EGX 2021 once again proved to be a gold mine for indie game creativity. We take a look at 12 of our favourites from the show floor.
While most of the bigger publishers declined to attend EGX 2021, the Rezzed zone and Leftfield Collection were once again a highlight of the gaming expo. Packed with the unbridled creativity and innovation that indie games are known for, there was something for everyone in these zones. Whether you wanted retro inspired racers, emotional narrative adventures or experimental, bleeding-edge game design, you could find all of that and a whole lot more in the EGX 2021 Rezzed Zone and Leftfield collection. It’s where Greg Hicks and I spent most of our time at the event and we’ve decided to round up a dozen of out favourite indie games from EGX 2021. Without further ado, here’s 12 exciting indie games from EGX 2021 to keep your eye on…
You Suck At Parking by Happy Volcano
Ask Greg what his favourite game from EGX 2021 is and there’s no doubt he’ll say “You Suck At Parking” by Happy Volcano. He visited the game’s section in the Leftfield Collection on every day that we were at the event. Unlike most driving games, the aim of You Suck At Parking is to stop. You’re challenged to drive, drift, jump and dodge your car from the starting position to car parking spots dotted around each level. Here you’ve got to park the car in the box. The kicker is that you only get one chance to stop. Once your vehicle is stationary, it parks and you’re unable to get it moving again. This is much trickier than it sounds and makes for some devilish fun. As you progress through the game, you’ll have to deal with an ever more complex lattice of level elements like jump pads, speed boosts, ramps, mines, a limit of fuel and much more. Of all the indie games we played at EGX 2021, it feels like You Suck At Parking has the biggest chance of becoming a huge household name. It’s a unique concept but one that’s immediately intuitive, very fun to play and about as charming as a box of kittens.
Model Builder by Moonlit
I love making models, whether its for a table top game or scale models of real world vehicles. It’s almost therapeutic to create a model plane or ship and paint it up. I have to admit that I’m just really bad at it though. I’m usually too liberal with paints and glue or end up breaking something. When I saw Model Builder at EGX 2021, a simulator from Moonlit that lets you make virtual models, it felt like my prayers had been answered. The toolkit in this game is incredible – you use a blade to cut the model pieces from their housing, click it all together and then paint them up however you see fit. Make a mistake and you can easy rectify it too (huzza!). In my demo with this game I made a a very simple Spitfire model in just a few minutes and then painted it hot pink and gold. In the finished game, there’s to be a story mode which explores the memories of a prop and model creator, inspired by the studio lead at Moonlit. Model Builder is aiming to release soon so make sure to give it a wishlist over on Steam.
Conway: Disappearance At Dahlia View by White Paper Games
White Paper Games have made a name for themselves by making very interesting and unique story driven games like Ether One and The Occupation. Their next title, Conway: Disappearance At Dahlia View, might be their most impressive. Set in 1950’s England, the game centres on a mysterious disappearance – 8-year-old Charlotte May was taken from her home in Dahlia View. The game puts you in the shoes of wheelchair bound and retired detective Robert Conway who launches his own investigation into Charlotte May’s disappearance. The start of the EGX 2021 demo for Conway felt an interesting twist on Hitchcock’s Rear Window as Conway observed his neighbours doing something shifty. Soon, the game shifted to a more involved experience and it showed an immense amount of narrative potential. We won’t have to wait long to see whether that potential has been realised because Conway: Disappearance At Dahlia View by White Paper Games is launching on PC via Steam and consoles on November 2nd.
Inua – A Story in Ice and Time by The Pixel Hunt/IKO/ARTE France
🧊⌛Inua – A Story in Ice and Time.— Inua – A Story in Ice and Time (@inuagame) June 10, 2021
A narrative mystical adventure about 3 protagonists with intertwined fates, living decades apart in the Great North.
Wishlist now on Steam -> https://t.co/pTpuvsE5B2#indiedev #indiegame #gamedev #narrative pic.twitter.com/SrogA7NW9e
Of everything I played at EGX 2021, I think I’m most intrigued by Inua – A Story In Ice and Time. A point and click adventure set across three different time periods, Inua tells the story of a trio of protagonists and the way that their fates intertwine and intersect. As a player, you play as a godlike Polar Bear that uses items of interesting in virtual dioramas to inspire the thoughts of the characters in each time zone. While there’s supernatural aspects at play in Inua, the core of the game is based on real world events: the ill-fated Franklin Expedition, a British mission in the 19th century set to explore the then unknown Arctic. The demo at EGX was really intuitive and left me wanting more, so I’ll certainly be jumping in when Inua – A Story In Ice and Time launches on PC via Steam, Mac and mobile devices soon.
Stuffed by Waving Bear Studio
Stuffed was pitched to me as “Call of Duty Zombies, but it’s toys”. That’s exactly what the demo was and it was hella-fun. You play as a teddy bear that’s protecting their owner’s dreams by fighting off waves of creepy gnomes, haunted toys and more. Weapons in the game look cobbled together from household objects but they’re as efficient at taking out waves of shuffling foes as an M16. As you defeat waves of enemies, you can buy new weapons, unlock new rooms and more. As a father to 5 gamers, 3 of which regularly ask to play Call of Duty zombies despite being 8+ years too young, Stuffed might be a really great alternative for parents. It’s fast and thrilling but it’s thematically fun for kids to play and likely wont cause any nightmares. Stuffed is hitting PC Early Access soon.
