The experimental and terrifying Those Who Remain is an independent project perfect for fans of adventure horror titles such as Amnesia, Outlast, and Among the Sleep. The game balances intricate puzzles, hauntingly atmospheric environments, and gruesome enemies to deliver a fresh take on the horror genre. During EGX 2018, OnlySP had the chance to sit down with the Those Who Remain developer, Camel 101, for an extensive demo of the opening moments of the game. Beware minor spoilers for the main story can be found in this preview.
The game starts with the troubled protagonist, Edward, searching for his ex-partner Diana. Following a recent downward spiral in Edward’s life, he decided to revisit Diana only to find that she has gone missing from the motel room they had arranged to meet at. It quickly becomes apparent that something strange is going on as the entire area appears abandoned save for a few unknown individuals. As the player explores the area, they learn the first and most important rule of the game: stay in the light. Using street lamps and creating light sources is Edward’s main means of survival as ghostly figures with glowing eyes lurk in any and all dark spaces, ready to instantly kill anyone that wander too far into the darkness.
Camel 101 always intended on making a great horror tale that had players using light sources to stay alive. Later during the development, producer Ricardo Cesteiro became inspired to use demons after doing extensive research into religious depictions of devils and other wicked beasts. Cesteiro also revealed that he was heavily influenced by the works of Stephen King and David Lynch, particularly the concepts of The Mist and Twin Peaks.
Those Who Remain is filled with clever puzzles designed to advance the player in a natural way. For example, at one point Edward must navigate an abandoned gas station in order to light up his nearby surroundings and provide power a car waiting outside in order to safely evade his ethereal enemies. This brings in the next major difference in Those Who Remain, as players will have to tackle not one but two dimensions each with their own and often linked puzzles. The portals to the other world manifest on the form of glowing doorways present within the “real world.” Once in the other world, the player can see a twisted version of reality much like the Upside Down from the popular show Stranger Things. Altering objects or pieces of the environment in each reality will directly affect the other’s reality, an example of this is when the player tries to access the car door only to find that it is wedged shut, once finding said car in the alternate dimension it becomes apparent that the car is actually covered in thick vines.
As previously mentioned, the glowing enemies that lurk in the shadows will attack the player for getting too close but plenty of other haunting creatures exist that can creep up on Edward. During the demo, the player also encountered one of the other six enemy types that we nicknamed the “spotlight demon,” a grotesque monster made up of misshapen limbs held together by car parts and pieces of roadside equipment. As opposed to the regular enemies, the spotlight demon can walk around in the light and features a headlight for a face which, should the player wonder in front of, will trigger the monster to chase down Edward. Each design for the enemies comes with a unique backstory that is just as harrowing as the monster itself. In the case of the spotlight demon, the reason for car parts mixed with human limbs is due to a horrific car accident where those unlucky casualties are locked in perpetual terror. These amazing yet troubling designs were created by Boris Raguza and create a sense of pity for the creatures despite their deadly intent to hunt the player.
As well as regular enemy types, the player will also face several boss encounters requiring evasion in the form of stealth or fleeing from the imposing doom. The use of stealth is important for survival which brings on the only complaint so far with the project which is the lack of a crouch mechanic. Camel 101 has stated that a crouch feature could be added if players demand it, and much could change before the game’s release. While Those Who Remain requires some tweaking, the current build is playable from start to finish, however, the puzzles are subject to change before release.
During each playthrough, the player will be required to make difficult decisions that will ultimately affect the games ending. Camel 101 describes the endings as “good, bad, and much worse” meaning players will need to pay particularly close attention to each choice and risk suffering the consequences.
Despite such a small team working across the globe on the project, Those Who Remain is shaping up to be an indie classic for the horror genre. The title will release in 2019 for PC, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One.
Co-op Gaming Shines at EGX Rezzed With We Were Here Together, Phogs!, and Cake Bash
Over the years, jolly co-op gaming has been in decline, especially from AAA developers. Several recent games have been standouts, such as A Way Out, Strange Brigade, and the Far Cry series, though the latest pioneers of co-op gaming will likely come from the indie community.
While exploring EGX Rezzed, the atmosphere was filled with a sense of mutual enjoyment as gamers came together to play a plethora of team-building games. Among these games were some of my personal highlights including We Were Here Together, Cake Bash, and Phogs!
We Were Here Together
We Were Here Together is the latest co-op adventure puzzle game by independent studio Total Mayhem Games.
The title continues on from two previously released projects, We Were Here and We Were Here Too, with the former available on Steam for free. Set amidst a frozen landscape, the first two games centred on exploring a mysterious castle while solving puzzles as part of a two-person team. Players were separated throughout the playthrough until the final moments, which featured a touching scene where the puzzling pals would eventually meet to conquer the remaining conundrums.
