Thumbstix attended EGX Rezzed on Saturday 6th April, and once again the organisers had put on a great show. The annual event at Tobacco Dock in London showcases a huge range of upcoming independent games, and although previous years had featured some AAA titles to coincide with spring release dates (Onrush, PSVR and Quantum Break), this year saw the bulk of the space given to the Indie’s. Sony were there showing off Dreams, but was on an appointment only basis, so I didn’t manage to check it out. Both Nintendo and Xbox were there showing off independent titles, along with a very strong showing from Devolver Digital, who are releasing most of their titles on both PC and Switch.
The Nintendo Switch appears to be the current favourite console of choice for Indie developers, and I also saw a sneak peak of what appeared to be an Xbox title running on the Switch, which I am sure we will hear more about at this years E3. I am absolutely chomping at the bit to be able to play Xbox titles (and gain achievements) on a portable device!
So, on with my thoughts of my personal best of the show. I have picked seven titles that impressed me the most.
Releasing in the summer on Xbox One, Supermarket Shriek is a simple but hilarious title, especially in couch co-op. And all you need is one button each. The comedy factor is driven by the hilarious on-screen animations and sound effects, as your one button is used to make your character scream. One of the characters is a goat, and the other a small boy, who are sitting in a supermarket trolley. When one of the characters screams the trolley turns left, and then vice versa, whilst both screaming together sends you in a straight line. As the gameplay requires you to navigate obstacle courses in supermarkets, you soon know that it is not as easy as it sounds, and that getting three stars in each level will require a high level of communication. The fun that was being had by all the people who played is testament to the simple but addictive nature of this game. Although it launches with local co-op only, an online mode is being worked on and will be added to the game after launch. There is also the feature of plugging in USB microphones and playing the game by actually screaming!
Supermarket Shriek is being developed by Belfast-based Billy Goat Entertainment Limited and you can find out more about the game on the website, and on the social media account on Twitter. Thanks to Will Barr (@billysonthewall) for the demo. It will launch as an Xbox Game Pass title.
I knew nothing about Heave Ho until I walked into the Devolver Digital room, and in fact the game was only revealed about a week ago, but the buzz and excitement around this in the room was extraordinary, with gamers gathering around the screens all day. It’s one of those games that’s as fun to watch as to play. It reminded me of the sort of buzz that Gang Beasts attracted a few years ago, and the gameplay is similar even though the games are really different, and Heave Ho is definitely more of a co-operative game. The premise is simple – get your characters from one side of the screen to the other with the use of nothing more than your long and somewhat sticky arms. What follows is a hilarious physics based game involving swinging, catching and throwing, accompanied by great sound effects.
Heave Ho is being developed by Le Cartel and published by Devolver Digital. It will be launching on PC and Switch in Summer 2019.
Lonely Mountains: Downhill
Lonely Mountains: Downhill was another game in the ID@Xbox room, and is an arcade mountain bike game where your goal is to ride down a mountain as fast as you can without crashing. Sounds simple, but it is also fiendishly difficult and addictive. It’s one of those “just one more go” games which you end up playing until 4am! Graphically simple but detailed and very pretty, and although the control scheme was tricky to start with I soon realised that it was very intuitive, as unlike a lot of games of this ilk you simply have to push the stick in the direction you want to go. This is definitely an essential purchase for me, which is brilliant as it will be launching day and date into Game Pass!
Lonely Mountains: Downhill is being developed by Megagon Industies and you can find out more about the game on the website, and on the social media accounts on Twitter and Facebook. Thanks to developer Jan Bubenik (@DrWDSo) for showing us the game.
I played Phogs at EGX Rezzed in 2018 and it looks to be progressing nicely. Again, its another two player game where you control a Phog, a two headed stretchy dog that you control through levels, solving puzzles as you go. Again, its a very physics based game, as you both control one half of the same animal as you bite, stretch and curl your way through the environment, collecting bones and helping characters as you go. Playing through the demo this year was as much fun as last year, as Phogs is a real joy to play. There have been additions, the most obvious being the use of light to get through areas. For example, if one end was to bite onto a light then the other end acts like a torch. Phogs is full of charm.
Phogs is being developed by BitLoom Games in cooperation with Coatsink and will be released in 2019 on most major platforms. You can find out more about the game on the official website.
This is developers Night School Studio’s follow up to the brilliant adventure game Oxenfree. This time its set in Hell, where recently deceased friends Lola and Milo must outdrink Satan in order to activate a loophole, thus granting them a re-entry back to life. The small section that I played was full of humour and felt very similar to the stylings of Oxenfree. The way the dialogue choices blend into the movement of the characters on screen just feels so integrated and never takes you out of the lovingly created world. There are also multiple mini-games to play as you go on the biggest bender ever, with beer-pong just one of many.
Like it’s predecessor, Afterparty also features multiple endings, and your actions may have disastrous consequences for other inhabitants of the Underworld. Lola is also voiced by Star Wars Battlefront II’s Janina Gavankar, so there is some good voice talent involved.
Another great title coming to PC and Switch on April 18th from Devolver Digital, this time developed by Askiisoft. It reminded me of the excellent Dead Cells in it’s style and combat, but Katana Zero requires you to battle through smaller more compact stages. Upon death (which you will see a lot) the game rewinds back to the start, much like a VHS rewinding a 80’s action film, where upon you get to try again. The game has a neo-noir styling and also features a dialogue system with the game numerous NPC’s. Some of the areas also contained switches for lasers, and at certain times you could use these to take out onrushing enemies. Katana Zero looks like a perfect Switch game for short intense play periods.
My Friend Pedro
Rounding off the trio on my list from Devolver Digital, My Friend Pedro is probably one of the most stylish shooters we will see this year. It main lure of this game is the copious amount of acrobatics and guns, as you flip and shoot your way through a level full of enemies. There are also lots of extra points on offer as you can shoot bullets off objects like hanging frying pans, or kick severed heads at the enemies. There is a learning curve here, in order for the fluency to become natural, but when you get this mastered then My Friend Pedro is going to be a load of fun. Oh, and there are lots of Bananas as well!