So it’s the end of the first day of EGX 2015 at the NEC Birmingham and here at HenchTech we collect our thoughts on the biggest UK gaming expo and its showcased gems! Now we could rush to tell you about the ‘headline’ acts of EGX like Star Wars: Battlefront, Assassins Creed Syndicate or Just Cause 3, but we found that some of the brightest gems were that of the plethora of indie games that had some of the best examples of ingenuity in the industry.
One of the first stops we made was at the NFTS (National Film and Television School) stand, where we had the chance to have some hands on experience with some games that have been designed and developed by students on the two-year MA course. First up was the fun titled ‘Filly The Kid’; an eye-catching puzzle-platformer with a Wild West setting. No ridding the saddle into town though, as this buckaroo of a game inhabits humanoid horses as its characters. Next up was ‘Keyframe’, an intuitive puzzle game that sees you sliding the multiples edges of your framed scenes to reveal new information and clues to further the story of the protagonist. Then there was the delightfully gritty playable teaser of ‘Between Us’ which takes you through the thought-provoking night of two people thrown together by accident, to showcase story-telling at its best! While ‘MegaMech Ultimate Mayhem’ was experiencing some technical difficulties when we stopped by, it was clear to see that smashing up a virtual world as a giant robot is always going to be good fun. Last, but certainly not least was Betwixt; a Finnish folklore infused take on a dead, post-apocalyptic world which sees the little protagonist explore the wastes for sound and light. Peter Hall was also proudly the first person to complete the EGX 2015 Betwixt demo!
Between the many cosplay photo ops and free Tornado energy drink stands, we found ourself constantly returning to the indie games section and soon met up with Nick Clarkson of Merge Games. He introduced us to one of the newest additions to the gaming roster with a hands-on look at Riot: Civil Unrest, a game that see you either attempt to either fuel or quell the flames of the riot as either the rioters or the police. With influences of real riots and world events, in some cases witnessed by Merge Games team members, there is a true sense of realism (despite the pixel-art style) to an ever-adapting AI, which intensifies as you become more aggressive in your approach.
With VR being a hot topic at EGX (and in general), we relished the opportunity to play P.O.L.L.E.N. a VR game set on a mysteriously empty space ship. While there wasn’t a great deal of the story elements shown off in the demo, what was glaringly clear to see was the painstaking time and thought that must have gone into creating such a detailed and well structured piece. Every single item was interactable, and while not all items had purpose in the demo, you could see the various options that you would be able to play. In short this was one of the most visually stunning VR games which that we’ve ever tried and it seamlessly made us feel like we were really aboard that space station.
The HenchTech team had some time to sit down together, but not to have a spot of lunch from the many delicious NEC food stands or even to plan our next move, but instead to get stuck into Warhammer: End Times Vermintide. It quickly reminded us of a playstyle similar to Left 4 Dead (with perhaps a little Destiny thrown in), all with the rich fantasy lore of the Warhammer franchise. Theres something quite satisfying about slaughtering hordes of relentless Skaven (humanoid rat-like creatures) in a diverse team of different classes and races, all attempting to assist you in your levels objectives.
We also had a chance to try the beautiful ‘Masquerada’ which is Diablo-esq RPG with stunning voice acting from the likes of Jennifer Hale, a fresh and engaging art style with some influence of comics, as being a real pick-up-and-play but hard-to-master, type game. With Jan being an original Alpha stage player of Project Zomboid, the opportunity to chat with the man behind it all was quickly taken up. It’s always a pleasure to see a developer really listening to their fans, especially those who have been committed as long as Jan has to the ‘project’. Finally, Guns of Icarus PvE version rounded off a fantastic day at EGX with some steam punk themed airship destruction! A passionate discussion with the developer showed us just how much they really care about Guns of Icarus. The HenchTech team even had their very first full group photo at the Guns of Icarus stand. More to follow on this game of engineer ingenuity!
After a day filled with marvellous indie splendour, we look to day 2 of EGX with promise!