#egx  Tagged Articles RSS Feed | GameSkinny.com #egx  RSS Feed on GameSkinny.com https://www.gameskinny.com/ en Launch Media Network EGX Rezzed 2017: Interview with Phil Elliott, Project Lead for the Square Enix Collective https://www.gameskinny.com/5o9am/egx-rezzed-2017-interview-with-phil-elliott-project-lead-for-the-square-enix-collective https://www.gameskinny.com/5o9am/egx-rezzed-2017-interview-with-phil-elliott-project-lead-for-the-square-enix-collective Fri, 28 Apr 2017 08:00:01 -0400 ESpalding

Most people reading this will already be familiar with Square Enix, developers of the phenomenal Final Fantasy series and Kingdom Hearts but did you know that they also help indie developers? This is done through the Square Enix Collective initiative.

At this year's EGX Rezzed, the Collective were showcasing eight indie titles ranging from a Communist dystopian puzzle game to a capture-the-flag inspired couch multiplayer. There were also debuting the latest title by the same team that developed The Turing Test in a World Exclusive session.

During the event, I sat down with the creator and project lead of the Collective, Phil Elliott, to talk about what the Collective does and how it helps indie developers.

Forgotten Anne debuted at EGX 2016

ESpalding: Welcome, Phil. Many thanks for giving me the opportunity to talk to you. To start with, please could you explain the Square Enix Collective to our readers.

Phil Elliott: Collective is, essentially, a service provider for indie developers. We work with teams in a range of ways – building community (via pitches on the Collective website), we’ve helped support teams through crowdfunding in the past few years (raising over $1.2m in the process), and last year we started publishing games to help developers get the most from their releases.

It’s always with developer choice as priority – so there’s no ‘lock-in’ to have to work with us; and developers always retain full IP rights and ownership of their games. So our intention is to build relationships, help find and support new talent, understand the market better (and understand more fully the kinds of games that people want to play), and help to build sustainable business in what is a challenging and ‘noisy’ industry.

Screenshot from Goetia, first game released through Square Enix Collective 

ES: The Square Enix Collective isn't your normal indie publisher as you focus, predominantly focus on community. Why was it decided to go that route rather than just being an indie publisher?

PE: Well, as a business, Square Enix has been looking for ways to bring the community into what we do more and more. You may have seen the Just Cause 2 multiplayer mod for PC a few years ago; normally that kind of thing might not have been allowed to continue, but we saw so many people having fun with it, so we spent time to find a way to legitimise it, and support it.

Another example is the way that the Final Fantasy XV team were so keen to get feedback on the ongoing development of the game, to enable that community a voice, that they released a demo very early -- and then updated it based on feedback. I think that kind of approach was unprecedented.

So as a business... although inevitably it may not always seem like it... we’re constantly listening to what the community is saying, and that feedback does lead to change. Maybe not overnight, but Collective’s community focus is another part of that.

The Turing Test. Released through the Collective in 2016

ES: So, what criteria do you have for developers who want to get involved with the Collective?

PE: That really depends on what kind of support they’re looking for. If it’s the community and awareness building bit, we open submissions to the Collective website on the 20th of each month for a couple of days, and then promote one new pitch every week to the Square Enix community.

For publishing options, it’s very broad, but currently we’re looking for teams who need marketing and release support – although at other times of the year we will be able to support with some production funding too. Ultimately, we’re interested in cool games that show a glimpse of the developers’ talent, and has some element that’s better or different to games that are already out there. But there are no specific genre requirements.

Oh My Godheads is currently on Early Access

ES: At this year's Rezzed, Collective were showing 8 games plus Bulkhead Interactive's new game Battalion 1944 which is an increase from last year so does this mean that "the word is out" and the Collective is growing?

PE: I hope so! But I also think it’s partly down to our steady growth since we first launched the website in 2014. We were always very clear that we needed to experiment and find the best route before expanding to new areas – so we’re on track compared to where we planned to be initially.

We believe we have capacity to publish up to 10 games per year – but we also have to be flexible, so if a team needs more time, occasionally that will mean schedule changes. Originally we probably expected a couple more to be released in 2016, but the games will be all the better for the extra polish.

Of course, we still plan to evolve and grow based on feedback and results, and I expect us to keep learning the whole time.

Battalion 1944 debuted at Rezzed 2017

ES: Battalion 1944 had its first public showing at this year's Rezzed. How has been the reception been?

PE: Really great! It was a bit nerve-wracking ahead of the event, because the build is still in such an early state, but I can happily say we were blown away by the positive feedback from people who played the game. We’re really happy to be working with the Bulkhead Interactive team once more, and also in a genre that Square Enix isn’t known for -- we have so much planned for the game, and I can’t wait to see it all build out.

ES: So, what are the Collective's plan going forward between now and next years event?

PE: The key ambition for us in 2017 is to just do the best possible job on the games we’re releasing. That’s really what we’re focused on, so at this point I’m not anticipating another jump in the same way we saw in the past 12 months. I’m looking forward to signing new teams to the label, and if we’re back in 2018 with eight new games, that will be an exciting prospect for us!

ES: Well, I'm very much looking forward to seeing what comes next for you! Thank you for giving me a moment of your time and for giving our readers a little insight into what the Square Enix Collective does. I'm sure it has come as a surprise to those who thought that you are just a normal game publisher. We wish you all the best for the future!

For anyone who wants to go and check what games are currently looking for votes, you can head to the Square Enix Collective website and vote for the ones you like the look of.

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EGX Rezzed 2017: Introducing Pawarumi, the Neo-Aztec Shoot 'Em Up Hitting Kickstarter https://www.gameskinny.com/47klk/egx-rezzed-2017-introducing-pawarumi-the-neo-aztec-shoot-em-up-hitting-kickstarter https://www.gameskinny.com/47klk/egx-rezzed-2017-introducing-pawarumi-the-neo-aztec-shoot-em-up-hitting-kickstarter Fri, 14 Apr 2017 08:00:02 -0400 ESpalding

While the show floor at EGX Rezzed 2017 was full of indie titles that have already been through crowdfunding, some are just branching out to get the vital funding they need for the future development of the game. Only a couple of days prior to heading to the event, French developers, Manufacture 43 had launched their Kickstarter campaign for their unique arcade shoot 'em up called Pawarumi.

It's not every day that you see a game that fuses ancient civilizations with futuristic spacecraft but, somehow, Pawarumi does just that. It uses a lot of Aztec imagery and architectural designs crossed with lasers and technology to create a world that is not only futuristic but maintains it's own style and atmosphere of its own.

The snow base map shows off some mighty step pyramids

So, not only is the setting something that we've not seen before, the combat system is some new and it will take a lot of practice to get it nailed properly. The developers call this The Trinity System. Everything in the World revolves around the colors red, blue and green (handy as that is the colors normally shown on a controller) and the combat system uses these in a sort of rock-paper-scissors format. All color combinations have a direct beneficial effect on your and it's your choice on how you use them. Mastering which color corresponds with which kind of attack on which enemy color is the key to success in the game.

Shooting an enemy with the same color weapon replenishes your shield energy

I'm going to admit that this kind of game doesn't normally draw me in but there is something about Pawarumi that did. When I played it, thanks to the unique combat system, it felt like there was more to it than a normal shoot 'em up. You have a system to properly learn but once you have learned it, or at least got the general idea of it, it is a lot more fun and extremely satisfying. It has definitely opened my eyes to a genre I wasn't too keen on and I love it for that!

Something is definitely about to hit the fan!

As of writing this article, the Kickstarter campaign still has 12 days left to run and they are already just shy of halfway to meeting their target. The game is set to release at some point during 2017 and will be available on PC, Mac, and Linux with a view of releasing on consoles in the future.

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EGX Rezzed 2017: World War 2 FPS Battalion 1944 Unveiled https://www.gameskinny.com/q1sqy/egx-rezzed-2017-world-war-2-fps-battalion-1944-unveiled https://www.gameskinny.com/q1sqy/egx-rezzed-2017-world-war-2-fps-battalion-1944-unveiled Sun, 09 Apr 2017 18:54:44 -0400 ESpalding

At any good gaming expo, you will more than likely get a world-exclusive or two, and EGX Rezzed 2017 was no exception. The Square Enix Collective was proud to unveil their latest sign, Battalion 1944. The World War 2 FPS has been developed by UK-based studio Bulkhead Interactive, previously known for making the first-person puzzler The Turing Test.

The team behind the game have been heavily inspired by series such as Medal of Honor and Call of Duty but are aiming to bring WW2 warfare to a modern audience. The game takes place in the thick of it all, with matches in such places as Carentan, where U.S. airforce troops engaged German infantry during the Normandy landings, or the siege of Bastogne, where American and German troops fought over an important strategic position in Belgium. All of the maps are based on actual events and locations from across the European theater of war.

The developers have built the game so that it totally relies on player skill. There is nothing to unlock and no abilities to level up, for example. Instead, everyone goes into it on a level playing field.  

There is currently no exact release date for Battalion 1944 but when it does arrive, it will be available on PC, Xbox One, and PS4. Take a look at the official announcement trailer at the top of this article, and let us know what you think about the game in the comments section below!

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EGX Rezzed 2017: Day Three - A Day of Adventures https://www.gameskinny.com/ji8r2/egx-rezzed-2017-day-three-a-day-of-adventures https://www.gameskinny.com/ji8r2/egx-rezzed-2017-day-three-a-day-of-adventures Fri, 07 Apr 2017 17:31:17 -0400 ESpalding

The final day of 2017's EGX Rezzed was undoubtedly the busiest out of the long weekend. There were plenty of families attending, and things were a little bit manic. Even though there were queues to play games, I managed to get my hands on some fantastic adventure games, and even had some time to relax and do my own thing.

Here are some of the highlights from what I saw on this last day:

Knights & Bikes

It is always great to find games that remind you of your childhood -- and Knights & Bikes by London-based indie devs Foam Sword does exactly that. It reminds you of carefree days going around your neighborhood on your bikes and letting your imagination run wild. This action-adventure co-op combines a unique hand-drawn style with a charming story turning it into a truly endearing game.

The game takes place during the late 1980s, and players join sisters Nessa and Demelza as they explore a British island on their bikes. Something evil is turning all the adults bad, and you are the ones to rescue them and save the island from ruin. The game features some great combat mechanics such as having to use water balloons, frisbees, and puddle jumping to kill nasties -- and also allows you to customize your bikes with things like frisbee shields and flags.

A trip to the carnival proves a bit more dangerous than normal

The island before the troubles hit. Even the librarian was kind of nice... kinda.

Development of Knights & Bikes has been funded via a Kickstarter campaign which ended in March 2016, but there is currently no estimated release date for the finished game.

AereA

I like it when music is the main feature of a game. And while there are many adventure games that have things like music-themed puzzles in, none that I've come across have actually used musical instruments as the main focus of the game. That is...until I was introduced to a game called AereA, developed by Triangle Studios from the Netherlands.

AereA is a music-themed action RPG packed full of musical puzzles and set in the mystical land of Aezir. A mysterious evil has stolen the Nine Primordial Instruments, and you're burdened with the odious task of retrieving them. There are four characters to choose from, and each is based on a particular musical instrument.

