Past gaming events: gamescom 2019, Day 3

The third day of gamescom 2019, Thursday, August 22, featured press appointments with publishers Swissgames, Klabater, GOG, Tactical Adventures, Modus Games, DotEmu & The Arcade Crew, Devolver Digital, but also a brief detour to the consumer area.

Another day, another way to find early access to the Koelnmesse venue, this time with the congress entrance… which didn’t really work, as journalists were held back by the staff, trying hard to convince them that there were 9 am appointments.

Still time to go to the press center, but no time for actually sitting down. Work would be done much later at home.

Square Enix‘s Final Fantasy VII remake was probably one of the biggest titles to play during gamescom, and seeing almost no waiting queues was a dream come true for any fan. Unfortunately I only had the headphones on and the gamepad in my hands for a few seconds before there was a staff meeting and I had to rush to my own…

… but not before stopping by at the Square Enix Products booth… which was surprisingly not in the merchandise area.

Chocobo Party Up! was one of the playable products, but there will be more about this boardgame with the upcoming consumer area feature.


The reason why there wasn’t any merch to be bought at gamescom was that the PR focused more on the Square Enix online shop. If this was the right approach is up to anyone to decide. I thought it wasn’t really the best idea to put all these cool things in a glass case and giving people a 15% coupon that didn’t work with pre-orders or sale items, especially since shipping costs are still very high.

Running through the Nintendo area, Pokémon: Sword and Pokémon Shield were obvious contenders for long waiting queues later on…

… while passing by Luigi’s Mansion 3 should make for some even longer waiting times.

Who would have thought that Nintendo would have its own Indie World booth during the Wii U era?

Swiss Games was the first appointment and just as the day before, we started with a VR title.

Kynoa SA‘s Koliseum Soccer VR is the ultimate table soccer experience, as it’s played with VR headsets on, but also offers something the bar/garage tables don’t have: special balls that behave like the items in Mario Kart.

One plays the game as in every table soccer title with bars, but these also have buttons one can press to activate special attacks. For exmaple, there’s a multiball that makes 2 additional balls come into play, or a death ball that destroys everything in its path, including the players. What is even cooler is the dribble extra which allows the player to jump off the bars and run towards the goal.

This is truly an amazing experience if one has the right equipment, because otherwise something is certainly lost. Being designed for e-sports, this could be the next best thing, even for bars, maybe replacing the classic soccer tables.

The game is currently in Early Access on Steam and there’s even a demo than can be downloaded.

Official website

Stardust‘s AVA is a puzzle game that uses fairy-tales as its source of inspiration and actual storyline, following the adventures of Ava through a magical world.

There wasn’t really much time for this game, as the VR soccer table title took most of it, but what I played and read so far was quite wonderful. Reading carefully through texts that present various fairy-tale like situations, one then has to arrange stars so that the images reflect certain parts of the stories. What sounds simple in theory still requires lateral thinking, resulting in surprisingly fresh puzzle solutions. With some wonderful music accompanying the relaxed experience, this should be on anyone’s list who likes fairy-tales, well-drawn images and something to be lost in.

The game will be released on Android and iOS devices, but there isn’t any specified date yet.

Official website

Klabater wasn’t easy to find as a booth, but it sure offered some unique titles to play… and also one of the best goodies bags, including a botle of beer …

… but more about that later, except for that beer… because the beer was an important part of the first game.

Kraken Unleashed Studio’s Crossroads Inn is a fantasy tavern simulator that tasks the player to run a business for all those weary adventurers and townsfolk, which obviously means lots of drink and food to provide. Recipes used for food have been collected by the same person responsible for The Witcher 3 and the music has also been done by the composer of the The Witcher series, making sure that the fantasy setting remains believable.

The game was certainly not easy to get one’s head around, even during almost a hands-on session of an hour, as it introduced so many concepts that one soon became overwhelmed with things to do. Being part management and part simulation game, on doesn’t only have to build a tavern and make sure that there are enough tables and seats, but one also has to hire staff who all have their unique personalities, while researching new recipes adds even more to the table. One has to make decisions in a text-adventure-like part, too. This is certainly a game that requires more hours of play, but it is sure going to be a very addictive experience.

The game will be released on PC on October 18, 2019, with the Xbox One version following later.

Official website

Arclight Creations’s Help Will Come Tomorrow is a story-driven survival resource management game that serves as a spiritual successor to We. The Revolution. about social unrest in Russia before the start of the Bolshevik revolution. Leading a group of passengers who survived the mysterious catastrophe of the Trans-Siberian railway train, one has to make sure that they persevere in the harsh climate and don’t go at each other’s throats.

