This year’s EGX Rezzed featured a range of as-yet unreleased console and PC video games, with a whole host of indie titles and AA games playable on the show floor, and developer presentations of some of the most anticipated upcoming games. Here are our picks of the best games from EGX Rezzed 2018.
In Disco Elysium, you lead the life of a disgraced cop in the 50s. You’re not just the atypical good cop or bad cop, however – you develop your own cop persona with each crime that you investigate, as you choose how to approach the case and the suspects involved. The emergent systems created by the developers at ZA/UM work to reinforce this cop persona, as a number of RPG mechanics come into the fore; even your choice of clothing can affect how the world reacts to you. Similarly, the cop attributes that you choose will also define your personality – for example, a character with high intelligence might be deemed arrogant by some characters. From what we saw in the demo, the world of Disco Elysium’s seaside town will be brought to life by its melodramatic NPCs, narrated by a gruff inner monologue that could bring much-needed humour and absurdity to the story.
This roguelike dungeon crawler was originally announced in 2013, and was remembered for its endearing zoomed-out perspective of a tiny warrior. Yet, the charming appearance of Below subverts the intense experience of its unfamiliar world, as you explore daunting caverns and defend against unknown enemies. You’re launched into the world with little introduction, which forces you to experiment with the various items, crafting mechanics and enemies. Bewilderment is inevitable, and in standard roguelike format, death is often an experience to learn from. In the small time I had with the game, I discovered a glowing relic (with no idea how to use it), failed to craft using the three fish in my inventory, and was killed in a cavern by two red dots – but I had to try again. This is key to understanding Below’s charm, as procedurally generated levels provide new opportunities for exploring, taking risks and learning about the world.
Two Point Hospital
The spiritual successor to Theme Hospital is due for a late-2018 release, breathing new life into the simulation genre, as you build and manage your own hospital within the world of Two Point County. This new release aims to deliver the same appeal and hilarity of the original simulation, with a host of comical illnesses and problematic staff that are sure to cause chaos within your hospital. While there wasn’t a demo on the show floor, a developer session with members of Two Point Studios revealed the depth of character and animation within the hospital, which helps create an environment that appears alive even without your own meddling. Patients will interact with each other in the hospital corridors, doctors will complain about the lack of vending machines outside of the operating theatre, and your job of managing these annoying characters looks to be a wholly entertaining one.
This turn-based strategy game is a Lovecraftian take on the XCOM series, in which you lead a squad of soldiers against an invasion of alien sea creatures. Helmed by XCOM creator Julian Gollop, Phoenix Point is due for a December 2018 release, and revitalises the tactical combat systems of the XCOM reboots in recent years. The demo exhibited some of the monstrous enemies that you face against, as well as new mechanics like the Willpower system, which helps to bring morale into greater consideration as you attempt death-defying actions. The combat systems were streamlined, and interspersed with cut scenes to alleviate possible lethargy from the tactical perspective. The developers have also showcased the sophisticated AI system for the enemy forces, which will hopefully result in some challenging reactions both during tactical combat and on a larger, worldwide scale.
The Spectrum Retreat
You begin as a guest of the Penrose Hotel in this first-person puzzler, seemingly the only resident of this refuge aside from its mechanical staff. Intuitive puzzles engage you in discovering more about the hotel, guided through these colour-coded puzzles by a voice on your phone. A short portion of the game was playable on the show floor, demonstrating the satisfaction attained in solving its puzzles, complimented by the careful sound design of each room. I’m more excited by the prospect of the Penrose Hotel; talking with developer Dan Smith, he for example remarked on the level design of corridors designed to warp your perspective and lead you astray, alongside other mind-bending physics puzzles. The elegant mystery of The Spectrum Retreat hints at darker allusions behind your unending stay, as the staff keep you contained, and you begin to question every aspect of the hotel.
Of course, these are only five games among dozens on show at EGX Rezzed, and this is just a small selection of the biggest and best upcoming games. This year’s exhibition certainly did not disappoint, and hopefully in the next few months we’ll see some of these games reach their full potential. Maybe we’ll see you there next year?