Indies! It's nice to see the littler games take the spotlight during all the E3 festivities, a pleasant break from Ubisoft trying to make me care about Watch Dogs or something. This years' Day Of The Devs stream took place during the Summer Game Fest kickoff, giving some fresh glimpses at games like Axiom Verge 2, Unbeatable, The Wandering Village and more. If you missed the stream, fear not, here's a big list of everything shown at the Day Of The Devs showcase.
Day Of The devs is orchestrated by Psychonauts developers Double Fine, along with production company Iam8bit. All the games shown have already been announced over the last year or so, but there were certainly some gems that I missed. Plus it's always nice to hear more details about something you're looking forward to.
Axiom Verge 2
Kicking off the stream was some new footage of Axiom Verge 2, the upcoming sequel to one of the best metroidvanias on PC. Developer Thomas Happ talked about some of the differences between the first game and the sequel. The new main character, Indra, uses a melee-focused combat style and is able to hack enemies. Happ adds that while the game is filled with bosses, it's possible to complete Axiom Verge 2 without killing any of them. The game is coming to PC via the Epic Games Store, Switch and the PlayStations at some point "soon".
Possibly my favourite of the stream was the debut game from developers Something We Made, Toem. It's a delightful-looking adventure puzzler where you play as an amateur photographer, on your way to see a natural phenomenon called Toem. To get there you'll need to earn your bus fare by using your photography skills to help people out. It's black and white and all hand-drawn, and it looks incredibly cute. The setting is inspired by the small Swedish town the devs are from too. Toem is set to release on Steam this summer.
Developed by Team Wiby and published by Devolver Digital, Phantom Abyss is an "asynchronous multiplayer game" where you have to run, jump and whip your way through a temple to nick some loot. If you die, you never get to go back to that particular temple again, but your ghost will remain, showing other players what route you took (a lot like Dark Souls' ghosts). Each temple is unique, and only one player can ever complete it, which is a cool gimmick. I imagine this one could produce some excellent speedruns. Phantom Abyss is coming out in early access on Steam this month.
Next up, we have some chibi fruits and veggies running around swinging swords. In Garden Story, you play as a grape who is a village guardian. An odd job for such a squishy thing, but hey, it looks cute. Garden Story has some RPG aspects: doing little quests for villagers, beating up baddies, exploring, fishing and more. Developed by Picogram, the game is set to release this summer on Steam.
"Soup Pot is a chaotic and chilled cooking simulator," developers Chikon Club said during the stream, which mostly describes my real life cooking experiences. Soup Pot looks like Cooking Mama but cooler, allowing players to cook hundreds of different regional recipes. The devs say they worked with chefs to make sure those recipes could be used in real life, plus you can't fail anything. It looks and sounds well good, and it's coming out some time this summer on Steam and Xbox Game Pass For PC.
A Musical Story
Who needs dialogue trees when you could play a rhythm game instead? That's what you'll get in A Musical Story, by developers Glee-Cheese Studio. I don't know how to describe the art style other than 70s-inspired minimalism, and the music is influenced by bands like Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin. It's launching on PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation, Xbox and iOS this summer, and there's a free demo available on Steam right now.
Fear struck me upon seeing Vokabulantis for the first time, because the main characters are terrifying people with no mouths. There's a story reason for this it seems, though it's only hinted at in the trailer. Made by Wired Fly Productions, Vokabulantis is a fully stop motion animated platformer that's been in development for years, and still has a fair bit of development left to go. It looks incredibly impressive, with detailed handmade sets that have been scanned into the game using photogrammetry. It'll be a while before we get to play this game, but it's definitely one to watch. Check out the official website for more info.
Road 96 is a procedurally generated hitchhiking game. You play as a kid, trying to get to the border, catching rides with all sorts of weird and wonderful people. This new trailer shows one of the more dangerous situations you can find yourself in, with a cab driver who's quick to anger when you tell him you don't like dinosaurs. As in, he's so angry he pulls a gun on you. Over dinosaurs. The whole game has an oddly tense vibe, but I'm really drawn to it. Developed by Digixart, Road 96 is set to launch on Steam and Nintendo Switch this summer.
The Wandering Village
And now for a game I've been looking forward to for a while. The Wandering Village is a city builder where you live on top of a giant turtle creature. The aim of the game is to create and nurture a symbiotic relationship with this beast: you help it by getting toxic fungus off of its back, and it helps you by, well, letting you build your town on it. Developers Stray Fawn Studio showed new footage during Day Of The Devs of a player communicating with their turtle by building a big horn next to its head. You can give the creature directions (like a giant Pokémon!), and sometimes it'll listen, depending on how well the relationship is going. The Wandering Village is coming to Steam Early Access later this year, sometime after September.
