3 Minutes to Midnight
After Rossko had trailed 3 Minutes to Midnight at EGX 2018, he came to both Greg and I and said “You’ve got to try this out. It’s really good”. Inspired by the LucasArts point-and-click adventures of yore, this title is filled with head scratchers, absurdist humour, tight writing and a colourful cast of oddball characters including “a potbelly pig with a vendetta”. Sold. 3 Minutes to Midnight is a game that’s learning a lot from the heights of the point and click heyday but is putting a modern spin on it with a fresh, Dreamworks-esque art style and top class voice acting. You should definitely be following this game on Twitter because the social team are excellent and the game’s looking tip top too.
Lonely Mountains: Downhill
Downhill Mountain bike games are a resurging genre these days, having had a few new entries in the past 12 months after years of nothing. The most interesting to me however is the upcoming Lonely Mountains: Downhill. Unlike a lot of other games that are focusing on insane physics and racing, Lonely Mountains is aiming to be a more insular experience that’s more “You vs the terrain” than “You vs user 360NoScope420”. The idea is to try and ride your bike down hills, through valleys, over boulders, through forests and other terrain by speeding, jumping and sliding your way through them without crashing. Presented in a clean, low-poly art style, it looks lovely rather than Lonely and I can’t wait to hit the slopes when it releases in 2019 for PC and Consoles (with a little help from publisher Thunderful of course).
I love mech games. I also love turn based, hex grid strategy games. Warborn ticks both of those boxes. There’s a Gundam meets Voltron feel to everything Warborn seems to do, from Mecha design to animation, weapon types to the soundtrack and that’s quite exciting given that there’s likely never going to be a game like this released for either of those franchises. It’s a deeply strategic game, adopting the terrain you or a target are standing in to effect combat and, as you can see from the trailer, means you might end up blasting 3 mech’s for the price of one. Coming from a small team of just 3 people, Warborn is showing a lot of potential and is deploying on PC and Switch in 2019.
As much as I love the Elder Scrolls games, being almost constantly set upon by wolves, giants, bandits and all manner of other beasties often means you don’t get stop and take in the world around you. Eastshade is a game that’s solving that problem. Set in a fantasy world, you play as a traveling painter who’s wondering around a fantastical island called Eastshade, committing the frankly stunning vistas to your canvas. You’re not the only inhabitant of the island through, with a city and NPC’s to help and converse with, each with branching dialogue trees and discoverable topics to uncover. Your actions and dialogue decisions will have far reaching consequences too, effecting future interactions. The island itself holds a few secrets that are hard to find, so occasionally you’ll also be collecting materials, acquiring schematics then building contraptions to overcome obstacles. Eastshade is the equivalent of a chilled out Oblivion when you’ve put down your Mace and picker up a paintbrush, making it a uniquely gorgeous concept. Wishlist it now for a 2019 release.
Maid of Sker
Wales Interactive are a studio turned publisher that has stuck to its roots throughout its growth. From including a Welsh dialogue option to their title Master Reboot to championing the resurging FMV genre, the team have always done things a little bit differently. The Maid of Sker, their latest project, is no different. An atmospheric horror game, this title is inspired by a British folk story about a the spirit of a heartbroken woman who’s trapped in a 800 year old Walsh mansion. The tale inspired a Victorian era novel by RD Blackmore, called The Maid of Sker ,which is about the real Sker House in Wales and the events therein. While the game is inspired by the Novel, it’s recreation of the House is not. Instead, the developers have taken a fresh approach to the mansion and the story it will tell. The above trailer is the one and only we’ve received so far but it’s already shaping up to be an appealing affair. We’ll have to wait for 2019 to finally meet the Maid on consoles and PC.
The city of Hamsterdam has been overrun by criminal vermin. It’s up to you, a furry little bud with paws of steel and hamster-fu on his side to eke out justice, one scrap at a time. I backed Hamsterdam on Kickstarter because a) it’s has a healthy dose of weaponised cuteness b). Muse Games have a great track record of creating quality games like Guns of Icarus c). it’s coming to the PSVita(!) as well as Nintendo Switch, mobile devices & PC/Mac. Combat in this game looks to be accessible yet nuanced, combing rhythm, taps and swipes in a way I’ve not seen before. There’s also scooter levels where you’ll be avoiding obstacles and (thanks to a stretch goal) some bomb dodging mini-games to boot. To put it bluntly, Hamsterdam is a collection of the best bits of mobile gaming at a console quality production level without any of the garbage that usually comes with those elements. An excellent combination and one that’s already earning award nominations.
Big Crown: Showdown
“Is Big Crown: Showdown out yet?” is a question I’ve been asked at least twice weekly since my son and I left EGX 2018. My 9 year old fell in love with this party game, having literal tears in his eyes from all the laughter when he punched me from a platform into the swelling sea below. Patience isn’t a virtue my son has learnt yet but Big Crown: Showdown is likely to be worth the wait. A multiplayer action game, this title tasks up to 4 people to get from one point of a sprawling map to the other while staying within the framing of the ever-panning camera and away from the dangers each levels present. Of course, you could play nasty and punch your opponents from the platforms they’re on – but be warned, if they raise their shield in time, it’s you that’ll be forced backwards. Simplistic in its premise but cleverly executed, this is a game that’ll be best played with friends and family when it launches in 2019.
“Indie Games” and “Big Open Worlds” aren’t terms you see coupled together very often but that is what Twirlbound’s Pine is. Playing as a young boy called Hue, you must travel through the vast world of Albamare in which the human species never reached the top of the food chain. Working with a variety of the inhabitants, you must unearth the secrets this world holds in order to find a new home for what remains of your tribe. Pine is described as “world-centric”, which means that even without the involvement of Hue, the world elements will interact with one another on their own evolutionary course. The ecology will grow and shrink depending on events, each species in the world doing what it can to survive, pushing some animals to the top of the food chain while others can approach extinction. Pine sounds and looks incredible and I can’t wait to try it out in 2019.
Part Contra, Part Metal Slug with sprinklings of Space Harrier throw in for good measure, Blazing Chrome is a game that’s giving the classics from the Mega Drive a fiery spit shine and reinvigorating them for the modern day. Retro inspired titles aren’t exactly a novelty these days but the combined influences here – especially the flying sections akin to Space Harrier, which ARE a rarity – really shine through. The pixel art is stunning, there’s co-op and that soundtrack is chef_kiss.gif. Give it to me now (or in 2019, I guess, when it launches for the PS4, Switch, PC – and maybe even in a Tesla?).
In the past few years, VR has often been described as the most empathetic way to deliver a powerful story. Being totally immersed in it, being surrounded by it, VR can offer something that other platforms cannot, which is what developer Eagre Games are banking on with Zed. Zed is the tale of a man suffering from dementia who’s attempting to reconnect broken memories and explore his own history to make a children’s book to leave behind for his yet unborn granddaughter, Charlotte. The twisted, changing, fantastical architecture of the world and its inhabitants in Zed are a representation of the man’s shifting memories which aim to form a fitting backdrop for the games powerful narrative. I originally spotted Zed because the Myst and Riven publishers Cyan are on hand to publish this game too, but Zed piqued my interest even further when I saw that Chuck Carter, one of the artists who contributed to Myst, was leading the team at Eagre Games. Zed is releasing in Q1 2019 for Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.