On Monday I spoke of my Rezzed 2017 experience and if there was one thing missing from that piece was perhaps to talk about some of the games I saw. But don’t worry, as I mentioned on Monday, today and Friday will be all about that.
Another thing I mentioned is that I booked very few interviews, three in total, so I could have the time to explore and find games for myself, those hidden gems of Rezzed.
Square Enix Collective
The Collective came to Rezzed with some familiar titles, Oh My Godheads, Tokyo Dark, and Black: the Fall, which I covered last year, but also some newcomers, including Forgotton Anne, a game they announced during EGX last year yet I hadn’t seen at work before.
Children of the Zodiarcs
I love tactical RPGs, with Final Fantasy Tactics beings one of my favourites, so when I sat down to play this title and saw the isometric perspective and tiled map, you can imagine the grin spreading across my face.
Children of the Zodiarcs has you controlling a small gang in the streets of a fantastical city, on the run from everyone from guards to rival gangs, fighting and trying to keep not only their lives but their humanity.
Mechanically it plays very similar to other tactical RPGs but with one twist. Your class doesn’t give you a fixed set of actions but instead you get decks of cards with abilities, unlocking more as you go. You can use these on every turn to damage foes or trigger effects, or you can stand still and draw two new cards. Depending on the cards you choose for your deck, the character’s playstyle can change drastically, going from melee to ranged and even support.
But that’s not the end of it, it’s not just tactics with cards, but in a move that spoke to my D&D player heart, you can also roll dice with the cards, the results improving the effects of the abilities or triggering special effects. Better yet, the dice are all different and you can even craft them, with higher level dice having much more powerful bonuses.
Cardboard Utopia is going in an interesting direction with their dice. They have real physics, meaning that when you roll them, you add force to the roll with your mouse and if they hit one another, their momentum will have an effect. You can re-roll two of your dice results and this real physics approach gives you the chance of changing the results by making the new roll hit other dice. It’s pretty ingenious.
You can find Children of the Zodiarcs on Steam right now to add it to your wish list, with the release coming soon.
As I mentioned, I saw the announcement for this title last year at EGX, but at the time, there was nothing to look at or play. That was different this time around, with their alpha demo on show.
Before I sat down to play Forgotton Anne, I asked about its premise. The game takes place in the Forgotten Land, where all things forgotten by humans end up, from your once favourite teddy bear to that lucky pair of underwear you had to let go because it was frankly ridiculous…and disgusting.
A force called Anima powers everything in this land, from electrical devices to the Forgotlings, the forgotten inanimate objects that make up the population. Without Anima, nothing moves or lives, save for two people, the only two humans in the Forgotten Land, Master Bonku and his enforcer, Anne.
Bonku is building a bridge that will take everyone in the Forgotten Lands back to the human realm, but there are some who oppose his regime and attack his city in open rebellion. When an explosion destroys an Anima generator, Anne must go seek out answers.
I dig the premise, a world with everything we’ve left behind sounds both intriguing and sad.
The game itself is a narrative-driven platformer, which is a new one for me, but once I had my hands on it, it played so smoothly I just wanted to keep going. It’s a platformer in the same vein as Prince of Persia, where you can feel the weight of the character, where movement and momentum matter. In this kind of game, while you can turn mid-jump, you can’t alter the direction of your leap.
Added to the gameplay is a beautiful Japanese styled animation. In fact, the opening section, rendered in-engine made me think it was an anime opening, prerendered.
Considering the demo was an Alpha version, I wondered how far along in development Forgotton Anne was. As I mentioned a bit of feedback based on the experience of playing this tutorial level, I learned that what everyone played at Rezzed was already obsolete, as the team had completely revised the content and were already working on the latter sections of the game, balancing the platforming and puzzling elements of this curious adventure.
Fear Effect: Sedna
This one surprised me so much. The last time I had heard the name Fear Effect was over ten years ago, with Fear Effect 2, a game one of my closest friends adores. It’s one of those series that simply vanished, so seeing a new title in the series, a direct sequel no less, was nothing short of shocking.
Dealing with Inuit mythology and crossing with sci-fi survival horror, Fear Effect: Sedna changes the perspective and gameplay of the series to what can best be described as a real time version of Shadowrun Returns, with your squad moving throughout the environment, coordinating attacks and using resources among each other.
The protagonists of Fear Effect are back and they’re still as dysfunctional as ever, a collection of allies that couldn’t be more different, though it’s part of the Fear Effect charm how they can all work together despite sometimes having completely different goals.
The demo was quite innocent, but one of Fear Effect: Sedna’s main investors and spokesperson for the game at Rezzed, mentioned that the mature content fans expected from the series would indeed be there. “Otherwise it wouldn’t be Fear Effect.”
The game is well on its way for a release later this year, the development team focusing now on improving the AI. I noticed they were a bit sluggish to respond to my attacks, but they more than made up for it with how powerful they are. Between the unforgiving combat and the deadly puzzles, I saw the Fear Effect DNA present in Fear Effect: Sedna, and I’m excited for what’s to come!
