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EGX 2018 Indie Highlights EGX 2018 Indie Highlights


Colourful Characters and Murder Mysteries — Indie Highlights at EGX 2018



Plenty of amazing and creative independent projects were on display this year at EGX 2018, and OnlySP has compiled a short list of some of the best indie titles on the exhibition floor.

3 Minutes to Midnight

Developer Scarecrow Studio created a colourful point-and-click adventure with over 50 quirky characters and a hundred gorgeously painted environments.

Each of the locations was hand painted in 8K by the same artist who worked on Revolution Games’s Broken Sword. Varying from vast deserts to bustling town streets, the game features plenty of unique sites to explore, all with distinctive characters and puzzles.

Players follow the adventures of amnesia sufferer Betty Anderson and Mayor Eliza Barrett as they uncover a mysterious doomsday plot threatening to wipe out the human race. Inspired by classic LucasArts games, 3 Minutes to Midnight will feature a comedy-infused story that explores darker elements as Betty and Eliza face off against creepy townsfolk, mobsters, and even the military.

The demo available at EGX took place part way through the story at a camp site called Crystaline Lake. As the name of the camp suggests, the game is full of hidden Easter eggs and allusions to spooky pop culture for players to discover. To avoid main story spoilers, the demo actually took place during a side mission, suggesting that other optional puzzles will be present for players to solve.

3 Minutes to Midnight follows the classic formula of investigating objects, combining seemingly random components, and questioning NPCs to uncover clues. The incredible 8K artwork also allows players to inspect items and characters close up without losing any of quality during puzzles.

The project is set to be released in mid-2019 for Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. The game will also have unique rewards set in place for backers on Kickstarter.

Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath

Originally released on the Xbox in 2005, Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath was a huge hit with fans despite being vastly different from the other Oddworld games.

In 2010, the strange shooter received a HD remake for PC and PlayStation 3, with a Wii U port supposedly in the works. Eight years later, the team at Oddworld Incorporated has decided to create a new HD version of the game for the Nintendo Switch. What makes the port more impressive than a simple HD remake is the team’s ambition to incorporate the Switch’s motion controls into the titles aiming mechanics. Sadly, these controls were not available during the EGX demo as the current build is still extremely early in development.

As it stands, the pre-alpha demo was conducted to see if the game would run on the handheld console. The development for the Switch port began around April/May of 2018 and, despite being only five weeks in main production, the game looks fairly impressive for the most part. The main issues with the project at the moment is the menu system and occasional tutorial video, which are both directly ported from the Xbox version of the game, causing a rather jarring drop in quality; however the content from the previous build will later be taken out and replaced with an improved menu system.

Unfortunately, the Nintendo Switch port has no release date, but the team is working hard for a “sooner, rather than later” reveal. Oddworld Incorporated has stated that the game will not cost the same as a full triple-A title, but the exact price is still yet to be determined.

Genesis Alpha One

Fresh from the creative minds at Radiation Blue and publishers Team17, Genesis Alpha One is a sci-fi adventure that blends shipbuilding with first-person action.

Set in the near future, Genesis Alpha One follows the journey of a Genesis starship crew sent out to find a new home for humanity’s DNA. Players will be able to fully customise and create their own starship complete with crew quarters, defences, life support systems, and various ecological chambers that make up the game’s complex ecosystem. Seemingly unlimited additions can be made to the ship, essentially creating a flying fortress providing the player gathers enough resources. Such a large vessel will need staff, however, which is where Genesis Alpha One stands out from the crowd. Players will need to create cloning facilities on board their ships in order to create the necessary power to run the expanding craft.

There are a variety of planets ready for the crew to explore in order to collect resources. Players can even uncover alien species and harvest their DNA to splice with the clones to create interesting and strange new additions to the crew. These new humanoid hybrids will come with unique abilities and affinities that will assist in upgrading and maintaining the ship. Not all alien encounters will be profitable, as plenty of hostile creatures are waiting to demolish any unprepared spacecraft.

Should one of the crew member’s particular abilities become desirable, they too can be cloned. Cloning the right members will be key as the clones also act as the player’s lives. If the captain should perish due to the perils of outer space, a new clone will be selected to take their place; destroying all clones results in a currently unrevealed scenario

The game is set for release in 2019 for PlayStation 4, PC, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One.

Small Talk

Small Talk is an odd yet creative walking simulator by indie developers Pale Room, filled with colourful and bizarre characters.

The doomsday clock is ticking and the end of the world is slowly approaching; what better way to wait out the inevitable than by having a party and trying not to think about it. Once entering the party, the player character will be asked to avoid talking about the world ending, but still try to mingle with the other guests. During the story, the player will come in contact with various uniquely hand-drawn personalities each with their own backstory and views on current events.

Each individual can be approached, with each conversation revealing a different outlook on life and the impending doom. After a few dialogue options, the player can explore an aspect of the NPC’s life by entering their mind and visiting a particular memory. After exploring a character’s memory, the player will be given an item as a trinket that represents the NPC’s fondest moment. With dozens of party-goers available, discovering what will happens once all items have been collected will be interesting. While the gameplay feels very repetitive, the interactions and character designs make for an intriguing experience.

For players wanting a casual yet thought-provoking experience, Small Talk will be coming soon to PC, Mac, and Linux, and is already the winner of several indie gaming awards.

Murder Mystery Machine

Murder Mystery Machine is a rather clever point-and-click detective game that feels like a highly-stylised L.A Noire.

