While EGX 2018 was packed to the gills with potential filled future releases, there were many indie games on show that are already available to pick up and play. We’ve already listed our favourite upcoming indie games from EGX 2018 but we thought it’d also be nice to celebrate those games in attendance that are already out there, that we already enjoy or that we experienced for the first time at EGX and we’ll be playing ASAP.
Without further ado, here’s our list of 10 of the best indie games from the EGX 2018 show floor that you can play right this minute:
Having recently reviewed Sunless Sea and having enjoyed it immensely, I simply had to stop by at the Sunless Skies booth at EGX to check out what was coming up in the sequel. To say I was impressed would be an understatement. One of the writers on Skies set me up on a late game save game and let me roam free and let me tell you, everything you loved about the first game has been cranked up and all of the annoyances have gone. The steamships of Sea have been replaced by flying locomotives (with train tracks acting as ports which I thought was a nice touch), powering through a colourful, cloud filled version of space, a representation of how the Victorians would have interpreted that then unknown frontier. The combat has had a massive overhaul now feeling less fiddly, more fluid and far more involving. Of course, the writing as you might expect is some of the best in the business, shining through in just a 10 minute demo with the trademark punchy glibness that Failbetter have made their own. Sunless Skies is launching fully on the 31st January, 2019 and I personally can’t wait (so I won’t and I’ll get it in Early Access where it’s available to play right now).
I think it’s incredibly difficult for any game being played on the busy, loud, bustling show floor of a big games expo to really make you feel things. The fact that Between Stations, a short interactive narrative game from the duo called Sand Gardeners, managed to make me feel a whole lot of things in a very short space of time is testament to how well it is written and put together. Guilt, awkwardness, humour, unease and confusion are delivered in rapid succession by this game, presented purely through simple multiple choice decision making. At EGX, it was played on an old CRT TV with built in buttons and dials but you can play it at home and, I’ve tried it, It’s just as good. To say any more would be to spoil an excellent experimental game that does some pretty interesting things so instead, go and check it out yourself here.
We loved Rogue Aces, the sky bound shmup from Infinite State games and Curve Digital, when it launched earlier in the year. We gave it a deserved 9/10 in our review. Since then, the devs have been hard at work to bring us even more content for the game and at EGX we got to try some of the local multiplayer first hand. Ruddy hell it’s good fun. The multiplayer is currently being beta tested for release “soon” and the very second it releases, we’ll be all over the game once again. Till then, if you’ve not played Rogue Aces yet, you should. It’s spiffing good fun. Whatwhat. Tally ho. Etc. Etc.
Watching the Titanic split in 2 and sink into the icy sea of the North Atlantic through VR was never going to be a traditionally enjoyable experience but Titanic VR is certainly an experience worth having. Split into 2 sections – a cinematic experience through the eyes of the survivors in lifeboat 6 and a deep sea diving expedition to the shipwreck to recover items and “answer questions that have remained submerged for a century” – Titanic VR is an engrossing and educational title that makes the most of its VR components to deliver something quite special. Available now on Oculus, Vive and within a month or 2, PlayStation VR, give this a go. It even has a sad dog.
“I need this in my life” I said to the Firesprite developer after I took off the PSVR headset at EGX. I’ve been teetering on the edge of buying a PlayStation VR headset, umming and aahing over whether to get that, a Nintendo Switch or a better gaming PC (and always ending up spending that available cash on more mundane things like tyres for the car or a new washing machine) for the longest time but after playing The Persistence (and Blood & Truth – more on that when I get chance to write it up) at EGX, that’s made up my mind. I need PSVR and I need it now. The Persistence wears its inspirations – Alien: Isolation being the main one – like a badge of honour but it’s also got oodles of originality too it too, making it a deeply engrossing horror title that’s one of the most essential VR experiences I’ve had. What’s more, there’s a myriad comfort options that make it a very accessible VR experience and one you could play around in for hours. Available now for PSVR, The Persistence has also received some post launch DLC – the highlight of which is the Glass Cannon mode – making it one of my favourite “available now” games of EGX.
