After a long discussion at our rail station, Steve and I decided we would follow in the footsteps of last year, and go the Wapping Route to get to the Tobacco Docks for EGX Rezzed. However, in what is quickly becoming Rezzed tradition, a certain London and south eastern railway region operator caused us to miss our first train to Wapping due to travelling at the speed of molasses for a very painful twenty minutes inching through South London, but we got there in the end. And I know I complain about this every year, but the signage at Wapping station for the event could have been better (or even, any kind of signage to point you in the right direction upon leaving the station) – although at least getting to the Tobacco Dock is virtually a straight line down Wapping Lane!
Again, we were there before 10am this year, but there was a much bigger crowd this time around, waiting to get in, and champing at the bit in anticipation of the games on show. However, although there was a reasonably sized queue upon entry, once the doors opened at 10am, it was pretty quick getting in – I think we queued for about fifteen minutes or so, and considering that there were bag searches happening, I think it was managed quite well.
As per tradition for us now, the first room we entered was the Indie Room, on the main floor, where I was given strict instructions to not spend the entire day there, as we were only able to attend the first day of the event and had every room to go through…
The very first game we found was Flashing Lights, a police and emergency services simulator, developed by Nils Jarkins and published by Excalibur. On show was newer build than the version available on Steam, with the early access version due for release on 18th May this year. It is expected to be two years before full release, and there will be multiplayer. Steve sat down to have a go at playing the game, with a mixture of WASD and wheel controls. Steve took part in a couple of missions to track down and arrest aggressive car drivers, and then also had a go at carrying out a traffic stop. After spending most of the time flipping other cars over (usually an effective way to stop an aggressive driver…) his verdict was that the game was ‘quite good fun’ and the controls were fairly easy to use.
He said the sound of the game was pretty standard at the moment, although a lot were placeholder sounds. The physics of the game were also pretty interesting, allowing for cars to be flipped, etc. we were also informed that coming in the future will be the option to play as the criminals, as well as the lawful side – for example you can steal from apartments and then hotfoot it over to a pawn shop to sell your goods. This will also hopefully tie in with the multiplayer, where you can play as a criminal to be hunted down by a friend playing as the police.
After that, we then moved onto Steel Rats, billed as a high octane motorbike combat game, with an arcade flavour to it. The game looks good, with four characters available to use, all with different abilities. The game is quite responsive, meaning the motorbikes react well to the physics in the game. The game is available on Xbox, PS4 and PC, and uses a control pad. Steve said that the controls feel a bit complicated. We also managed to find the debug mode! The game was good and quite fast paced, and yes, Steve managed to die in game for the first time today.
Steve then went in search of a space game, and he found it in the form of Space Time Continuum, which we had a go at in sandbox mode. Although there is a campaign mode available, which focusses on your building up a space station to carry out research and take on government contracts for further research, in order to make money, enabling you to upgrade your space station, with the aim of it eventually becoming self-sufficient. The game feels somewhat influenced by Kerbal Space Program, and reminiscent of older games, with chip tune music and pixelated graphics. However, in the sandbox mode, although we had the complete freedom to make whatever we wanted, Steve, in his true fashion, made a giant space station, unleashed an astronaut, and made him spin… and spin… and spin. He also had fun breaking the smaller solar panels and playing around with the physics of the game, although some of it felt a bit unintuitive in sandbox mode.
We then moved over to having another look at Guns of Icarus Alliance, which we covered in greater detail in last year’s article, and although the game itself doesn’t appear to have changed much since 2017, there was a major change with regards to cross party support, which is quite exciting. It is now possible to chat to people playing the game, regardless of whether they are playing the Xbox version, the PS4 or PC versions – which is quite impressive, as prior to this, there was no, or very limited capability for cross-party support for all the different platforms, meaning Muse Interactive had to work from nothing in order to allow this. So far there have been no problems with the introduction of cross-party support.
After this, we then meandered over to take a look at The Endless Mission, a creation sandbox game which allows players to modify assets, mix genres and mash up different game aspects in order to create their own game – even down to the point where the game’s code itself can be changed. However, somewhat unusually for a sandbox game, this game does have s tory in development, written by the writers for Red Dead Redemption, in order for it to have a narrative. The ultimate aim for the game is to have 27 different genres of game to mash up and play around with. The game itself was quite good fun with the play around that we had of it, although there were only three different genres available for playing around with. We were also interested to note that once the game is released, there will be the capability for players to upload their own creations for others to have a play around in.
