Last year I spoke to Merge Games about a ton of games, with Riot being my favourite, and later that year and even into 2016 they helped out with my charity works, both on Extra Life and Gameblast with the Gamely Giving crew. I knew Merge was going to be at the event so I made sure to catch up and talk to Nick Clarkson, their head of PR and Marketing.
It’s rare for me to see PR people so passionate about the games they’re talking about, as strange as that may sound. There is only a handful I’ve spoken to in the past few years who seem to be as into the games as their audience is, and Nick is one of them.
I caught up with him and he wasted no time in telling me about their EGX lineup and what Merge games was doing for the developers, how they’re helping them push their products to a new level, always very excited to talk about the games.
The first one was Sublevel Zero Redux, a console port of the PC game I first played in Rezzed 2015. They’re working with the developers to not only bring the game into consoles and optimise them for it, but also to expand on it, with more stories to the campaign, more items to craft and many more weapons. It’s still Sublevel Zero but bigger and better, as he puts it. They’re also doing special collector’s retail editions for the game, which sounds interesting.
But I had already seen Sublevel Zero before so even with the fantastic sales pitch, I wasn’t too interested—as I mentioned in the opening article for EGX 2016, I was mostly interested in new things, not the stuff I had seen in other events. The other games however did catch my attention.
The first one is Mainlining, a point & click hacking adventure where you play as an MI7 cybercrime investigator, and you have to go into suspect systems and retrieve information crucial for national security and to bring the suspects to justice. What makes it cool is that while it says point & click, there’s also a lot of keyboard in it, as you have to use console commands just as if you were hacking the system. From what the developer and Nick told me, there are different operating systems for the different computers you’re hacking, so you start with Windows XP and then move onto Linux and Mac depending on the case and suspect.
In the wake of the success of Mr. Robot I can see this game being very popular, and I personally can’t wait to give it a go. Nick mentions there’s a Steam demo available and it’s releasing next month as well! As soon as I got home, I gave the demo a go and it’s a lot of fun. It’s also challenging!
Then we spoke and saw some people playing Hopiko, where you play as the eponymous character that’s fighting in cyberspace against terrifying forces that wish to destroy the world of gaming. To stop them you have to crash into them at full speed, but you first need to reach them, using the platforms around you to propel yourself forward, but always in a straight line. I love a good puzzle platformer, especially one that looks so challenging.
The last game we saw isn’t technically a new one, since I saw it at EGX last year but. Back then, it was Twin Souls and now it’s Aragami, a stealth game developed by Lince Works, a company out of Spain. As a native Spanish speaker, I took the chance to switch the language and introduce myself to the two Lince reps there, much to Nick’s surprise.
The demo, from what I saw, was the same they had last year, only much more polished than before—though as we spoke, someone managed to break the game and fall through the environment, which is always great to see. With them, I was much more interested in learning when they would release the game, as they kinda did a blackout after EGX 2015 and I had a hard time following up with the development. But I’m happy to report that Aragami is coming soon, next month in fact, as most of these releases, and if I play my cards correctly, I’ll be playing the hell out of it for review. I’ve already asked for a code, but I won’t lie, I might just get the game later on in its special edition that includes a 60-page art book.
Before I left Nick and continued my exploration of EGX, I asked him about Riot, since I couldn’t find anything about the game in the past few months. He assured me it’s still coming but they’re keeping it very close to the vest until it’s ready to go. With the creator moving countries—something I’m very familiar with—it’s caused some delays but he assures me it’s coming, possibly into Early Access before the end of the year.
I’d like to thank Nick for his time, it’s always great to catch up with him. And as I learn and play more of the upcoming Merge Games titles, I’ll make sure to tell you all about them!