The project is still in the early stages of development but already feels polished with a vibrant art style that brings the settings and environments to life. Players will need to explore every nook and cranny in order to build a case. Several pieces of interest are scattered around the location, and can be inspected or collected in order to be referred to later.

Each case will feature several people of interest, whether they be suspects or witnesses to the crime. Once the player has compiled a sufficient amount of clues, they can begin questioning and interrogating other characters. When questioning NPCs, players are presented with different dialogue options depending on what items or information has been gathered. New information or clues can also be gained by selecting the correct piece of evidence during conversations; be wary, however, as some characters may not always have the player’s best interest in mind and will try to shift blame onto another suspect.

EGX only allowed time for a brief demonstration of the game, but the eye-popping art style and interesting case-building mechanics were enough to secure a spot on this highlight list. Murder Mystery Machine currently has no release date, but an update is coming soon to the official website that will hopefully give followers an insight.

E3 2019

Dying Light 2 Developer Techland’s Leap of Faith is Paying Off



Dying Light 2

Dying Light 2 is an ambitious sequel, especially when compared to its predecessor. The awkward marriage between parkour and zombies may have been little more than a gimmick the first time around, but now Techland is taking risks thanks to a newfound faith in its creative ideas. Techland’s sequel is crafting a realized, living world that can see drastic changes at every story beat and the changes to parkour are only the icing on the cake. Sometimes, forgetting Dying Light 2 falls into a sub-genre as beaten-to-death as zombies is easy, thanks to gameplay that is so damn impressive.

During E3 2019, OnlySP was invited to take a hands-off, private look at the game’s latest demo build which featured nearly an hour of story content. Along with the expected newly fleshed out parkour systems, the demo gave a peek into a world that can be completely melded by a player’s decisions and actions.

The demo opens up with the series’s new protagonist, Aiden Caldwell, as he struggles with fighting the zombie infection. After pulling himself together, the demo gives a solid look into dialogue and interactions with NPCs. For the most part, the dialogue options are staying simplistic, likely so players have a clear idea as to what choices they will be making. Throughout the presentation, Techland ensured that the choices made in Dying Light 2 have deep, interconnecting effects on the world and narrative. With that idea in mind, keeping dialogue options to only two choices seems like a smart call for now.

Dying Light 2

Caldwell heads into a bar where he meets up with some of his friends and presumed clan mates to discuss their group’s plan of action to get water for their people. Though the acting and dialogue is only a slight step up from the previous title, this bar scene is the first step into a fully-realized, lived-in world. Upon exiting the building, the demo showcased rooftops littered with friendly NPCs as far as the eye can see. These people are building on pre-existing structures, cleaning, cooking, and even farming on rooftops in many cases. Dying Light 2 is not just full of hazardous brain-deads: the game is populated with living, breathing people that are all just trying to rebuild.

Before Caldwell travels too far out into the world, a rival faction shows up and starts stirring up trouble on the streets below. In an instant, chaos ensues, and the rival faction attacks a group of Caldwell’s allies. Caldwell leaps from the rooftop and lands on a member of the enemy faction to break his fall, leading to the first combat sequence.

With one exception, the combat looks to be mostly the same as it was in the first Dying Light. Combat in the original title was by no means bad, just a little uninspired. The exception, however, is the new beefed up modding system. During this first fight, Caldwell initiates an electricity amplifier to send bolts of lightning through enemies. Later, after the player runs out of ammo for their gun, a button can be pressed to flip the rifle around in order to use it as a melee weapon.

Dying Light 2

Back to the first fight, Caldwell is given the choice to help his wounded friend or pursue the enemy truck that got away in the hope of finding fresh water. Of course, Caldwell begins a near 15-minute romp over rooftops to cut off the escaping vehicle. Along with parkour systems that fit the architecture unique to Dying Light 2’s city, Caldwell has been given some new tools. First, a grappling hook can be used to swing from nearly any ceiling or rooftop, and a paraglider for slow descents to the infested streets below. As an added bonus for those paranoid of taking fall damage, Caldwell can also tackle zombies through windows and over ledges and use them to break his fall, nullifying any potential fall damage. In general, quality of life changes to the game’s movement options can be found across the board.

By the time Caldwell tracks the vehicle down to the enemy headquarters at a riverside plant, the ripples of past decisions start to make waves. The friend from earlier has died and he could have been saved. Angered, Caldwell sneaks into the building to confront the faction leader, the Colonel. The Colonel gives the player two options: Fight back to open floodgates that could bring fresh water to the city or heed the Colonel’s warnings that Caldwell’s so-called friends could be working in a plot against him. Ultimately, the demo opts to turn open the floodgates. What happens next bodes well for Dying Light 2, assuming the team can consistently pull off such a feat.

Dying Light 2

Opening the floodgates saves the player’s people from dehydration and certain death, but also reveals a horrible secret. The floodgates had been keeping a lower level of the city completely submerged, which is now free for the player to openly explore. Within the sunken city, though, is a new breed of zombie that will inevitably wreak havoc now that it has been set free.

Seeing the water level lower to reveal and entire area with its own missions and quests simply because of a split decision was staggering. Players who make that same decision will have fundamentally changed their Dying Light 2 experience. If Techland is committed enough, the end product could see Quantic Dream-levels of branching story paths.

Considering the wide story is coupled with tight-looking gameplay, Dying Light 2 is posed to be a strong contender at next year’s award shows. Even if the overall narrative in the launch product leaves something to be desired, Techland may finally put the same plans so many others have poorly executed into action. Time will tell if the game is set to redefine the zombie sub-genre like it so clearly aims to do.

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