In the demo I played, I chose to play as Claude who is a gunner. Instead of normal guns, though, Claude's guns are actually trumpets. The other character I liked the look of was Jacques, the Cello-Knight, whose shield is shaped like the body of a cello and whose sword is like a bow. There is also a Lute-Mage and a Harp-Archer.

You can play co-op and form a formidable band of adventurers

Even the enemies are themed on musical instruments

The games release date is still to be confirmed, but the developer says it should launch around Summer 2017.

Augmented Empire

I finally got to try Augmented Empire from Sunderland-based indie developers Coatsink. I've demoed and reviewed other games developed by this studio, so I was keen to check this new one out.

Augmented Empire is a story-driven tactical RPG set in a neo-noir city on a fictional island called New Savannah. You are put into a society that is split into different factions depending on your class. While the richer citizens live a life of luxury, the every day poorer folk struggle to survive -- always facing violence and undesirable conditions. The society is on the brink of revolution, and you are one of the masterminds behind it.

You must interact with everyone to find all the information you need

The police are out to get you!

Augmented Empire will be an exclusive Samsung Gear VR title and will be available at some point during 2017, though an exact date is yet to be confirmed.

Insane Robots

I spent a good amount of time speaking with the guys from London-based developer Playniac about their game Insane Robots. I was instantly drawn in by the bright and cartoony graphics, and the game made me immediately think of playing it with my family.

Insane Robots falls into many categories. It has been described as a 2D "rogue-lite" strategy game with elements of a turn-based card-battler in which you play a robot that has been thrown into an arena due to a malfunction. Your simple aim is to defeat all other robots in the arena and get out! You have to build up your attack and defense stats by playing a series of cards in order to gain the highest combo you can. There are also cards which allow you to hack your opponent but you want to be careful with those because the hacks can go against your favor as well as for.

Pick the cards you want to play from the bottom display

Be careful where you step in the arena because they are out to get you!

There is currently no confirmed date for the release of Insane Robots aside from "mid-2017". Whenever it's finally released, it will be available on PC, Mac, PS4, and Xbox One.

So, that was EGX Rezzed for another year. There were so many more games I could write about but you would seriously be here all evening so I hope these few highlights whet your appetite for more. Check out my other EGX Rezzed articles for find out about some other great games from the weekend!

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EGX Rezzed 2017: Day Two - Uniqueness Reigns Supreme https://www.gameskinny.com/7phhq/egx-rezzed-2017-day-two-uniqueness-reigns-supreme https://www.gameskinny.com/7phhq/egx-rezzed-2017-day-two-uniqueness-reigns-supreme Wed, 05 Apr 2017 08:00:01 -0400 ESpalding

In a complete turn around to what happened on day one, on day two I got a lot of time to play and explore some of the awesome games that were exhibiting at this year's EGX Rezzed show. My schedule was packed with demos and chats and I got to play some very unique and interesting games. Here, let me show you!

Holy Potatoes! We're in Space?!

In 2015, Singapore-based developers Daylight Studios released a weapon shop simulator game called Holy Potatoes! A Weapon Shop?!. This turned out to be a great success for the studio and soon prompted the development of a sequel and thus Holy Potatoes! We're in Space?! was born.

The sequel follows a pair of potato sisters, Fay and Cassie, as they journey through space in search of their Grandfather Jiji. You must build and mod an effective space ship which will keep them safe as they explore and come into contact with some alien veggies and other nasties. The game contains lots of turn-based combat, crafting elements, exploration, and adventure.

Holy Potatoes! We're in Space?!, Holy Potatoes, We're in SpaceInside the ships crafting room

Holy Potatoes! We're in Space?!, Holy Potatoes, We're in SpaceIt's time to mod your ship in case you run into trouble

The game is currently available to buy via Steam where you can also buy the game's predecessor in a joint bundle.

Phantom Halls

Developed by London-based developers Incendium, the game is a squad-based adventure shooter set in a haunted house and the aim of the game is to basically survive the night. In single player mode, you start off exploring the house on your own, killing anything monstrous that comes at you, until you find other characters. They then become part of your squad. The rooms are procedurally generated so you never experience the exact same room layout twice.

Ok, so you don't normally notice easter eggs in games the instant you boot them up but when I was given the controls to Phantom Halls a smile instantly crept across my face. There, lurking in the corner of the character selection screen was the image of a splatter movie hero who is famed for his love of chainsaws. Yes, there was Ash Williams from the Evil Dead movies. Incendium have teamed up with the creators of Evil Dead 2 to bring you exclusive Evil Dead 2 content as well as being able to have Ash on your team! Groovy, huh?!

Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2, Phantom HallsAsh. Boomsticks and all!

Phantom HallsRotate your squad to take advantage of members weapons

Phantom Halls is currently in early access on Steam for PC users only. This copy contains some free Evil Dead 2 content including an Ash specific quest called "Are you talkin' to me?".

Formula Fusion

Are any of you familiar with the old Wipeout racing games? Well if you are, you will love R8 Games homage, Formula Fusion. I've long been a fan of fast paced racing games and immediately got drawn in by the super fast graphics and clean anti-gravity racing craft. 

Not only do you have to race around some pretty spectacular tracks but you also have to err on the side of caution because the crafts are armed with offensive weaponry with are used for only one purpose... to take you out. You do have defensive gear to soften the blow but it's always best to get them out first.

Players have the choice of 5 different customizable craft belong to 10 different teams who are battling it out over 8 different tracks. Each track can be played during the day or night and in reverse so that really makes approx. 30 different tracks to race on overall.

Formula Fusion, anti-gravity, vixenA fine example of the anti-gravity craft - the VIXEN

Formula Fusion, anti-gravity, fiyah, fury, monument valley trackWelcome to the Fiyah! Fury, Monument Valley track

Formula Fusion is currently on Steam in early access but is estimated to be releasing in full at some point during Q2 2017.

Figment

There are some dreams or nightmares that we have all had at one point in our lives and some of them we just wish would just go away and leave us alone. Danish developers Bedtime Digital Games have addressed some of these in their wonderful action adventure puzzler Figment.

You control the main character Dusty, the minds former voice of courage. He must venture his way through the world to combat the rising darkness and nightmares as well as solving puzzles to make things better again. Lots in the land of Figment are linked to something from the human mind whether it be memories, urges or thoughts so the landscape is a bit wild and a bit quirky.

I heard the game described as what would happen if you were to cross the TV show Adventure Time with the wonderful art style and musings of Studio Ghibli and I think that this is a perfect way to explain Figment.

Figment, castle, lighthouseSuch a bright and fun of the mind

Figment, cogs, gearsSpiders have always had their place in our nightmares

While there is currently no exact date for Figment's arrival, we do know that it will be some time during Summer 2017 and it will be released on PC, Mac and most major consoles.

Ruby Rei

I don't know about you but I loved learning languages at school! The only thing about it that I didn't like was the boring exercise books and staring at the writing board at the front of the class as the teacher wrote out all the grammar stuff. The folks at London-based Wibbu Studio saw this and came up with a fun way of teaching languages without the monotony associated with classroom learning. Into the arena steps their mobile "edutainment" title, Ruby Rei.

Ruby Rei, cover art, poster

You follow the titular character, Ruby Rei, as she must travel across an unknown planet to help find her friends and to get home. To get the most out of Ruby's adventure, you must play the game in the language you are wanting to learn to get a truly immersive experience. As well as hearing the language you are wanting to learn, all the subtitles will also be in the language so you can learn both pronunciation and spelling. So that you can actually understand what is being said, you are able to click on certain highlighted words and phrases to get a translation.

On launch, the languages available will be Spanish for English speakers, English for Spanish speakers, and English for both European and Brazilian Portuguese speakers. There are plans to release the game in many other languages including Mandarin, Cantonese, Russian, Korean, Arabic, and Japanese later on in 2017.

Ruby Rei is out now on all iOS and Android mobile devices.

An example of how the subtitles work

The underlined words can be translated

If I listed every game I played on day two you would get very bored. It was honestly a great day. Every game had its merits but these few struck a chord with me. Make sure you check out all my EGX Rezzed coverage to see what other gaming delights I found over the weekend!

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EGX Rezzed 2017: Day One - London Bound https://www.gameskinny.com/23ep5/egx-rezzed-2017-day-one-london-bound https://www.gameskinny.com/23ep5/egx-rezzed-2017-day-one-london-bound Mon, 03 Apr 2017 12:00:02 -0400 ESpalding

While a lot of the gaming community in the UK is familiar with the big EGX show held at the NEC in Birmingham, some may not know about the smaller, but just as important, EGX Rezzed event which is held at Tobacco Dock in the heart of London's Docklands. This younger sibling to the main show only showcases indie games and is fantastic for finding and experiencing the best indie titles the UK and Europe (and some from further afar) have to offer. This event started on March 30th until April 1st.

I attended the event for GameSkinny and I was not disappointed. Although this first day was largely taken up by interviews and meet and greets, there were some definite game highlights.

Victor Vran - Motörhead: Through the Ages

The mighty mechanical Snaggletooth

Some readers may already be familiar with Haemimont Games RPG Victor Vran, but what you might not be aware of is their collaboration with the legendary rock band Motörhead. The new game content was in development even before the band's frontman Lemmy Kilmister tragic death in 2015 after losing his battle with cancer.

The Motörhead: Through the Ages content focuses on artwork and music from the band as well as including a story revolving around Lemmy and the band iconic mascot the Snaggletooth. The new levels and content created around Motörhead's legacy is certainly hard-hitting and loud but will please any heavy metal fans.

Victor Vran

Victor Vran

For players who already have the original Victor Vran will not have to purchase the new DLC but once released this DLC will be available through the Overkill Edition and will be accessible through the game's Steam page.

The Town of Light

The Town of Light, doll, creepyWhy are creepy dolls synonymous with asylums?

In a day and age where the horror genre is pushing the boundaries, trying to find new ways to scare us and to make us jump or cringe, there are not many games out there that solely rely on atmosphere to put the chills up our backs. Italian developers LKA have produced the wonderfully chilling The Town of Light, a psychological story-driven adventure.

The game tells the story of a teenager called Reneé who is trying to piece together her past as she battles with symptoms of mental illness. The game sees her return to the Volterra Psychiatric Asylum where she grew up in Tuscany, Italy. There is no combat, no jump scares and no monsters in the game. All of the creepy atmospheric feelings come from the grim surroundings, real early 1900s medical illustrations and medical equipment and from excerpts of Reneé's memories.

The Town of Light

The Town of Light

My lasting memory of this game will always be that it is based on a real place and masses of research was done by the game's developers to truly bring the game to life. They visited the asylum in Tuscany and mapped the entire compound to get a realistic representation of the place in-game. The game is also littered with copies of real medical journals, paintings and newspaper articles from the time the asylum was in operation.

The Town of Light is currently available through Steam and is also available on Xbox One and PS4.

Battalion 1944

Battalion 1944Time to answer the call to arms!

Those headed to EGX Rezzed this year got the chance to play a World Exclusive which is being published by the Square Enix Collective. Battalion 1944 is being developed by Bulkhead Interactive, the studio responsible for the popular puzzler The Turing Test.

This brand new game is an "old school" multiplayer World War 2 FPS which has been inspired by the WW2 shooters from the past years and hopes to propel the genre to a new audience. At the event, gamers had the chance to go head to head in a 4vs4 deathmatch in one of the games urban maps. There is currently no definite release date but the game will be available on Steam, Xbox One and PS4.

