The indie section is always my favourite place for checking out games at MCM as it’s always an eclectic mix. This year saw the return of Seb Burnett, one of the guys behind “Bertram Fiddle” which I reviewed recently and interviewed at MCM last May. He was promoting their kickstarter for ‘Episode Two’ which since MCM has finished has been funded. “Lumo’s Cat” from last MCM was also there as well as “TerraTech”. You going to be seeing more “TerraTech” on the YouTube channel soon but for now you can have a bonus interview I had the games 3D artist Anton Korubov.
Another game that I had played before was “Black and White Bushido” but that was from my time at Legend of Gaming Live.
As for many of the other games, most were very early alphas but there were a few games ready for release. One was the game “Eternal Step”.
“Eternal Step” is the kind of game that is very unforgiving. One game it reminded my of was “Rogue’s Legacy”. Death and preparing for the person to come after you is part of the challenge. The controls are simple and the mechanics are easy to understand but the game is designed in that hardcore style were everything is out to get you. I gets upgraded regularly, they had a Halloween themed update there, so they really try to keep you coming back.
The only other one that felt like it was release-ready was “Aperion Cyberstorm”, coming for PC and WiiU. Aperion is a one screen, twin-stick shooter. That’s all that can be said really. It has a very vector graphic and neon style and it’s selection of ships and playability is pretty big. The popularity of 4-player, one screen games has sky-rocked in recent years but sustaining peak popularity and staying relevant is more the trick. Yes its fun and it is coming to the WiiU, the one console that still has eyes on the console home advantage of local co-op. But will people remember it in a few months time? Longevity can be fleeting.
There was one game that was being shown off that is also released that I haven’t played. That was “Apocalypse Neighbours”. It is a mix of Worms and Angry Birds, which is an odd mix but seems to work ok. From Worms it takes the bombastic weapons and taking turns to fling stuff at each other from one end of the map to the other. From Angry Birds it take the flimsy base set ups but here you can build more and upgrade and repair. One bold statement I got from the developers was that they plan for total cross platform play. As it’s a turn based game I’m not shocked. The worst thing that can happen is having monstrous gaps between turns but that’s just gaps were nothing is happening. The interesting part of the statement was the ‘total’ part. That means they plan cross platform play on all mobile devices, all consoles and PC. As Mike Bithell said once in a panel I saw, ‘there’s no reason why it shouldn’t work but it never will‘. The exclusivity that the consoles have is sacrosanct to their owning companies so at best they’ll only get mobile and PC cross-play. Though not sure how that’ll work because of the big performance difference and the strength of their internet connections. WiFi and chipsets might be the biggest hindrance (after console exclusivity) in cross play. At the moment its just out on iOS.
There were a whole bunch of games that were in very early alpha stages. Many of the had some good ideas and I really hope they get somewhere with them. “Song of the Firefly” was one of them.
“Song of the Firefly” is a 3D side-scrolling platformer that has a few queues from older games like “Megaman” but less built on beating you if you make a mistake. Colour and light are a big part of the game and give the it a distinct style. The graphics they had reminded me of a Studio Ghibli animation but in a more 3D, cel-shaded style. I hope they keep that style if they continue the game after it’s kickstarter.
One alpha game that I got fascinated by was “Executive Assault”. It’s cross between an RTS and an FPS. You are the master of a robo-corp, sitting in office in the middle of a field somewhere. But you log yourself into a VR control thing where you can see the world from above (RTS mode) with the added ability to take manual control of any of your robot units (FPS mode). There is quite a lot to go over so I’ll glaze over some of it. For example, the amount you can research you can do is massive. You can research production buildings, turrets, planes, tanks, mech-walkers and infantry as well as upgrades for everything from armour to firepower to doors.
The reason you can research things like doors is that the way to win a match is to kill the opposing executive sitting in his office in the middle of a field somewhere. This gives you options and many ways to play. I can go full FPS mode and build a base with a huge amount of turrets and just make single solder with a sniper and stealth my way in. Or I could go full RTS, make an army that would make Patton blush, and march forth with a ‘scorched earth’ policy.
Overall, it’s really fun. What you can do, so early in its development, is already massive so what they have planned is fascinating. It is very much an alpha build though. One example is that I shot my way in to the enemy base with a squad of beam rifle solders and got to the enemy executive, but shooting him while looking down iron-sights does nothing. You can kill him just not down iron-sights. Was my fault for running up to the enemy executive and zooming in on his face to have a look at the textures. I don’t think they thought any one would do that considering there is only one target and no defences in the main office. Either way, they said they’d patch that.
One game that didn’t work as well was “Skara: The Blade Remains”. Part of it can be because of mixed messages. One of the stand attendees said it was a planned MMO hack-and-slash game. If it was, playing in a very small arena is not very MMO. All the other materials said it was multiplayer (up to 16 player) arena hack-and-slash so I guess it might of just been someone who got his abbreviations confused. I’m just going to go by the materials and consider it a 16 player hack-and-slash.
The one problem that the game has is that is felt kind of slow. You have the usual attack, roll, block and run but most of the time you’ll just end up using you very “Smite”-like abilities that can be distinguished apart as the close-up one, the range one, and the super. It felt like it was trying to be a ‘Dark Souls’ style brawler while having the controls from ‘Smite’. At times it felt slow while at others it felt like you want waiting for cool-downs. Then a boss creature appeared and confused me even more because from that point it felt like a free for all ‘Smite’ match.
It’s unfocused. It needs to distil itself more, even if it means tweaking and changing the controls or style of the game because at the moment it’s like both of them are from two different games.
There was one game that I didn’t get to play called “Eden Star”. It’s a survival game of the elk of “Rust” or “ARK” but as a sci-fi game. It does look good but I’ve been pretty open about my reservations about the multiplayer survival genre. Surviving is fine but as soon as you log off all work you did establishing yourself is gone because your offline and can’t protect it. But, this is a single player game. At least that’s what Steam tells me. Just having the ability to be in single player or make your own private servers negate the offline issue.
The game looks great and I do hope I get to try my hand at it soon. Alone survival games is a genre I’m good at. Guess I’m prepared for what the apocalypse happens.