Between Thursday 22nd and Sunday 25th of September, Birmingham's National Exhibition Centre (NEC) played host to the UK's largest video game exhibition. GameSkinny sent Pierre Fouquet and I along to find out what was going on, get hands-on with some of the newest releases and to see what was hot in the realm of Indie games.
The indie developers had come out in force and were presenting some (quite frankly) amazing games! For me, it was more exciting playing these games than queuing up to play the big AAA games that were on show.
So sit back and flick through this EGX 2016: Best in Show slideshow to see which games Pierre and I rate as being some of the best at this year's event. The list isn't in any particular order.
This is a game that fans of Banjo-Kazooie and Donkey Kong Country have been waiting for for such a long time! The guys and gals from Playtonic Games, a studio originally started by some key personnel from Rare, have been working very hard to recreate the feel and enjoyment their previous games brought to players. The end result is this incredibly bright and happy open-world platformer. This is the reason Yooka-Laylee is one of GameSkinny's best in show. They didn't let the fans down and developed a beautiful game, just the way we wanted it.
Players must guide Yooka the chameleon and his bat friend, Laylee, around their world. You have to collect items which expand the play area and ultimately assist the duo in defeating the money-grabbing corporate fat cat Capital B.
There is currently no definite date for the release of Yooka-Laylee but we at GameSkinny will be keeping our fingers on the pulse and will let you know as soon as we do!
I am a massive fan of card games, whether they be tabletop or digital. There were quite a few of them at this year's show, but Deckbound Heroes scored very highly with me.
There are lots of unique aspects to this game that make it stand out from the CCG crowd. For a start, you can see your opponents' cards. Where is the fun in that? I don't know about you but if I saw one their strongest cards pop up in their hand, I would sitting there guessing when they would play it or whether or not I could counter it. The other unique feature of the game is that you are also playing to occupy bases. Each base bestows an ability to help you take life points away from your opponent.
The card gameplay is actually pretty in-depth and, if you are interested in knowing more, you should head over to Deckbound's website to have a read of how it all actually works.
Deckbound Heroes is currently vying for your votes to get it Greenlit on Steam and has an estimated release date of sometime this Fall.
This game was on my must-play list from the moment I heard they were at EGX. I've been following its development for a while so I am so happy now that I have been able to play it.
Political Animals is an election simulation game, developed by new-to-the-scene studio Squeaky Wheel and published by Democracy 3 developers Positech. Don't let the cartoon appearance and animal characters fool you because this game is certainly not for the fainted hearted. You are playing a government candidate who is trying to get elected and you need to do everything in your power to succeed. You need to campaign, make pledges, raise funds and you can even create scandals to blacken your opponents name! Everything you'd expect from a good politician...
So why does it make our Best in Show list? I think it would boil down to the art style which makes it stand out from other political strategy games. It looks great! It doesn't immediately look like a political game. It looks like something a child would like to play given the cartoon art style. Looks can be deceiving but it works for Political Animals.
There is currently no hard and fast release date but the developers are hoping to get it released to coincide with the US elections in November.
This game rightly deserves its spot in the best in show list because of its well-written story and its execution. The story got us hooked instantly. I don't really want to spoil it for anyone but the feelings you get from the protagonist do strike a chord.
The Fall: Part 2, is a sequel to The Fall: Part 1 (which has been reviewed by Pierre in the past) and has been developed by Vancouver-based studio Over The Moon Games. It carries on from the events of the first part andfocuses on a character named ARID -- an artificial intelligence who is trying to find her way back to her own body. The look of the game is very dark but, with neon aspects which remind me a lot of Tron: Legacy, it works beautifully well as a game.
This game by Sumo Digital really made me smile. And, watching the other people playing the demo, it made a lot of others smile too. The pure enjoyability of the game makes this one of our best in show.
It is a puzzle game like no other just because you play as a snake. Obviously, the first thing you'll notice is that your character has no arms and legs so you have to rethink how you are going to play. As you move the left thumbstick from side to side, your snake starts to move. The quicker you move your thumb, the more the snake propels himself forward.
