At the just gone MCM May 2017 expo, I did a cosplay round up, and now it’s time for the demos! I played a total of five demo games, and I was pretty impressed by what I saw; a nice mix of weird and wonderful, indie and AAA.
Release date: August 2017
Courtesy of the Rice Digital booth, who are quickly becoming one of my favourite companies, bringing niche titles over to the West (like my beloved Root Letter), is White Day, a Korean horror that’s being remade from the ground up from the 2001 title of the same name. I really liked the look of this; it’s so nice to see something fresh and original – when’s the last time you ever played a Korean horror game?
It hearkens back to the aesthetic of Silent Hill and Fatal Frame, with a dull chrome atmosphere that’s crawling with monsters, and a crowded convention hall definitely wasn’t the best setting for it, because I honestly didn’t feel that scared. I highly suspect it’s an atmospheric horror that’s bets played with the lights off and headphones in. There are scripted and non scripted scares (there’s two definite ghosts, I believe, in the demo, and one I happened upon by chance) – all jump scares, naturally, which are unfortunately a staple of horror these days.
The thing is, the trailer is has the tagline of “the scariest game ever.” Uh… really? Because there are many games that spring to mind when I think of “the scariest game ever,” and I think that’s a very bold claim to make, especially considering the demo’s ghosts have an almost… cartoonish style? For lack of a better word; they don’t look horrifying, they just look a bit odd. But, I don’t want to discount this game too early – it was a great demo, and could shape up to be a great horror. But the most scary game ever? We’ll see about that.
Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online
Platform: PS4, Steam
Release date: Winter 2017
Fast, frantic, and colourful, this is your staple JRPG, there’s no mistaking that. It’s a little different – you’re playing what is built to look like an MMO, in a single player game, though there is the possibility to play online with up to three friends if you should like to. Whilst it’s hard to pass a final judgement on the product from a short demo, this looks like a JRPG that’s easily accessible for newcomers, even if they’re not particularly used to the genre. With real time combat blended with the spellcasting system of MMOs, it looks a lot easier to pick up and play than most JRPGs, when tend to be a little off putting if you’re not familiar with the genre.
Admittedly, I came into this one without context; I have no idea how the story or voicing works (thanks, crowding!) but the visuals are eye-catching, with a cute art style that makes the characters interesting. Although I didn’t fully understand the combat, it was fluid and easy to pick up and play, as well as looking promisingly complex. So if you want a Japanese, yet action-oriented, RPG, consider picking this one up.
Cooking Mama Sweet Shop
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Release date: Out now
I was actually surprised to see these games were still going; Cooking Mama’s been a thing for at least the last ten years (oh god I feel old), back on the original DS. Now, the franchise is still going strong, trucking along on the 3DS, and Mama, with her many talents, has now turned to making sweets and desserts.
It’s a tried and tested formula that’s been proven to work, and for the most part, it’s pretty nice. The graphics have been improved, along with a handful of new features to help you bake (sprinkling sugar, spreading icing etc), and it’s all just… nice. It’s something for all ages and would be a great game to play on the go while commuting, or whilst on a lunch break. Something other than war and death and zombies; I’m going to go bake a cake with Mama.
Dirt 3, played with my… eyes?
Via Special Effect
This was pretty cool; Dirt 3, played solely with your eyes. This was something brought to the expo by Special Effect, who adapt video games to suit people with special needs, and it’s truly incredibly. I had no idea we even had the tech to be able to do this, but yep, you can steer race cars around the track with nothing more than the blink of an eye.
Admittedly, I found this pretty difficult; you don’t realise how much you move your head when looking in the direction you want to, but this is very much not for me. It’s an incredible piece of kit that’s going to bring delight to many, and it was a privilege to be able to give it a go. It’s something that can revolutionise the video gaming world for many people, and it’s a fantastic idea.
The Adventure Pals
Release date: Upcoming 2017
Cute, quirky, and funny without being obnoxious, The Adventure Pals is a cool platformer about… giraffes and hot dogs? Okay, I’ll take it – it’s bouncy and fun as you ricochet through the levels, with fluid combat that works with you, rather than the player having to grapple with it to make it do as its told. It’s downright enjoyable to play; platformers have never been something I’ve even remotely enjoyed, so I was very much pleasantly surprised by this. The humour is that nice mix between adult and kid friendly, something that would appeal to both demographics, and keep the game fresh and fun for all.
My one gripe with it was that it booted you back to the beginning of the level if you died – this is, of course, a staple of the platformers of old, so I wasn’t really surprised, but it’s a frustrating feature that I suspect will wear thin pretty quickly. Unless, of course, you’re more patient than me, in which case, play on! For a Kickstarter project, this one looks pretty promising, and I would pick it up on its release sometime this year.
Although it’s hard to make a decision based on such a short time playing, I have to say, my most anticipated title has to be White Day. Rice Digital have yet to lead me astray, and the tantalising prospect of Korean horror is right up my alley; it’s definitely scarier than stuff we see in the cinema! Now, if they can actually earn themselves the title of “scariest game ever,” it might end up being many people’s Game of the Year,