Rallyallyally by Hairyheart Games
Lordy, Rallyallyally is fun. A battle royale-esque multiplayer racing game, this title is fresh and unique but is also really easy to understand. In an eliminator style match, each round of Rallyallyally begins with one racer being chosen as a leader. This person is tasked with setting the way forward by unfurling a road ahead like a carpet across an open world area. This player gets to decide the end point of the round by driving to a finish point before a round timer ends while everyone else’s job is to keep up with them. The slowest racer is eliminated after each round until the last racer is standing. There’s real potential in Rallyallyally to be an excellent party game because, even with 3 complete strangers, I had an absolute blast playing this game. Check it out when it launches on PC and mobile platforms.
Silt by Spiral Circus
To put it in its simplest form. Silt is “Limbo, but underwater”, but to be so reductive would be to understate some pretty interest aspects that this game has. An exploration game set in a surreal oceanic void, you play as a diver who finds themselves trapped in a deadly underwater abyss. In order to move forward, the diver can use its power to possess the other forms of life it meets. Need to free yourself from some chains or make your way through a vine covered passage? Reach out with a creepy tentacle of light and possess a piranha like animal which can chew through the obstacles. Silt is thick with atmosphere and despite the fact that I got stuck in the demo – I couldn’t make it past this massive animal that kept swimming up and eating me – I’m very much looking forward to playing this game when it launches on PC via Steam and consoles in 2022.
Cheftastic!: Buffet Blast by Not A Goose
Cheftastic is the perfect example of a game that doesn’t try to evolve a genre but it does an excellent job in perfecting one. A room based twin-stick shooter, this game is akin to a Binding of Isaac or Dead End Job, you play as a chef who’s fighting through mutated vegtables. It’s tight, tense and really fun to play. Boasting more than 70 different arenas to do battle in, an arsenal of weapons and tools to use and leaderboards to tackle, Cheftastic will please genre enthusiasts when it launches on PC via Steam in Feb, 2022.
Best Month Ever! by Warsaw Film School
When you read the synopsis of Best Month Ever, it sounds like something you’d read has been nominated for an Oscar. “Life is hard for Louise, a single mom, struggling to make ends meet every day, yet things can worsen. So once she finds out that she’s terminally ill and doesn’t have much time left to secure growing-up son Mitch’s future, she decides to hit the road and spend this one last month together“. I’m not crying – you are. I didn’t get much time with this game at EGX and when I did, it was mid way through the demo. What I did play though dealt with some very mature topics in an insightful and powerful way. My short time with Best Month Ever left an impression and I’m very much looking forward to this game hurting my soul when it launches soon on PC via Steam and consoles.
Die After Sunset by Playstark Games
From a distance, Die After Sunset looks a whole lot like Fortnite. The art style is similar, as is the UI and the third person camera angle. The way that the game plays though is more akin to a single player version of Killzone’s Warzone mode than a battle royale. A rogue-lite shooter, Die After Sunset sets you in an open level with a timer. This counts down and when it hits zero, the final boss of the area will appear. It’s the players aim to venture about this open world zone, complete side-activities and collect better loot and upgrades to make the best build possible in order to stand a chance against the final boss. During my time with the EGX 2021 demo, I fought off waves of squid enemies, protected treasure from waves of foes and completed a light bending mirror puzzle. All of it was fun to do. While I didn’t get to see it during my time with the demo, there’s also going to be an interesting light mechanic in Die After Sunset that makes the Murkor invaders more deadly after the sun goes down. Die After Sunset is launching into Early Access on PC via Steam soon.
Endlight by Bigpants
When I first added Endlight to this list, I wasn’t sure I’d ever have the words to describe it. It’s a shifting, chaotic kaleidoscope of shapes and sound that I believe you experience rather than simply play. While interacting with it, I genuinely said the word “woah” several times, like I was doing my best Keanu Reeve impression. I described it to a friend as “Manifold Garden on acid” because it kind of defies conventional definition. The general aim is to send the object in the centre of the screen through hoops as you move through the level which is relatively easy to do, but the screen can get so chaotic and busy that the real “game” is trying to read and make sense of the geometric patterns and move through them. I don’t want to spoil it but there’s some smart meta commentary on what makes a game between the traditional levels too. Endlight reminds me of the best of the best in the demoscene in all the right ways and I’m quite excited to get my hands on the finished product when it launches in Nov 2021 on PC via Steam.
Paper Trail by Newfangeled Games
Evolving mechanics that first appeared in games like A Fold Apart and Carto, Paper Trail is an innovative exploration game from Newfangled Games that utilises paper folding as part of its traversal. In order to cross gaps and move through the game, the player will have to fold in the corners of the paper based levels to revel what’s on the other side. By lining up the content on the underside of the paper with what’s on the front, you can use it as a seamless way forward. The team working on this game are some of the most talented developers in the industry today, having worked on the likes of Hue, Mush and Qube between them, all of which are award winning. The quality of the team making this game really shined through in the EGX 2021 demo. You can follow development of Paper Trail by following Newfangled Games on Twitter.
Did you have a favourite indie game from EGX 2021 that we’ve not covered? Head to the comments section and let us know.
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