After the first day of the public areas at Gamescom 2018 already provided a short 1-hour glimpse into upcoming releases outside the business area, the second day on Friday, August 25, was clearly focused on the consumer halls.
Now whatever happened to Thursday, August 24? Press appointments would be the short answer, because despite having a bit of time during lunch hour, the consumer halls were so crowded, even the Indie Arena Booth, that there wasn’t anything I played, as I was happy to get back to the business area comfort zone and get a bit of rest. Yes, I tried to have a look at some games in the morning, but spending 15 minutes in the waiting queue for Life is Strange 2 and then 30 minutes for Shadow of the Tomb Raider without moving an inch in both cases was probably not such a good idea, and as I didn’t want to arrive at my first business area appointment late, there wasn’t any other option except to get out of the waiting queues that had become longer and longer. Anyway, despite this setback, Friday still provided some fun hours of new gaming experiences without waiting too long.
Sumo Digital‘s Sonic Team Racing is a follow-up to 2012 arcade racer Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, only this time it all revolves around the blue hedgehog and his friends or enemies partaking in the driving competition. However, this doesn’t mean that the game is any less fun. Far from it, because despite not being able to play in local co-op we still had a blast with the demo. It wasn’t necessarily the colorful cartoon graphics and the sublime synth and guitar soundtrack, but the team aspect that was the most interesting.
Usually if one plays multiplayer, one simply tries to reach first place and shoot at enemies with cartoony weapons, trying hard not to hit one’s friend with those and helping out in tight corners to get rid of the competition. Of course this can still be done, but now driving behind one’s team mate’s car for a short time fills up the player’s boost meter, so that he or she can speed forward. A simple mechanic, but one that makes the game much more accessible for players who are always left behind. With crazy jumps and lots of power-ups, it all sounds very Mario Kart, but as the preceding Sonic racing game was just as entertaining, maybe even more so because vehicles could transform into boats and planes depending on the terrain, this seems to turn out as another must-have arcade racer that is gorgeous to look at, awesome to listen to, and, most importantly, instantly fun to play.
The game will be released this winter 2018 on PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.
Echtra Games‘ Torchlight Frontiers continues the tradition of simple but addictive cartoon-y action-RPG gameplay of the first two games that were clearly inspired by the Diablo‘s hack-and-slash-and-collect-loot formula. Having already played the predecessors thanks to the free GOG giveaway and a Humble Bundle, I already knew what to expect, and I wasn’t disappointed.
While the new MMO feature of a shared world in which one can meet and team up with players online might seem to deviate from the formula (although Torchlight II already introduced co-op play), the game played like a single-player title, i.e. going into dark dungeons or traversing lush woods in the overworld and slaying countless waves of enemies that explode into bloody pieces. Due to the comic aesthetics, it looked less violent than it sounds, though, with funny creature designs. Just as the preceding Torchlight games, one can expect lots of quests to complete in almost any order one wants to tackle them, with many weapons, armor, character-specific special moves and spells providing customization and adding to replay value, while it looks quite pretty as well, with great animations and lighting effects to boot.
The game is due to release in 2019 on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
Konami‘s Hyper Sports R brings back the good old rhythm button bashing sports action of the classic Track & Field from the early 80ies. Only this time one maltreats the Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons instead of arcade buttons. The goal of the game is to win in various disciplines against the A.I. or, much more fun, against a human competitor. Pixel art has been replaced with HD character models, though, although the cartoon character look doesn’t feel out of place.
During our brief play session, we tried a 50m sprint race, and despite our thumbs becoming numb, we didn’t beat the daily high score. But maybe this was because we didn’t use the motion controls that could make the runner lean in different directions? Who knows, but as there haven’t been so many arcade sports titles using the button bashing technique, this could turn out to be another must-have title for the next party game session with lots of friends.
A release date hasn’t been announced yet, with the only information being that the game will be a Switch exclusive.
The next stop was at the Indie Booth Arena where our first hands-on was with btf GmbH‘s Trüberbrook, a classic point-and-click adventure game that mixes mystery, sci-fi, and German folklore. Right from the start, it becomes obvious that the game is inspired by David Lynch’s TV show Twin Peaks, as American physicist Tannhauser uses his tape recorder to share his impressions of the small town (or in this case: village) of Trüberbrook with a woman, just as Agent Cooper did with Diane. Picturesque surroundings? Check. Strange town/village people? Double check.
From the first looks of it, the game’s visuals set it apart from other point-and-clickers that feature hand-drawn or 3D backgrounds. With real miniature scale models, the game is given an almost photo-realistic feel because of the panorama look, if it weren’t for the more caricature-like characters. Unfortunately, the sound design needs some getting used to, as the voice acting is littered with German accents due to German actors and actresses only. Even if this adds to the impression of visiting a German village, it’s still distracting to listen to the main protagonist being American who is clearly German trying to sound American. According to the developers, this is intentional and in the German version, it’s vice versa, i.e. the German voice of Tannhauser has an American accent. Still, it was highly irritating, and not in that funny way Americans imitate Germans as in Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, or Die Hard. Maybe one can get used to Germans trying to speak English, but it’s still a jarring experience. Coming back to the gameplay itself, we didn’t play much of it, but only did a bit of village exploring and talking to a hotel owner. While the writing wasn’t the most memorable, I still have high hopes for the game because of its unusual setting.
The game should be out sometime in 2018 on PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and also Android.
Ink Kit Studio‘s Deru is a co-operative puzzle game that makes talking to each other essential to progress. The subtitle The Art of Cooperation is fitting, as one can only complete levels if one plans and acts in tandem. Player 1 controls a white shape (a circle, pyramid, etc.) that is invincible to black obstacles, while Player 2 moves around as a black shape and is protected against anything white. So if one encounters a stream of blackness from above, the white shape can block it and create a passage for the black shape, and vice versa.
The goal of each level is to move the white shape into the corresponding white outlines and the black shape into the black outlines. However, one often starts from different positions, with black and white obstacles in various sizes and forms constantly preventing a clear path, so that both players have to help each other out along the way. As one can’t be on the other’s heels all the time, one can also drop a block of one’s color that has the same protection effects. Despite sounding like an easy enough endeavor, the game requires all the attention and fast reflexes one can muster. While not similar in tone as the colorful platformer Gelly Break we played on the second day of Gamescom in the business area, this was a true local co-op experience that the gaming landscape should include more often.
The game will be released in Q4 2018 on PC and Nintendo Switch.
Our final stop was at the retro gaming area, and as there was a Ghostbusters special, including the iconic ECTO-1 car and cosplay people standing around the 1:1 size model, what better way to end the day than having a go at one of the licensed games? So I tried Red Fly Studio‘s PS2 version of Ghostbusters: The Videogame.
At first this release seemed to have passed me by completely, but it wasn’t that surprising, considering how many movie tie-ins there have been over the years (just check out this video). Still it looked familiar in gameplay, as one started in the hotel of the first movie and had to track down the green ghost Slimer by either following the ever-increasing beep tones of the EKG meter or just looking at the slime residue it left behind on the floors, walls, or doors. While writing this article and doing some research, I finally found out why this seemed so familiar: It was basically the Xbox 360 game I played back in the days, only with more cartoon-y character models and obviously less detailed graphics, but still with the original actors doing the voices.
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