The best thing I overheard at Gamescom were lots of people telling their friends to visit hall 10.1 – because that’s where you go to play those cool indie games. Here are some noteworthy games from the show floor and a few upcoming titles that were shown in the business area.
Symmetry (Sleepless Clinic, 2018)
A spaceship crash lands on an abandoned, frozen planet. The survivors scrounge for resources to repair their base and just try to survive in this hostile environment. And then the hallucinations start… apparently, the crew is not alone. Someone, something is out there, and it’s not friendly. Symmetry impresses with its lovely, low-poly art style and its pretty cool color scheme. There’s lots of micromanagement while you order your people around, and the addition of a story sets this apart from your regular survival sim. It can also get pretty grim, but what else are you to do when one of your crewmates is dead and there’s no Matt Damon to bring you potatoes? Yummy.
Guns, Gore & Cannoli 2 (Crazy Monkey Studios, 2017)
Vinnie’s back, and he brought a friend this time. Who’s Vinnie, you ask? Oh, just your run-of-the-mill mobster, fighting other gangsters, zombies, and assorted bad guys in this action-platformer sequel to the 2015 game of the (almost) exact same name. It’s a weird mash-up of different styles, somehow jumping from 1930s mafia aesthetics to zombie apocalypse to D-Day, but it somehow works and it plays quite well. The run-and-gun mechanics with some slight platforming thrown into the mix felt incredibly juicy and polished. This one might fly under people’s radars just because it is such an odd mixture, but it’s definitely worth a look.
Unforeseen Incidents (Backwoods, 2017)
It’s all about dark secrets and deadly diseases in this classic point and click adventure. A mysterious plague is spreading, and only our hero, small-town handyman Harper Pendrell, can somehow put an end to the grisly conspiracy surrounding it. This certainly looks and feels like classic adventure gaming with some unconventional character design, which is meant to say that it looks quite promising.
Ruiner (Reikon Games, September 26)
Ruiner is dark, gritty cyberpunk that makes Hotline Miami look like a children’s birthday party in comparison. Its killing sprees play out fast and nasty, with you picking up discarded weapons, dashing around, and generally bringing the pain. The game’s tough and twitchy gunfights didn’t quite win me over at Gamescom, but given enough time and patience, I can definitely see the appeal in that endlessly repeating cycle of killing, dying, and trying again.
Flotsam (Pajama Llama, 2018)
If you like survival strategy games but are tired of yet another one where little dudes are chopping down trees to build some houses, you are going to love Flotsam. Forget all about those trees, because the world is flooded and your tiny ragtag group of survivors have to make do with whatever the currents carry their way. Build stuff from scrap and learn to recycle while fending off strange sea creatures and trying to survive at sea. I got some hands-on time with an early build and it’s probably going to be a while until this one gets released, but if you’re looking for a survival game that shakes things up a bit, keep your eyes peeled for Flotsam on the horizon.
FAR: Lone Sails (Okomotive, 2018)
I wrote about how much I like the style and atmosphere of FAR: Lone Sails before, but this time I actually got to play a new build and I loved just about everything about it. Eager to learn more about the deserted world she inhabits, main character Lone sets sail into the unknown, encountering light environmental puzzles on the way. You also have to keep the engine of her weird vehicle running, hoist the sails, and generally make sure that everything’s working and nothing’s on fire. FAR might turn out to be a rather short experience, but that doesn’t keep it from being one of this years (admittedly numerous) Gamescom highlights.
(header picture courtesy of Friedrich Hanisch)