We then moved over to Landinar: Into the Void developed by Convoy Games, with the early access version due, I quote ‘sometime in the summer’. Although we had a brief at this game last year, the game has definitely come on a long way since then. The game takes place in the same universe as that of Convoy, their first game, and acts as a sort of follow-up in the barest sense. Although the game is single player only, the developers are looking at massively expanding the universe in game, as well as adding other universes as the game grows. The game is also now more like an RPG with a levelling system in place, and upgrades to guns and other weapons, as well as your ship. Steve had fun playing around in the game, having a go at a couple of missions, and said the WASD controls were fairly standard, and the single camera angle of ‘down’ works, and didn’t result in him getting lost in the game, which made navigation through the game’s areas fairly easy.
I also had a quick look over at Sunless Skies, currently in early access, a steampunk flavoured game set in Victorian London, on the premise that the British Empire has managed to take to the stars… in a steam train. Within the game, you can choose to either support the empire, or rebel, with plenty of missions and quests on the side. There’s a reasonable in depth character creation menu, and lots of options for taking the story forward, and trying to just survive. From playing it, I have to say, the gothic atmosphere fits the game very well, and I enjoyed the music that was present. I also rather enjoyed the humour of the game, especially with the blending of various British stereotypes present!
Now, there’s always one genre of games which always seems to have a hypnotic effect on me, pulling me in (Steve would call it an obsession), and that is the world of Farming Sim games. Staxel was back at Rezzed this year, and I wandered over to have a look at what had changed from the previous build that I’d had a play around on last year. At the moment, the game has built on the mechanics previously, and is still the fun, quirky farm and village game that it was last year, with its strangely attractive blocky graphics. I also really like the wide range of options the game has, considering it’s pretty much a sandbox game, but still keeps to somewhat of a narrative.
Of course, in another time tested FireHawk Gaming tradition, we then went over to the Sega room, and found ourselves in front of Thrones of Britannia, the highly anticipated next instalment in the Total War series, due for release on 3rd May. The game looks extremely good and slick (but when does a Total War game not?). There is a campaign mode, which we took a quick look at. There’s lots of features in the campaign mode, and lots of options. The game is very detailed, with lots of information available on the screen, but it doesn’t feel cluttered or overwhelming. There is also what looks like a fairly intricate alliance system in place, which we played around with, but it appeared nobody wanted to enter an alliance with us this time… The game feels like pretty much every other Total War game, but this isn’t a bad thing, the game controls well. After playing around in campaign mode, we then took a look at the battle mode, and at this point, we wondering if Steve would manage to break the game, as he seems to have a habit of breaking Total War games on show… We decide to attempt a city siege, using the Norse, and despite there being lots happening at once at the critical part of the fight, the game handled it well. And surprisingly enough, we didn’t manage to break the game this time.
We then decided to take a break from playing new games, and instead had a look at the Sega Mega Drive Classics, which were on show, and naturally, we had to have a go at the original Sonic! Although it did take us a moment to figure out the controls, and find the main menu. I was also rather pleased to the old Shining Games available as well.
After having a blast on nostalgia, we then headed over into the Unreal Engine room, to take a look at what was on offer over there. The first thing that Steve found, naturally, was a space game, called Everspace, for the PC. The game had lots of options for customizing ships, right down to the colours of the ships. There were three different difficulty levels available on the game, and the descriptions for each difficulty level were quite amusing to read! The controls were a bit complex, but there were plenty of control options available for playing around with. The game looks pretty good, and the physics felt fairly normal, Steve said. The game also had a bit of an arcade type feel to it, and naturally, Steve died pretty quickly in the game.
After that, we took a look at Elevate: Combat League, a fun little team game which is a sports arena shooter. We took part in a game against two other players at the booth, and although the controls are much the same as a standard FPS game, it took a moment to get used to, as the fast action meant the game was a bit disorientating!
Steve naturally at this point was attracted over to take a look at the current build of Train Sim World which was on display, and we have a play around on the Xbox version of the game. Steve commented on the lack of other train traffic within the game, where we were told that this was due to the fact that adding in too much other traffic may run a chance of breaking the game, considering how intense the running of the game it. Of course, Steve also asked what the latest news was on the long anticipated multiplayer, where apparently it’s still being worked on! The controls on the Xbox felt very different to the PC controls, and it took a moment to get used to the switch. The framerate felt a bit smoother on the Xbox, however. Other than that, Steve rather enjoyed running around and hijacking trains!
We then trundled over to State of Mind, a game set in a dystopian future, which explores transhumanism as well as the less savoury side of virtual reality. Steve had a go at this game, and said the game felt fairly creepy. It was controlled with the keyboard, but it did throw Steve for a bit, who mentioned the controls were a bit confusing at first. We played around with the game for a bit, I personally quite enjoyed the drug mixing quest, and the amusing labels attached to the different ingredients!
