Part One of our EGX Rezzed hands-on previews takes a look at Codemaster’s Onrush, Ant Workshop’s Dead End Job and Winter Hall from Lost Forest Games.
As Rossko explained in his hands on preview a few weeks ago, Onrush is a difficult game to pin down into a single genre. It’s certainly got the DNA of an arcade racing game but it’s not necessarily about getting out in front to win. It has deeply tactical play on par with the complexities of the Overwatch team dynamic – choose a team full of chunky Titans and you’ll get left behind without the boost support of your Dynamo or cover from your Interceptor. It’s a game that feels incredibly familiar to play, blending the best of arcade checkpoint racing with the combative aspects of Motorstorm and the team racing of Driveclub to offer something unique and fresh. You feel constantly tied to the eye of a moving storm, jostling for position among a herd of opponents, team mates and fodder for you to run over. Just within my limited play time, you could see the smart design choices that had gone in to keep the game competitive, even from the back of the field – the rolling starts, the support classes that helped guide the heavy hitters into positions to smash through the opponents line and the way the checkpoint gates got wider after the first racer passed through them. It’s as exhilarating to play as it is to watch and if Onrush finds its way into the hands of the right people, those that play as a team and play to their role, Codemasters could have created a whole new brand of eSport.
And that’s my only worry about Onrush – it’ll live and die on its team dynamics as I learned the hard way at Rezzed when my team mates seemed unaware that we were allies and were determined to run me off the road. This probably won’t be so much of a concern, however, when the game launches on June 8th and the game modes are explained rather than in the pick up and play nature of show floor demos.
Dead End Job
2 years ago, I described Dead End Job as “one of the most potential filled games I played at EGX Rezzed 2016”. At EGX Rezzed 2018, I was pleased to see that that potential is being realised. A combination of the Binding of Isaac, Ghostbusters and the Ren & Stimpy show, Dead End Job has you play as the ghost exterminator Hector Plasm who is challenged to shoot down and capture ghosts and rescue trapped citizens, all presented in an art style akin to that of classic 90’s TV shows.
A lot of work has gone in over the past 2 years to make this twin stick shooter as accessible as possible (even adding the ability for it to be played as a single stick shooter) while still retaining a challenge and it certainly shows. There’s a wicked sense of humour underneath the fun aesthetic too – you’ve not felt awkwardness until you’ve laughed out loud at the ghostly version of Office Assistant Paperclip that’s just turned itself into the shape of a tommy gun to take pot shots at you.
So far, I’ve only played the office environment of Dead End Job but the Menu UI promises more to come and I for one can’t wait to get my hands on the full game when it launches next year.
The first thing that hit me when I sat down to play Winter Hall is how gorgeous it looks. The demo I tried at Rezzed starts you on the outskirts of the titular Winter Hall in present day Summerset and it is beautiful. The trees, the grass, the castle itself are all approaching photo-realism and look sublime. The second thing that hit me about Winter Hall is that it’s a game designed to be “readable”. There are a number of signs and readable objects in the environment that are actually readable during play. There’s no text boxes that pop up to show you what each thing says – they’re clearly visible for you to read. This was surprisingly jarring in a really positive way. It’s something that so few games I’ve ever played have attempted and is very effective here. It gives Winter Hall a real feeling of immersion, even when sat on a busy showroom floor, with an impressive “game-feel” (if that’s a real term) to be reading the screen of a computer or the words on a sign without the need for a text pop up box.
Another element of this is to agree or disagree with conversation topics, you must shake or nod your head to disagree or agree using the mouse – such an intuitive idea that felt entirely natural while innovative at the same time. The third thing that hit me about Winter Hall is that this is going to be a game with something to say. Having solved a simple puzzle, my character was transported back in time to the height of the plague AKA the Black Death and into the shoes of a woman trying to help those who were suffering from it.
The tonal shift here was bizarre but welcome, reconfiguring the Winter Hall for the new time setting and filling the environment with chilling environmental storytelling and the ghostly visages of the past. Winter Hall promises to be “Gone Home meets Quantum Leap” when it launches in 2018 on PC (and possibly consoles too) and it’s certainly one to watch out for.