Redbrick Gaming went adventuring at EGX this year. Here’s our top picks for the weekend – from long-awaited series to little-known indies
The Redbrick Gaming team descended upon EGX like a bunch of wild monsters, grabbing any game in sight and rabidly devouring any demo content that came our way. Not really. EGX was a lovely experience for us – a mix of trying out soon-to-come games, rediscovering our childhoods, listening to some talks from some great industry people, and meeting some absolutely delightful folks. Sometimes games just stand out, though. Here are Redbrick Gaming’s top picks at EGX 2018.
James Law – Hypnospace Outlaw
The Leftfield Collection is pretty damn cool. Curated by Feral Vector founder David Hayward, it showcases the more ‘out there’ offerings from the indie games scene. One that caught my eye more than everything else at EGX, though, was Hypnospace Outlaw. This game takes place in a fictional desktop computer setting, simulating the internet in 1999. Filled with ridiculous references, nostalgia, and the kind of absurdist humour you’ll quickly warm to if you let yourself.
I let myself. I got sucked in by the quirky soundtrack, ridiculous characters and enticing quest that had me in the shoes of an internet cop, trying to stop crimes and busting people for bullying. Soon enough, just like Real Online Life, you’re burrowing down various rabbit holes, seeking out hidden parts of the site in a Her Story-esque search for the underlying goings-on. When I finished the demo, I realised I’d been there for over two hours. I didn’t get bored like I normally would with a narrative game based on my own skills of search and deduction (they’re not very good). Instead, Hypnospace Outlaw challenged me to keep searching for the deeper secrets of the online space the game inhabits, whilst keeping me chuckling along to the silly songs and nonsensical personalities I ran into.
That was just the demo too. I’m excited to see what the development team have in store for the full release, and I’ll absolutely be one of the first to check it out.
Imogen Mellor – Given Time
This may be cheating. Given Time isn’t exactly a game in itself. It’s part of a bigger game, Dreams which is coming out on the Playstation, some time in the ‘future’. Brought to you Media Molecule (those guys who made the delightful Little Big Planet), Dreams plans on using the popular level building that LBP got to be known for, as a game in itself. A game where you can make games. Pretty original huh? Given Time is one such of those games. If you play it and ‘get it’ as it were, it would maybe only take you 10-15 minutes. It’s a small but satisfying experience and just a text based game. You as a player, enter a party. You see the normal rowdy things like people taking shots, a beer being spilled, people drunkenly kissing, but there is something different. Something that shouldn’t be there. And that’s what you need to investigate.
I would tell you more but really if you can ever play Given Time, then you should. Play it without any more information or clues given to you. I commend it’s originality, it’s music, and the creator Liam De Valmency, for such an independent experience. I haven’t stopped talking or thinking about it since EGX, and I don’t think I will for a long time yet.
Galen Reich – The Bradwell Conspiracy
The Bradwell Conspiracy is a narrative-driven adventure game laced with puzzles and brought into this world by A Brave Plan and Bossa Studios. Set in 2026 The Bradwell Conspiracy begins with the player coming to consciousness alone inside the Bradwell family’s Stonehenge museum and research facility which has been wracked by a devastating explosion of an unknown cause. As you try to get your bearings and discover a way out of the ruined facility you come across another survivor, Amber, who is trapped in a separate part of the complex. Through the aid of augmented reality glasses, you must work with Amber to solve the puzzles of the building to escape and attempt to unravel the hidden secrets of the Bradwell family’s legacy.
The game is reminiscent of The Witness, Portal, and Firewatch with clever puzzles, engaging dialogue, layers of mystery, and a well-designed aesthetic environment that is sure to leave you wanting more. There’s no official word on a release date yet, but the developers said that they are applying the finishing touches at the moment and that it would be released for PC very soon (with other platform releases down the line). So if you’re looking for a story-rich adventure that’s ripe with puzzles and intrigue, keep your eyes peeled for The Bradwell Conspiracy.
Imogen Claire – Life Is Strange 2
‘I wasn’t that interested in seeing Life is Strange 2 at EGX. Life is Strange 1 was an affecting and unique lens on teenage girlhood, but Before the Storm wobbled in orbit of surrounding controversy and hollow mechanics. Appearances suggested that their successor couldn’t have been further from Blackwell High and its endearingly plasticky cast, however leaving the demo I couldn’t contain my excitement and trepidation for the Diaz brothers’ story.
