EGX Rezzed 2017 roundup
At the end of March I attended EGX Rezzed in London—the smaller more indie-focused brother of the main EGX event in Birmingham. In this post I’m going to talk about my experience there and some of the games I found interesting.
First, though, let’s talk about the venue. Rezzed was hosted at Tobacco Dock in London, and after the main event at the NEC in Birmingham this was a real breath of fresh air. Literally, the venue ground floor has an open central area with natural light and fresh air in abundance. This is very much appreciated because in the NEC it’s dark, noisy, and hot, with few options for getting away from it all other than leaving the event. At Tobacco Dock it was nice to be able to get away from the noise and cool down a bit just by stepping out of one of the games rooms. The basement level starts off feeling really cold on the first day, but you appreciate it with the games rooms becoming quite hot over the course of the event.
Food options were unfortunately limited within the venue, mainly consisting of a stand near the entrance selling the basics like water, soda, sandwiches, and burgers. There are more options within easy walking distance of the venue though, so it’s worth having a look around.
This is the part you’re interested in, right? While there are a few AAA titles that show up, EGX Rezzed is all about the indie games. Being there really reminds you what incredible variety there is in indie games. Walking around the event you see games with polished AAA-level visuals, games with complex backstories, games that are deeply personal to their creator, games lovingly calling back to classics from all generations, games taking a single mechanic and pushing it as far as they can go, and more. I’m always hesitant to do a “best of” summary for the games at an event like this because every game that was there deserved to be there, and there’s just so many different things. However, all experiences are subjective and inevitably some will have caught my eye more than others.
One game that caught my eye with its colourful graphics and fast action is Pawarumi (currently on Kickstarter). This is in the style of an arcade-style vertical-scrolling shoot ‘em up but with a twist in the form of weapon and enemy colour coding. Your weapons and the enemies are coloured red, green, or blue and all the weapons are always available. Taking red enemies as the example, shoot them with your green weapon and you cause double damage. Shoot them with your red weapon and you charge your shield, but they also fire twice as fast. Shoot them with your blue weapon and you charge your special attack. This adds a layer of tactics that makes the game enjoyable without over-complicating it. The visuals themselves look great, as you can see below.
Moving on, Wargroove and Minesheeper (below) are both games taking inspiration from well-known classics. Wargroove, by Chucklefish, is a modern take on Advance Wars, with very recognisable art style and mechanics but giving it a fantasy twist rather than the more familiar sci-fi. I’m a fan of the old Advance Wars titles, so Wargroove is a game that I could see myself enjoying. The game is bright and colourful and is definitely tongue-in-cheek in places. I’ll just mention that there’s a Doggo unit and leave it there.
Minesheeper, on the other hand, draws its core idea from Bomberman but adds a variety of weapons and powerups. I didn’t actually end up playing this game at Rezzed so I can’t go into much detail about it. From what I could see, though, it seems like it could be a fun game for the local co-op party game crowd. It supports up to 8 players, so prepare for things to get frantic.
Speaking of multiplayer games, Chalo Chalo supports 3 to 8 local players (using gamepads or smartphones) and is another one that could be a lot of fun at parties. It’s a racing game but with the focus moved away from speed and reaction times and more towards making the most efficient use of the terrain on the field. The visual style abstracts away a lot of the familiar dressing of a racing game. You play from an overhead view with the entire map visible, aiming to get from the left-hand side to a goal near the right-hand side. There are three types of terrain that affect speed, plus one that destroys the racer. The pace of the game is relatively slow, allowing you to make decisions about your route, but that also makes it more intense when two players are both almost at the goal. Definitely a game to bear in mind if you like local multiplayer.
Armoured Engines, by Bounder Games, puts you in control of a train travelling through hostile territory. It’s 2D (side view) with a clean and bright art style. Over the course of the story you gradually add carriages to your train that give you different weapons and defenses during the levels. Only the first two levels were playable at Rezzed, providing you first with a cannon firing bursts of three cannonballs with a relatively long recharge time in between and then with a coal hopper from which a crew member can throw lumps of coal for a more rapid, but weaker, attack. Only one carriage can be under direct control at a time. However, a layer of tactics is present even with those two carriages as the cannon will continue firing even when not selected, so you can point it and then move to something else. Future carriages will add more weapons as well as defensive abilities such as small-radius shields.
Interkosmos is a VR game that puts you in control of a capsule undergoing atmospheric re-entry. The cockpit is fully interactive in terms of the controls available and you are fed instructions from the ground to guide you through the process. I didn’t try this myself at Rezzed but the developer did mention to me that they didn’t expect anyone at the show to survive. One for the hardcore simulator crowd perhaps? This is definitely a game I’ll pick up when I eventually get my hands on a headset.
Spectrum (developer Twitter) is a first-person puzzle game that made me think of Portal, though the developer mentioned that there are newer builds that make it more distinct. Portal is certainly not a bad game to be compared to though. In Spectrum you have a handheld device that can swap a “stored” colour with special blocks around the levels. There are coloured shields blocking your progress that you can pass through if your device is holding the correct colour. The puzzle element comes in the form of setting up the blocks to have the right colours to let you reach the end of the level. Details at the event were limited, but more information should be available soon.
A special mention goes to Arcaea, which is a mobile rhythm game that I enjoyed playing but unfortunately hasn’t been stable on my own devices. It’s free, so if it works for you then it’s well worth a try.
So that’s the games that stuck in my mind from EGX Rezzed. Obviously there were plenty more that looked fun, but there is a serious risk of attempting to write about every single game at the show. If any of the games I’ve mentioned look like your sort of thing then try them out (if available), support the devs, and all that good stuff. I look forward to the next EGX event.
Tags: Armoured Engines, Bounder Games, Chalo Chalo, Chucklefish, Dan Smith, EGX, Interkosmos, Manufacture 43, Minesheeper, Ovid Works, Pawarumi, The Spectrum Retreat, Wargroove