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EGX Highlights: 8 great games from the Rezzed Zone you need to play

Our favourites from the showfloor so far

Artwork for Ghostpia, Billie Bust Up and Tin Hearts
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Room6/Yokaze/Humble Games/Wired Productions

The RPS Treehouse have been roaming the EGX 2023 showfloor over the last couple of days, rummaging through the Rezzed Zone to sniff out more great indie games we think should be on your radar. With over 50 games in this year's Rezzed Zone, we certainly haven't been spoiled for choice this year, and below we've rounded up a selection of what's caught our respective eyes so far, from interstellar trucking sims and neon-drenched cats on skateboards to racing battle royales and dreamy visual novels - some of which you can even play at home right now thanks to some conveniently-timed Steam Next Fest demos.

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We'll have more recommendations coming over the next couple of days, too, so keep an eye out for further EGX Highlights as we continue to dive into the Rezzed Zone tasting menu and find more favourites.

Star Trucker

A view from the inside of a space truck, showing the truck dashboard, and a neighbouring truck passing by on the space highway in Star Trucker
Image credit: Raw Fury

Alice Bee: Euro Truck Simulator meets Hardspace Shipbreaker, you say? Well sign me the heck up! Star Trucker is your basic 'move freight from one place to another' task, while trying not to crash into things and doing it in a timely manner to get paid, but... you know... in space. This means grappling with the same zero-g floaty controls that you do in Hardspace, both in driving your galactic big-rig and doing space walks to fix said rig.

Because, aside from the driving around stuff (reversing into a docking bay using nothing but the sort of fancy rear-facing cameras that suburban 4x4s have for the school pickup was a genuine sticking-out-my-tongue concentration moment), Star Trucker has some surprisingly deep simulation. Thus you must float around the space highway patching up oxygen leaks. You have to pick up supplies for your trips, and have a glove compartment, and get to chat to other truckers over the CB radio. They give you a call sign! Honestly, that fact alone might make this my most anticipated of 2024.

Ghostpia: Season One

Two girls chat in the back of a moving truck in Ghostpia: Season One
Image credit: Room6, Yokaze

Katharine: The first episode of this dreamy, melancholic visual novel absolutely blew me away. It's possibly not the best kind of game to play on a busy showfloor admittedly (thankfully it has a free Steam demo available for you to try at home), but its soft visuals immediately drew me in, and its mournful score, surreal setup and kinetic graphic novel panels were utterly captivating. You begin as Sayoko, a ghost girl whose grip on time is as slippy as the ice and snow that blanket her hometown. Her memory isn't all that hot either, it seems, and the story jumps around in time, introducing friends that Sayoko doesn't seem to remember, but who clearly know her, as they plan to rescue a new ghost girl who's being held by their mysterious church organisation.

Only thing is, this ghost town has only ever had 1024 ghosts at any one time, adding an extra layer of mystery to the game that I hope we'll get to see more of further down the line. As a pure visual novel, all you're doing is reading text and going along with the story, but this isn't some static, angst fest. Rather, its artwork has a real energy to it, with some scenes playing out almost like an anime sequence, while others introduce moving graphic novel panels that layer over the top of one another. Glitchy visual effects also add to the general haze and confusion and dreamlike nature of Sayoko's existence, and the sheer strangeness of the place really pulls you in right from the get go. Best of all, the whole game is out on Steam already, and I'll be grabbing this immediately when I get back to my desktop.

Stampede: Racing Royale

Several cars race around a track in Stampede: Racing Royale
Image credit: Secret Mode

Ollie: I've never played a Mario Kart game in my life, but if there's one way to get me interested in one, it's by throwing 60 players onto the same race track and calling it a battle royale. That should tell you everything you need to know about Stampede: Racing Royale, but I'll keep talking anyway.

It's not actually a Mario Kart game, but it's basically identical. You've got power-ups, you've got drift boosts, you've got crazy winding race tracks with speed boosts, ramps, and multiple paths to take. The key difference is that you're in a race with 59 other players, and at the end of each race, the bottom 20 competitors are knocked out. It runs well despite the silly number of cars all bouncing off one another, and despite its obvious Mario-Kart-ness it reminds me most of Fall Guys, where every player is capable of completely ruining another player's day, whether intentionally or not.

Snufkin: Melody Of Moomin Valley

Snufkin plays a flute on top of a water ogre's head in a forest scene in Snufkin: Melody Of Moominvalley
Image credit: Raw Fury

Alice Bee: I knew someone who looked almost exactly like a real life version of wandering cool nature dude Snufkin. The character, one of many from Tove Jansson's beloved fairytale Moomins series, takes centre stage in this game that somewhat surprisingly turns out to be a stealth game. Snufkin returns from his seasonal winter wanderings to find that Moominvalley has been vandalised with boxe hedges, fences, and neat flowerbeds.