The Diaz family live in a sprawling yet hazy suburb set in the Pacific Northwest. Esteban Diaz is a mechanic, setting aside time on fixing up a car for his eldest son Sean to take to prom. Sean’s degree of acerbic backchat and rebellion is dependent on player choice during his dialogue and exploration. Though loving, he does struggle with his relationship to his hyper-imaginative younger brother Daniel. I was struck by the graphical and technical improvements – conversations feel more naturalistic, malleable and engaging, and animations are expressive on detailed but stylised models. There’s still a twinge of (in)famous awkwardness to interactions that is the metaphorical Marmite of Life is Strange, which may disengage those new players. Lastly, I’m incredibly glad DONTNOD kept and combined the series’ soft, light palettes and storybook aesthetic with a serious take on the realities of contemporary America for visible minorities.
No time travel is something I actually welcomed. The choices split the screen into two halves, a thematic decision that clarifies the finality of these decisions compared to Max’s abilities, and emphasises Sean and Daniel’s central dynamic. I think it would have been highly questionable to use a time travel mechanic, as if the boys had only spoken in the ‘right’ way in the ‘right’ sequence with the ‘right’ items, they may have avoided consequence. This would have reduced the socio-political complexities of these ‘fictional’ situations into a fallacy, unavoidably parodying the policing of marginalised bodies that hardly ever get a second, third, fourth chance. If Life is Strange 2 wishes to represent the challenges facing a Mexican immigrant family as faithfully as is possible, then this was a commendable decision, rather than bowing to seek continuity with Life is Strange 1.
So time travel may be out but supernatural phenomena is in, because if popular tropes have taught us anything about that corner of the world, it’s that every day is Freaky Friday over there. Suffice to say, my expectations were shattered by the shockwave of an ending – or perhaps more aptly put, a beginning – that truly gripped me. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity of playing Life is Strange 2.’
Alex Green – Kingdom Hearts III
I waited for an hour in the queue for Kingdom Hearts III, as someone who hadn’t played a Kingdom Hearts game before, and the wait was so worth it!
The demo at EGX featured two levels, a huge battle against a giant rock monster in the Hercules universe and battled in toy mechs in the Toy Story universe. Both were bags of fun, with the obvious Disney charm rubbing off on me. I played with glee at the tight combat mechanics that feel old school with a modern twist, and loved fighting with Buzz Lightyear, Woody and friends.
What really amazed me about the game however was the variation. One level was a giant spectacle of a boss fight complete with shooting fireworks from a train at a rock monster and attacking its weak points (for massive damage), the other a smaller level featuring a quick romp through Andy’s bedroom and heading to the toy store to battle mechs!
At the end of the demo, I felt enthused to play the full release and I think that fans of the series will not be let down. The core mechanics look like that of games prior but updated with good craftsmanship. Consider me a new Kingdom Hearts fan.
Tom Martin – Kine
Kine was amongst one of the most popular indie games to be found at this year’s EGX. At its heart it is a music themed puzzle game in the same vein as Bloxorz – a game most commonly found on the screens of bored kids during IT lessons – however, at it’s whole it is a quirky and challenging story about three aspiring musicians – Euler, Quat, and Roo – desperately searching for their big break.
In order to achieve their dreams however the three must work together to escape a dark mindscape of what appear to be stacked boxes and miscellaneous musical equipment. The art style of the game very much seems to draw from the graphic-novel style, this gives a whimsical breath of life to the darker environment in which the puzzles take place; and a nice opportunity for appreciation during those moments where you might come unstuck on a certain puzzle.
This is something which – at least in my own experience – occurred regularly. The game is a challenging one, but satisfyingly so. The difficulty level ramps up as you progress through the game as you take control of more of the three robots at any one time, yet as the obstacles increase, the sense of accomplishment one feels for overcoming them increases in kind. The game has great countermeasures against getting stuck, the player is able to ‘undo’ or ‘redo’ moves on the fly, allowing a quick and effective way to retrace your steps and gather your thoughts, before returning to your original position.
On the game’s steam page, solo developer Gwen Grey asks: “Do you like music, or challenge, or quirky yellow robots?
“If you answered yes to any of the above questions then this game is for you! If you answered no to all of the questions above, then this game might not be for you. Also, you might not have a pulse. Please check your pulse.”
Well, it was truly a pleasure to get the opportunity to play this game at EGX, I can’t wait to fall even more in love with Kine’s quirky yellow robots and quirkier gameplay upon the game’s full release!