Music is illegal! Do crimes! It's Unbeatable! Made by D-Cell Games, Unbeatable is a rhythm game with some absolutely brilliant music. It started life as a Kickstarter that was funded within 15 hours. During the stream, we heard some new tunes, and saw some new footage of the band selecting songs for the next gig. They write songs based on what decisions you've made in the game, then you play those at your concerts. A free demo is available on Steam and Itch.io right now if you fancy trying it out.
It's time for grim reapers and crows, except the crows are the grim reapers. Death's Door is an adventure game set in a fantasy world where nothing dies. So, as your little crow-self, you must go out and reap. It's a bleak-looking world, but with charming character and enemy design. I hate to say it, but it has the cute-but-dark vibes of Hollow Knight, so I'm all in. It's being made by Acid Nerve (who developed Titan Souls) and published by Devolver Digital, and it's set to release this summer. Check out the Steam page for more.
Behind The Frame
Silver Lining Studio's Behind The Frame is a game designed to look like an anime film, and it certainly succeeds in looking Studio Ghibi-esque. It's first-person with some puzzley bits, and it's about a painter preserving memories and uncovering secrets in her apartment. It has a few point-and-click aspects, and seems like a delightful slice-of-life kinda story. It has no set launch date, but is "coming soon" to Steam.
Elec Head is one of three games shown as part of Asobu's section of the stream. They're a company founded to support indie game development in Japan, and Japanese games abroad. Elec Head is a simple platformer made by NamaTakahashi, about a little robot dude who's head electrifies everything he touches. You'll use this to puzzle and platform your way out of various levels, and the game is coming to Steam and Itch.io later this year.
Demolition Robots K.K.
Asobu's second offering, Demolition Robots, puts you inside a giant robot whose goal is to break buildings. Always a good premise, that. It's a multiplayer game where the person who does the largest amount of property damage wins. If you play it on a Twitch stream, viewers can influence the game by trapping bots and doing various actions to disrupt you all. It's coming to PC and console later this year.
The third and final game from Asobu's section, Walk is a survival horror inspired by old PS1 games (it does indeed look like something out of Haunted PS1). You play as a little girl trying to get home before dark, wandering through a spooky Japanese suburb, all while being hunted by shadow creatures. Walk will launch a Kickstarter sometime this year.
Back to your regularly scheduled Day Of The Devs trailers now, we have a new look at Moonglow Bay, a fishing RPG set in a town where everyone's afraid to fish (except you, of course). Developed by Bunnyhug Games, the folks behind Wargroove, Moonglow Bay has a Minecraft-like voxel style and the chilled atmosphere of Stardew Valley. The new footage from the Day Of The Devs stream shows your character fishing, cooking up some fishy meals, and donating fish to a museum (if only we had a name for an aqua-museum). The game is coming to Steam, the Epic Games Store and Xbox Game Pass For PC later this year.
"Imagine if Diablo and Tetris had a baby," say Straka Studio. Ok, now imagine something cooler than that, and you'll end with something that looks like Loot River. It's a 2D roguelike where you can alter your paths by moving platforms around, and slotting them together. Some of it looks quite puzzley and intricate, with you needing slide a number of platforms around to escape or trap enemies. The dungeons are procedurally generated, the enemies look fun to hack and slash at, and there are plenty of big bosses just waiting for a slaying. There's no set release date for this one just yet, but it's certainly on my watch list. When it does arrive, it'll be on Steam and Xbox.
Made by Julián Cordero and Sebastián Valbuena, Despelote is a first-person, hand-drawn slice-of-life game about football. Set in Ecuador in 2001 before the county was about to qualify for the World Cup, it's a reflection of the developers' personal experiences playing football in a park when they were kids. No news on a release date for this one either.
Last, but certainly not least, the stream showed a new trailer and revealed a release date for Last Stop. Developed by Variable State, the folks who made Virginia, Last Stop is a body-swapping, galaxy-travelling, life-living, inception-esque kinda game. It's a 3D supernatural adventure through London. It's being published by Annapurna Interactive, and looks confusing but rather fun. It's coming to PC via Steam, as well as the PlayStations, Xboxes and Nintendo Switch on July 22nd.
At the end of all that, Annapurna also announced their very own announceathon stream, which will take place next month. We got a few tiny peeks at what they'll be showing - I definitely saw a glimpse of the cat from Stray, as well as the cloud-surfing alien from Hyper Light Drifter's upcoming sequel Solar Ash. So, if you fancy a look at those and whatever other reveals the publisher has in store, you can catch their showcase on July 29th.
E3 2021 will be running from 12th-15th June. Please see our E3 schedule post for more, genuinely useful information on the whole virtual shebang, and visit our E3 2021 hub to stay up to date on all the latest news.