Battalion 1944

Battalion 1944

So this first day may not have been filled with a lot actual gaming but the games that I did play, these highlights and others, really did set the bar for the weekend ahead. Make sure you check out my other articles to see what other gaming delights I found.

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Tickets Are Now On Sale For EGX 2017 https://www.gameskinny.com/50apk/tickets-are-now-on-sale-for-egx-2017 https://www.gameskinny.com/50apk/tickets-are-now-on-sale-for-egx-2017 Wed, 15 Mar 2017 09:55:12 -0400 ESpalding

Get ready, guys and gals! Tickets for this year's EGX at the Birmingham NEC, England, have just gone on sale. EGX is the UK's largest gaming festival, and draws many of the big names you'd expect to see at such a show.

Spanning four days, from September 21 - 24, the event is packed full of AAA reveals, a whole host of indie games to demo, eSports tournaments, developer Q&A sessions, gaming cosplay, and a chance to chat with developers and others in the video game industry.

Tickets are only available via the EGX website and prices are as follows:

  • 4-day Early Entry Super Pass: £67.50 ($83 USD)
  • Thursday / Friday Early Entry: £22 ($27 USD)
  • Sunday Early Entry: £26 ($32 USD) (Saturday is already sold out!)
  • Thursday / Friday / Saturday / Sunday Day Ticket: £19 ($23 USD)
  • Saturday / Sunday Afternoon only: £12 ($15)

In addition to a great weekend of gaming, EGX is also hosting two after parties. You will need to have an EGX ticket to be able to attend the after parties, which are on Friday and Saturday night after the main event has finished. Tickets for these are £15 ($18).

This year the event will be hosting a brand new Overwatch tournament. The preliminaries will be held at EGX Rezzed later this month, with the final stages taking place live at EGX. More details of the event will be released shortly so, if you are interested in taking part make sure you check back with us regularly to get the latest details!

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EGX 2016: The Fall Part 2: Unbound - A Sequel Aiming to Push Further Than Thought Possible https://www.gameskinny.com/s4vpt/egx-2016-the-fall-part-2-unbound-a-sequel-aiming-to-push-further-than-thought-possible https://www.gameskinny.com/s4vpt/egx-2016-the-fall-part-2-unbound-a-sequel-aiming-to-push-further-than-thought-possible Mon, 03 Oct 2016 12:00:02 -0400 Pierre Fouquet

The biggest shock for me at EGX this year was seeing a familiar name, one that I actually didn't think I would see again, that name was, The Fall -- a game that I reviewed a whole 3 years ago, and loved. By the sounds of it, the team at Over The Moon Games was as surprised as I was when they got the funds to make the 2nd part of a (hopefully) three-part game. You could say the studio's name says it all.

I couldn't help but grab an interview with a member of the team, that lucky man was Caleb Allard, Writer and Voice Director on The Fall Part 2: Unbound.

The Fall Part 1 followed the story of ARID, an AI onboard a sophisticated futuristic combat suit. After crash landing on a planet, ARID is activated and tasked with keeping the unconscious pilot alive. Through the story ARID must overcome restrictive rules, and robotic limitations by finding "loopholes in your own programming" to save the pilot.

The Fall Part 2: Unbound continues the story, in fact it picks up directly after the events of the first. Due to these events, ARID is no longer in her body, so she takes to piggybacking on other robots "sort of parasitically." ARID attempts to take control of these bodies by circumventing their restraints, and limitations to achieve her goal.

The first order of the day was asking Caleb what type of game The Fall Part 2: Unbound (from herein referred to as Unbound) is, a question to which the answer is "hard to say." Over The Moon "usually say it's a narrative-driven, sci-fi game, with metroidvania platforming aspects, [and] combat, but primarily it's an exploration, adventure, puzzle game."

Having played the first part of The Fall, I noticed that Unbound had a new method of combat in addition to the cover based combat in the first part. Caleb brought the conversation back to the first part, talking about how Over The Moon "wanted combat." The combat was there to add to the "atmosphere and danger," but mostly to break up the pace of the game, "as if you have people just running around doing puzzles for 5 hours, they might go insane." To build in this for Unbound, Over The Moon wanted the combat to be "more integrated with meaning, so that the gameplay and story were both facilitating the same experience."

As mentioned before, Unbound has a new method of combat inspired by One Finger Death Punch. In the section of the demo with this combat method, you play as "The Soldier," who "is very much about his individuality, and his ego." The combat mechanic for [The Soldier], is focused on the puzzles, "and what his story is." Caleb then tried to explain this a bit more, but ultimately couldn't with out spoiling the story. All he could say was that the "combat will develop alongside [The Solder's] story."

(One quick suggestion I would make about this, make the harder enemies more visually distinct, rather than simply 'this one is red, so harder.')

I think -- for what that's worth -- that gamers tend to like sci-fi, just to make a sweeping generalisation. Being a sci-fi fan myself, I asked Caleb what the main inspirations for the themes of the game were. I was expecting Asimov to come up, and he did, but interestingly this almost didn't feature in the first game:

"Of course there's the laws of robotics right? Which is a big part of the [The Fall Part 1]. That's actually something we almost didn't have in there, that came in after, [Over The Moon] actually had their own way through that. We love sci-fi, and we're glad we put that in there, because it hearkens back to certain emotions, and memories for people -- it's a nice 'in.'"

And then things get much more interesting, Caleb goes on to talk about how the inspiration comes from a more physiological place -- no matter how much the guys at Over The Moon love sci-fi.

"Our story is in a sci-fi world, yes, but our inspiration really came from a more psychological place. We were interested in deconstruction in [Part 1], and the building of the self -- someone being able to define their own identity here in [Unbound]. Sci-fi -- this is the reason why other people have been using it for such a long time to tell these stories -- allows us to play with human experiences in new ways."

I think this was all a little too complex for me to talk about at the time, so I let it go, and dived into the gameplay. Specifically, I wanted to know if there were any changes in how the story was delivered, but also how you interact with the world. Caleb very directly said "yes." He then (very helpfully) expanded -- the phrasing of my question was very closed -- saying there have been "improvements mechanically."

We continued to talk about the problems people had with The Fall Part 1...where I would have to push the stick fully left/right and then move it up/down to be able to scan the environment. Some players, however, "had problems with the actual mechanics of the dual joysticks, they found it difficult" so Over The Moon improved it by making it "streamlined." You can now just move the stick up/down. But as well as this, and each of the "different characters you inhabit" in Unbound "has [its] own mechanic as well." While Unbound will start and play similarly to Part 1, later in the game ARID "will be moving between the different characters more freely." Driver San Francisco style character swapping confirmed -- as in you will be able to freely jump between characters to solve puzzles and to "get done what ARID needs to do."

One of the most striking parts of Part 1, was how monotonous the voice of ARID was, but at times a very slight amount of emotion would show through. It made these moments of emotion very impactful, and made the emotion of the ending very memorable. I was interested to hear how this came about, Caleb, being the Voice Director, was in the best position to answer this. The answer doesn't actually lie in it being a decision made from the outset, but during casting.

"That was very deliberate, because the whole trilogy is going to be about [ARID's] journey. ARID in the first game is restricted by external rules, but she's participating in them -- it's a very restricted experience of her own life.

"This is a little insight; the actress who plays ARID, Alison Kumar, was cast because she is incredibly emotional. I had a number of actresses come through who had wonderful robotical performances, and brought different and interested things, but with Alison -- she was very brave and very willing to do this to bring us ARID -- said that there needs to be emotion underneath, and now we are going to push it down, and push it down and push it down. And so, I'm glad that you felt that, and I felt she did a wonderful job of that."

To close out the interview, I asked Caleb my wonderfully annoying question, 'if you could describe The Fall Part 1, then Unbound in 4 words, what would they be?' The answers:

Part 1:

One sweeping word, 'deconstruction.'

Unbound:

Building a healthy self.

In other words, reconstruction.

Again, I want to give a massive thank you to Caleb for taking the time to talk to us.

I'm sure we will understand this fully when Unbound launches for Xbox One, PS4, WiiU, and PC for a targeted "first half" of 2017, but Over The Moon are wanting to get it out in Q1 (January through March) 2017.

]]>
EGX 2016: Mantis Burn Racing - It's Not 'Another' Top Down Racer, It's More https://www.gameskinny.com/asq12/egx-2016-mantis-burn-racing-its-not-another-top-down-racer-its-more https://www.gameskinny.com/asq12/egx-2016-mantis-burn-racing-its-not-another-top-down-racer-its-more Mon, 03 Oct 2016 06:00:01 -0400 Pierre Fouquet

Mantis Burn Racing is a top down arcade racer, inspired by classics like Micro Machines, but with a more realistic and "innovative" approach. It's a stunning looking game where the cars also handle really well. There is a "deep progression system," where "as you progress through the 20 hour career" you gain XP. As you would expect from an XP system, this allows you to upgrade your car -- including engine, tires, boost, suspension, chassis, and more.

GameSkinny had a little wag with Sean Walsh, Marketing and PR Manager at VooFoo Studios, the developers on Mantis Burn Racing.

We first had a chat about the upgrade system in the game, and how you went about tinkering. There are "18 different slots per car, so it almost works like an RPG in terms of the slots." It's a very simple system where you can select the part of the car, and then select the upgrade you want put there. The way the car handles will then either change a small amount, or drastically. While we have seen these sorts of systems in simulation racers, we rarely see them in arcade games beyond the basics of paint jobs, engine, and boost.

Sean discussed how the career mode doesn't just feature straight racing, as there are "9 different event modes." Things like "hot lap, overtake, accumulator, knockout, and others. They are specific challenges in the game which are not just about racing."

Mantis Burn Racing features "3 classes of vehicle." There's nothing fancy about these; they are light, middle, and heavy-weight. They all "react and handle very differently." The game also features weekly challenges, there is even 4 player local splitscreen -- which is nice as "there [are] not many games that have that nowadays." There's also 8 player multiplayer, and for when the PS4 Pro is released Mantis Burn Racing will "support full native 4K at 60FPS." (That's a bold claim considering all the of the caveats Sony has put on the 4K rendering of the thing, but I'm not trying to argue against the PS4 Pro right now.) The game will also run at 1080p for each player while playing in 4 player local splitscreen.

We then launched into talking about the gameplay, and how "it uses -- kind of -- real world physics," to blend simulation-ish ideas, with an arcade game, in a system VooFoo are calling "fun physics." Unlike most arcade racers, there are no 'do stuff for me' buttons, instead Mantis Burn Racing "handles how you handle the car." Sean then spoke about how the upgrade system, and the "fun physics" system interact.

"If you really upgrade your car with lots of acceleration and gear boxes, and you put your foot down, it's going to spin. So, whilst it's arcade-y it actually takes a bit of getting used to, and it actually has some real world physics behind it."

I think the strongest thing that Mantis Burn Racing has going for it is the level of detail that's put into the game, which is emphasized by the fact the team at VooFoo built their own engine to support it.

It really sounds like VooFoo are putting everything they can into Mantis Burn Racing, and not only with the level of detail. On top of all of that "there's going to be free DLC, post-launch as well, so [VooFoo] are going to keep [Mantis Burn Racing] going." The DLC will feature a "whole new environment," on top of the "two main environments" the game currently features -- a sandy/dusty offroad environment, a and city based one (inspired by Shangri-La, China). That doesn't mean there's a shortage of tracks, as "there will be about 20 tracks by the time [FooVoo] launch that free DLC."