The snake is Noodle, and he is out to collect gems from his world with the help of his hummingbird friend. The puzzles are completely physical and you have to try and think like a snake. How does a snake climb a tree? How do they coil around an object to tighten their grip?
There are currently no release details for the game but we will keep you informed.
Forgotton Anne was a surprise addition to the EGX line-up. Square Enix Collective waited until people arrived to announce it. The game really struck a chord with me as it has some serious Steampunk connotations and the premise really is lovely. I see a lot of future in this game and cannot wait to see more of it.
Forgotton Anne is 2D point-and-click action adventure. You control a young girl, Anne, who is trapped in a world of forgotten items. She and an elderly gentleman called Master Bonku are the only humans in this new World and they are trying to find a way home.
The game is still in its early stages so it will be a while before we see this release.
You can't get any more stealthly than Aragami, a game developed by Spain-based studio Lince Works and due to release in a matter of days (October 4th).
You don't get many games where getting into combat is a bad thing but it really is in this one. You must stealth around, completing missions and trying not to get caught. If you do get caught, you do have some mystical powers which will aid your escape but that really isn't the point. It looks like the developers have drawn a lot of inspiration from comic books for the look of the game but it really does work.
So why is Aragami one of our Best in Show? Quite simply, it's an amazing stealth game. Even though you are completely vulnerable, you feel super powerful! Also, it looks amazing, graphically, and animation wise.
Mantis Burn Racing is an arcade top-down racer from developers VooFoo Studios. It's nothing more that a racing game which means that there are no power-ups and only very short boosts. The reason that it makes this list is because it melds arcade and sim amazingly well. While it's fully arcade, you can actually think about driving a bit like in a sim game.
Even though it is a top-down arcade game, the game uses realistic physics and great attention has been paid to making the feel of the game different regarding which surface you are racing on.
The game is currently on Steam Early Access and the developers are hoping to release it by the end of 2016 on PC, PS4 and XBox One.
From anywhere in the Rezzed area, you could hear the thumping bassline of the Aaero tracks. In fact, Aaero has its place in here not only for being a kickass game but also for having the most memorable soundtrack of the event.
Developers Mad Fellows describe Aaero as a "rhythm, action, on rails, music shooter" and, once you play it, it really makes sense. If anyone out there has ever played Audiosurf you will be familiar with the concept of racing on a track and dodging obstacles in time with some music. Well, this game takes a massive leap away from that basic concept and adds aliens, boss battles, and a futuristic landscape.
Aaero is scheduled to release early on in 2017 and will be available on Xbox One, PS4, and PC.
For such as simple looking game, Flat Heroes is utterly brilliant! If the turn out this year hadn't been so strong, I would say that this could have won Best in Show. Kudos goes to the games developers, Parallel Circles!
The look of Flat Heroes is basic and very trendy, but the gameplay is intense and fast-paced. The aim of each level is just to avoid what is coming at you. There are lasers, little star bombs, flying discs and more, all with the purpose of destroying your square. There are several tempting modes including the solo campaign, speed runs, co-op, and battles.
Flat Heroes is out now in early access on Steam and is available on PC, Mac OS, and Linux.
Even though the majority of games at this year's event were of really high standard, I couldn't include every single one in this listicle so here are some other games which deserve to get a mention for one reason or another:
Oh My Godheads - Oh my! This was a true gem to play! It was entertaining, nicely done and the constant changes in tactics depending on circumstances really made a nice addition.
Drive! Drive! Drive! - It's a racing game, but racing on 1 track is boring, so why not 3 tracks at the same time? Definitely very entertaining!
Black the Fall - The setting for this game is one of its strong points. Based during the fall of the Soviet Union, it tells the story of someone trying to escape from forced labor. The design of the game is superb and the gameplay makes you over think the simplest of puzzles.
The Little Acre - This harks back to the golden age of point-and-clicks. The cartoon animation is bang on the money and the story line is endearing and extremely well written.
As you can see from this list, the variety of games exhibited this year was huge and there is a lot of talented indie developers out there. The public seemed to agree as the Rezzed section of the expo was constantly busy. Some games had crowds gathered around it and there were plenty of smiles and laughter all around. Now to look forward to Rezzed, the purely indie event run by EGX in London during the Spring, and next years EGX expo!