As each character comes from a different social and economic class, problems are sure to crop up, so one has to decide who to trust and who to help. Because everyone depends on the other and working together is essential. As with a boardgame in which one only has a limited number of moves, one has to think about each step, e.g. who crafts tools, who chops wood and who has to rest. Knowing how all these people tick is important, and during the roughly 30 minutes of play, the complexity of the game showed through.

The game will be released on PC, Xbox One, PS4, and Nintendo Switch in Q1 2020.

Mandragora‘s Skyhill: Black Mist is a survival horror/stealth action game and the sequel to the original Skyhill (see GOG release news) that was released in 2015. This time it’s set in a full 3D environment and is much more focused on action.

One again finds himself in a building complex in which strange creatures and also mad cultists want to get rid of the player. With a semi-open world one will traverse other buildings, like a school, shopping center, business lounge, cinema, and underground parking space. Gathering and managing resources as well as crafting new tools and weapons becomes just as important as killing all those things that try to kill the player. With only a very short playtime, the atmosphere was still pretty intense, which might have something to do with the lighting/shadows effects and some great sound design.

The game will be released on PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Switch in fall 2019.

Official website

Next was a meeting in the CD Projekt Red lounge (right next to the presentation room where I saw Cyberpunk 2077 on the first day at gamescom) with GOG Global Communications Manager Marcin Traczyk, my PR contact regarding all things review codes and other DRM-free related and gaming stuff. Despite being an informal meeting, I was lucky enough to receive a rather big goodies bag, but more about that later (at the end of this article). The important thing was to finally meeting in person and chatting about classic games, the development scene in Poland, and future projects. During our talk I asked Marcin about potential SHORT games I could use for my upcoming annual Halloween gaming special week. As time flies by, I still have to write a LOT of text after finishing the gamescom cover stories…

Anyway, there’s a reason why GOG has been around for quite some time. Despite dabbling in AAA and indie games, the company is still interested in bringing back classic games that are sometimes rather hard to come by due to licensing. No DRM is obviously another important thing, but being able to experience games that are either out of print in physical form and catch high prices on auction sites or simply because it’s a hassle to run them on new PCs, GOG will hopefully stay for a very long time and offer every retro fan what they deserve. After all, the original Diablo and Warcraft games are already there, so fingers crossed the big publishers support the company even more. I for one will, so if you’re interested in any of the games I wrote reviews or release news about, please use the affiliate links and check out this awesome company with some very nice people working there!

Sometimes you can be caught by surprise with certain games, but sometimes you can also be caught unaware by…

… Dinoman!

And I still don’t know what game he has been promoting…

Tactical Adventures presented their first game, tactical RPG Solasta: Crown of the Magister.

Solasta: Crown of the Magister is everything a fan of pen-and-paper RPGs would want: a combat system that is all about chance and opportunity thanks to a rolling-dice-concept acting behind the scenes. Taking control of four heroes, one goes through dungeons looking for treasure and slaying monsters. As each character has their own abilities but also their own personality, actions and dialogue have an impact on the storyline and the outcome of battles. These are turn-based and require patience, strategy, and a lot of luck.

During the time I spent with the game, it became obvious that not every enemy encounter ended the same way, as sometimes the same approach had different results. So in one case one needed various tries to push an enemy from a higher position, and another time it was successful with the first try. This might obviously make the game more frustrating for some players, but then again rolling dice in boardgames is very similar to this experience.

The game is currently on Kickstarter (and has been funded 100%) and there’s also a free demo on Steam.

Official website

Unfortunately my appointments with Iceberg Interactive were canceled that day due to some organizational problems, so I tried to make my late afternoon/evening meetings happening sooner. One of them was with Devolver Digital, a company I’ve been writing about for years, but never came around meeting during gamescom.

Arriving in the booth made it clear that this felt more like a festival/carnival with some lovely decorations.

But of course I wasn’t only there for the ambience, but for a great game, too, in this case Le Cartel Studio‘s Heave Ho.

As I’ve already written about the game in this release news, I’ll keep it rather short and just focus on the gamescom experience itself. Being thrown together with a group of people you don’t even understand the language of and still trying to cooperate and succeeding shows how well a game does. So this platform-puzzle game clearly did what its developer set out to do: turning a room full of people roar in laughter and shouting at each other. Hopefully this game will reach a wide audience, even if it’s clearly aimed at local couch co-op play. Devolver Digital’s booth was certainly one of the loudest in the business area, that’s for sure with all the screaming and laughter.

The game is out now on PC and Nintendo Switch.

Official website

If the last appointment featured a fun environment to play in, DotEmu‘s and The Arcade Crew‘s joint living room ambience was even more comfy.