As Mantis Burn Racing is currently on Steam as an Early Access game, I was interested to hear how the reception of the game has been -- what with Steam Early Access having a lot of stigma attached to it. Sean was overall very happy with the experience saying:

"Yeah, it's been really good, we've got quite a few people playing it. But importantly, one of the things we have changed through Early Access is the camera. So while people like top down racing games, you can't please everyone with the camera angle, so [VooFoo] have added about 4 or 5 different variations of camera. There's one camera angle which follows the car directly, there's a static camera, and just slightly different angles to please all tastes -- hopefully.

"The feedback's been really good, most people people are really positive, they really appreciate that the game's pretty well developed since it's been on Early Access. It's been on Early Access since about July 2016, and we didn't want to be stuck on Early Access for [a long time] as that can be frustrating for people. But yeah, it's been really good, we've got some really valuable feedback."

I then wanted to ask when the decision about having the "fun physics" system was made, as when driving -- let's say up a hill which has a corner on it -- most arcade racers just stick to the road, where in Mantis Burn Racing you're car's steering will go light. Sean replied simply with, "yes, pretty much," -- the answer that I was expecting, really.

He then continued, saying that a lot of people were asking, "so are you going to add weapons, or motorbikes or what ever" but VooFoo really wanted "the racing to be front and center." And while adding some crazier features to the game isn't off the table with DLC, VooFoo wanted "the driving experience to be tactile...and in terms of it's genre, actually quite authentic." They also want the game to be "fun, pickup and play, and arcade-y."

FooVoo Studios really want to make Mantis Burn Racing as good as possible, aiming for "the best in class" and "hopefully bringing the top down arcade racer back."

To close out the interview, I then asked Sean my favourite question of all time, 'describe your game in 4 words.' After a few attempts, as is usually the case with my mean questions, Sean said:

Fun, top-down, arcade racer.

Which pretty much sums up my experience playing the game, I had fun, it's top down, and it's an arcade racer. Like always, they nailed what the game is.

I'd, once again, like to thank Sean Walsh for the interview.

Mantis Burn Racing is due out digitally for the PS4, and Xbox One, with a release date to be announced very soon. But if you want the game now, it's out on Steam Early Access.

]]>
EGX 2016: Mantis Burn Racing - It's Not 'Another' Top Down Racer, It's More https://www.gameskinny.com/asq12/egx-2016-mantis-burn-racing-its-not-another-top-down-racer-its-more https://www.gameskinny.com/asq12/egx-2016-mantis-burn-racing-its-not-another-top-down-racer-its-more Mon, 03 Oct 2016 06:00:01 -0400 Pierre Fouquet

Mantis Burn Racing is a top down arcade racer, inspired by classics like Micro Machines, but with a more realistic and "innovative" approach. It's a stunning looking game where the cars also handle really well. There is a "deep progression system," where "as you progress through the 20 hour career" you gain XP. As you would expect from an XP system, this allows you to upgrade your car -- including engine, tires, boost, suspension, chassis, and more.

GameSkinny had a little wag with Sean Walsh, Marketing and PR Manager at VooFoo Studios, the developers on Mantis Burn Racing.

We first had a chat about the upgrade system in the game, and how you went about tinkering. There are "18 different slots per car, so it almost works like an RPG in terms of the slots." It's a very simple system where you can select the part of the car, and then select the upgrade you want put there. The way the car handles will then either change a small amount, or drastically. While we have seen these sorts of systems in simulation racers, we rarely see them in arcade games beyond the basics of paint jobs, engine, and boost.

Sean discussed how the career mode doesn't just feature straight racing, as there are "9 different event modes." Things like "hot lap, overtake, accumulator, knockout, and others. They are specific challenges in the game which are not just about racing."

Mantis Burn Racing features "3 classes of vehicle." There's nothing fancy about these; they are light, middle, and heavy-weight. They all "react and handle very differently." The game also features weekly challenges, there is even 4 player local splitscreen -- which is nice as "there [are] not many games that have that nowadays." There's also 8 player multiplayer, and for when the PS4 Pro is released Mantis Burn Racing will "support full native 4K at 60FPS." (That's a bold claim considering all the of the caveats Sony has put on the 4K rendering of the thing, but I'm not trying to argue against the PS4 Pro right now.) The game will also run at 1080p for each player while playing in 4 player local splitscreen.

We then launched into talking about the gameplay, and how "it uses -- kind of -- real world physics," to blend simulation-ish ideas, with an arcade game, in a system VooFoo are calling "fun physics." Unlike most arcade racers, there are no 'do stuff for me' buttons, instead Mantis Burn Racing "handles how you handle the car." Sean then spoke about how the upgrade system, and the "fun physics" system interact.

"If you really upgrade your car with lots of acceleration and gear boxes, and you put your foot down, it's going to spin. So, whilst it's arcade-y it actually takes a bit of getting used to, and it actually has some real world physics behind it."

I think the strongest thing that Mantis Burn Racing has going for it is the level of detail that's put into the game, which is emphasized by the fact the team at VooFoo built their own engine to support it.

It really sounds like VooFoo are putting everything they can into Mantis Burn Racing, and not only with the level of detail. On top of all of that "there's going to be free DLC, post-launch as well, so [VooFoo] are going to keep [Mantis Burn Racing] going." The DLC will feature a "whole new environment," on top of the "two main environments" the game currently features -- a sandy/dusty offroad environment, a and city based one (inspired by Shangri-La, China). That doesn't mean there's a shortage of tracks, as "there will be about 20 tracks by the time [FooVoo] launch that free DLC."

As Mantis Burn Racing is currently on Steam as an Early Access game, I was interested to hear how the reception of the game has been -- what with Steam Early Access having a lot of stigma attached to it. Sean was overall very happy with the experience saying:

"Yeah, it's been really good, we've got quite a few people playing it. But importantly, one of the things we have changed through Early Access is the camera. So while people like top down racing games, you can't please everyone with the camera angle, so [VooFoo] have added about 4 or 5 different variations of camera. There's one camera angle which follows the car directly, there's a static camera, and just slightly different angles to please all tastes -- hopefully.

"The feedback's been really good, most people people are really positive, they really appreciate that the game's pretty well developed since it's been on Early Access. It's been on Early Access since about July 2016, and we didn't want to be stuck on Early Access for [a long time] as that can be frustrating for people. But yeah, it's been really good, we've got some really valuable feedback."

I then wanted to ask when the decision about having the "fun physics" system was made, as when driving -- let's say up a hill which has a corner on it -- most arcade racers just stick to the road, where in Mantis Burn Racing you're car's steering will go light. Sean replied simply with, "yes, pretty much," -- the answer that I was expecting, really.

He then continued, saying that a lot of people were asking, "so are you going to add weapons, or motorbikes or what ever" but VooFoo really wanted "the racing to be front and center." And while adding some crazier features to the game isn't off the table with DLC, VooFoo wanted "the driving experience to be tactile...and in terms of it's genre, actually quite authentic." They also want the game to be "fun, pickup and play, and arcade-y."

FooVoo Studios really want to make Mantis Burn Racing as good as possible, aiming for "the best in class" and "hopefully bringing the top down arcade racer back."

To close out the interview, I then asked Sean my favourite question of all time, 'describe your game in 4 words.' After a few attempts, as is usually the case with my mean questions, Sean said:

Fun, top-down, arcade racer.

Which pretty much sums up my experience playing the game, I had fun, it's top down, and it's an arcade racer. Like always, they nailed what the game is.

I'd, once again, like to thank Sean Walsh for the interview.

Mantis Burn Racing is due out digitally for the PS4, and Xbox One, with a release date to be announced very soon. But if you want the game now, it's out on Steam Early Access.

]]>
EGX 2016: Forgotton Anne - I Hope We Didn't Forget To Ask Anything https://www.gameskinny.com/wyhye/egx-2016-forgotton-anne-i-hope-we-didnt-forget-to-ask-anything https://www.gameskinny.com/wyhye/egx-2016-forgotton-anne-i-hope-we-didnt-forget-to-ask-anything Sun, 02 Oct 2016 23:48:04 -0400 Pierre Fouquet

EGX 2016 had a lot of announcements, among these was Forgotton Anne being published by Square Enix, under the Square Enix Collective.

GameSkinny stood up with, Michael Godlowski-Maryniak, Lead Programmer, and Alfred Nguyen, Creative Director of ThroughLine Games, for an interview.

EGX saw the "first unveiling of the game" to the public, so this was a big moment for the team -- and I bet a massive relief that they can finally talk about Forgotton Anne. The spelling of 'forgotten' with an 'o' is significant to the story, but of course you won't know how until you play the whole game.

Forgotton Anne is a "2D sidescrolling cinematic adventure game," and is "very much a story driven game." The inspiration for the gameplay is taken from adventure games, and puzzle platformers. The platforming is directly inspired by "cinematic 80s/90s platformers such as Prince of Persia, Another World, and Flashback." According to ThroughLine Games these types of games have of a "certain weight, or realism" to them, "so [they are] going in that direction with [Forgotton Anne]."

Forgotton Anne is set in a place called The Forgotton Realm, "imagine all the things you have lost over the course of your lifetime, it can be anything from the odd sock under the bed to old toys you have left in the attic," these forgotten objects then appear in the Forgotton Realm. They are no longer just inanimate objects however, as they "take on life as creatures called Forgotlings."

The story follows two humans who find themselves among the Forgotlings, "an old man called Bonku, and a young girl called Anne." The mystery of the story, "and what really drives the story forward" is how these two people ended up the the Forgotton Realm, and their quest to return to the human world.

Forgotton Anne's world reminded me of Inside Out, by Pixar. When I brought this up Alfred responded saying "[ThroughLine Games] is trying to mix in eastern and western aesthetic and design sensibilities." With one of the major inspirations for the aesthetic coming from Studio Ghibli, but also other animation studios in Japan, the western inspirations come from "darker western fairy tails", such as Pan's Labyrinth.

As Alfred very much has a background in film, "it was very natural for [ThroughLine Games] to have a cinematic presentation with the story telling." Everything is also done very traditionally, as the game is hand drawn animation. "Most of our main characters are hand drawn sprite sheets, and also with the environment we wanted it to feel hand crafted, and painted, and really unique." It sounds like ThroughLine Games wants to ensure that every environment you go through feels unique, ensuring that you are never, or rarely, seeing the same things over and over. So inspiration was taken from all over the animation world.

Michael then jumped in to talk about the focus of the animations being on "immersion so that you feel like you're playing in this animated feature film." This is shown through the smoothness of the animations, where "you will feel like there are a lot of transition animations from state to state, and [ThroughLine Games wasn't] focusing on the snappiness of the controls by the visual side."

Alfred continued,

"seamlessness is a thing in our teaser, it's a key concept with [Forgotton Anne], and it should feel seamless. This is everything from how [ThroughLine Games] renders most of [their] cinematics in game. There are no difference between cutscenes, and in game it's a smooth zoom in and out. This extends to everything from the story, to how we engage the player with dialogue options.

