Something I love about Gamescom is the massive influx of great indie games that make it into Hall 10 of the Messe in Cologne. It’s a delight to see some of the most innovate titles on the scene pop up and amaze fans every year. Now, with Pax just gone, Gazz and I took a moment to sneak in a few Gamescom treats that you might have missed.
Dual Universe is a game that often gets overlooked at games conventions but don’t let that fool you, this is one epic looking title. Coming out of Paris studio Novaquark, this space fairing sandbox is an utterly unique take on a familiar sounding premise. Dual Universe describes itself as a continuous single-shard sandbox MMORPG, which is as almost as bewildering as it sounds.
A first person experience, this sci-fi adventure takes place after the destruction of Earth. As one of a new generation of space colonists, you must explore, craft, and contribute to humanity’s survival. The brainchild of French development team, Novaquark, Dual Universe has been on the gaming horizon for some time now. First entering our own atmosphere in 2016, when Novaqurak launched pre-alpha. The subsequent Kickstarter campaign raised just over €565,000, and in 2017 the game jumped into closed testing. Now, the team behind this ambitious project are ready to show a bit more of the game and you should really take a look.
Dual Universe has faced comparisons to EvE, Star Citizen, Minecraft, and even No Man’s Sky. Yet, every comparison that is made seems to fall short of the ambitious title. It takes the massive layered universe that makes up Eve’s pockets of space and seems to stretch it out into a single plane of existence. A limited small number of systems make up the initial universe, although each world is huge. Resources that on every planet can be mined to craft an incredibly complex variety of implements. Everything from simple blocks, shapes and materials can end up making huge interstellar battleships, brimming with weapons, crew facilities, and some very nifty looking tech. The realistic physics engine allows for these objects to construct realistic working machines, and a LUA scripting engine allows players to customize the behavior of everything from flight controls, engines, door buttons, and even control consoles. We even spotted a working game of breakout in Dual Universe.
Layered on top of this is a player economy. A marketplace system allows players to create and trade items. When you throw all of this into a game where players can claim plots of land and resources are finite, there are sure to be more than a few heated conversations with your neighbors. Check out more about this title at the official website.
Felix the Reaper
What exactly can I say about Felix the Reaper? It’s visually striking, super cool, and I’ve been eagerly waiting for this dapper reaper since we got a very early sneak peek at the start of the year. Felix the Reaper is a super stylish puzzle game with a playfully morbid twist to its romantic undertones. It follows Felix, a reaper and employee at the Ministry of Death, as he goes about his business and tries to woo the love of his life.
Separated by fate and their jobs, Felix sets out into the human world in his quest to meet Betty, and that’s where this delightful mix of disco and death begins. Felix the Reaper is made up of a series of constrained maps, split into a range of grids. Moving around each of these environments allows Felix to push, pull, and pick up objects in an effort to seal each victim’s fate. However, it’s not quite as simple as shoving somebody in front of a bus or sneaking an anvil in.
As a field reaper, Felix can only skulk around the human world in the shadows. By manipulating time Felix can rearrange the darkest corners of each map, casting a range of shadows and providing new avenues to each inevitable end. Kong Orange brought their latest iteration of Felix to Gamescom 2018 and it continues to impress. Felix’s escapades play out to an eclectic mix of sharp tunes, his moves are a joy to behold as he pirouettes in the shadows, and the puzzles are engaging with a dark humor that works remarkably well against Felix’s upbeat demeanor.
Check out the release trailer below and find out more about Felix at the official website. Felix is due out in the field later in 2018.
Having just revved into early access, Switchblade might have zipped past you. However, we took a detour from Gamescom’s main floor to try out the new MOBA from Liverpool’s own Lucid Games. This distinctly different take on the current MOBA trends, that seems firmly entrenched in battle royale mode, takes traditional League of Legends and DOTA tower defense modes and mixes them with a range of turbocharged vehicles that happen to weild some explosive additions.
Doing the same thing for the MOBA game that Rocket League did for soccer, Switchblade puts players in the driving seat of a dune buggy come tank while the action crashes around the map at an alarming rate. Set In the near future, where sports entertainment has taken a new vehicular twist, Switchblade is a competitive game in every sense. Dropping into the game’s main lobby presents players with a series of player avatars, that belong to the elite players in regular Switchblade leagues. While early access only has one game type available right now don’t think that means there is a lack of variety in Switchblade.
