There’s nothing quite like your first day at a convention. The sights, the sounds, the atmosphere and even the people walking around the convention centre are all brand new. The first day at EGX Rezzed, on 4 April 2019 at London’s Tobacco Dock, was no different.
With more than 200 games, over 100 lectures/talks and presentations, and a scattering of meet and greets, Rezzed offers gamers a change to dive into the thick of what the indie scene has to offer. Over the three-day convention, Rebecca (Baka) Nicol and will be walking around the stalls, chatting to the devs, trying the games, and letting you know what we’re excited about, because we think there’s a pretty good chance that it’s going to excite you too.
If you can make it to EGX this spring (and I use that term loosely – it snowed here in London on the day before the convention opened), make sure you check out these games. If you can’t make it, I guess it’s a chance to whet your appetite on the games that will be keeping us all amused over the coming months.
Game of the day
For me, the game of the day absolutely has to go Untitled Goose Game. Without a doubt, this game is a contender for the highly acclaimed ‘Most Original Thing I Have Seen in a Very Long Time’ Award. This game isn’t new – I bumped into a friend and colleague in the queue just after the conference opened and he told me that this is the only game he bothered queueing for at the last EGX.
This friend is a wise man. Untitled Goose Game is like Gang Beasts had a love child with Goat Simulator. In a sentence, you’re a naughty goose that is also an evil mastermind and potentially a kleptomaniac. But that doesn’t even do it justice – the gameplay is hilarious, the colours are vibrant and exciting, and the joy of honking at the person you’re stealing from, or even watching your friends try to steal the keys off a gardener’s belt, then trying to run away like an excited toddler, is something pure and genuine that everyone can get behind.
It’s coming out [not soon enough] on the Nintendo Switch.
Games we liked
Baka and I met up with a couple of friends – including friends of the site Nicole Hall and Rebecca Stow – and went and tried our hands at some co-op and party games. Here’s a quick rundown:
Guntastic is a PC game available on Steam Early Access with absolutely no story. Instead, you get put against your friends in a 25-second, one-hit-kill deathmatch. You have a selection of five characters (a demon koala, a builder, a zombie, a monkey in sunglasses and a nudist), nine guns and five power-ups with which to humiliate your friends. It’s fast-paced, it’s fun and it’s playable online or as a local co-op.
Cake Bash is another brilliant little game we happened across – it’s basically Gang Beasts except that you have missions and you’re made of cake. Also, you have baking-based missions. It’s a fun, silly little game that had us genuinely laughing out loud. If you’re looking for a new party game, Cake Bash will be available on all the major consoles, hopefully in 2019.
Cat Quest 2 needs a special shout out for its ludicrous puns. Not only is it a fun little RPG with some adorable little sprites for the two playable characters, but it is also so full of puns that you’ll be feline good having played it. Because everyone loves puns. Fact.
Games that are a little bit different
There were two games today that really caught my eye because they were a little bit different.
The first is called Change – an indie game by Delve Digital which puts you in the shoes of a homeless person who has to beg for money so that they can eat, while also trying to put aside enough money that you can get an education, get a job and eventually escape homelessness.
The game is tagged as a homeless survival experience, and it was the product of Delve Interactive realising that, after poor sales of a previous game, they could have faced homelessness if it wasn’t for the aid they received for family and friends. So they made a game highlighting just how bad people who sleep rough have it. If you enjoyed Papers Please, seriously keep an eye out for Change. It’s a sobering experience.
Worth knowing: Delve’s devs told me that 20% of their profits will be going to Crisis, a UK-based charity that works to end homelessness.
Change is available on Steam Early Access now.
The second game that really caught my eye for being a little bit different takes a completely different direction. Nanotale is a typing-based RPG where you play an archivist (basically a botanist) who has magic powers. By typing the words that appear over your enemies heads/objects on your path, you can sling spells that will help you either kill monsters or open pathways to new and weird plants and animals for you to document.
The trailer doesn’t quite do it justice – the game was engrossing in a way that most people wouldn’t expect from a game that asks you to type words to kill your enemies. Still, all the more reason to give it a go, right? The words you type are lexically linked, so fire spells use fire-themed words, for example, and the battles are more strategic than the trailer shows: typing “ray” will change from an area-of-effect to a linear shot.
Pro tip: So, let’s say you line up a load of enemies, you can type “hot ray” and then the shortest word above any enemy in the line. Boom, you’ve just done massive damage to a string of enemies. Do this at EGX and you get to look smug at how efficient you are.
Session of the day
This afternoon saw an interesting session from Dr Pete Etchells, a psychologist with a special interest in video games, chaired by Alice Bell, the deputy editor at Rock Paper Shotgun. The session, ‘The psychology of game addiction’ discussed why the World Health Organization was potentially premature in classing “gaming disorder” as a recognised addiction, starting with the inherent difficulties of conducting actual evidence-based research in this area.
For those of you who don’t work in/follow scientific research, ethics is kind of a big deal. If you want to do something that is unethical, you won’t get funding. No funding means no research. So, for example, you can’t make people Battlefront: Call of Warfare, or your latest flavour of shoot-them-in-the-face simulator and then put them all in a room and see if they start a barfight. Instead, you have to use proxies for aggression – such as the one they used in the infamous ‘Hot sauce paradigm’.
Basically, you get a load of people to play an aggressive game and get them good and riled up. You then say right, new experiment: make some hot sauce – you can put as much chilli as you like in this. You won’t have to eat any hot sauce today, but the person next door will. You then do exactly the same with the second batch of guinea gamers, but you give them a calming nice game, like Little Big Flower instead. If the violent-game gamers act like sadists, there may be a link to games and aggression.
Actual study; interesting stuff. The good Dr has a new book out today too – Lost in a Good Game. Check it out if you’re interested.
At the time of writing, the live stream of this talk isn’t available for viewing now; however, if you’re interested, keep an eye on the Rock Paper Shotgun YouTube page.
What’s on tomorrow?
One of the games that Baka and I missed today (because the passage of time is still something that we can’t control) but we are super excited to play tomorrow is Hamsterdam (I told you, everyone likes puns; it’s just an irrefutable fact). You play as Pim, a hamster who just wants to ride his scooter, but is forced into a life of kung fu and kick ass smackdowns when some evil animals stuff his grandfather into a hamster wheel. Come back tomorrow for Baka’s thoughts on this hamsterdamn fun-looking game.
There’s also a couple of sessions on stories in videogames, covering topics as nebulous and fascinating as death and voice acting. If you’re at Rezzed on Saturday 5 April 2019, be sure to check the programme when you get there.