This whole seamless transition from game to cutscene has been "seen a lot with 3D games," such as Max Payne 3, or GTA V. Alfred talks about how "the lines have been blurred, when are you watching something, when are you playing it." But he then talks about how in the "2D games arena many games continue in this old tradition, where there's a seamless cinematic presentation, it's really something that [ThroughLine Games is] trying to do."

But just because the game is 2D doesn't mean that you can't enter buildings by the front or side doors, "also while exploring the world we utilize depth for storytelling, and exploration." Michael talks about how this depth makes the world look 3 dimensional, even when it isn't.

"All our assets are 2D, but sometimes it looks like there are some 3 dimensional ones, like stair cases. We did some tricks with parallaxing to make it look like it's 3 dimensional, but it's still 2D. We wanted to keep the same art style, and still have the illusion that this is an animated film."

Even with the very strong Studio Ghibli vibe I get from the art style, Alfred told me that they are also taking inspiration from "often overlooked, great directors in Japan like the late Satoshi Kon, who deals a lot with the subconscious. So we are drawing inspiration from a lot of different sources."

I then felt we talked about the art, and design that went into that enough, so I wanted to talk about the actual gameplay. Alfred explains:

"It's rooted in the platforming genre, so you can run, jump, sprint, climb, navigate in and out of the [previously mentioned] depth, and travel up and down stairs. But the key mechanic is that as Anne, the main protagonist, you have this magical stone called the Arca that you wear on your hand. This enables you to manipulate energy in your surroundings, as everything in the Forgotten Realm -- a lot of it -- is made up of Anima energy -- or is powered by Anima energy. Using the stone, you can go into Anima vision, which is sensing all the Anima in your surroundings. You can draw and transfer Anima from different sources, this could be from the machines which are being built by Master Bonku, to also Forgotlings -- their souls are Anima.

One of the key parts of the games is that "you sometimes have the choice to decide the fate of Forgotlings," due to the powerful ability of the Arca stone. As Anne, you are the "enforcer trying to keep order in the Forgotton Realm", but are also working for "Master Bonku as he is trying to get the both of you back to the human realm."

You are trying to keep order as "at the beginning of the game there is this rebellion forming, a group of Forgotlings who are actually against Master Bonku and Anne." You then obviously have to "squash this rebellion", but I get the feeling due to the emphasis on the narrative, and dialogue, that you may be able to fight with them -- is Master Bonku a great or terrible Master?

I suddenly was wondering if the rebellion was player driven; if your actions effected when they would be fully formed. Alfred dives in telling me that "it's a set story, but your choices during dialogue and gameplay, certain actions you make can actually affect the outcome of different situations. Depending how you play the game, certain stuff might look a bit different." This extends to how characters react to you as well.

My final question to Alfred and Michael was a simple, but mean question. I asked them to describe Forgotton Anne in 4 words. Alfred gave the answer:

seamless, cinematic, adventure, hand-crafted

Michael agreed with this.

I want to once again give a massive thank you to both Alfred, and Michael, for taking the time to talk to me about their game.

Forgotton Anne is due out in 2017, for Xbox One, PS4, and Steam.

]]>
EGX 2016: Forgotton Anne - I Hope We Didn't Forget To Ask Anything https://www.gameskinny.com/wyhye/egx-2016-forgotton-anne-i-hope-we-didnt-forget-to-ask-anything https://www.gameskinny.com/wyhye/egx-2016-forgotton-anne-i-hope-we-didnt-forget-to-ask-anything Sun, 02 Oct 2016 23:48:04 -0400 Pierre Fouquet

EGX 2016 had a lot of announcements, among these was Forgotton Anne being published by Square Enix, under the Square Enix Collective.

GameSkinny stood up with, Michael Godlowski-Maryniak, Lead Programmer, and Alfred Nguyen, Creative Director of ThroughLine Games, for an interview.

EGX saw the "first unveiling of the game" to the public, so this was a big moment for the team -- and I bet a massive relief that they can finally talk about Forgotton Anne. The spelling of 'forgotten' with an 'o' is significant to the story, but of course you won't know how until you play the whole game.

Forgotton Anne is a "2D sidescrolling cinematic adventure game," and is "very much a story driven game." The inspiration for the gameplay is taken from adventure games, and puzzle platformers. The platforming is directly inspired by "cinematic 80s/90s platformers such as Prince of Persia, Another World, and Flashback." According to ThroughLine Games these types of games have of a "certain weight, or realism" to them, "so [they are] going in that direction with [Forgotton Anne]."

Forgotton Anne is set in a place called The Forgotton Realm, "imagine all the things you have lost over the course of your lifetime, it can be anything from the odd sock under the bed to old toys you have left in the attic," these forgotten objects then appear in the Forgotton Realm. They are no longer just inanimate objects however, as they "take on life as creatures called Forgotlings."

The story follows two humans who find themselves among the Forgotlings, "an old man called Bonku, and a young girl called Anne." The mystery of the story, "and what really drives the story forward" is how these two people ended up the the Forgotton Realm, and their quest to return to the human world.

Forgotton Anne's world reminded me of Inside Out, by Pixar. When I brought this up Alfred responded saying "[ThroughLine Games] is trying to mix in eastern and western aesthetic and design sensibilities." With one of the major inspirations for the aesthetic coming from Studio Ghibli, but also other animation studios in Japan, the western inspirations come from "darker western fairy tails", such as Pan's Labyrinth.

As Alfred very much has a background in film, "it was very natural for [ThroughLine Games] to have a cinematic presentation with the story telling." Everything is also done very traditionally, as the game is hand drawn animation. "Most of our main characters are hand drawn sprite sheets, and also with the environment we wanted it to feel hand crafted, and painted, and really unique." It sounds like ThroughLine Games wants to ensure that every environment you go through feels unique, ensuring that you are never, or rarely, seeing the same things over and over. So inspiration was taken from all over the animation world.

Michael then jumped in to talk about the focus of the animations being on "immersion so that you feel like you're playing in this animated feature film." This is shown through the smoothness of the animations, where "you will feel like there are a lot of transition animations from state to state, and [ThroughLine Games wasn't] focusing on the snappiness of the controls by the visual side."

Alfred continued,

"seamlessness is a thing in our teaser, it's a key concept with [Forgotton Anne], and it should feel seamless. This is everything from how [ThroughLine Games] renders most of [their] cinematics in game. There are no difference between cutscenes, and in game it's a smooth zoom in and out. This extends to everything from the story, to how we engage the player with dialogue options.

This whole seamless transition from game to cutscene has been "seen a lot with 3D games," such as Max Payne 3, or GTA V. Alfred talks about how "the lines have been blurred, when are you watching something, when are you playing it." But he then talks about how in the "2D games arena many games continue in this old tradition, where there's a seamless cinematic presentation, it's really something that [ThroughLine Games is] trying to do."

But just because the game is 2D doesn't mean that you can't enter buildings by the front or side doors, "also while exploring the world we utilize depth for storytelling, and exploration." Michael talks about how this depth makes the world look 3 dimensional, even when it isn't.

"All our assets are 2D, but sometimes it looks like there are some 3 dimensional ones, like stair cases. We did some tricks with parallaxing to make it look like it's 3 dimensional, but it's still 2D. We wanted to keep the same art style, and still have the illusion that this is an animated film."

Even with the very strong Studio Ghibli vibe I get from the art style, Alfred told me that they are also taking inspiration from "often overlooked, great directors in Japan like the late Satoshi Kon, who deals a lot with the subconscious. So we are drawing inspiration from a lot of different sources."

I then felt we talked about the art, and design that went into that enough, so I wanted to talk about the actual gameplay. Alfred explains:

"It's rooted in the platforming genre, so you can run, jump, sprint, climb, navigate in and out of the [previously mentioned] depth, and travel up and down stairs. But the key mechanic is that as Anne, the main protagonist, you have this magical stone called the Arca that you wear on your hand. This enables you to manipulate energy in your surroundings, as everything in the Forgotten Realm -- a lot of it -- is made up of Anima energy -- or is powered by Anima energy. Using the stone, you can go into Anima vision, which is sensing all the Anima in your surroundings. You can draw and transfer Anima from different sources, this could be from the machines which are being built by Master Bonku, to also Forgotlings -- their souls are Anima.

One of the key parts of the games is that "you sometimes have the choice to decide the fate of Forgotlings," due to the powerful ability of the Arca stone. As Anne, you are the "enforcer trying to keep order in the Forgotton Realm", but are also working for "Master Bonku as he is trying to get the both of you back to the human realm."

You are trying to keep order as "at the beginning of the game there is this rebellion forming, a group of Forgotlings who are actually against Master Bonku and Anne." You then obviously have to "squash this rebellion", but I get the feeling due to the emphasis on the narrative, and dialogue, that you may be able to fight with them -- is Master Bonku a great or terrible Master?

I suddenly was wondering if the rebellion was player driven; if your actions effected when they would be fully formed. Alfred dives in telling me that "it's a set story, but your choices during dialogue and gameplay, certain actions you make can actually affect the outcome of different situations. Depending how you play the game, certain stuff might look a bit different." This extends to how characters react to you as well.

My final question to Alfred and Michael was a simple, but mean question. I asked them to describe Forgotton Anne in 4 words. Alfred gave the answer:

seamless, cinematic, adventure, hand-crafted

Michael agreed with this.

I want to once again give a massive thank you to both Alfred, and Michael, for taking the time to talk to me about their game.

Forgotton Anne is due out in 2017, for Xbox One, PS4, and Steam.

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EGX 2016: Day 4 - I Cubed, Sliced, and Danced...Also Other Things https://www.gameskinny.com/lgz9q/egx-2016-day-4-i-cubed-sliced-and-dancedalso-other-things https://www.gameskinny.com/lgz9q/egx-2016-day-4-i-cubed-sliced-and-dancedalso-other-things Fri, 30 Sep 2016 08:34:44 -0400 Pierre Fouquet

EGX Day 4, the final day, started with VR and ended with cubism -- in other words, it was a little geeky. But I also played a lot of co-op games, and met up with some awesome people.

Surprisingly, Day 4 was spent chatting to a lot of said people. Even though I played a decent amount of games, I spent equal time, if not more, just engaging in good conversation. I wonder how many people lost their ears?

Unseen Diplomacy

By developer Triangular Pixels, Unseen Diplomacy IS room scale VR. I have no idea how the game works, but going from one room, into a vent round a few corners, and then into a larger room without bumping into a wall is amazing.

The story of the game is centers around being a spy, but that doesn't matter when you literally crawl through a vent. To get into vents you have to pick up a screwdriver, and unscrew the screws around the vent, then you just pick it up and crawl through the vent. 

There are lasers to dodge, keyboards to type on, vents to crawl through, and evil overload plans to stop. Unseen Diplomacy uses the Vive as I believe HTC and Valve intended, and it's amazing.

Unseen Diplomacy is out now on Steam, and not for a lot, other than the price of the Vive.

Battlezone

Battlezone, published by Rebellion, is a revival of the classic tank battling game, but in PS VR and with a Tron-esque aesthetic. Boy, the art style of Battlezone is good looking! Gameplay wise, Battlezone isn't all that special -- it's a rather basic formula of dodge exploding things, and shoot your exploding things till other tanks explode. But it's still fun!

Maybe part of the VR draw is that you can look around, but it never stops being cool. The sense of presence in VR is amazing, I kinda was in that tank. When changing weapons you can see them retract and extend, and it's cool!