When I entered the room with Bandai Namco’s titles, I saw on the left a giant booth for Persona 5. I kept my gaze away from this booth, to resist the urge to play it and ruin the experience, as I had already pre-ordered the game.
Instead I focused my attention on the two games available from Bandai-Namco: Little Nightmares and Impact Winter.
I don’t like Survival Games, they bore me. The collection of resources, the crafting and grinding to eke out an existence in a virtual environment is definitely not my thing.
So, imagine my surprise when I not only enjoyed Impact Winter but it engrossed me so much that the end of the demo genuinely disappointed me.
Impact Winter is a profound change to the survival genre’s formula and the right combination of elements to make even me a believer.
Impact Winter has a narrative and characterisation behind and driving its survival. You are living with a band of survivors in a frozen land after a meteor strike. You know that help is coming in 30 days so if you hold on, you’ll be ok.
Your companions can help the cause. They have their unique skills, but are often lacking in materials and tools, which you must acquire so they can provide for the group. You’re the outdoorsman, the one best equipped and trained to brave the frozen wastes and find the treasures they need or trade with the merchants crawling across the wastes.
But you must be careful, you don’t want to help someone too much and risk alienating someone else, and perhaps when the cold creeps in and the hunger sets, one of them will have to go and try their own luck in the wastes. But with them gone, who will replace that skill set?
Impact Winter is about the tension of surviving for thirty days and keeping your colleagues and friends happy and productive. And to help that tension is some amazing music, the kind that hooks you right in and doesn’t let go. I explored the frozen over remains of an old suburb, and the melody that played, full of longing, filled me with sadness and made me want to keep going, perhaps to discover the stories of those who didn’t make it.
One part stealth game, another part Tim Burton film, and a whole lot more of creativity and creepiness.
Little Nightmares puts you in control of a small child called Six and you must escape The Maw, a dangerous place filled with danger. The Maw is huge and compared to the being living there, little six is minuscule, so small she can crawl through air vents and use shelves as ladders.
When I sat down to play it, I saw little Six wake up in a room, with little critters escaping, hiding in beds to avoid the ominous steps approaching. I managed to follow their lead and left the room, finding myself in the kitchen, where one of The Chefs awaited me, his keen nose and hearing good enough to figure out where I was and hunt me. If he caught me—which he did, about three times—that was it, game over, but in my attempts I learned the pattern well enough to avoid the shambling cook as I climbed the cupboard at the end and make my way to the next room and perhaps closer to escape.
I didn’t find Little Nightmares scary, but it has a wonderful atmosphere that grips you and won’t let go. And it has that charmingly creepy aesthetic found in films such as The Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline, where the mundane becomes horrifying.
I can’t wait to play the full game. One small demo was definitely not enough for me!
This was the last appointment, with R8 Games, about their WipEout-inspired combat racer Formula Fusion, the only demo where I agreed with the developers on the fact that it needed motion blur. Most games today have it and don’t need yet this title desperately does as it’s wonderful in a racing game.
I like combat racers but it’s a genre I don’t get to play very often, so when I sat down to play Formula Fusion, you can imagine how fast I lost and how rusty I was. The AI competitors left me so badly in the lurch I’m sure they passed me during their other laps.
I took the time to customise the car in the Garage and then rolled out for another ago…which went even worse.
R8 games stated they plan to move from the current Early Access model to a full release in the coming months, using the Steam platform to get feedback on the most outstanding issues so they can fix it and lock down a final release date.
One thing we spoke of and which I stand by, is how colourful Formula Fusion is. It’s a game made with the Unreal Engine, yet it moves away from the standard palette of greys and browns that plagues the industry. I mentioned this and John Purdie of R8 Games told me that in their first iterations that was indeed the case for them and they had received complaints, so when they locked down their artist, they urged him to add a few strokes of colour. It makes the tracks memorable.
Speaking of tracks, R8 games is doing something pretty ingenious. When they release, the game will only have about 6 to 7 tracks available, but there are day and night versions as well as a reverse-track mode, which will definitely boost replayability. There’s nothing quite like racing through a track in the opposite direction. It throws your balance and timing out the window, which I’ve always liked.
Something that sets Formula Fusion apart is that it’s entirely dependent on player skill. While you have weapons on your vehicle, they won’t necessarily track the enemies and hit them. You must approach them from behind and fire, each shot making their vehicle wobble and depleting the shields, and trust me, just getting close to these racers is extremely difficult.
Formula Fusion is incredibly fast paced and it’s the kind of game where one mistake can cost you dearly. I slammed into a barricade once and saw the other cars pass me instantly, forcing me to attempt to catch up, which I simply couldn’t
Formula Fusion is out right now on Steam Early Acces and I’ll be covering it next week with a full preview.
So there you have them, the games I booked to see. There are more games to talk about, but you’ll have to wait until Friday for that list.
Check out the games, the developers and their publishers, particularly the Square Enix Collective, which backs hundreds of projects world-wide and helps their developers with Kickstarter projects and all the support they need to make their games a reality.