The premise to the cyberpunk roguelike Beacon is fascinating. You play as a starpilot called Freja who has crash landed on a hostile alien planet. So far, so usual – but here’s the kicker. She didn’t survive the crash, dying on impact. The ships cloning machine did survive however, which pumped out a clone of her DNA. Freja then sets out into a gorgeous, lush low-poly land in order to survive. Only she won’t. Being a roguelike, Beacon is punishing at first but as you progress, Freja collects alien DNA and robotic augmentations which the cloning machine then splices into subsequent versions of Freja once she dies. These added DNA strands have a variety of effects, making you better (or worse) in battle, giving you extra (or less) health and granting you abilities. What each new version of Freja will play like is a gamble as you evolve to survive, playing into a narrative that has you abandoning Freja’s identity and questioning what will be left of her original DNA by the time you leave. Beacon is currently available on itch.io (the first 4 of 6 levels at least) and will be leaving Early Access in 2019.
I sat down to play Betweenside at EGX and had to tear myself away. You see, this game is one that deserves your full attention and to not give it that would mean you’ll miss some of the stellar things that it does. My short time with the game showed that it deserves to be played in the dark, alone and with an inquisitive mind-set, something I’ll be doing ASAP. Set in an interwar Cornish mansion, you play as an adjuster who’s exploring the private abode of a secretive aristocrat in order to determine which of his surviving relatives should receive his worldly belongings. As you explore, each item you examine unravels a little more of the past which details the demise of his once proud family. What’s more, you can change history by re-writing the ending of some passages of text. But be careful what you change and how you change it because altering the past might have consequences on your present. Betweensides is as subtle and nuanced as it is atmospheric and I can’t wait to give it the attention it rightfully deserves away from a busy games show floor.
Velocity 2X was my GOTY in 2014. Not just ‘indie game of the year’, I mean full “Game of The Year”. In a year when we saw the release of Destiny and Alien: Isolation, Monument Valley and Wolfenstein: New Order, it was a shmup from a small Brighton based studio that stood out as the single best gaming experience I’d had that year. It’s really that good. Combining solid scrolling shmup action, short, sharp teleporting and large, world retreading puzzles with slick 2D twitch platforming, all set to a soundtrack that’s still in regular rotation on my playlists, it’s a truly special game to me. Getting my hands on the Switch version at EGX (the version which Rossko recently reviewed) was like picking it up again like I did with the Vita back in ’14 and I urge you, if you’ve not flown with Kai Tana yet, do so now. It’s a game that does smart, new things from the start menu to the credits screen.
PC Building Simulator
I’ve never quite ‘got’ fawning over powerful PC’s. I’ve been a console only gamer for years because, honestly, I don’t know my ASUS from my arse. Sitting down to play PC Building Simulator at EGX though, I started to see a future where I finally ‘got’ it. While this game is obviously designed to cater to those who love to meddle under the cover of their PC’s, featuring a tonne of real world components and brand names I’ve actually heard of like Corsair, XPG and AMD, it was surprisingly approachable for a PC gaming novice like myself. In the game, the aim is to build up your own PC shop, initially diagnosing and fixing problems then working your way up to selling ultra-powerful boutique creations that you get to benchmark. It’s surprisingly fun, even for a console boi like myself, spurring my on to turn my real world ‘potato’ into a machine I could be proud of.
Written by Ross Keniston
Powerless was a game I didn’t know anything about before heading to EGX and I came away unable to think about much else. A text adventure mobile experience currently available on iOS, Powerless puts you right in the middle of a nationwide catastrophe as all the power has gone. You’re power..less. You see? Game titles, man. They’re genius.
As I sat down I had to take a psychological test before I was allowed to choose my character, something a videogame hadn’t done to me before. Intrigued, I powered through and found myself as a surgeon having to decide whether or not to either save my patient currently on the table or restore what little power I had left on life support machines. That classic ‘save one or save many’ conundrum dialed up to eleven, with terrific use of sound effects upping the ante ever more as I panicked over what to do. It’s a credit to the games writing that it makes you feel as involved as you do. There’s no visual clues to go on, it’s all in the text and the audio and I was sucked in immediately. The decisions you make will determine your final score, where you’re tested on your bravery and calm under pressure. I wanted to do better. I couldn’t believe how much this mobile game had grabbed me and I still haven’t quite shaken it off.
As mentioned, it’s now available on iOS and it’s coming to Android.