The RPS squad has once again made the trek to London for EGX 2022. There was plenty to see at this year’s show and, as always, we ran some of our own booths. The first was the Steam Deck Zone filled with thirty of Valve’s handhelds full of games for anyone to pull up a chair and play. The second was a showcase of weird and wonderful controllers including an incredibly inconvenient pool table, a digital plant that would grow by controlling light, and a game where you use a keyboard as a tie.
Alongside those, the RPS gang were exploring the show floor and here you’ll find highlights of what we saw, who we chatted to, what we played, and just general show shenanigans. Enjoy!
Rachel: I had a loop around my favourite part of EGX - The Leftfield Collection! There were a handful of games that have already been released like the wonderful Dorfromatik, Strange Horticulture, and Railbound but there were also plenty of new game demos.
The first one I spotted was The Wings of Sycamore because of its gorgeous paper-doll art style. It’s a flying sim set in a fantasy archipelago inspired by Victorian Britain, and you’re tasked with undertaking tasks in an aircraft. Flying the plane feels awesome, and the delicate pen and ink world is fun to explore. Definitely one to watch.
I also had a great time playing The Block, a miniature city builder that’s more of a digital toy than a game. Each level takes a few minutes, and you create lovely miniature dioramas. James had also told me about Albedo Approaches Zero, which was a strange walking sim-style of game where you wander on an alien planet with strange monuments. Not a lot happened but its atmosphere was incredible, especially impressive that it was able to cut through the buzz and noise of EGX.
The strangest one was Telusfax, a game set inside the teletex system of an old tv set. Using a giant TV remote as a controller, you’re tasked with browsing through the different menus and listings of the system finding the names of five different TV show presenters. I kinda got distracted being bombarded with different coloured texts and menus that I didn’t manage to find a single one, but I did have fun rummaging through the digital innards of an old TV set.
Rebecca: I particularly want to shout out a couple of brilliant indie demos I got to try on Friday. The standee for Eros Xavier's Love Solutions was enough to get me dragging my colleagues across the show floor so I could take a closer look. I mean, just check out that brooding androgynous angel in a sharp trench-coat. Totally a Rebecca game.
I was expecting a dating sim, but what I got was something more along the lines of Untitled Goose Game, starring a cynical cupid rather than naughty waterfowl. Eros Xavier looks and talks like a noir detective, but the Love Solutions agency specialises in break-ups to order. Basically, you sneak into couples' homes and mess with their stuff until they're so annoyed with each other they call it a day. It's quite silly, although the end of the demo takes a surprisingly dark turn — and drops some lore hints I need to see followed up on. A chat with the devs revealed that they're on the hunt for a publisher, so I'm asking pretty please for someone to pick this up ASAP so I can find out what happens next!
Aptly enough, I almost missed Tiny Bookshop entirely, tucked away as it was next to Chucklefish's extremely eye-catching Eastward stand. I'm so glad I didn't overlook it, though, because this is most definitely the chill and charming management sim I need in my life. I was semi-seriously looking into becoming a bookseller when I felt the call of writing about video games for a living, so this was like a glimpse into an alternate timeline for me. I can honestly think of few things I'd rather daydream about than rocking up at the seaside in my tiny caravan, and helping well-loved second-hand books find a new home.
Liam: I didn’t play a huge amount at this year’s EGX, encumbered as I so often am at these things by armfuls of heavy camera equipment, but I’m glad that I found the time to check out the already excellent Wildfrost. I’d resigned myself to never finding a card game as inventive or as tactical as my beloved (and sadly departed) Duelyst, but Wildfrost may just be the game that makes me fall in love with the genre once again.
Eschewing traditional CCG mechanics, cards can be placed on the battlefield for free, with Wildfrost introducing challenge through the use of timers that count down every time you select a creature or spell from your hand. Once these timers hit zero enemy combatants will attack your pals, your goal being to destroy a rival leader before they can knock out your own. It’s a compelling twist on the classic Slay The Spire formula, and combined with beautiful animations, gorgeous character design and top-notch music, Wildfrost is definitely one to watch. And I’m not just saying that because the PR handed me a tiny pin badge of a naked gnome after I finished my demo.
Oh, I also played Sonic Frontiers and thought it was absolutely fine. The six year old on the station next to me however was having the time of their life, so I guess that’s the opinion that truly matters.
