This year, a team of six consisting of Preston, Matt, Derk, Lein, Ingvi and myself travelled to Cologne and attended 20 meetings in just two days. We saw some 50 games ‘behind closed doors’ and hundreds more on the expo floor. With so many games vying for our attention, it’s a minor miracle we were able to keep ‘m all apart!
But we managed, and wrote up comprehensive previews for all but a handful of them. The full list can be found on page 2. Before you head over there, I’d like to draw your attention to a few games that we liked, but did not see enough of to turn them into full previews.
By Matt Porter
Adventure games are all about the story, but Fire is looking to tell one without words. You play as Ungh, a clumsy Neanderthal. In the stone age, fire is important, and it is his job to make sure his tribe’s fire stays lit. Except he’s not very good at his job. The bonfire burns out, and he has to go and find some more flame. Ungh is a caveman and doesn’t talk, but his animations make him a lovable character, particularly when you see him do his little rain dance.
It’s pretty fast paced for an adventure game. You are moving around a lot, clicking on everything to find out how it all works. Going from level to level towards the ultimate goal of the volcano, Ungh travels through jungles and fields, solving puzzles as he goes. The mouse cursor almost acts as an extra character, offering some sort of effect for every click or hover. One example had little creatures, scared of the cursor, run away and burrow underground, no longer keeping Ungh from passing by. Click on the sun to turn it into nighttime so you can see the stars enabling you to use a certain constellation to unlock further progress.
Oh My Gore! (Daedalic)
By Matt Porter
In Oh My Gore! , you’ll be playing as an evil God, which is a woefully underused protagonist type in gaming. You have been banished from the world by the good Gods, but it’s about time you fought back and took revenge. Don’t be fooled by the old school, top down pixel art style - blood and gore is everywhere.
In this tower defense game, you are defending your hero by building towers and recruiting forces to send against the enemy. You select different paths for your troops to go down along, perhaps to bypass defenses that your foe has set up. Occasionally, you can use the environment to your aid, flooding enemy camps by breaking down dams or causing volcano eruptions to rain destruction on everything in sight. You need gold to construct new buildings, and hire units and earn experience to upgrade them, as well as your hero.
And the gore? As units die, they positively bathe the surrounding area in blood. In some cases, it’s even a goal.
The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing 3 (Neocore)
By Derk Bil
The third and final installment in the The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing trilogy will also soon be upon us. The second game was so jam-packed with features that Neocore decided not to smother the third with more and focus on story and level design instead.
Warning, spoilers ahead!
Getting my hands on a mouse and keyboard, I left Borgovia and the threat once-posed by Captain Harker to chase after Prisoner Seven who finally showed his true colors. The wild goose chase took me away from the city and into new territory. Battling through hordes of cursed woodland creatures, some of the sights were breathtaking. The woodlands especially looked very natural, vibrant and alive and accentuated the wonderful designs of both Van Helsing and his companion Catharina so much more so than the city-levels.
There is no shortage of angry cursed creatures of course, and shiny bits of dropped loot are just as plentiful as we’ve come to expect from a Van Helsing game. Fresh quests and tongue-in-cheek banter between Catharina and Van Helsing promise to be among the enticing highlights of this sequel but if the story line is anywhere near as good as that of its predecessor, it will be a worthy conclusion to this unique trilogy conjured up by Neocore Games.