Sony’s Media Showcase at Paris Games Week has long since passed and while everyone had their own particular favourite announcement, much of the show felt…typical for me. Sure, we saw The Last of Us 2, Detroit: Become Human and Spider-Man and they all look to be great games that are worth looking forward to. However, there were some amazing announcements either relegated to the pre-show or which could have used some more attention. They may not have the best possible graphics but these five games came across as underrated and deserve more exposure.
Look, I don’t know about anyone else but this was the announcement of the show for me. Derek Yu’s Spelunky is a great game. In fact, it’s a great game that does almost everything it promises in as perfect a way as possible, from the rogue-lite elements and exploration to platforming and randomly generated levels. Such was the impact of Spelunky that it still stands out among current top-tier rogue-lite titles like Rogue Legacy, 20XX and whatnot.
So needless to say, when the announcement of Spelunky 2 closed out the pre-show (not even the main show), it was simply the best. We didn’t even get an overload of information about the game. The explorer from the first title has settled down and started a family. His daughter, most likely knowing about her father’s exploits, is planning her own adventure. However, there’s a tease – the possibility that she’ll take to the skies rather than going underground. From there, we were informed that Spelunky 2 would be out for PS4 and PC. It’s probably the only time during the show were a game announcement didn’t have a release date and avoided angering me.
Flavourworks is a developer that’s been working in “secret” for the past few years and Erica is it’s first project. On the one hand, you might think this to be another “Give Yourself Goosebumps” style game that’s guided along by PlayLink. However, Erica has a lot more going on. It’s live-action unlike Hidden Agenda or many other interactive adventures in recent memory. There’s a significant “Her Story” vibe where players must piece together a mystery for themselves, though it seems more focused on branching paths than pieces of a missing picture. And of course, you’re not just making choices for Erica but contextually interacting with the environment as her.
We don’t know how all of this will add up for the final game. The overall story could end up being terrible and it may be overshadowed by another branching path game like Detroit: Become Human which looks far more in-depth. Regardless, there’s an appeal there that not many games instil with their fancy graphics, cinematics and big-budget storylines (not that this looks small budget by any means). Maybe it’s just Her Story and the brilliance that gives me hope for Erica. We’ll found out for ourselves whenever it releases.
If Spelunky 2 wasn’t announced, then Guacamelee 2 would have ended up being my favourite announcement during Sony’s pre-Media Showcase. I mean, what more could you want? It’s Guacamelee. It features the return of Juan as the superpowered mythical Luchador from the previous game. It’s got four player co-op, new abilities (including one that turns you into a chicken) and the same awesome combat. The graphics still look as gorgeous as ever.
Much as I’d wish Drinkbox Studios would just bring Severed to the PC, Guacamelee 2 is definitely a highlight that needs more attention, whether you think it’s Metroidvania-esque gameplay is too linear or not revolutionary enough. Though I don’t want Guacamelee 2 to be a complete overhaul of the first game, there is some hope that Drinkbox offers something new and interesting for this go-around.
Again, there’s no release date attached to Guacamelee 2 but the developer did note that it’s coming “soon-ish”. A part of me hopes that this means late 2017 but early 2018 is looking like a safer bet.
The Gardens Between
Since the release of Oxenfree, there have been very few 2D side-scrolling games which captured that sense of wonder and endearment. Night in the Woods is an excellent addition to this line-up even if the initially slow opening will wear on you. The Gardens Between looks to be another such game, combining surreal environments with intriguing puzzles and a time travelling mechanic.
The story itself revolves around Arina and Frendt who discover a world of garden islands and can unravel their secrets by moving through time. One would guess that the narrative reveals more about them as you explore the gardens, perhaps showcased about why they sneak out of their houses to spend a rainy night in a tree-house (among other things). The Gardens Between is due out in Q3 2018 and that’s a long, long way off. And while atmospheric side-scrolling adventures like this are fairly niche, The Gardens Between looks to be yet another endearing tale that will draw us in.
The Hong Kong Massacre
When you talk about niche games, nothing really feels more niche than the top-down arcade shooter. Just ask Housemarque who developed games like Nex Machina and found little success with them. That’s not stopping the developer for The Hong Kong Massacre however. This is a John Woo-style, top-down shooter with realistic graphics that’s all about stylish gunfights and killing Triad goons.
You could call it a mix of Max Payne and Hotline Miami but The Hong Kong Massacre feels more sombre – less over the top gore and overt bullet time and much more emphasis on the Heroic Bloodshed genre of films. That means lots of dual-wielding, firing bottomless clips into enemies and a performance that’s more skin to ballet than actual battle. Not that I don’t want some blood mixed in but they’re corpses all the same. Now if the game actually grades you for the “dance” you put on and how stylish the overall killing was? My heart will simply melt.
The Hong Kong Massacre will be out in 2018 for the PS4. One can certainly hope it comes to PC as well but at this point, I’ll take the game on any platform.