of times.
Although it doesn’t help the combat feels as smooth as jelly down a drain pipe. While this is the type of thing I’d normally hand-wave off as “eh, beta”, this is a nasty habit Piranha Bytes seems to have in their combat-orientated open-world RPG titles. Both Gothic and Risen series had awkward combat, and Elex seems to be aiming for a very similar stumbling block. So, with that in mind, Elex gets a D-, with hopes that perhaps all the problems are more indicative of beta than what may end up in the final product.
Release Date/Price: In Early Access now/ £8.99
Ah yes, the wild west. A land of outlaws, desert towns and revolvers. Except well, let’s throw those revolvers out as this time period was also known for another item being in great abundance: Dynamite. So popular is it, you must blow the world up in Bomberman styled gameplay. Layered on top of this is a thick dose of The Binding of Isaac. From the use of boss design, the demand to clear a room before you move on all the way to unlocking things over multiple playthroughs.
Verdict: Truthfully, this is a title you already know you’re going to dig. Bomberman and The Binding of Isaac doesn’t do anything for me sadly. Yet I could see people digging how much the Bomberman style of bombing everything you don’t want to understand could act as a neat twist upon the classic beloved particular rogue-like style of The Binding of Isaac.
That said, there are some nits I must pick from its back. One of the wonderful things I dig about The Binding of Isaac, as much as the gameplay does nothing for me, is the aesthetic choice breaths a lot of grim charisma into the title. Meanwhile Bombslinger has gone for a pixelated style seen often, with enemies littering the landscape like plastic bags on the roadside. Sadly said enemies just as inoffensive, forgettable and generic-feeling as plastic bags. Although to give credit, the bosses have distinct appearances that are easy to dig.
I also had a bit of a problem with hit detection. Gameplay feels more tile-based while people move freely, so I was never quite sure if I was going to clear an attack. Although considering the developer tried out a more tile-based approach (i.e. move from tile-to-tile) with significant dissatisfaction from testers, I do not blame them for this movement decision.
The grade is a C-. Although I could see others giving it the love that I struggle to. There are plenty of Bomberman and The Binding of Isaac fans out there… I just must confess to not being one of them.
Developer: Playwood Project
Publisher: Playwood Project
Release Date/Price: Out now on Early Access/ £14.99
Usually tile-based turn-based strategy titles try to dress up their appearance to suggest that in the days of swords ‘n bows, people were patient enough to take turns. Yet Wartile has no such illusions. You control actual figures (with their own individual powers) on diorama boards to achieve an objective. In my case it was to scavenge a crown and get off the island via ship. All this set not only within Scandinavian history, but also within its thick lore and mythology like their own unique take on the undead.
Although interestingly, rather than using a turn-based or real-time approach, it walks the balancing beam via a cool-down system after each action. Let the action be movement, combat or a special ability the particular character has. It also features a card-system which you keep powered by vanquishing foes.
Verdict: I love a game with a lot of interesting ideas on show, which this clearly does. The aesthetic choice shows a level of awareness that it is a game, which shrugs off the pretence of “you’re in it for the story”. So naturally I’m more inclined to consider the mechanics, which as I said there are some curious pieces about. I dig the cooldown idea quite a lot, although does mean that if you’re fighting multiple fronts then one may begin to lag as you flip between the fronts on the cooldown timer. I also couldn’t see a pause button, a function real time strategy titles tend to use to help with multiple-front fighting.
I also got a bit flustered with the cards I kept pulling. Since I couldn’t just use healing over and over again due to the randomised nature of cards, I had to burn cards to dig up the single healing spell I wanted. Something that did bother me as killing, while a common sight, isn’t plentiful so you’ll need to spend carefully.
The final grade is a B-. A lot of interesting ideas, definitely worth checking out if you want an unusual take on strategy that is akin to Card Hunter, just still has a bit of a journey to trek to become a solid hit.
Developer: Angry Mob Games
Publisher: Angry Mob Games
Platform: PS4, Xbox One and PC
Release Date/Price: Early 2017/Unknown
So you like Super Smash Bros right? …Yep, that’s it.
Verdict: The hole it seems to want to fill is the one created by Super Smash Bros exclusivity. I’m reminded of how the developer of Bears Can’t Drift!? said their game was created due to wanting to make a Mario Kart game for non-Nintendo platforms. I think Brawlout was made with a very similar mentality in mind. That said, if that was all it was then Brawlout would be easy to talk about.
That said, you also have a rage system in place. Nailing those attacks on your opponent’s noggin? Boom. Burst people away from yourself to get some breathing room. As someone that I admit hasn’t played much Smash Bros I’m not particularly sure how much of a game changer this is, but who knows? There also seems to be a very clear skill tier system going on, as during a tournament I was less knocked out and more launched into the sun by the opponent. Simply, they seem a pro while I was just trying it out for the first time.
The grade is a C. There’s some promises that could be a game changer on their website, including character growth over time and online multiplayer/tournaments. That said, even then, I’m not particularly sure how many people will be running for this than simply hunting out a Nintendo friend to crowd around their system with for some Super Smash Bros. I could be hideously wrong though. That said, you’ll know if this is your cup of tea or not depending on your love for multiplayer titles and Super Smash Bros.
