Published on October 1st, 2015 | by Tom May0
EGX 2015: Day One Report
Last Thursday was the big opening of this year’s EGX, a gaming convention at the NEC in Birmingham that’s billed as the UK’s “Biggest Games Event”. It just so happens that Mica Rose and Tom May from Need To Consume’s gaming team were there on assignment and can now give you, the consumer, a window into what’s going on over there!
Over the next few days we’ll be bringing you a bevy of interviews with various developers entrenched in the gaming scene, as well as a general report on the first three days of the event, starting with this one, to fill you in on anything that we managed to get our hands on or otherwise see on the show floor.
So without further ado, here’s just some of the games we managed to play on day one of EGX 2015. Be sure to check below for the interviews!
What we played
Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate – Ubisoft
Tom: I have to admit that the Assassin’s Creed magic has pretty much worn off on me at this point after the thorough disappointment that was Unity. But some of the ideas behind that last game were solid, even if the execution was lacking, so I was willing to give the demo of the upcoming Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate a fair shake.
The part Ubisoft is showcasing at EGX 2015 involves playing as Evie, the much advertised no-nonsense twin sister of the game’s other protagonist, as she indulges in a bit of Templar assassination.
The feel of the game is instantly familiar for someone who played through much of Unity, though admittedly much of the former jankiness to the movement is gone. They’ve brought back Unity‘s conceit of the multiple, optional opportunities to exploit in assassinations and appear to be putting it to better and more frequent use, which does have some potential. Unfortunately the combat remains lacklustre, mired in imprecision and clunkiness in a quest to escape the rather easy counter-attack spam that carried the Assassin’s Creed series until fairly recently. And the ‘stealth’ mechanics aren’t much to write home about either. Unfortunately, both of these things are pretty key in the grand scheme of things.
Overall it feels like a much more polished experience than Unity, at least in the very small chunk of game that I got to play, but at this point I’m not sure that’s really enough.
Theo & Lizzy – Butcherlab
Mica: This was one of the first games I played at EGX and I loved it. It’s fast-paced and frustratingly addictive but a hell of a lot of fun! You will mess up and die so many times (due to Theo constantly running) but once you get the hang of it you’ll feel a little victory each time you get passed a difficult spot! The different features from dash to slowmo really make the game diverse and interesting. It’s a hugely impressive game considering it’s only been in development a short while and I can’t wait to see the final version.
Tom: Not only is Theo & Lizzy really nice to look at, it also happens to be a lot of fun too! The gameplay is quite simple: your controlled character runs constantly forward after the first button prompt and it’s up to you make sure he reaches the end of the level safely. This mainly involves a lot of timing and proper use of your main abilities: flip from floor to ceiling or vice versa, dash forward a short distance, and slow down time. The difficulty quickly approaches fiendish, however, so it’s nowhere near lacking in challenge. Death is unavoidably frequent, but respawns are quick and generous allowing for almost instantaneous retries on the latest gauntlet of deadly spikes.
We even got to take the very recently added multiplayer mode out for a spin. There’s some rough edges, though that’s understandable for something so new and still actively being built upon. They mainly appear in the form of the occasional framerate hitch, but it was never enough to dampen the fun being had. It’s got all the undeniable entertainment of a well-made local multiplayer game and it’ll be interesting to see where Butcherlab takes it in the future.
Poncho – Delve Interactive
Tom: Not entirely sure what to make of this one. Puzzle platformers aren’t generally my thing but as the previous game proved, there’s plenty of room for exceptions. Poncho‘s main gameplay concept is of moving between the planes, from the foreground all the way to the background. It works in a surprisingly fluid manner, and there’s a lot of time that could be spent figuring out the trickier puzzles if you want to.
Unfortunately, it never really drew me in and I found myself ignoring all but the main and most obvious route through the level. Maybe this’ll be different in the full game where I’ve been assured that the optional pickups play a much more pivotal role in interacting with Poncho‘s open world.
SUPERBEAT: XONiC – Nurijoy
Mica: There are so few games developed solely for the PS Vita so this was a great surprise to find at EGX. The best way to describe it is like Guitar Hero but for your Vita. There are a variety of specially composed tunes to tap away to and score some points. I only played for a few minutes but they really put the touchscreen to good use – rather than just tapping the notes you’ll have to drag them or hold them down to create really different ways of playing.
Lumini – Speelbaars
Mica: This was a very calm and slow paced game, that had very little direction. This led to it being a little confusing at times with where to go. The functions of the different birds seem to be a little futile as they didn’t really do anything. It was a nice touch that you could split the flock to complete different actions on seperate parts of the screen by using the joysticks. It seems like the game was a bit of a slow burner, and having five minutes to play may not have done it complete justice, but we shall see.
Feudalism – IV Productions
Tom: I didn’t actually get to play this one, but I did get to have a nice chat with the game’s director Alessio Falsetti instead, while seeing some of the game in action. Feudalism is essentially a turn-based strategy game that dips quite heavily into the grand strategy of something like Crusader Kings II.
You’re given 800 years to rise from humble beginnings on a farm to a king with a dynasty. Sons let your dynasty and thus the game continue, no sons essentially means game over. Said dynasty can expand through marrying into other families and murdering the opposition, again in a distinctly CK style.
There are RTS elements that appear to make warfare more complex than in CK however, and the diplomacy with other big players controlled by the computer readily brings the Civilization games to mind.
The game certainly seems to have a lot of ambition and depth to it, and has the potential to bridge the disparity between Civ and CK. Feudalism is definitely one to watch with interest.
Dead Pixels 2 – CSR Studios
Mica: The seriously retro setup is what drew me to this game. There were VHS boxes with the game design plastered on the front which just took me straight back to my childhood. You walk along a pixel street set in the 90s and take out zombies along the way. The dialogue has a lot of wit and banter showing the game doesn’t take itself too seriously. Like most games at EGX I only played 5 to 10 minutes, but it was a lot of fun. One to look out for!
Wailing Heights – Outsider Games
Tom: The concept for Wailing Heights has a lot of charm, though the early demo I got to play through shows there’s still some work to do. It’s an adventure game set in a town entirely inhabited by supernatural creatures, including the ghost you play as who has the ability to possess other characters once he learns there name and has the correct ingredients. It’s a neat little idea that allows for a refreshing change of character in both appearance and voice every once in a while.
But as you’d expect of an adventure game some of the puzzles are a bit obscure, and with much of the game being delivered through dialogue, it can progress a bit too slowly at times currently. There’s the occasional long pause as you wait for the next line, and before long you’re tempted to start skipping the charming voice acting just so you can progress at a less sluggish pace.
But with the game still heavily in development, these things are to be expected. The potential is still there for Wailing Heights to be a great adventure game.
Starship Mechanic – Resonance Studios
Tom: Imagine FTL but instead of giving all the orders and controlling all the crew members, you’re instead stuck on the engineering deck, constantly having orders barked at you by your betters. Basically imagine you’re Scotty or Chief O’Brien. It’s a great concept the guys at Resonance Studios have come up with, and it translates into a frantic, demanding kind of fun.
There’s about a million fires to put out at any one time(often literally), including having to fix parts of the ship when they’re damaged by enemy fire, preparing missiles to fire, rewiring how much power goes to what part of the ship, and of course the aforementioned fires. As the unnamed mechanic you’re forever stuck in your dungeon-like part of the ship while the epic space battles presumably rage on around you. About the closest you can get to that kind of action is watching the radar.
The idea of Starship Mechanic really appeals, but you have to wonder how long that kind of stress can remain fun before just becoming… well, stressful.
More interviews to be added as they’re uploaded over the next few days!