An overground train arriving in the underground of Shadwell (around 80 steps to the surface if I recall correctly) fired me towards Tobacco Dock, the home of EGX Rezzed again this year. Anyone struggling with directions need not have worried; for a procession of bespectacled, self-aware folks (yours truly included) led the way.
Mario Kart-like Coffin Dodgers provided me with a few minutes of entertainment, but nothing hugely inspirational - it played well enough to convince me that the multiplayer could be a good laugh, mind.
Gear Gauntlet played a devious hybrid of puzzle/platformer that had me quite addicted; guiding your gear through - you’ve guessed it - a gauntlet of treachery, you must hold down buttons that correspond to coloured walls (A is green, and so on) to progress to the end goal. This has one-more-go syndrome built into it, so keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming release.
Skylar & Plux: Adventure on Clover Island and Subnautica both tickled my taste-buds, but ultimately left me a little disappointed for similar reasons; frame-rate and camera issues in the former, and frame-rate and appalling texture pop-in in the latter. It’s worth noting that both are early builds, however. Skylar & Plux had a gorgeous art style, and played a decent game of 3D platforming that will please fans of Ratchet & Clank. Subnautica had beautiful water effects to perfectly match its attempt at underwater exploration, so let's just hope that the teams behind both games will smooth out the technical side of things before release.
...a place crammed full of interesting games, interesting people, and not-so-interesting smells...
Number one for me from the Xbox area was The Last Word, a charming, personal platformer set partly inside a diary. The game tells the tale of a young girl coming to grips with her Grandmother’s stroke, with certain elements of the story (like the protagonist’s name) left in your hands. The differing art styles from the levels in the diary itself, to levels set in what we can only imagine is the girl’s imagination, provided a sumptuous juxtaposition. The game’s designer Mark Backler warned us that it could be a while until the game sees the light of day - don’t worry Mark, we’ll still be here whenever it’s ready.
Next I ventured downstairs to the halls of the Indie room, a place crammed full of interesting games, interesting people, and not-so-interesting smells. The warming blue and orange colours of Binaries attracted me almost instantly, with the game itself also proving to be a real contender in the puzzle genre. One stick controls the movement of both an orange coloured dot, and a blue coloured dot - traversing the cavernous terrain you must reach the end goals and seat each colour in its respectively coloured position to pass the level - just watch out for spikes!
Nature’s Zombie Apocalypse, Super Dungeon Bros, Super Arcade Football and The Breakfast Club provided some much needed local multiplayer madness next. NZA puts you in the shoes/webbed feet of ducks and other animals as they blast away at the undead - a fun little game but nothing exceptional. SDB played like a cartoon edition of Gauntlet, and much like NZA it was fun, whilst certainly not groundbreaking. SAF played like a more controlled Kick-Off/Sensible Soccer, with attractive toonish player models and brightly coloured playing surfaces. We enjoyed a few closely fought contests and predict this’ll be an excellent game to play with friends, pizza and beer. The build we played of The Breakfast Club was an early one, but the group chaos of manipulating knives, forks, toasters and the like to make breakfast was very amusing.
Black & White Bushido and Featherpunk Prime rounded out my time in the indie room. Bushido is a highly stylised multiplayer beat-’em-up, where you fight as ninjas from either the white clan or the black. This colour dynamic is highlighted with a black & white backdrop, allowing the player to use stealth to his or her advantage. I had good fun with this one, playing many rounds. Featherpunk is a Metroidvania type game, with all the fun and potential frustration that the genre entails. I enjoyed the bits I played, and the poster above the booth was neon perfection.
The leftfield collection provided me with one of my most hilarious moments of the day, as I played through a few games of Pool Panic. In the game you control a cue ball, blasting target balls and enemy balls into pockets, off ledges and into water with some wonderful, amusing animations. Developer Mike told us not to expect the game anytime soon - but was decent enough to inform us that it is “the least realistic pool simulator around”.
Next up was the biggie - PlayStation and PSVR. The Sony indie offerings were pretty slim, with most of their space taken up with VR and those ghastly blue lights. I did manage to sit down and play a few games of Dino Dini’s Kick-Off Revival, the return of one of the Godfathers of football gaming. Purists will be pleased to hear that the game plays as if FIFA and PES never happened. One button controls, after-touch and close control are the keys to being Barcelona or Barnet. Football fans will be pleased to hear that online and local multiplayer options will be available in the final build.
PSVR came next - I was booked in for a 30 minute slot with the new technology (it actually turned out to be ten minutes, I was not best pleased), playing the game SUPERHYPERCUBE. The game is a fully 3D Tetris, where you manipulate shapes to fit through a hole in a distant wall. As you progress more and more blocks get added to your shape, forcing you to crane your neck round the corner to decipher the puzzle. It was simple, it was addictive, it was fun, but ultimately - and this goes for the other VR experiences I saw at the show - £350 plus for this new technology is just too decadent a dessert at this stage. Those who can afford VR will definitely have fun (be it on their own - something I’m personally skeptical about - or as a party piece), I’m just not convinced it’s the finished article yet.