I haven't been active in fandom spaces for years now, but lurking on the edges of social media forums dedicated to games I find cool does technically fall under the remit of my job. And let me tell you, the lead-up to a night like The Game Awards is always something else. Fringes of the Tomb Raider fanbase were getting hyped for the announcement of the next game because… well, it just feels like about time, right? The same went for Life Is Strange, but then, Life Is Strange fans have been predicting the imminent reveal of LIS3 literally on a weekly basis ever since True Colors launched, so they're bound to be right eventually. Ace Attorney stans were using numerology to predict that AA7 would finally get announced. Incredible scenes of completely baseless hype, and despite myself, I wanted to believe.
I genuinely daren't check in on any of those conversations today, because, honestly, it wasn't a massive night for long-running franchises, and I don't think I can handle the lamentations. And, while I'll admit that my initial skim of the trailers for familiar names came up a tad short, I'm not at all disappointed, because it looks like 2023 is going to be a stellar year for devs doing something cool with a new IP while learning a lot from their older projects.
Take Judas, for example: the upcoming game from BioShock creator Ken Levine. Judas is a very BioShock-y looking game, but it's untethered itself from the expectations of belonging to a franchise… well, no actually, it's placed itself at the intersection of several different franchises while being beholden to none of them, which is also fine by me. When I hear a sea shanty fashionably remixed for a trailer song, you bet I'm going to think of Dishonored. And remember when Prey first leaked and people thought it was going to be a BioShock sequel set in space? Looks like that's exactly what we're getting here. Plus BioShock in space is technically System Shock, and both Prey and BioShock are themselves spiritual successors to that. Good times; I can't wait!
Or look at Banishers: Ghosts Of New Eden. It doesn't seem much like a Dontnod game at first glance, but adjust your expectations around 2018's Vampyr rather than the Life Is Strange series, and you'll start to see the shared DNA. Nothing screams "Dontnod wrote this" like a pair of star-crossed lovers with spooky abilities teaming up from opposite sides of the veil between life and death. If it can just improve upon Vampyr's combat system (like, a lot), this game could really be onto something.
There were plenty more announcements to get excited for last night if your preferred genre is "clear homages". EA Originals are always a delightfully random grab bag, and I can't wait to see what a modern Hexen-esque magic FPS from the creator of Dead Space ends up looking like under the label. Post Trauma clearly remembers all the fixed-camera horror games I grew up with in the early 2000s, and wants us to hang out and get all nostalgic and covered in gore and tentacles. After Us is a hauntingly beautiful 3D platformer along the lines of Journey or Sea Of Solitude, but your pal is a happy ghost dog. What's not to love?
It's not the diet of familiar comfort food I might have been secretly hoping for. But fresh tastes better, and trying different combinations of flavours from time to time is definitely good for you in the long run.