This past weekend saw the returning annual EGX Rezzed to London Tobacco dock. A preview of all the great upcoming indie titles to all consoles and PC in the next few years, with some sprinkles for titles from Sega. It was a fantastic opportunity to find some of the more obscure and interesting games worth putting on your radars.
While there were many new and interesting titles to look at I only had enough time for a few, so here are my personal highlights from EGX Rezzed 2017.
Every time I just found myself, standing, waiting, anticipating, and gnawing on my own hand from pure unadulterated joy.
Watching and eventually playing Ooblets produces the same instinctive internal reaction as an adorable kitten. You cannot just hug and cradle it close, you love it so much you just want to squeeze so tight that you might risk hurting it. So you have to bite down on yourself to keep that feeling inside, lest you bite down on the little floofs ears instead. So, there I am waiting for the chance to play, and gnawing on myself, slowly losing the patients that you need to survive any good expo.
Like many of the other highlights of this years Rezzed, Ooblets is a title that has leaned into both a great one of a kind style and a sense of humour that makes the whole experience accessible. Everyone you meet in the world is awkward and marshmallowy, many spouting absolute lunacy when you meet them, often with a dance. One girl literally exclaiming that she had no idea what she was doing. There’s a lot of dancing in Ooblets so far, it’s one of the top three features. Yet while everyone has a one of a kind look, they also look and feel all the more natural and human for it. The world very quickly felt like an honestly believable place. I may have actually met a couple of residents in real life, in fact I’m sure I have. Along with its feel comes an off the wall sense of humour, finding items in the world opens up a window that just screams the words “hey, look at this junk!” as you add a newly found fartichoke to your backpack.
The game itself is tagged as being a mix of Pokemon and Harvest moon, following much similar story beats as you would get in both those series many games. Girl moves to new town, joins monster training and fighting club, moves into new home or farm, grows crops. Dances a lot.
The demo saw what is likely to be the opening section of the game, and did a good job of showing the very basics at play. What makes Ooblets more appealing than your average pokemon a like, is its quirks. Battles are very much like the 3d pokemon titles, low level monsters having one or two moves to use against rival trainer monsters. The difference is the rest of the world continues around them. Other characters wander through the playspace, sometimes dancing, or other monsters will randomly barge past. This gives the world a goofy charm that fits with the overall character and tone of things.
At the end of a battle you’ll often get a seed from your defeated foe, this is where your monster collecting and farm skills mix as you have to grow newly found monsters in your farm from these seeds. The demo made the process very simple, but it feels like something that could eventually have a lot of hidden depth.
Ultimately my time with Ooblets was very short, but it left me wanting to spend a whole lot more with it, counting the seconds until I can trot about town with my absurd yet adorable squashy plant babies once more.
A Light In Chorus
even after four years in development, a light in chorus still feels very much like a mystery. An impossible to understand creature, that many have been searching for but few have caught a real look at.
After my first look at the game back in 2014 I longed to know more, to get my hands on it and take what time I could to experience its abstract visuals in a hope to really milk even the smallest drops of understanding.
I had avoided any news about the game before now, I still want to just experience it for myself after all, so aside from the abstract form, I knew very little. The demo on show at Rezzed was much less showy than those previously shown at past events but no less intriguing. Opening with what appears to be old audio discussing the voyager probe and more importantly the original record contained within you quickly find yourself gently drifting through a starscape towards what appears to be a facsimile of the previously mentioned probe, formed also of light and apparently also damaged, it’s golden record disk exposed.
Then comes an interaction with the disk, a tuning into the sounds and images contained within and then soon after an explosion of light, forming a landscape.
Playing in apparent first person, you move through what first appears to be a land of wind and solidity, instead things quickly shift to reveal the seabed, bobbles billow up from structures in the floor, images of wrecks lay out in front of you. As you progress you tune into different colours of light using the mouse, apparently drawling power from them. Using this power to “shift”, both figuratively and literally from the original seascape to a green lit forest scene at will. This appeared to allow for passing through obstructions that would otherwise be impassible. Some spots seemed to have weight, solidity to them, but others seemed to allow for you to pass through with no issue.
The demo was sadly over in a short while, ending with an abruptness that while disruptive, left much still to be discovered.
I’m not entirely sure how Pocket Rumble passed me by before now. A fighting game based on the style of the classic SNK Neo-Geo Pocket fighting games like SNK vs Capcom, it is something that is right up my alley.
It was also the game that kept me coming back all show, stopping to watch others play or waiting for another opportunity to get my hands on it myself. Pocket Rumble successfully takes what makes a fighting game good and squishes it down in every area without losing anything in that process, instead being much stronger for it. The two button scheme and simplified move inputs distil the fighting to a smooth and pure paste, making every much feel pin point perfect. Anyone can pull off any move, super or ability, but at no loss of depth.
It’s much like Divekick, a refinement of what is good about fighting games. Where Divekick looked at the feeling of excitement and tension in a good fighting game match between two well matched players, Pocket Rumble focuses on the feel of the genera as a whole.
It also manages to recreate the simplistic visual style of the pocket SNK fighting games, but also feature some startlingly well animated and detailed sprite work. This is honestly some of the smoothest sprite animation I’ve seen, despite the simplistic style, perhaps because of it.
I was almost, almost tempted to name Dad Quest my game of the show. A ridiculous and hilarious action puzzle platformer, you are the latest ‘dad’ tasked with becoming parent to a randomly assigned child and training it to become the powerful weapon it was supposed to be.
You spend the bulk of the demo at a scientific facility being trained on how to be a capable ‘dad’, eventually choosing from a boy or girl and then carrying them under your arm like a rugby ball, using them like a blunt club to kill pigeons, and throwing them all about the place. Packed with hilarious writing and ridiculous tasks throughout there wasn’t a moment I didn’t have a massive smile on my face playing this.
The more you use your assigned child, the more he or she levels up, gaining new abilities for you, their dad. Allowing you to throw them further and with more power, breaking blocks. There’s a potential metroidvania feel to progression that could make this an interesting prospect, and honestly, who doesn’t need more help becoming a better dad?