At EGX Rezzed, there are a lot of indie games to play around with and they all vary so much in scope, there truly is a wealth of content there to try. I have hands on demos with quite a few of them, so many in fact that I cant possibly write a separate piece on them all, so I am going to do an indie round up to show off some of the cool games I have gotten to play.
Excalibur Games, a publisher known for simulation games, have quite a few unique titles on display at EGX Rezzed. I got hands on with three of them…
Flashing Lights – Flashing Lights is an online multiplayer emergency services simulator where players can choose to be part of either the police, firefighters or emergency medical technicians. After choosing your profession, you get let loose in the games open world to tackle various missions relating to whatever department of the emergency services you belong to. I got to try a mission for each of the professions, starting with the firefighters I took a call for a burning building and drove off in my fire engine to the ablaze building. Once at my destination I then retrieved my hose from the side of the fire engine and had to connect it to a nearby fire hydrant before I could take aim at the windows and douse the flames. The hose had proper physics to it too, i tested this by wrapping it around the hydrant as i ran in circles around it.
Next was my turn at being a cop, I took a call about a dangerous driver in a red car and I had to stop him. So I got in my police car and took off looking for the suspect, after spotting him I came to the realisation there was a dangerous driver on the streets…and it wasn’t the dude in the red car! After getting the perp’, that’s what we cops call bad guys, to pull over, I went to apprehend him, but the game threw a wobbly and I didn’t get to. Lastly I tried the EMT which was probably the most engaging of the three missions I tried. I received a call out to a collision so I drove the ambulance out and had to retrieve my medical bag from the ambulance and assess the patient to see if he could be transferred to hospital. After a quick check he was deemed movable so I retrieved a stretcher and put him on, wheeled him back to the ambulance and drove him to the hospital. I almost forgot my medical bag which I was assured wold have netted me a lower score on completion of the mission.
Now it’s worth mentioning that the version of Flashing Lights I played was a pre-alpha build and as such was a bit rough around the edges with some bugs (like the aforementioned wobbly), quirky and really amusing animations and many of the planned features not implemented yet. One of Excalibur’s reps, James, talked me through the demo and pointed out some of the planned features like location specific crimes, robberies might be more common in large houses in the country side for example. Flashing Lights Still has a way to go but it shows a lot of promise, its unusual nature makes it stand out amongst so many other games out there that just follow the same beats game in, game out. I for one am looking forward to see how this one develops.
Tracks – Tracks is one for the train set enthusiasts out there, as it lets you cobble together wooden train track sets around various rooms, allowing you to build simple or complex tracks all over the place and across the furniture. There are a few different modes to tinker with, there is free play mode which lets you build anything any way to your hearts content, letting your imagination run wild. Then there is passenger mode which was the one I played, where you have little groups of wooden toy passengers dotted around the room and you have to build tracks and platforms to get to their chosen stations. As you progress the passengers will have extra objectives for you like wanting to go past certain scenery and buildings, so you will have to build those too and then build tracks to go past them to please your passengers. Lastly is cargo mode in which your train is loaded up with cargo you need to get to its destination, the trick here is the cargo will have different weights to it making it harder to get around certain types of tracks, like pulling a heavy load up hill for example.
Whereas Tracks is not my kind of game overall, I can say it definitely has a lot of charm to it. It is quite peaceful and relaxing just laying down tracks and setting up your own little train set by yourself. Which is probably the appeal for those that tinker with train sets in real life. Tracks releases onto early access on steam on the 28th of September.
Dad Quest – This may be my favourite of the Excalibur games. Dad Quest is a 2d platform/puzzler where you take on the role of a dad, you can even be a female dad, but a dad you are. Once you have chosen what gender of dad to be you then pick a wee son or daughter to raise “into the weapon it was meant to be” as the tagline says. Yes you read that right, in Dad Quest you use your child as a weapon. To begin with you can throw them and you can swing them like wee chubby clubs, using them to fell beasties and smash objects. As you progress through the game your child will level up, grow and learn new skills which you can use to perform special moves and gain entry to inaccessible areas, metroidvania style. Dad Quest is laced with humour right from the get go, you begin in a research facility where you are taught your dad skills and from there you embark on an amusing journey to turn your child into a living weapon.
