Last week was Siggraph, the computer animation and technology expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
While the the show has shrunk over the past few years, that didn’t stop them from organizing a very content and entertainment driven show. One of the biggest highlights of Siggraph was it’s VR Village which had grown considerably larger. And the Mix, an indie game showcase of upcoming developers.
Many of these games were still in beta form while others were ready to be released on Steam with hopes of making it out to consoles as well. While there was a rotating floor of games, there were some very stand out notables. We here love focusing on indie devs especially very artistic and stylish ones. So we selected the ones that stood out to us the most in regards to great gameplay and visually striking. Let’s break it down for you so you can be ready for the future!
Burly Men at Sea by Brain & Brain, is a minimalistic storybook like adventure game where, instead of directly controlling the Burly Men, you control the the environment by pulling it wider as if exposing more to the scene then there is. By doing so you enable the men to explore the area you unveiled, and discover new clues or interactive pieces. We only got to see a demo of the beginning of the game, but right off the bat, the quirky style, art and beautiful music had us hooked.
World War Toon by Reload Studios is a first person shooter based in VR. That’s right, a VR FPS. While most people have claimed that it would be impossible to do without getting sick, Reload has found a way to control the game in a manner that wouldn’t mess with the equilibrium of the player. By disabling the ability to strafe and moving only in the direction your head is facing, you eliminate any kind of motion sickness that comes with the typical classic control scheme. The game is a cartoony Looney Toon style take on the classic WW2 shooter genres that feels like Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare mixed with cartoon characters. Everything ran fluid with no issues, and was a lot of fun to play. Other attendees also mentioned how well it performed and we look forward to getting more hands on with it in the coming months. Reload Studios is comprised of veteran game developers and artists so it makes sense that the game would look polished and handle well.
Tinertia (which is already out on Steam) is a fantastic puzzle platformer by Candescent Games and Section Studio. You control Weldon, a tiny robot that needs to traverse the multilayered levels by propelling himself with his rockets he shoots beneath him. With no means of jumping, it’s by this explosive method that moves you forward. It’s very similar to games like Super Meat Boy, Explosion Man etc. It’s amazing what can be done with Unity these days and we’re seeing a good majority of the games being developed with it.
Speaking of Unity, Houdini, a very popular effects software has also been getting into indie gaming. They’ve been promoting their tools for developers to use, not only for effects but also for creating assets, models and all to use in Unity. It’s a smart move for a software tool developer to cater to the smaller teams. One particular game, Planet Alpha 31 built entirely with Unreal and Houdini by Adrian Lazar, is a fantastic mix of beautiful visuals and compelling platforming gameplay. The premise of the game is to explore this planet and traverse it’s puzzling landscape by using the ability to control the time of day. By doing so you alter the mechanics of platforms and other effects in order to complete each level. There’s even bosses which you don’t necessarily have to destroy but evade with said mechanics. It’s an interesting game, and one we look forward to seeing more of.
Knee Deep: A Swamp Noir is a stylish point and click style game very similar to Telltale games we’ve come to love with the mystery of games like Kentucky Route Zero, one of our favorite games. Taking place in the south, you control a variety of characters throughout the storyline as you investigate a story that unravels within the small town you’re in. You play as a TMZ like reporter, a detective, and one other character in order to completely learn about the mystery revolving a murder in town. Knee Deep has a very cool toon shaded look with great dialog. It’s plan is to be an episodic game in three episodes and they hope to work on some voice over to add to the game. It’s currently available on Steam Greenlight for you all the check out.
The highlight of the show however was a little game by SuperType Games called Arena Gods. At first glance this game looks like a mix of Nidhogg and Zelda, with bare 8 bit like visuals with four local gladiators running around attacking each other to be the last man standing. With only three buttons to use to control punching, picking up/throwing and dodge, it’s easy to pick up and play and a lot of fun to master. Punching an opponent will only knock them down, and it’s up to you to finish them off. But doing so leaves you open to others attacking you as well. While attacking someone with a weapon is an instant kill, you can also throw the weapons at them too. A fun addition to the mayhem is the wrap around portal, much like in PAC-MAN, where leaving one side of the stage will send you to the other side. To add to that, you can throw your weapons through said portals and have them potentially kill anyone on the other side or in some cases end up impaling yourself! This game drew an incredible crowd throughout the week at Siggraph and it’s no surprise. It fits right up there with the likes of Towerfall, Nidhogg, Killer Queen etc. Developer Mark Parrish who was on hand, spoke about still nailing down an appropriate art style now that they have the gameplay down but hopes to keep it minimal in order to focus on the frenetic gameplay.
Overall it was a fantastic showing of up and coming games and developers at the Mix. Keep an eye out for these games as they near close to completion and release, and stay tuned for more information on them as we get it!