Already, there are a variety of classes available for each team of 5 to choose from. Tanks, Scouts, and Fighters are the most obvious class of vehicles on show, but things don’t appear to stop there. Each of these mobile platforms can be customized with a range of decals and utilities, allowing individuals to look and play in a manner that suits their own personal preference. So, whether you prefer to nip in and dazzle your enemies or tank n spank, it’s all up to you.
Gameplay in Switchblade rattles along at a fair pace as players target enemy creeps, and incinerate defensive towers. A good deal of versatility comes into games, as it allows players to seamlessly tag in one other car from their inventory to keep things moving along. All the usual MOBA staples of drops, in-game upgrades, and tactical play are on show already. Graphics are pretty impressive and while Switchblade is far from a finished title it is definitely worth watching, not just as a future sport.
Born from a free-form game jam, Supermarket Shriek is a wacky, alchemical blend of ideas that end up being delirious fun. The premise is simple: a man and a goat hitch a ride together in a shopping kart, using the power of their screams to propel themselves through a number of unoccupied supermarkets. And, because these hijinks happen at night, the shopping floors are filled with security measures including flame pits, swinging axes, and more besides.
We had a brief go on Supermarket Shriek at Gamescom last month and found the trolley physics absolutely spot-on from what we can remember of our own alcohol-fuelled misadventures. It’s even possible to go co-op with two microphones and use your own screams to activate the characters on-screen as you steer them round the obstacle courses. Developer Billy Goat Entertainment is hoping to bring this to consoles in Q1 2018, and we can’t wait to shriek all over again.
Lost Ember is another game that I can’t seem tog et enough of. After spotting Mooneye’s gorgeous narrative tale captured my hear and eyes in it’s earliest form. Built in Unreal this is a good way away from the super slick moves of something like Jump Force, which we also got hands on with at Gamescom. At first glance, Lost Ember looks like an ode to games lie journey. It pushes players through a linear narrative as they explore the environment around them, but that’s really where the similarities end.
Another Kickstarter success story, Lost Ember takes inspiration from nature. Players queuing up to try Lost Ember at Gamescom 2018 start in the guise of a white wolf. With no exposition, the story provides a few simple controls and players are asked to follow their nose through the winding woods and open fields. As you prance through the grassland and sniff the flowers, a mix of effects specific to your particular form and environmental puzzles push you further through the narrative, and on to new forms.
Over the course of Lost Ember players will wield wolves, ducks, birds, fish and some other otterly cute additions. Getting through environmental puzzles challenges players to think their way around problems and utilize each animal’s unique traits. The result is a narrative that unfolds before your eyes, telling the story of a fallen land and it’s people.
It is hard to reveal too much about Lost Ember, but everybody that I’ve dragged along to play this tale of loss and exploration has been charmed and enthralled by it. Lost Ember is due out in 2019 for PC, Xbox, and PlayStation 4.
Chances are you won’t have missed Deathgarden if you were on the floor at Gamescom. The Deathgarden booth dominated an enormous space just spitting distance from the Twitch and ESL booths. The hype seemed quite real too, with the queue to try out this particular arena battler spiraling back on itself. You may, however, not have had a chance to play this asymmetric action game quite yet. In amongst the slew of new titles pummelling us over convention season, this might have slipped by you unnoticed, or maybe you’ve just not had enough hours in the day to get into the garden yet.
Already in early access, Deathgarden comes to steam via Developer, Deathgarden is another dystopian future where entertainment has taken a visceral twist. For players entering the DeathGarden, stealth, cunning, and the occasional moment of gratuitous violence is required to come out on top.
This arena-based battler puts the player in the shoes of either a Runner or Hunter. Each instance of Deathgarden puts five of these agile Runners up against a singularly deadly Hunter. In order to win Hunters must either gun down their prey or Runners must escape the arena. With no way to kill the Hunter, Runners must use a mix of cunning, their innate speed, and a range of utilities to lock down their adversary, ensuring a sufficient number of Runners escape.
It’s a concept that has been lacking of late, mostly due to tot he spectacular public failure of Evolve. However, Deathgarden seems to have gotten things off to a much better start. The game seems to be I a far more balanced state than similar asymmetric titles, and the balance of power is not stacked in favor of one party. Deathgarden is already in early access, and going forward we can expect more customization, competitive seasons, and new arenas. Don’t expect to jump into a complete game quite yet, but Deathgarden might finally be what we all wanted when Evolve crashed and burned.