Battlezone is coming out on 13th October 2016, for PS4 and requires PS VR.

Sniper Elite 4

Sniper Elite 4 is the 4th in the Sniper Elite series. And, well, it's just more of the same, but with a far more open world. There are sub-objectives to complete, and the levels are massive. If you were not a sniper, the levels would be too big, but there are now far more opportunities to actually make long shots at over 700m. Read any review of Sniper Elite 3 for how the gameplay is, and you pretty much have the same game, just with the larger levels and that is no where near a bad thing.

Sniper Elite 4 is coming out in February 2017.

Conga Master

Conga Master, by developer Undercoders, is a competitive -- I think -- game about making the longest conga line. You circle around people in the party to attract them to your line, but there are a few powerups which you can get to effect the other person's congo line. Conga Master is rather fun, but I'm not sure how long lived that would be.

As a party game, it's amazing fun to mess about with your friends, but it might be a little messy in design for even that. It's not really clear what does what, but if someone at said party knows how to play, they can simply explain what you need to do in 3 words, "run around people." While I wouldn't play Conga Master on my own, I can see it being a lot of fun in a group.

Conga Master is out now on Steam.

Oh My God Heads

A mix between football, and slash-em-up games, your aim in Oh My God Heads is to take a head and run it to your goal. All of said heads are based on deities from different civilizations, and all have different negative effects on the carrier -- like reversing all controls.

You can kill enemies, and use their respawn timers to tactically plan your run for the goal. You also have bombs, but only a few, so bum rushing for the head isn't the best idea. Oh My God Heads is utter chaos, but utter hilarity, and was the only other game I walked away from with a smile -- along with PikuNiku.

Oh My God Heads is by developer Titutitech. While it doesn't have a release date, it will hopefully be out in 2017.

Flat Heroes

Flat Heroes is a platformer where you play as a cube trying to survive. You can play with up to 4 players, and while you can team up, you can also screw your friends over. It's inordinate amounts of fun, and it's a perfect easy-to-learn, hard-to-master game, and it's oh so moreish. If there is any game that I could not put down it was Flat Heroes -- I was just having so much fun with it. While it wasn't funny, or existential, or complex, or graphically groundbreaking, or made me feel like I was in the world, it kept me playing.

The "just one more" feeling reminds me of games like Super Meat Boy, or the "just a few more minutes" in games like GTA 5 -- it kept me hooked, line, and sunk. Deep on the clutches of the fishing hook, I was caught. Flat Heroes had me, and I want more! Why can't I go back to EGX?

Flat Heroes is out on Steam Early Access now, and will hopefully be out fully early 2017, by duo developer Parallel Circles -- Super Lemon Bits and InspectorRoar.

That's it for EGX 2016!

Those were all of the games I played. From having existential crises, to picking up some dude's head, even playing as an AI, or flying around along sick beats, EGX 2016 was a blast. I want to thank all of the game developers, PR people, and everyone else who took the time to chat to me or Emma about their games. I always love talking to passionate people, and boy did you guys deliver. I also got to finally meet a whole bunch of people I'd been bugging on Twitter for ages, so that was nice.

That's everything from EGX 2016 on Day 4, but make sure you check out all the other EGX 2016 coverage from both me, and Emma Spalding.

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EGX 2016: Day 4 - I Cubed, Sliced, and Danced...Also Other Things https://www.gameskinny.com/lgz9q/egx-2016-day-4-i-cubed-sliced-and-dancedalso-other-things https://www.gameskinny.com/lgz9q/egx-2016-day-4-i-cubed-sliced-and-dancedalso-other-things Fri, 30 Sep 2016 08:34:44 -0400 Pierre Fouquet

EGX Day 4, the final day, started with VR and ended with cubism -- in other words, it was a little geeky. But I also played a lot of co-op games, and met up with some awesome people.

Surprisingly, Day 4 was spent chatting to a lot of said people. Even though I played a decent amount of games, I spent equal time, if not more, just engaging in good conversation. I wonder how many people lost their ears?

Unseen Diplomacy

By developer Triangular Pixels, Unseen Diplomacy IS room scale VR. I have no idea how the game works, but going from one room, into a vent round a few corners, and then into a larger room without bumping into a wall is amazing.

The story of the game is centers around being a spy, but that doesn't matter when you literally crawl through a vent. To get into vents you have to pick up a screwdriver, and unscrew the screws around the vent, then you just pick it up and crawl through the vent. 

There are lasers to dodge, keyboards to type on, vents to crawl through, and evil overload plans to stop. Unseen Diplomacy uses the Vive as I believe HTC and Valve intended, and it's amazing.

Unseen Diplomacy is out now on Steam, and not for a lot, other than the price of the Vive.

Battlezone

Battlezone, published by Rebellion, is a revival of the classic tank battling game, but in PS VR and with a Tron-esque aesthetic. Boy, the art style of Battlezone is good looking! Gameplay wise, Battlezone isn't all that special -- it's a rather basic formula of dodge exploding things, and shoot your exploding things till other tanks explode. But it's still fun!

Maybe part of the VR draw is that you can look around, but it never stops being cool. The sense of presence in VR is amazing, I kinda was in that tank. When changing weapons you can see them retract and extend, and it's cool!

Battlezone is coming out on 13th October 2016, for PS4 and requires PS VR.

Sniper Elite 4

Sniper Elite 4 is the 4th in the Sniper Elite series. And, well, it's just more of the same, but with a far more open world. There are sub-objectives to complete, and the levels are massive. If you were not a sniper, the levels would be too big, but there are now far more opportunities to actually make long shots at over 700m. Read any review of Sniper Elite 3 for how the gameplay is, and you pretty much have the same game, just with the larger levels and that is no where near a bad thing.

Sniper Elite 4 is coming out in February 2017.

Conga Master

Conga Master, by developer Undercoders, is a competitive -- I think -- game about making the longest conga line. You circle around people in the party to attract them to your line, but there are a few powerups which you can get to effect the other person's congo line. Conga Master is rather fun, but I'm not sure how long lived that would be.

As a party game, it's amazing fun to mess about with your friends, but it might be a little messy in design for even that. It's not really clear what does what, but if someone at said party knows how to play, they can simply explain what you need to do in 3 words, "run around people." While I wouldn't play Conga Master on my own, I can see it being a lot of fun in a group.

Conga Master is out now on Steam.

Oh My God Heads

A mix between football, and slash-em-up games, your aim in Oh My God Heads is to take a head and run it to your goal. All of said heads are based on deities from different civilizations, and all have different negative effects on the carrier -- like reversing all controls.

You can kill enemies, and use their respawn timers to tactically plan your run for the goal. You also have bombs, but only a few, so bum rushing for the head isn't the best idea. Oh My God Heads is utter chaos, but utter hilarity, and was the only other game I walked away from with a smile -- along with PikuNiku.

Oh My God Heads is by developer Titutitech. While it doesn't have a release date, it will hopefully be out in 2017.

Flat Heroes

Flat Heroes is a platformer where you play as a cube trying to survive. You can play with up to 4 players, and while you can team up, you can also screw your friends over. It's inordinate amounts of fun, and it's a perfect easy-to-learn, hard-to-master game, and it's oh so moreish. If there is any game that I could not put down it was Flat Heroes -- I was just having so much fun with it. While it wasn't funny, or existential, or complex, or graphically groundbreaking, or made me feel like I was in the world, it kept me playing.

The "just one more" feeling reminds me of games like Super Meat Boy, or the "just a few more minutes" in games like GTA 5 -- it kept me hooked, line, and sunk. Deep on the clutches of the fishing hook, I was caught. Flat Heroes had me, and I want more! Why can't I go back to EGX?

Flat Heroes is out on Steam Early Access now, and will hopefully be out fully early 2017, by duo developer Parallel Circles -- Super Lemon Bits and InspectorRoar.

That's it for EGX 2016!

Those were all of the games I played. From having existential crises, to picking up some dude's head, even playing as an AI, or flying around along sick beats, EGX 2016 was a blast. I want to thank all of the game developers, PR people, and everyone else who took the time to chat to me or Emma about their games. I always love talking to passionate people, and boy did you guys deliver. I also got to finally meet a whole bunch of people I'd been bugging on Twitter for ages, so that was nice.

That's everything from EGX 2016 on Day 4, but make sure you check out all the other EGX 2016 coverage from both me, and Emma Spalding.

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EGX 2016: Day 3 - It Just Got a Little Weird in Leftfield https://www.gameskinny.com/kwgmp/egx-2016-day-3-it-just-got-a-little-weird-in-leftfield https://www.gameskinny.com/kwgmp/egx-2016-day-3-it-just-got-a-little-weird-in-leftfield Thu, 29 Sep 2016 09:58:19 -0400 Pierre Fouquet

After seeing a lot of creativity on both Days 1 and 2 of EGX, I felt that I needed to venture into the field of the left -- known to everyone else as the Leftfield Collection. Here is where you find the creative, the strange, and the downright crazy!

If you thought that creativity was abound in the Rezzed areas, then the Leftfield Collection will change that. But before I ventured into to the creative underbelly of the indie dev scene, I checked out a few other games -- bigger, more well known games.

Gran Turismo (GT) Sport

I had some free time in the morning while Emma was off chatting the indies up (and before my time slot for next game). The line for GT Sport wasn't long, so I just had to give it a go. 

What I wanted to experience was a massive overhaul of GT into a more racing focused game, which is partly what I got. Only I could also brake halfway around a corner, and still hit the apex! (That could have just been that all the assists were on, but I couldn't turn them off.)

But overall, it just felt like GT has not moved on since the lackluster GT5 and 6. It's disappointing, but not unexpected. It might be time for me to completely hang up my hopes for the GT series, and just let them die. This makes me sad, I might even cry. *sobs*

Yooka-Laylee

I'm pretty sure you have heard of this one, but if you haven't, Yooka-Laylee is Banjo-Kazooie's spiritual successor -- it's a Rare style 3D platformer, developed by Playtonic Games. After being Kickstarted to the tune of all of the money ($2,000,000), Yooka-Laylee looks to really be delivering on its promise. While many think this is rare in the Kickstarter world, I think it just shows what can happen when a good tool is used correctly.

The terrible amazing puns are all the rage -- with a skeleton who isn't fully fleshed out, and a Trowzer snake, Yooka-Laylee doesn't only keep the humor of the classics, but also the gameplay and art style. It's a wonderfully colorful game, and is packed full of quirky characters and hilarious interactions.

There are also some interesting mechanics. You have a ranged attack, but to be able to use it, you first need to lick up some sort of fruit -- yes literally fling your tongue towards the fruit and eat it.

While Yooka-Laylee is full of the classic platforming, and all the other things, it doesn't stay beholden to the technical limitations of the time. Instead Yooka-Laylee uses new technology to make you think you are playing the same game as the classics, but with all the benefits of good control schemes, beautiful looking environments, and great sound design -- you are playing the games you remember, not how the games actually are.

Yooka-Laylee is due out in the first few months of 2017 for PC, Xbox One, PS4, and WiiU.

Brawlout

"Isn't this just Smash Bros.?" I hear you say. And yes, it is very much like Smash Bros., but with a few major changes. There is no blocking or magical powers, and it's developed by Angry Mob Games. This makes Brawlout something different, something far more simple, and far faster.