We Were Here Together immediately shakes things up by starting the game with both players working together in the same environment. The EGX demo starts off outside of the castle grounds in an expedition outpost where two explorers suddenly receive a distress call from somewhere in the frozen wastes. Players must work together to decipher an incoming transmission and correctly pinpoint the distress beacon.
The location itself is the answer to a series of puzzles, requiring both people to work together. A great example of teamwork is one player adjusting an outside satellite while the other stays inside to alter the radio’s frequency until a voice can be heard. This is where the creative ingenuity from the developers comes into play as solutions are different for each playthrough. The puzzles themselves remain the same, but, by using the same example as before, the voice may only be heard on a different frequency. Similar situations where the outcome changes include changing co-ordinates and figuring out which key may fit a particular door.
Roughly one-third of the game will be set in a shared environment while latter parts will take place back inside the castle in a traditional, separated format. Two paths are laid out later for the players to choose between, providing avenues for replayability. The changing solutions also add to the replay value as it prevents veteran gamers from going back and telling their new partner the answers.
The moments where players are physically apart highlight one of the unique features of the game: the radios. Both characters are equipped with walkie-talkies so players can communicate with each other. Radios are a brilliant immersion tool as the mechanic works exactly as a two-way radio should, with the wielder having to hold down a button to speak and release to hear the other. The radio mechanic is optional, though, as players can simply use a third-party chat. However, the added difficulty and roleplaying add an extra element to an already rather tricky title.
We Were Here Together is a fun shared experience that proves a challenge for even the most seasoned puzzle solvers. The release date and price of the project are unknown at present, but the game will be available on Steam.
During EGX Rezzed 2019, the Coatsink team had a glorious display full of plush animals, colourful scenery, and even a rather large and comfortable dog bed.
I was lucky enough to go hands-on with Phogs! and play a few rounds of Cake Bash with PR and Events Manager Jack Sanderson. Both games proved to be a real treat to participants, with Cake Bash serving a much-needed helping of raucous fun in a series of mini-games.
Not unlike many beloved party games—such as Mario Party—Cake Bash is an up-to-four-player competitive game featuring several rounds of friendship-ending challenges. The design of the title instantly stands out with an adorable and vivid visual style that brings a certain charm to the characters and settings.
Before each round, players choose a character from a selection of delicious desserts as their combatant. During the demo, only two game modes were available, the first of which required players to gather falling pieces of fruit and throw them inside a giant meringue. A single point is awarded for successfully tossing a piece of fruit into the bowl. However, a rare golden fruit, worth ten points, will appear every so often. Competitors must be wary of descending fiery boulders that can briefly daze any dessert. These boulders can also be picked up and lobbed at rivals. Not only can enemies launch these rocks at one another, but they can also punch and beat each other to force someone to drop their fruit.
The second mode available was a race to gather the most jellies to become the tastiest treat. Player avatars run around an arena, gathering multi-coloured jelly beans to cover their chosen dessert, and the sweet with the most treats at the end wins. While the first game mode mainly had the individual focusing on their own points, this round directly pits people against each other as limited jellies can be found, and players can steal them by whacking opponents.
While the game looks stunning, gamers will have to wait until 2020 to get their hands on Cake Bash. The late release has allowed for an increase in scope and additional modes for players to sink their teeth into.
The other title playable at the event was an equally adorable project called Phogs! The game can be played solo or with a friend, as the player controls one or both halves of a two-headed dog. The two heads can be moved independently and are able to stretch, bark, and bite.
Phogs! is set in a dream-like environment where the ground is made up of soft duvet sets and pillows, while the skies are filled with tranquil clouds gently floating in the distance. The level designs are built in a way that eases the player into the various mechanics, offering something new or demonstrating different ways to solve puzzles. Early enigmas would require both sides of the dog to work in unison to pull an object or levers simultaneously. Later levels would add a glowing orb that can be used to remove dark shadowy walls or illuminate pathways to walk across. Even the orbs are based around the idea of working as a team as one side of the dog bites onto the light ball with the other opening their mouth to act as a torch.
The charming personality of the game really shines in the various character designs and their functions within the levels. One of the final missions of the demo featured a sleeping giant that dreamed of bridges in floating thought bubbles. Players could then use the camera perspective to align the dream bridge with a section of a missing platform to cross. Other cutesy critters include wailing alarm clocks that can disturb the giants, preventing them from dreaming up a way to progress. The clocks can be led to nearby beds where they will quickly start to drift off and stop ringing.
Despite the levels being fairly linear, additional tasks can be completed to gain collectable dog biscuits. These tasks often require the dog to present characters with a particular item, for example, bringing a storybook to an owl.
The whole experience with Coatsink was a delight, both games offering a mix of controller-clenching competition and jolly cooperation. Like Cake Bash, Phogs! will also be arriving in 2020 on PC, PlayStation 4, Switch, and Xbox One.
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