Developer: Thunder Lotus Games
Publisher: Thunder Lotus Games
Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux & PS4
Release Date/Price: July, 2017/ Unknown
Sundered is a metroidvania where you must fight through a chaotic land filled with horrific creatures, in the hopes of clinging onto not only your life but your very sanity and humanity. As you murder down droves of beasties with a whip/sword/like tool emitting from your body and a particularly huge cannon with limited ammo, you collect currency. Currency you can then spend on the skill tree, before sacrificing it all to continue your quest.
Verdict: Lets start with the obvious: It is beautiful. Not just in that “man, that artist must have spent weeks upon that background art, huh?” sort of way. There is a wonderful fluidity in how you fight and how the creatures move, something that helps emphasis what an alien corrupted world you’ve found yourself in. The only time I found the aesthetic let me down was how strange the boss appeared, as at a larger size it really emphasized how different in drawing techniques the creatures and background art were. The boss looks almost cartoonish sadly, which is a shame really as it took me out of an experience of being a human trying to comprehend the madness around them.
Gameplay is sadly Sundered’s primary shortcoming. The combat is okay, even if I feel like I could grumble at the lack of weapon choice or the very limited ammo supply. That said, there’s still joy in the fluid sensation of the combos so struggling against monstrosity is far from dull. Where Sundered stumbles the hardest though is its skill tree system. It seems to have taken inspiration from Rogue Legacy, but forgot one of the defining parts: Milestones. Unfortunately the skills kind of blend together as a collection of “boosts what you have”, rather than exciting moments of unlocking one thing or the next. I never got the feeling I was creating a build, even if it was just in the order of the skills I’m unlocking, but just running through the motions.
The final grade is a B+. If Sundered had nailed down the gameplay angle, then it was going to be a lot harder to pick between this and the actual winner of the game of the show. I absolutely adore the aesthetic style, but it just lacks the substance to back it up currently. Still definitely a title to keep an eye on, especially metroidvania fans.
We arrive at the final part of this two part preview series of the titles I tried at EGX Rezzed which I didn’t snag an interview about (as those have their own separate individual articles). There’s just one game I left hanging about outside of it. One that unfortunately spent a lot of time crowded by people from opening to close, so took a fair bit of queuing. It was even more peculiar that only one console was set up for it, as it seemed to be a main boasting point by the publisher. Although considering the publisher didn’t have their own booth this year (which likely lead to Absolver, a title I’m still gleeful to try, being left in the cold), it might be they only had one console per game.
Whoops! I might have spoiled what game it was there! Let’s just leap into the meat of things then. Bagogames’s Game of EGX Rezzed 2017 is…
Developer: Reikon Games
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Platform: PC, Mac & Linux
Release Date/Price: 2017/ Unknown
Ruiner, as well as the nickname my co-workers gave me after the last time I entered the company general chat, is a cyberpunk beat-em up that blends melee and shooter gameplay into a neat little slurry. That’s not mentioning the variety of abilities like shielding, slow-motion and dodge. This is layered upon a narrative that is simultaneously easy to grasp but also suggesting some deepness within: Some naughty scoundrel hacked your brain so you’d kill “the boss”, so you’re off to kill them back in the hopes you’re not being used.
Verdict: Ruiner already had my attention with various trailers. I love myself a bit of cyberpunk, and Ruiner seemed to be offering not only that but also their own unique twist, partially in the form of a helmet vomiting obscene and absurd messages. That said, I’ve come across my share of cyberpunk titles that I’ve been unhappy with (Ronin springs to mind…), so I kept my expectations cautiously optimistic.
So perhaps I set myself up to be gripped pretty hard by the shoulders and all sleep deprivation ejected from myself. Then again, it is hard to argue against beat ’em combat that feels fluid, stylish and impactful. One that gives you many approaches to how you want to make it, either crushing skulls with a pipe or going through gun-after-gun keeping folks at a range. If you want to aggressively hound your opposition or pick them off with a lot of dodges and shielding.
All this layered upon an aesthetic style that injects new life into what could have been a generic cyberpunk “reds, greys and clinical whites” you see all too common. From spots of glitchiness here, some unique presentation styles there (e.g. use of the helmet screen to show imagery) and a healthy splash of colour everywhere. This is helped by an in-between missions hub world that breathes life what could have been a drab time being transported from one fighting zone to the next. While very little narrative has been revealed, what has through its unusual style has me incredibly curious what turns it could possibly take.
That isn’t to say Ruiner is a work of art everyone should crowd around. I would like to see some form of progression system, since they introduced a currency system at the end of the demo. I also wasn’t too pleased with the boss on show, although the basic nature might be more reflective of the “early game” appearance than hinting future boss battle approaches. A bit more nit-picking, but I often do enjoy cyberpunk settings more when they feel like their own independent spirit. While Ruiner does feel unique, I did often see Shadowrun influences. Not necessarily a bad thing, as Shadowrun is great and Ruiner does not feel like a copycat, but it didn’t quite distinguish itself from Shadowrun quite enough for my taste.
That said, Ruiner gets Game of EGX Rezzed 2017 with a grade of A-. Definitely a title to keep a close eye on as it seeks to deliver a grim cyberpunk tale with plenty of grit to chew over. One that is presented with a wonderful combat system that feels tight, brutal and versatile.
So those were all the games I got to try out at EGX Rezzed 2017, and wow they were a pretty wonderful bunch. Although that isn’t all the content we have on show. We also have some photos I managed to snag of cosplayers, as well as plenty of interviews with developers. So keep an eye out on those articles.
Now, if you don’t mind me, I need to catch up with all the sleep I missed out on during the event.