I've never been one for fighting games. I've never been very good at them and rarely had fun with them since Smash Bros. Melee or Tekken Tag Tournament, when I actually had time to learn them. But when playing Brawlout, only in the first match did I have no idea what I was doing. After that point I was actually winning. Even 1 on 1, the mode where I do the worst, I won!

All of the characters in Brawlout are anthropomorphized animals. They're colorful, a bit zany, and also felt rather well-balanced as I managed to win with 3 different characters.

Brawlout is due out on the PS4, Xbox One and PC in early 2017.

Trapper's Delight

Developed by Shrimpcave Industries, Trapper's Delight is a couch co-op game all about traps and screwing your friends over. The basic premise is that there are two phases: trap setting, surviving the run to the flag.

You use the left stick to move forward, back, left, or right, but holding the stick forward won't mean you keep moving -- you have to flick it to move multiple squares. This isn't at all unintuitive, and when you get used to it, you actually move far more effortlessly than you expect. And the way the characters hop about is rather endearing.

If you want to fight with your friends, then Trapper's Delight is the perfect game for you. I actually played it with some random people, and not once did we argue... instead they argued, as they were friends, and I sat there laughing as they fell into my traps. Trapper's Delight really is good fun, and if you have a friend (or 2 or 3) that you really get on well with, give it a shot -- if you secretly hate them and want them out your life.

Trapper's Delight is out on Steam Early Access right now, and aiming to be out fully in early 2017.

Sacramento

By sole developer Dziff, and with music by Glass BodySacramento is more a beautiful experience than game, but it is still very much a game. The idea is to simply wander around finding memories before they fade away, described as "moments I gathered on sketchbooks over the years". If we assume that "I" is the developer, then boy their sketches are good. 

Sacramento is a beautiful game in aesthetic, music, and sound design. Birds flutter, wind blows, music melodies, and everything soothes.

While I didn't actually know what I was doing, I had a very peaceful time wondering around the land in Sacramento. You start on a train, and are transported to a platform, and then just wander around.

You can buy Sacramento right now, and it will work on Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Foramina

Foramina is an ink drawn adventure game in a surreal world. While the demo was very short, it did indeed feel very point-and-click. Your objective isn't given to you -- you simply start by dragging a stool and standing on it. Events then unfold, and you work out a way to climb up and out of the area you are in.

Foramina felt very Tim Burton-esque, with its weird unnatural 'horror' design to everything. While the art by Mr. Mead is absolutely beautiful, it is also can be grotesque and haunting at the same time.

Foramina doesn't have a release date, but expect a demo to release before the end of 2017.

PikuNiku

PikuNiku is an adorable game with 'the indie story' behind it. Two guys started chatting, they got on, had similar ideas, and as they were both game developers they wanted to make a game with each other. But there is a twist...the developers have never met in person (which will change at the Paris Games Week). And while they are both French, one works in London and the other in Paris.

PikuNiku is one of those games you can't help but laugh at -- not because the game is bad, but by design. PikuNiku is a weird game, where you play as an oval which has physics-controlled legs. You can kick, run, jump, do that thing turtles do and pull your legs into yourself, and even talk to other characters.

The colors are flat, but there are lot of them, and they look a bit like well done MS Paint creations. While characters don't make any sound while talking, walking, jumping, and all other interactions do have little sounds and they are all adorable and funny. The weird physics of PikuNiku, which makes your character look drunk most of the time, adds to the hilarity.

Developed by Rémi Forcadell and Arnaud De BockPikuNiku is going to be a game you can buy at some point, and it was one of the few games almost everyone walked away from smiling...which is awesome!

The Collage Atlas

By developer John Evelyn, The Collage Atlas is an exploration game set in a beautifully hand drawn world. It is mostly monochrome, with splashes of color here and there, and the screen looks like a fancy piece of card. The art direction in The Collage Atlas is strong -- so much so that some sketches that John Evelyn made were stuck to the wall near the games' booth. They look beautiful both in and out of the game.

The music in this game is of the most peaceful things I experienced at EGX, and I got lost in it. When I came out of the game I was speechless. I told the developer that I needed to form my thoughts on the game, and so I shall do just that.

The Collage Atlas is the definition of games as art -- it's both a game, and a work of art. You need to find your way through the world, and also solve word puzzles. This is done by simply looking in the right directions to make the letters line up and form words. You then get a beautifully moving story which I can only interpret as being about loss. Loss of who, or what, or when, or how, I could not tell you. But a sense of melancholy filled me as I progressed.

There were moments of hope, and as the demo ended I felt triumph. I was challenged to find things, and my emotions were also challenged to feel things. That is what a game is, and that is what art is.

The The Collage Atlas doesn't have any solid release time frame, but it most certainly will stay with me. Thank you Sega for bringing it into the Leftfield Collection, and John Evelyn for bringing the game to EGX.

That's everything from EGX 2016 on Day 3, but make sure you check out all the other EGX 2016 coverage from both me, and Emma Spalding.

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EGX 2016: Day 2 - Brumming In Brummie Land with PS VR, Racing Games, and More! https://www.gameskinny.com/oaxcf/egx-2016-day-2-brumming-in-brummie-land-with-ps-vr-racing-games-and-more https://www.gameskinny.com/oaxcf/egx-2016-day-2-brumming-in-brummie-land-with-ps-vr-racing-games-and-more Wed, 28 Sep 2016 07:33:48 -0400 Pierre Fouquet

After a crazy first day, most of Day 2 at EGX was spent interviewing indie developers and finding some non-video game experiences. Turns out we only found one worth talking about. But most of all, and more importantly, I got to play some racing games, experience PS VR properly, and actually had some fun with a board game.

Mantis Burn Racing

Developed by VooFoo Studios, and currently out on Steam Early AccessMantis Burn Racing is an arcade top-down racer with a focus on more realistic physics. It's a pure racing game with a few different game modes -- but there are no powerups, and only a very short burst boost.

VooFoo touts the racing as "fun physics" with it's a mix of arcade and realism. When cresting and turning, the handling of the car will become very light, meaning you will have to lift off the gas. You can set the car up for these movements, allowing you to take the corner tighter, and then smoothly traveling over the crest with a drift.

As you may be able to tell, I'm talking about these moments as one would a sim, like Dirt Rally, but it's not nearly as hard to pull off. The physics are actually fun, and it's a great mix of both arcade simplicity but also having to actually work for lap times to be fast, and getting the car to drift in corners. Oversteer and understeer aren't much of an issue, as the cars aren't quite that realistic -- but the game doesn't play like many arcade racers.

There are two types of environment, asphalt and dirt, with a third which will be coming as free DLC later. While they don't feel wildly different, asphalt does have a bit more grip than dirt, and actually helps the game as it means you don't need to learn two different driving styles.

Mantis Burn Racing hopefully exits the Early Access pit stop, and will make its way to PS4 and Xbox One before the end of 2016.

Beast of Balance

A tabletop cross-mobile game, Beast of Balance is all about balancing different types of block on top of each other, while also building up a world of diverse creatures in the virtual world. I'm not going to go into all the different types of blocks and what they do, as the game's official site does that for you. But what I will do is talk about my experience playing the game.

Scanning your piece into the game is really cool, and the way that piece then appears in the game world is super satisfying. You feel like you have actually done something, and you have... in two different worlds -- the real world, and the virtual one. But this is where the good stuffs stops.

While building a tower is rather fun, the pieces in the game are simply all too obscure of shapes to be able to build anything solid. You can put 3 pieces on the plinth and not be able to build any higher. While I understand this is part of the challenge, I just feel that it was more a game of "get all the pieces onto the first layer" than "how much of a tower of Pisa can I make." It doesn't feel like building a jenga tower, and the 'tower' you have built is to unstable and the shapes are so obscure that it all just felt like luck, not object balancing skills.

While my time with the game was short, and perhaps my more negative experience of the game is solely because I didn't have much time to experiment with the shapes, and how they interact.

You can pre-order Beast of Balance right now, and the app will be free -- and works for Android and iOS -- which is super nice!

Windlands

Windlands, by Psytec Games, is a VR game made for VR with only VR in mind. While it does work outside of VR, this is not the optimal experience. The basic premise of the game is that you must swing, using grappling hooks, to reach different high points in each of the maps to uncover the story of an ancient civiliszation. I played the demo with the PS VR headset, but the game also supports the HTC Vive and Oculus headsets via Steam.

Windlands allows you to actually really look around to aim, though you still have to rotate the camera to turn and use the joystick to walk around. But that doesn't seem to matter too much. I did feel a little disorientated at times, as you are using the grappling hooks to slingshot yourself all over the place. You can, however, only latch onto the leafy parts of trees, which makes how you grapple about surprisingly tactical. 

While Windlands was good fun, I don't know how long that fun can last. It feels like most other VR games -- a neat concept, but one that feels more like a prototype of larger games, or just a small part of a more complex game. The environments are beautiful, and the combination of cartoon style graphics and VR made me feel rooted in the world. While at the time I wanted to play more, I didn't want stay in the world for the world, but just to the actually get hang of swinging around. 

It's a shame because I really love the potential of VR, and Windlands feels like an amazing base to a great game, but I fear that it may be short lived.

If you do have a VR headset, Windlands is still well worth picking up on Steam. It's a really well done game concept, and is super fun -- I just hope the fun can last longer than half an hour.

Drive! Drive! Drive!

Drive! Drive! Drive! by Different Cloth is a racing game about racing on multiple tracks at the same time. I swear, every time I go to EGX I find some weird new racing game with "drive" in the title, last year it was Drive Any Track (now called Riff Racer), and this year it's Drive! Drive! Drive! (D!D!D!).

In possibly what is the most arcade racing thing to ever do, you have to race on multiple tracks at the same time. But when you aren't racing, your idiot AI races for you. In fact all the AI in the game is stupid -- it's terrible, and awful, but that's the point. You are the god of racing, the one with the brain, and D!D!D! really enforces the idea that you, as the player, are the best thing ever -- by having you race on multiple tracks simultaneously.

Surprisingly, the controls are actually rather intuitive. You use the D-pad to quickly switch tracks, or hit a bumper to pause time and see the tracks from the air. Other than that, the only other buttons are boost, brake, and accelerate. Braking and accelerating at the same time allows you to drift. And that's about it. The rest is just about shoving, jumping, and drifting your way to a win or high score multiple times simultaneously. Apparently just trying to win one race wasn't enough for Gordon, the Head of Everything at Different Cloth.

If that's not unique enough for you, the music is crafted by ZOMBI, a synth/prog/post-rock band. It's super unique, and cool, and fits the aesthetic of the whole game perfectly.

D!D!D! is coming to Steam and PS4 hopefully before the end of 2016.

That's everything from EGX 2016 on Day 2, but make sure you check out all the other EGX 2016 coverage from both me and Emma Spalding.