Hayden: I also wanted to chat about Wildfrost, but I can see Liam already mashing out some words. In that case, I’ll just say that Big Berry is the best card. It’s a big, beefy berry person with a naive expression, and I love it. I want Big Berry merch. The rest of the designs are very funny too, but Big Berry is a personal favourite.
Outside of that, my highlight was beating Liam, Ed, and technically James in Street Fighter 6 (I didn’t battle James directly, but he lost to Liam and I beat Liam, so he wouldn’t have stood a chance). This impromptu Street Fighter competition proved a few things. Firstly, fighting is a youngsters' game, and the dinosaurs of the team simply couldn’t compete. Secondly, Street Fighter 6 is incredibly stylish. It’s still muscly people whacking each other and leaping through the air, but with streaks of paint or surging neon sparks that accompany every punch, kick, and block. Katharine’s recent preview and Ed’s thoughts on the modern control scheme both have far better words than I can provide in this short snippet, so go read those and get excited for Street Fighter 6. It’s a good’n.
Ed: There was a point where Liam, James, and I perused the shelves of a body pillow stand for a bit. Liam and I even crouched to get a closer view of the body pillow casings (if that's the technical term?) and flicked through various anime folks in 'relaxed' positions. We (I) was on the hunt for a Yakuza pillow, preferably Kiryu or Majima to take home and clutch tightly. Sadly, it didn't happen, but I did recognise a few more of the anime folks than I cared to admit.
Hayden and I checked out the Steam Deck for the first time in EGX's Steam Deck Zone too. I thought it was much bigger than I'd expected, perhaps big enough that riot police would adopt it as their next door-smashing ram. It was comfortable to hold, though, and the screen was nice! Judgment ran smoothly, which was madness in my books. Also - Judgment on a handheld device? Now that's a treat.
James: I had great fun – probably a tonally inappropriate amount – with Morse, the Battleship/Typing Of The Dead hybrid that’s played mostly by tapping in Morse code. That’s real Morse code too, not a gamified approximation, and developer Alex Johansson had even constructed a custom controller with an actual Japanese-made electric telegraph. This added a lovely, clicky, tactile dimension to the game, enhanced further with a devastatingly satisfying ‘Fire’ button that sent the artillery I’d dialled in via dots and dashes. Not sure how playing with a keyboard will compete, to be honest.
A few yards away in the Leftfield Collection, I also enjoyed pottering about in Albedo Approaches Zero. Walking sims aren’t often my jam but desolate sci-fi planetscapes certainly are, and between the curious star streaks and musical monoliths dotted around whatever moon I was stuck on, Albedo Approaches Zero had atmosphere to spare.
Also, I was only at the body pillow stand as emotional support for Ed, so there.
Katharine: Most of my EGX time was dominated by demo appointments I'd made in the weeks beforehand, but the best thing I played that I wasn't already booked in to see was Ninja Or Die, a gorgeous 2D platforming roguelike on Marvelous Europe's stand. It's essentially a two-button game where all you can do is jump - using your analogue stick to plot your trajectory and A to execute it - and it's fast and flashy as heck. Attacks happen automatically whenever you jump into enemies, but there are plenty of environmental hazards to worry about as well, including a lot of spikes, swinging axes and, at one point, a rising floor of buzzsaws. At times it was a bit overwhelming, but eventually you become one with your jump, using instinct and intuition to parse the flow of battle. It's not out until next year, but you can try its free browser demo yourself right now if fancy giving it a shot.
Otherwise, I had a great time with both Goat Simulator 3 and House Flipper 2. I haven't played much of either game's original entries, but these sequels had me hooked. Goat Sim 3 has added multiplayer to its enormous sandbox this time round, letting you share your daft antics with a mate. It also seems a lot more structured than last time, too, offering plenty of quest objectives for nearby activities as well as a whole ream of collectibles to hunt down. At one point I also turned into a slightly obscene banana, too, so there's that. House Flipper 2, meanwhile, has pretty much gone full first-person Sims simulator, letting you clean up houses while also filling them with bits of furniture to make everything just so. The physical act of cleaning has also been greatly improved as well, letting you drag your mouse around in all directions to paint walls and squeegee dirty windows. It was ultra chill, and I can see myself losing many hours to this when it eventually comes out next year.