Not because of the Arcade Brew beer… although I had to thank PR specialist Jessica Richard for the hamburger…

… and not because of the nostalgic posters…

… but because of Windjammers 2, an arcade-like sports game about throwing discs with special moves that really comes into its own when playing together or rather against each other.

This was the case with editor John Ensberg from the FOK! website and me who literally had a blast getting into the game that offered fast gameplay with lots of power moves in beautifully drawn 2D backgrounds. Although there are online multiplayer modes, this is definitely a game that comes alive as a competitive couch game, and this was where we were sitting, tossing discs around and having a lot of fun. Just as with Heave Ho, you know you have a game that works when two complete strangers are suddenly lost in their game and forgetting about time and everything else around them and trying to figure out who are the best or worse characters to pick.

The game will be released on PC, Nintendo Switch, and even Google Stadia in 2020.

Official website

The last press appointments on Thursday and also for gamescom were again with Modus Games, starting with ACE Team‘s and Giant Monkey Robot‘s competitive tower defense/arcade action game Rock of Ages 3: Make & Break.

There’s something to be said about having control of a boulder and smashing things and people in a Monty-Python-esque humor-style, and it seems that the series has been successful so far. Rock of Ages 3: Make & Break offers fans enough tools to build their own levels for the first time which can be shared all over the world. One has to see the game in action to believe how ridiculous and fun it is, but suffice it to say that rolling down a hill and crashing through houses with a big cheese should be reason enough to get excited. Add a 4-player online multiplayer or 2-player split-screen mode, and the mayhem can truly continue with a historically-not-that-accurate depiction of humans and monsters, including a Spaghetti monster and Krampus.

As one can also create one’s own game modes, this should be the definitive version of the series, even if a Humpty-Dumpty mode already sounds intriguing enough. During the gamescom presentation there was definitely a lot of laughing going on, just finding out if one’s jumping platforms would work after including them with the easy-to-use editor. With no loading times, building and playing make this the ultimate playground for creative and funny minds.

The game will be released on PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch in early 2020.

Official website

eXiin‘s and Fishing Cactus‘s action-adventure game Ary and the Secret of Seasons was the final presentation and a good conclusion of an interesting day at gamescom.

The game’s story is about young girl Aryelle, or Ary, who travels across the great world of Valdi. Becoming the Guardian of Winter, she can and has to manipulate the seasons around her, an ability that has to be used to great effect for defeating enemies and solving puzzles. Ary and the Secret of Seasons might feel inspired by Zelda, but it certainly has that special French (or in this case Belgian) comic look about it, accompanied by a great orchestral soundtrack.

During the presentation, there was a big boss fight that required quite a bit of platforming and fast reflexes. Following a flying monster and using the change of seasons made this a different proposition to the typical Shadow of the Colossus comparison a lot of games have been attached to recently. All in all, this is a title fans of colorful action-adventure fans should keep an eye out for.

The game will be released on PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch in Q1 2020.

Official website

So that’s wrapping up the press appointment business days, which were indeed very busy, but also a lot of fun. However, the gamescom coverage isn’t complete yet, as there’s still the consumer areas I checked out on Friday. To be continued…

And of course let’s not forget the goodies I got on Thursday!

Swissgames had the chocolate, which I obviously ate, and some artful sticker/card combo.

Klabater definitely won me over with its bag, including a beer, beer bottle opener…

… and a very cool cookbook!

GOG did it even better with a bag that had two pins and a code that added 13 (!) games to my account. Oh well, time for some more reviews then!

I’ll wear this shirt proudly the next time we’ll meet again at gamescom or any other occasion, maybe while playing/writing about the games.

Yes, I already had an appointment with Revolution Software on the second day, but I had to give Charles some photos I took during devcom 2019, so I got a new comic and some mints (especially useful before appointments!).

Some PR material with courtesy of Tactical Adventures… if only I could find a card slot for it.

Heave Ho is a very fun game, so why not have a funny cap on when you’re playing it?

Some art flyers of a beautiful-looking game.

Finally got my hands on an expensive (but free for the press) gamescom brochure so I know where to go to all my appointments…

… NOT. But it might help for the Friday tour in the consumer area… which is a perfect end to the press meeting special features!

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About nufafitc

Being an avid gamer, cinemaniac, and bookworm in addition to other things the internet and new media present, I'm also very much into DIY music, rock and pop in particular. Writing short or longer pieces about anything that interests me has always made me happy. As both an editor for German website "Adventure-Treff" and UK website "Future Sack", I like to write reviews and news about recent developments in the movies, games and book industry.
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