Updated: Dec 27, 2020
Summer Game Festival [RAGINRAMEN EDITION]
HIGHLIGHTS PART 2
Ghost on the Shore
Developer: Like Charlie
Publisher: Like Charlie
If you haven't played the previous title by Like Charlie, you should do that first, titled Marie's Room. I'll wait... played it now? Good.
So anyone familiar with Marie's Room will also be familiar with the narrative style of the developer. These characters feel real, and the story is driven by their emotions and experiences, which can get hard-hitting.
Ghost on the Shore looks to be a bigger and deeper world than their previous title. We step onto an expansive island in a pseudo open world, exploring the Rogue Islands that you have shipwrecked on. Travelling with you inside your head is Josh, a ghost that doesn't have all their memories, but seems friendly enough.
As you walk around, finding items and uncovering the story, the narrative begins to open up. You are trying to learn more about the people who lived here, their sudden and mysterious disappearance, and how Josh fits into all this. Progressing in the adventure, you do learn more about Josh's past, but his death still eludes you.
The narrative style teaches us that emotion is the driving force. The choice of dialogue you choose feels natural and shows the skill of the writing.
What happened to Josh? How did he die? These seem to be the main questions floating around in the plot. However, I am more interested in the Islands inhabitants and what happened to them. Who is Riley, our protagonist in all this? What did she run from and how does she fit into all this, if she even does. Maybe her character is purely a vehicle for the audience, of which I hope is not the case.
I have many questions, and I hope to learn the answers in the full game upon release.
Gloria Victis: Seige
Developer: Fishtank Studio
Publisher: Black Eye Games
Release: TBC (Prologue August 15)
The castle is not lost, until the last man's breath. With the outer walls breached and the town occupied, we can forgive your lack of hope. But there is strength in your people. Soldiers are not the only ones in a war. The citizens that have escaped to the keep, the men and women, they may not be able to lift a sword against the enemy, but they have skills of their own.
I love the idea behind this survival game, the switch of perspective to roleplay the citizens and survivors instead of the soldiers make for a unique and different experience.
While researching the game and what others have thought about it, there is a lot of mention of "This War of Mine". The comparisons and influences are visible, so it is safe to say if you enjoyed This War of Mine, you might like Gloria Victis: Seige too.
What made This War of Mine so special, however, was the emotional ties, writing and atmosphere. Although I saw some of that in my playthrough, it still has a little ways to go before it pulls on my heartstrings. There is definitely potential; hard choices are presented to you, victims populate the town, it is well on it's way to becoming a brilliant game. The demo is missing that one thing I can't put my finger on, but seeing as the devs are extremely committed to the game and actively respond to feedback, I look forward to what changes are coming in the Prologue in a few weeks and even more so to the full game.
Greak: Memories of Azur
Developer: Navegante Entertainment
On: PC, SWITCH
First impressions? Spectacular hand-drawn art and animation. I loved the character designs and especially the animated scene cuts.
Controlling the different siblings can be tricky at first, many have even listed it as a flaw in their feedback, but I have found it quite intuitive. Don't get me wrong I died many times accidentally till I found my groove.
Once I started to strategise my fights, putting my characters in a rough formation before charging in, my playthrough became incredibly satisfying.
I don't see it as a flaw I see it as a new mechanic to learn and adapt to, which might not be for everyone.
The enemies are relatively easy once you get your character positioning down and master the art of rolling. Now the puzzles, that is where the meat of the game resides. Using the siblings together is key in solving them, and I had a lot of fun switching between to use them effectively, as each had their own abilities and strengths. The puzzles weren't hard to solve, but they were good for getting to grips with controlling the multiple characters, which I think was the main goal of the design.
Reading some of the feedback from the developers in the Steam Discussion, the full game will open up to more puzzles, but also a lot more Metroidvania mechanics. Exploring interconnected worlds with different characters will be featured.
I would also like to throw in some praise at the uplifting orchestral soundtrack, thoroughly enjoyed listening to it while writing this review.
Developer: The Game Bakers
Publisher: The Game Bakers
On: PC, SWITCH, XB1, PS4
Blown away by that intro animation. It was equal parts stylish and beautiful.
I don't know about you, but a high bar is set for me after watching that. Too high, maybe.
Now I do love the game and the direction it's going in, but the demo was not enough to wow me. Let's start with the relationship between the two protagonists. I like them, some people don't, but I do. They have their polar opposites with Kay being more methodical and calculating and Yu is an impulsive one full of strong emotions. You see this in the simplest form when you come across a strange plant neither has seen before.
I'm invested in where the story is going, not because it's interesting, but because I am curious and intrigued.
Who are these star crossed lovers running away from? What did they do? Will they be found? The answers to these could make or break the game.
Probably the most important aspect when reviewing a game, the gameplay, there is not too much of it. Like the story, it hints at things but doesn't provide me with concrete examples of what's to come. There's a turn-based battle system, but its quite bare-bones at the moment, will it be expanded on? You find new creatures and collect a variety of items that are not consumables, does that mean there will be more crafting beyond cooking?
I did enjoy all the little touches, how relaxing it was to glide across the planet, how they held hands when close together, the idle animations, they all added character. However, until the game comes out and I see what the answers to some of my questions are, it is hard to gauge if this game will be brilliant or just bland.
Here's to hoping it will be brilliant!
Developer: Hidden Layer Games
On: PC, Mac, SWITCH
Bundled into a short little gem called Inmost is a chilling and intimate story of loss and hope. It has that unique vibe in the art and atmosphere. What's intrigued me is how they are going to fit three interconnected characters into a cohesive story within 3-5hrs. This will not be a long game, and the devs have purposefully said, within the description, it is intended to be played and finished in a single sitting.
I'm here to talk about the demo, but I thought it was worth keeping that in mind. Although I enjoyed my time in the little small teaser, the narrative feels bigs, and I am unsure if 3-5hrs will be enough.
So, three interconnected characters? We have a young girl, a stoic knight and an old curious man. Most of us, I'm sure, are excited about the mystery in the creatures of the world, and in finding out how these three characters are related to one another. They each play very differently, utilising different methods to solve solutions and further the narrative. I found that diversity fun, it changed up the gameplay, keeping it fresh and interesting.
My only complaint thus far is on the difficulty. It's not that the game is too easy, but there is no tension.
Upon death, you immediately revive a stone's throw from where you died. I am unsure if this was merely to keep the narrative pushing forward without stopping, but even if it is, it undercuts the tension of the atmosphere Inmost is part of. This is a very story-driven game, but it is also a horror story, and you can't have horror without tension.
Will be interested to see if this method of reviving your character was just for the demo, or if it continues in the full game. Maybe a harder difficulty mode that relies more on saving would be beneficial for some?
What I have here is only a portion of the IndieGames I played during the Steam Summer Festival. To see the full list of demos and to read more reviews, go check out my featured article down below.