Dad Quest Is already out on Steam Early Access and can be picked up for £5.59
Radiation Burn, The Krucer Parallax – I had a little dabble on The Krucer Parallax by Radiation Burn, it’s a space flight sim that uses joysticks, which I hadn’t used since my Commodore 64 days (Showing my age here). The controls were kinda tricky for me but then I am not used to the kind of set up KP uses, for others that regularly play flight sims and also use joysticks, it’s probably a lot easier to pick up. The actual set up you use looks more or less exactly like your cockpit controls in fellow space sim Elite Dangerous, with your main stick on the right to control pitch and to fire and a smaller wider stick on the left to control thrust and to turn. You don’t just control one ship either, you control four ships simultaneously that fly in one of three formations. You can fly in a diamond formation, in a horizontal line or in a nose to tail column. There were two missions on offer allowing you to play as two different sides, both offering you a brief tutorial on how to fly before throwing you into the thick of it. The first mission I passed easily enough as it was a relatively simple dogfight, i just remained in the diamond formation for most of it, I was promptly told upon my success that was the easy mission. The second mission saw you not just fighting nimble fighters like I was controlling but also a giant freighter style ship too. I had a couple of goes on the 2nd mission but it was more difficult and I didn’t pass it either time, I was trying to make use of all my formations but I just wasn’t good enough. Again, The Krucer Parallax may not be my type of game but I never was too good at or into flying combat sims. For those that enjoy the genre I reckon the mechanic of controlling several ships together and using the different formations will bring a fresh take to this style of game. No firm release date yet but it will be flying its way over to PC sometime in the near future.
Funbakers, Silent Streets – Silent Streets is an upcoming mobile Augmented Reality detective game for Android and IOS with a story written by Richard Cobbett. With the AR you can use your phone or tablet camera to examine crime scenes as you walk around and examine the scene from all angles looking for any and all clues that will bring you closer to solving your case. It also has a walking element similar to Pokemon Go in that the different locations in the game are varying amounts of steps away from each other. So if you want to travel from say, the police station to a suspects house to question them, you may need to walk a few hundred steps in real life to get there, you do also get a limited amount of fast travels though so you can skip a few journeys if you wish. For the purposes of the demo I played, because I couldn’t just go walking off, I had ten travel skips. Silent Streets is set in the victorian fictional town of Snowport, set in 1867 and plays part detective game part visual novel. When a dead man ends up on the street, you begin investigating staring with those closest to him and delving deeper into the mystery to unravel its secrets. Visually the game looks really nice with its victorian noir style illustrations, the dialogue also is quite well written, I was particularly amused by a woman who referred to her husband as a “useless sack of shite”. The first episode is available now for free on Google Play and the IOS Store, with the second episode coming out soon.
Quarter Circle, The Peterson Case – The Peterson Case is a first person detective/horror game set in Roswell in 1947. You play as detective Franklin Reinhardt trying to discover what happened to the Peterson family who have gone missing. I want to say right off the bat that this game is only being made by three people and I think that given that fact the game looks phenomenal. Gameplay wise it has the usual mix of investigative and spooky elements familiar to the genre. The Peterson Case tells some of its story through flashbacks, so at times you will maybe find an item belonging to one of the family members and you will get a flashback scene showing you something from that family members past. I seen one such scene set in Paris during the second world war. The demo I played wasn’t very long but it was enough to give me a taste of what the game was about, I was walking around a hotel looking for clues and doing the investigative side of things, finding a clue to solve a puzzle when I caught a glimpse of this…thing, big and gangly as it walked out of shot, weird stuff started happening. Strange dark shapes started appearing all over the walls and I would get flashes of visions, a girl in a bath tub, a strange ghostly presence. Those are just some of the sights you will see and experience. So far The Peterson Case Is shaping up nicely and I look forward to seeing what else it has to offer. It will be out on Xbox One PS4 and PC in May 2018.
Coatsink, Augmented Empire – Augmented Empire is a mobile isometric cyberpunk RPG that uses the Samsung VR Gear. In a cyberpunk city on the isle of New Savannah, a citizen grade system keeps the elite at the top and the poor at the bottom. Augmented Empire looks and feels very similar to another iso-RPG that I enjoy; Shadowrun. It has a very similar aesthetic and the battle system is very familiar too, involving tactical turn based combat moving your characters into cover around the battle areas. What makes it different is using the VR Gear to look around your environments and using the point where you are looking as the cursor to move your characters and attack your enemies. This is certainly a novel way to approach this kind of game and sure to be enjoyed by those who enjoy using the VR Gear headsets with their mobile games. I didn’t see a whole lot of what the story has to offer so far but it certainly seems interesting and it also feature the voice talents of Doug Cockle aka Geralt the witcher as a character called Mund. Augmented Empire is out now on the oculus website for £7.99.