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EGX 2016: Day 1 - I Kicked the Bucket More Than Once https://www.gameskinny.com/1m450/egx-2016-day-1-i-kicked-the-bucket-more-than-once https://www.gameskinny.com/1m450/egx-2016-day-1-i-kicked-the-bucket-more-than-once Tue, 27 Sep 2016 04:41:26 -0400 Pierre Fouquet

EGX 2016, the UK's largest game convention, has started -- and boy what a day that first day was! The Rezzed (indie) section was filled to the brim with unique ideas, and amazing innovation by developers from around the world (not really any different from usual). The Rezzed area is where GameSkinny spent their time today, and thus, indie games chat is coming up! I died at least all of the times in every game I played, but still had a ton of fun. Here were some of my favorites:

City of the Shroud

Developed by Abyssal Arts, City of the Shroud combines tactical RPGs, fighting games, and story driven games. The story of each chapter is written on the fly based off the user's decisions. Only when all the chapters are completed is the story set in stone. The combat in this weird turn-based looking, but real time system. The player picks their combos by moving the mouse around the Combo Wheel. You don't need to worry about memorizing complicated combos, as the wheel tells you what they are. It actually all works rather well.

City of the Shroud was kickstarted to the tune of $16,000 during May, and hit that mark in only 9 days! If you want to read more, head over to Abyssal Arts' official website.

Laser Disco Defenders

Developed by Out Of Bounds, Laser Disco Defenders (LDD) is a twin-stick bullet hell shooter, where the more you shoot the harder it gets. Bullets don't stop when they hit walls, they bounce...forever. If that sounds like it will get crazy very quickly, then you may need to re-think how to play it -- it's a far slower paced and more methodical bullet hell shooter.

There's a very interesting risk/reward system which is built right into the core gameplay. If you shoot more, it will become harder to move through the level. Instead you will kill more enemies quicker by firing less bullets -- boss battles being the exception. While the idea of bouncing bullets isn't new, they usually only bounce 2 - 3 times, so allowing bullets to seemingly bounce indefinitely can result in you killing yourself more than anything else.

LDD is out now on PS Vita, but will be coming to Steam on September 29th.

The Fall Part 2: Unbound

The Fall Part 1 released a good few years ago in 2014. In my review of the game I spoke about how compelling the characters were, and how solving the puzzles felt challenging (but for the most part) not too obscure.

The Fall Part 2: Unbound felt very similar with my time with it. But with far more colors in the world, and a One Finger Death Punch left/right attack system has also been added alongside the standard combat -- this will help break the game up and allow for far more tense action moments between the slow methodical puzzle solving.

The Fall Part 2: Unbound is developed by Over The Moon Games, and is releasing for Xbox One, PS4, and PCs for a projected early 2017.

Black The Fall

Black The Fall, developed by Sand Sailor Studios, is a side scrolling puzzler set in Romania during the collapse of the USSR (Soviet Union). You play as a worker, called Black, who is escaping from their forced labor camp.

The setting and atmosphere reminds me of Playdead's Inside for all the right reasons. While the game isn't like Inside, it evokes the same ideas of an oppressive dystopia. But Black The Fall also deals a lot with sound and shadow. One section of the demo I played was pitch black, and you made your way through it simply by listening to the steam from vents -- this is only possible as the sound design is so well done.

Black The Fall is due out in 2017.

Sublevel Zero Redux

Sigtrap Games released Sublevel Zero in October of 2015 for PC, but it's now coming to PS4, and Xbox One with Redux added to the title. It's tagged as a 6 degrees of freedom roguelike first person shooter and has random generation of the levels too. Even with many buzzwords to get intrigued about, the game actually feels very different due to you being in a ship and not running around.

The combat is fully three dimensional -- hence 6 degrees of freedom -- and interesting to play. The pixelated graphics are simple looking, but also allow for a lot of detail. The most striking thing about the game is the punchy sound of the guns -- boy do they feel powerful!

Sublevel Zero Redux is coming to PS4 and Xbox One soon.

Frozen Synapse 2 (FS2)

While playing FS2 by Mode 7 Games, I realized how bad at some games I am. While the simultaneous turn-based nature, in which each player plans their move and then executes at the same time, mitigates a lot of the issues I have with turn based games, I am just so damn bad!

So all I will do here is let the trailer talk, and convince you that this game is worth picking up when it releases nearer the end of 2016. But suffice it to say that civilian protection -- wherein you can't control the civilians and they don't move -- is rather fun, no matter how bad you are at it.

FS2 releases for PC in 2017.

Tokyo 42

Developed by a two-man team, SMAC Games, Tokyo 42 is inspired by the likes of Syndicate and GTA1. Set in a future sort of Tokyo, you are a gun for hire... so you do gun-for-hire things and ensure that people are no longer breathing. But seeing as this is the future, no one really dies. Everyone is full of nanobots, which bring them back to life.

Gameplay wise, Tokyo 42 is an isometric shooter (with katanas...because katanas). It boasts a breathtaking art style which is so simple but also so detailed it caught my eye and then some. As for actually playing, it's pretty simple -- even though everything kills you in 1 hit.

Tokyo 42 will hopefully release in the first half of 2017, but that may be pushed back.

Aragami

Developed by Lince Works, Aragami is a pure stealth game. So pure that all your undead assassins' powers are based on shadow, and being in light drains your power. While playing it I couldn't but help think of the Splinter Cell games, mixed with a bit of Dishonored. It's heavy in terms of the stealth focus -- where going into combat means you are screwed. But then you also have a few awesome mystical powers which make you feel lethal. It's amazing how you can feel so powerful in stealth, while actually being really weak.

As for the aesthetic, the game is very comic book inspired, with cell shading and minimal texturing, but it just works and makes the game look amazing in motion, and out. That's all helped by the fluid animations, and everything from how the character runs all fits perfectly with what they are -- a literal shadow ninja.

Aragami is due out October 4th for PC and PS4.

Inops

Developed by ZRZ Studio, for iOS and Android, this game has you control little blobs called Inops. You move them by tilting the phone, or tablet. There are also interactables in the levels you can move with a finger, like cogs to raise/lower platforms, or fans.

The aim of the game is much like other mobile games -- collect at least 2 stars out of 3 in the level to progress, but also collect as many Inops as you can along the way. You can merge and split all the Inops to form a large Inop, or have a river of smaller Inops.

Aesthetically Inops shares some things with Limbo, but that's just to give a quick idea of what it looks like, as it takes inspiration from so many different games it's hard to pinpoint just one. The puzzles get pretty tough pretty quickly, and maybe a smoother transition through the difficulties could be something for ZRZ Studio to think about. I also found that on the tablets on the show floor, it was sometimes hard to reach interactables and keep the tablet straight, but that's more a me problem than a game issue.

Inops looks like it's ZRZ's most ambitious game yet, and while the 3 man team has no idea when it will be ready, it could be the first game they charge for. From what I've seen of the game, it would be worth a slightly higher price for a mobile game...about $3/£2. And it's one of the few mobile games which caught my eye.

That's everything from EGX 2016 on Day 1, but make sure you check out all the other EGX 2016 coverage from both me, and Emma Spalding.

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EGX Teams up with Amazon https://www.gameskinny.com/rbx2g/egx-teams-up-with-amazon https://www.gameskinny.com/rbx2g/egx-teams-up-with-amazon Mon, 06 Jun 2016 08:38:20 -0400 Pierre Fouquet

EGX, the UK's largest gaming convention, is teaming up with Amazon this year. Amazon has been announced as their new official retail partner. They are also working together with publishers to bring more to the show this year.

EGX is an event that will be held from September 22- 25 at the NEC in Birmingham. Attendees will be able to meet designers, developers, and eSports community members at the GamesIndustry.biz Career Fair. Convention goers can also enjoy table top games and a variety of gaming lounge areas. Gaming areas will feature both modern and older titles for fans to enjoy. 

EGX goers will be able to pre-order games and hardware via Amazon in person. Amazon will also serve as the hub of any and all convention content, from livestreams, to in-depth information on all the products at the convention -- which is possible due to Amazon buying Twitch back in 2014.

Amazon will also hold a monthly prize drawing which will reward 100 lucky winners with tickets to the event. The Amazon EGX hub can be used to stay up to date with any convention news.

Those looking forward to the convention can purchase tickets via the EGX website.

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Fallout 4 gets Best Game award at the BAFTA Game Awards 2016 https://www.gameskinny.com/1lrtx/fallout-4-gets-best-game-award-at-the-bafta-game-awards-2016 https://www.gameskinny.com/1lrtx/fallout-4-gets-best-game-award-at-the-bafta-game-awards-2016 Thu, 07 Apr 2016 13:04:46 -0400 ESpalding

Bethesda has done it! Fallout 4 was just announced as Best Game at the British Academy Game Awards in London. Tonight's event saw game professionals gather at Tobacco Dock in London for the ceremony, which was held during the first day of this year's EGX Rezzed event. It was hosted by the Irish comedian Dara Ó Briain, a man known to many in the UK for his love of video games.

There were 3 other games who also stood out, all winning 3 awards on the evening: Her Story - an interactive movie video game developed, written and directed by Sam Barlow, Everybody's Gone to the Rapture - an adventure game set in an English village which comes from developers The Chinese Room, and Rocket League - a physics-based soccer game played using futuristic vehicles from Psyonix.

As well as the Academy Awards won tonight, there was also an award for "One to Watch" which is awarded for new talent and innovation within the industry. This year's nominated games were all selected from games which were showcased in August last year at the Dare Protoplay festival in Dundee. The winner of this year's award was SUNDOWN. Developed by Mild Beast Games, SUNDOWN is a top-down stealth shooter which sees players plunged into darkness in a "last man standing" shootout.

Full list of winners from the 2016 British Academy Game Awards

Artistic Achievement

Ori and the Blind Forest

Moon Studios

Audio Achievement

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture

The Chinese Room

Best Game

Fallout 4

Bethesda Softworks

British Game

Batman: Arkham Knight

Rocksteady Studios

Debut Game

Her Story

Sam Barlow

Family

Rocket League

Psyonix

Game Design

Bloodborne

FromSoftware

Game Innovation

Her Story

Sam Barlow

Mobile & Handheld

Her Story

Sam Barlow

Multiplayer

Rocket League

Psyonix

Music

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture

The Chinese Room

Original Property

Until Dawn

Supermassive Games

Performer

Merle Dandridge (Everybody's Gone to the Rapture)

The Chinese Room

Persistent Game

Prison Architect

Introversion Software

Sport

Rocket League

Psyonix

Story

Life is Strange

Dontnod Entertainment

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EGX 2015: HTC Vive Impressions - Hoping It's Bad is a Bad Move https://www.gameskinny.com/7mgmu/egx-2015-htc-vive-impressions-hoping-its-bad-is-a-bad-move https://www.gameskinny.com/7mgmu/egx-2015-htc-vive-impressions-hoping-its-bad-is-a-bad-move Wed, 07 Oct 2015 20:12:27 -0400 Pierre Fouquet

EGX 2015 was home to a lot of new things, horrible energy drink, a new home with the NEC, Brimingham, and the most important one, VR. All types of it. Oculus Rift DK2, Sony VR, and above all HTC Vive / SteamVR.

I got to try all three of these out, except Sony VR only very quickly as someone didn't show, so there was a minute or so until that slot was over. Having a fancy press pass I snuck my way in, cheeky me. Sony VR and Rift DK2 are good, but Vive is better.

While I was initially skeptical of how the HTC Vive / SteamVR would perform, I left the demo room lost for words. I finally found those words, and here they are in this lovely video for you.

You don't need to watch the video, you can just listen. The videos from it I did not create. That honour goes to the amazing creators who are linked in the video's description.

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