Like an ecological Solid Snake you sneak past the park guards' vision cones to pull up all the signs telling you to not look or smell or enjoy nature too much, eventually restoring each area to its original wilderness form. It's one of those games that succeeds in the feat of looking like a beautiful children's books illustration in motion, and vibes well with Snufkin's character; you can use his harmonica to commune with creatures you come across, even persuading birds to fire at guards' heads to cause a distraction. It'll be a welcome reprieve from the busy show floor.

Full Void

A boy runs past a park with lots of children playing inside it in Full Void
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/OutOfTheBit Ltd

Alice0: Explore a near-future city now ruled by a cruel AI as you evade murderous robots, solve puzzles, and enjoy many death cutscenes in this "cinematic puzzle-platformer" which feels strongly inspired by classics like Flashback the original Prince Of Persia. Even the animation for your teenager hauling themself up ledges instantly made me think of PoP. Except it's the future. And you don't have a sword. And the few people you encounter are mind-controlled by an AI.

Movement is locked to invisible grid squares so precise placement motions are less important than timing and puzzle-solving. Escape before this robot gets you. Pass these cracked pipes without steam puffs murdering you. Figure out the correct order to turn off a series of water valves so you can pass in time. This gets more complicated when you find a wee robobuddy whose movements you can program, plotting an executing your movements together. The puzzles are not taxing but I have found them enjoyable little hurdles on my adventure through this nightmarish robozone. It's all about the journey, moving through the city, seeing new places, discovering quite how much has gone wrong, catching glimpses of the old world, and yes, enjoying the different cinematic animations for each way you can die.

Gori: Cuddly Carnage

A cat on a skateboard is surrounded by an explosion of blood in Gori: Cuddly Carnage
Image credit: Wired Productions

Alice Bee: I'll be honest, I'm not a huge fan of the name Cuddly Carnage, but it does what it says on the tin, and I'm quite a large fan of the hyper-neon cartoonery of the game's style. The titular Gori is a cat who's been in orbit around Earth with a wise-crackin' hoverboard for a long time. In that time, humanity has been, as far as I can tell, wiped out by horrible mutated toys. Crash landing on the surface means Gori has to start mowing down armies of increasingly large and horrible unicorns with the spinney blades on aforementioned hoverboard.

These fights start easy, but get harder as the unicorns get larger and e.g. grow blades for arms, and there are boss fights with e.g. a giant jack-in-the-box spider-crab bear-thing. Controls are maybe a little bit floaty for some of the more delicate platforming sections, but they're also very forgiving. Plus, though contrasting the super-cute and colourful with the slow-mo blood-fountainous is maybe an old trick, it's one that definitely works.

Billie Bust Up

A chase sequence in Billie Bust Up, with Barnaby the ghost swinging at Billie with a large knife.
Image credit: Humble Games

James: For the first two and a half minutes, Billie Bust Up’s demo has something of a mid-tier, early PS2 platformer vibe about it: the floaty jumping, the glowing pickups, the anthropomorphism. Reasonably cute, but not really compelling.

Then it breaks into song, and all becomes clear. This is, in fact, a playable musical, setting a genuinely challenging chase-down gauntlet against a Hallowe’en-y banger of a tune about your many possible causes of death. Your pursuer/lead vocalist’s threats are woven simultaneously into both the song and the physical dangers, which adds an entertainingly rhythmic flow to your goat hopping – as well as some good visual gags, like gigantic bread slices forming crushing hazards as the lyrics suggest a fatal overdose of gluten. I’m not sure how well Billie Bust Up will maintain these gleeful highs over the length of a full game, but on the strength of this opening number, a few good songs could go a long way.

Tin Hearts

Toy soldiers near a Jack in the Box in puzzle game Tin Hearts
Image credit: Wired Productions

Edwin: From Micro Machines through The Pedestrian to that one wizard's dwelling in Tiny Tina's Wonderlands, I've always loved games in which you play a very small character exploring a very big house. Tin Hearts takes place in an absolutely gorgeous house - a toy-maker's family home, consisting of polished wood tables, yellow notepaper, velvety shadows and shimmering clockwork objects. This is quite the relief, because Tin Hearts is also a homage to the old Lemmings games from Psygnosis, which were set in Hell.

You aren't controlling Lemmings here but wind-up toy soldiers, who walk in straight lines after their exiting their box, and must be shepherded towards an exit door by placing things in their path. You start off by grabbing and rotating triangular blocks to very slowly ricochet them off-course. Later, there are toy cannons to knock over piles of books, and springboards to launch your brigade of ambulatory stocking fillers to a different table. In the course of arranging the pieces, you also piece together the life and times of said toy-maker from background artefacts like pictures and framed newspapers. It's a charming, gentle puzzler with a melancholy undertow, and the version they’ve brought to EGX supports VR.

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