EGX 2016 – Smash Up & The Little Acre

To close off this week on EGX, I’d like to tell you about two more games I saw there, Smash Up and The Little Acre.

During my short, yet very productive, time in Birmingham last Saturday, I played many more games, but I chose these two as the last ones for my EGX coverage for two main reasons: the first one is that I think they’re pretty neat, each for its own reasons. The second is that just like every other title I’ve spoken of this week, Smash Up and The Little Acre will release very soon.

EGX had some amazing games, but among them, I would rather give priority to the ones you’re going to see on Steam very soon. But don’t worry, I am planning on covering the rest with some in-depth previews as soon as footage or demos are available to do so.

Smash Up

Smash Up might be a familiar name to you if you play tabletop games, particularly deck builders. In Smash Up, you combine the decks of two factions and use these strange alliances to conquer bases placed on the table, using your minions and the support cards to boost your chances and as is very common in card games, screw over your opposition.

Smash Up!

Use your minions wisely and control the bases!

Smash Up is a very fun game, and one I played while living in Canada. I can’t remember what I played but I do remember that my brother in law had Ninjas and Zombies and the combination was annoying as hell to play against. We played a few matches at a board game café, but when it was time to go, we did what is my least favourite part of tabletop games: putting it all back into the box. Going through the shuffled decks to pick out the cards that go into the Ninja and Zombie piles wasn’t exactly pleasant.

That’s why the idea of a PC version of Smash Up is something I love. Developed by Nomad Games, the game will hit Early Access in October, and it’ll do for me the same thing that the PC version of Small World does: it takes care of putting it all away. I don’t have to worry about counting points, making sure I don’t lose any cards or even that they get damaged. They’re digital and out of harm’s way. And I dig that!

The Little Acre

I have to admit that I judged The Little Acre immediately upon seeing the booth art. It features a young girl and a dog and don’t ask me why, but I thought it would be a generic platformer. But, as I mentioned in an article earlier this week, I do like to check out every game in case I miss a hidden jewel, and The Little Acre was one such gem.

I checked it out while doing my last few rounds before making my way home from Birmingham. I was tired, my feet ached and I was starving, but I decided to check the booth out anyway.

The Little Acre

Love how this looks!

What I found was a point & click adventure game with great hand-drawn visual style and some very ingenious that didn’t depend on moon logic or crazy item combinations, but more on real world logic or at least coherent leaps of logic. As I spoke to one of the developers, one of the founders of Pewter Games, he mentioned they took inspiration in the puzzle design from the Broken Sword games, which according to him also served as inspiration for the visual style. It also helps that their executive producer is Charles Cecil, the man behind Broken Sword.

I liked that, particularly because I’m tired of moon-logic based games, where it’s not so much about figuring out the clues but being in the same deranged state of mind the designer was at the time of the puzzle’s conception. It’s an approach that works well with humour and when the secret to the apparent moon logic hides in language, in wordplay or something similar—see the Monkey Wrench in Monkey Island 2—but not many can make it work.

The Little Acre

Seriously, this looks amazing! Sadly the demo gameplay I saw didn’t feature this pair of lovely characters!

During our conversation we even touched on Gabriel Knight, and of course the horrendous Cat Hair puzzles from the appalling Gabriel Knight 3 came up, because it is terrible and no one should ever forget it!

I always love talking to adventure game fans, because we end up engaging in some amazing conversations. I was only sad that I got to them so late in the day and really had no energy to stay and chat for much longer. I spoke to their publisher about the chance for reviews and then bid my farewells and made my way home.

I went to EGX for a single day, and it’s crazy that I managed to play so many cool titles and talk to so many talented people, but it’s what makes these shows so good.  I am still a much bigger fan of the indie scene than the AAA crowd, mostly because with indie developers you get to meet them.

AAA developers tend to be faceless organisations that send dozens of marketing people who can’t deviate from their scripts because they don’t know anything else.

That’s why I’m excited for next year’s Rezzed. It really will be amazing!

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