As we recover from the trail of destruction left behind by E3's news conferences, it’s important to take a breath and remember not all the cool kids are hanging out in LA this week (and even if they are, they don’t always get heard). Here’s seven neat-looking games that have yet to be released, to whom we will gladly extend some of the industry’s overflowing hype.
"Oh no the world is an ice cube." That’s the premise of this survival management game from 11 Bit, the developers of This War Of Mine. The last remnants of humanity cling to life in a steam-powered city that looks like a gassy Midgar. Playing as the leader, you must “oversee your society, manage resources and make difficult, ambiguous choices”. That sounds like exactly the type of thing this crowd did with their last game. This time, the devs insist that the survival will be focused more on “empathy and decision-making”, rather than simple resource arithmetic. Although we’ve yet to see anything apart from the above frosty, bleak trailer.
Release date: “2017”
The cancellation of Dean Hall’s mega-ambitious space simulation Ion may not have come as a surprise, but it also might have resulted in a more manageable project with similar goals – a space sim inspired by the cult role-playing daftness of Space Station 13. It’s probably going to have plenty of crafting guff but RocketWerkz says it will also include “fully functioning atmospherics, science, power, engineering, medical, and agricultural systems”. But will it have a library? Will it have a bartender role? Only time will tell, but we do at least know you’ll need a doctor. “Perform surgeries, cure diseases and other medical aliments faced by other Stationeers,” says the Steam page. It’s going to be another early access child, despite Hall’s initial reluctance, but we remain hopeful that it could be a spiritual successor to one of the daftest role-playing games of recent years.
Release date: “2017”
There are two ways to describe this one.
1. A Superbrothers-styled 2D scrolling action game.
2. A game where you ride a giant floppy disk like a hoverboard.
I know which description I prefer, but it’s good to keep both in mind when looking at Studio Koba’s debut. In this retrophile game-within-a-game you play a 1980s teenager who gets sucked into the vidyagame reality to save its people from a group of technobandits called the Stallions and their shady jefe. Like many games heavy on the art side, it’s hard to see what’s game and what’s just gorgeous-looking animation. But we're told there will be sword fighting, vehicle sections and “time and dimension jump mechanics” - whatever that means.
Release date: Aiming for December 2018
And there are either very few or too many ways to describe this one. According to lead developer Jacob Jazz, it’s Monkey Island vs Twin Peaks vs Zelda Link’s Awakening DX vs Spongebob Squarepants. Which is, uh, an unusual mix of influences. In other words, it’s a JRPG that goes out of its way to be strange. The main character is a chain-smoking eggplant vampire who works for the FBI. There are cosmic laser chickens, there are flamingoes, there is “psychedelic Russian surf music”. Looking at the turn-based combat in the trailer, you have the choices of “Run”, “Taunt”, “Object”, or “Spit”. It’s also an episodic adventure, with the first part being released next month. Will it join the Space Funerals and Undertales of the JRPG avant-garde? Or is it trying too hard to be oddball? Don’t look at me, I just try to describe things.
Release date: First episode on July 6th, 2017
Toilet Man Goes To The Big City. This is a puzzle platformer featuring the little man-shaped figure from street signs and lavatory doors the world over, otherwise known as Helvetica Man. You move across signposts, searching for Helvetica Woman, shifting signs around and connecting them so that you can traverse the world. There’s also a demo from developers Skookum Arts out there with some simple introductory levels to give puzzlefolks a taste. It’s slated to come with a level editor, according to the stretch goals on its Kickstarter, plus another friend: Helvetica Cat.
Release date: June 2017… wait, that’s NOW (at least this is what the Kickstarter says)
Another weird JRPG? This list is a con! There’s a lot happening in the world of Knuckle Sandwich. You play a boy who moves to a new town and gets a job flipping burgers. But then: monsters, cults, bees. Also, something called “fibreghosts”. It’s a hugely colourful world and, for some reason, seems to include a part where a fully-realised 3D Garfield gets captured by a Pokeball. But judging by the footage so far there’s also rhythm minigames, turn-based combat, and the usual RPG party stat-building. Admittedly, we did first learn about it on April Fool’s day, which means this could all be some kind of elaborate and hugely time-intensive practical joke on the part of developer Andrew Brophy. But we hope not.
Release date: Don’t know
More bright colours, because I know you like them. This here is your basic neon text adventure in cyberpunk New Orleans, duh. It’s made primarily by a pixel artist who goes by name of Geography of Robots and follows a conspiracy-fuelled story about your mother’s death and brother’s subsequent disappearance. Set in a retro-futuristic Louisiana with “insurrectionary androids hiding in the swamp” it’s promised to be a short adventure game (two hours or so) of vibrant environments and “consequential dialogue”. And it too has a demo, showing off the opening chapter, Faraway Lights.
Release date: Don't know
Well. That’s your lot, slavering masses. Our anti-E3 coverage will continue as the show goes on, whether that’s highlighting free games or snidely complaining about a lack of information within our various news posts. Bye!