I then had a (very) long go on Disco Elysium, a mixture of top-down isometric RPG, and cop game, set in an urban fantasy setting. From the outside, the game is extremely detailed, with a very in depth character creation screen. The character creation has a heavy focus on the psychology of your character, which can be changed by playing the game – so for example although you may create your character to be strait-laced at the outset you may find yourself developing an alcohol or drug addiction as the game goes on. Beyond that, the game is immersive, with plenty to go and explore, lots of clues to try and fit together to solve the case your cop has been assigned to, and plenty beyond that to hunt down. I was very impressed with this game, and I’m definitely looking forward to it being released to spend hours buried in.
After this, Steve and I had a play around on Gang Beasts, an ever-so-slightly ridiculous party melee game, where you can play with up to three other players, or AI in fighting to be the last one standing across various environments. I found the game great fun, and especially liked the way the characters interacted with the physics of the different environments.
I then wandered over to a game I was particularly interested in, in the Tentacle Collective room (and that’s a name which still amuses me), Megaquarium, a business management game centred on managing and building your own aquarium, from Twice-Circled, they of Big Pharma fame. Now whether it’s my inner zoo keeper coming out, or what, I really like the idea of being able to build an aquarium, and enjoyed making my way through the starting missions and goals for the game and slowly building up a functioning aquarium. I especially liked the detail put into the game – and as a zoo keeper, I also appreciate the little details, such as having to consider things like educational values of items, and the way that the aquarium tanks look, and consideration of what species are able to live together and which can’t. I’m certainly eagerly looking forward to this game being released later this year.
We then went over to the Xbox room, where we had a play around on various games, wherein which two notable games caught our eyes.
I had a good go on Descenders, a very fast downhill freestyle bike game, where the routes and worlds are procedurally generated. Although I took a moment to get the hang of the controls (sorry, but after a computer keyboard/mouse, controllers feel unnatural to me) I had great fun with this game – and this is coming from me, who usually avoids sports type games as a matter of pride! The environments in the game were extremely well detailed, and the game runs nice and quickly. There is rumble support with the controller, which although slightly jarring at first, I quickly got used to – and it definitely enhanced the amusing ways that you’re able to wipe your character out – who here doesn’t like receiving a large jolt upon ploughing headfirst into a tree?
Steve then had a go at Trailmakers, also in the Xbox room, where we finally kept to time honoured FireHawk Gaming tradition… and broke the game. Trailmakers is a large open world game, where you have the freedom to design and create a variety of vehicles in which to explore in. the game has a great sense of humour – my favourite sign in the game had the message ‘if it ain’t broke, you didn’t drive fast enough’ on it. Steve mentioned that it felt slightly odd using a combination of the mouse and controller at the same time, but the game was fun.
After this, we then took a look at Immortal Unchained, a very hardcore action RPG. The game was very well detailed, and it looked good – however we didn’t get the chance to spend much time on this game – as again, Steve somehow managed to break the game. Whoops.
I then took a look at Vermintide II, the sequel to the critically acclaimed Vermintide, and yes – the game is faster, harder, and more action packed than the original. We engaged in a mission to defeat a Chaos Spawn (something I personally found difficult, being a Tzeentch player in the table top version of Warhammer) and the game was extremely detailed, with plenty of gore up close in first-person view. The game was also extremely responsive, which made it feel nice and slick. And slicker, with the amount of blood being spilt…
We then took a mooch over to visit the Hipster Café, which is a great little point and click simulation game – if a little ridiculous! You’re tasked with trying to build up a café to become popular with the local hipsters, which means tailoring a menu and tailoring the items in the café to keep your hipster customers entertained (and spending money!). I had plenty of fun playing around in the menu design section, seeing what I could create from the different ingredients. I especially found the names which resulted from the create-a-menu options particularly amusing. There were a few minor graphical issues with the game, but I was assured that these would be smoothed out before the game will be released – and in a slight change of tradition, it was me that managed to crash the game this time! The game will also look at incorporating social media and research functions into the game – so the more popular your café becomes on social media, the more money it will make. The developers reckon the game will be in development for around six months or so before release, but the game will go straight to a full release, and skip the early access stage.
The final game that we had a play around on was Blind Drive, a very strange game where you’re tasked with driving a car in complete darkness, using mouse controls – and using headphones to listen out for obstacles in the way, and having to avoid them. The game was extremely responsive, although a little strange! Still, it made for a fun little diversion for ten minutes.
Once again though, there was plenty to do at EGX Rezzed, and we now have plenty of new game on our radar to look forward to in the future. And again, Iwas very impressed to see the Indie developer zone expanded again.
So, next year, London?
Written by Karen