Every year, EGX Rezzed showcases upcoming releases, community favourites, and quirky projects in the indie game scene. 2017 was no different.
EGX Rezzed is an annual exhibition for independent video game developers to connect with both the public and the media in the hopes that their projects will produce fans, critical acclaim, or even just smiles on one or two faces. Exhibitors set up shop in the Tobacco Dock, just off the beaten track of London’s hustle and bustle, and once again, this new year brought with it a myriad of exciting, unusual, and emotive video games.
“…like Mr Wolfe from Pulp Fiction.”
The adventure begins in the Indie Room, a large floor space in the Tobacco Dock where mid-tier development teams amassed individual mounds of business cards and promotional stickers, amongst which were vibrant display monitors revealing what they had to offer. It required doggy-paddling through the vast ocean of the public, but many a budding artist, experienced programmer, and silver-tongued PR manager could be seen engaging the swathes of people eager to dip in and sample the entertainment, like Jacek Glowacki of studio iFun4All, who noted how the 100% hand-drawn art style of the team’s game Serial Cleaner “makes us very proud.”
Serial Cleaner is a dynamic stealth game set in America in the 70’s. Glowacki goes on to talk about the main character, described as “like Mr Wolfe from Pulp Fiction,” who is tasked with cleaning up crime scenes without getting caught by roaming police officers, all to a funky disco soundtrack suited to the era. The Serial Cleaner booth had received a lot of attention over the weekend, though they weren’t the only team who were met with large amounts of interest.
“It’s been a bit mad, but also good,” exclaimed Mode 7 Games Co-founder Paul Kilduff-Taylor, a game developer with over ten years of experience in the industry. He, along with business partner Ian Hardingham, were showcasing Frozen Synapse 2, the sequel to their critically-acclaimed tactical strategy game released in 2011, in the Indie Room. “Frozen Synapse is always a difficult one at shows because it’s a very complicated game and it takes people a while to get into it. This has been our first time here with an actual tutorial so people can really start to get the hang of it.”
In recent years, Mode 7 Games have also moved in the direction of publishing, helping other lesser-known developers with the marketing and public relations aspects of their projects. One such project is SMAC Games’ Tokyo 42, an action game inspired by the original Grand Theft Auto games, which “always does well at shows…it’s bright and colourful and sort of easier to get into.”
“…it’s bright and colourful and sort of easier to get into.”
Down a flight of stairs, tucked into a cozy corner of the Dock, is a room home to the Leftfield Collection, a rag tag union of tiny studios and quirky individuals that don’t have available the sparkling flatscreens and brightly-lit publicity of other exhibitors, rather opting for a cutesy, DIY amalgamation of laptops and doodles as opposed to TVs and banners. This is where all the weird stuff goes, and with that weird is often the wonderful.
“It’s been so much fun watching people playing the game and scratching their heads,” commented Mattis Folkestad, developer of Milkmaid of the Milky Way, a point-and-click adventure game inspired by classics like The Secret of Monkey Island. You follow the journey of a 1920’s Norwegian milkmaid as she discovers the vastness of the universe, in a project quite clearly bred out of passion for the genre. “I grew up playing LucasArts adventure games, they’re really close to my heart.”
More on show at EGX Rezzed:
The widespread popularisation of virtual reality has made it possible for even the smallest development studios to experiment with fully immersing players in a number of different ways. One orientation not often explored is virtual reality from a third-person perspective, overlooking a map and controlling characters and objects from a distanced perspective. A team experimenting with this idea, to great success thus far, is Coatsink, developers of the popular brawling game Gang Beasts.
“It’s been so much fun watching people playing the game and scratching their heads.”
Last year, Coatsink implemented virtual reality into Gang Beasts, giving players the freedom to move their perspectives around the arena where characters battled. This year they brought with them Augmented Empire, a Cyberpunk RPG similar in style to XCOM and Shadowrun Returns. The game is especially designed for VR, with the player assuming the role of an elusive crime boss controlling his agents like pieces on a chessboard, and the experience feels like one of few virtual reality sessions that could be endured for extensive periods of time.
Once again, EGX Rezzed has showcased the very best that the indie game community can contribute to the games industry as a whole. With development teams opening at an ever-growing rate, and leaps in technological potential increasing exponentially, it should be interesting to see what the next year will have to offer.