We checked out some of the latest indie games at Gamescom in Cologne this year
While redux studios were presenting at Gamescom we were able to check out some cool games from some of the biggest companies such as Microsoft, THQ Nordic, and many more. We found that the smaller indie studios were able to show off some impressive games and this is our list of some of our favourites.
The description of this game by the developers is
‘Airhead is an adventure through a sprawling interconnected world, where you must explore, evolve and overcome intricate puzzles to succeed.
You play as Airhead, a small Body, and the round inflated organism it uses as a Head. And while Head is slowly but surely deflating, you have a chance to save its life.’
This is 2 and a half D game where the game is played on a 2D plane and the background and foreground are presented in 3D. Furthermore, this game has a unique art style where the art is low poly with flat but vibrant colours. Light is used to guide the player across the level and paints the landscape in unique ways.
I played around 15 minutes of the second level of the game and some of my thoughts are as follows:
The game’s unique concept of needing to refill your oxygen is mechanically satisfying as it adds an extra layer to the puzzle design. I was told by the developers that the game is inspired by the sub-genre of Metroid Vania and the influence is apparent as areas are sealed off until you acquire upgrades, that are collected as you play the game. Some of the puzzles include moving objects to climb, using light to care away these grass looking bugs that are used to create bridges to traverse the land, and detaching your head so you can use it as a counterweight and pull objects.
This is the unique mechanic that separates it from other puzzle games and is well presented. You also require the head to fill back up on oxygen. There are other game mechanics such as helium that you can inhale that will allow you to float and these types of game mechanics kept the game fresh throughout my playthrough.
The feedback that I gave to the developers at Octato was centered around the exhale mechanic, whereby the player exhales which shortens their oxygen time but allows them to swim underwater needed to be presented better. I suggested that they may need some lines showing the player’s head shrinking or wobbling or some other visual feedback. The developers were very receptive to this feedback and said they would program in a solution.
The game will release at the end of this year on steam and I look forward to playing the rest of the game. This well presented puzzle game I am sure will do well and look forward to what Octato has to come up with next.
Outbreak island is made by two developers from the company Tiny Magicians. The game is a zombie survival game that takes elements from games such as ‘Project Zomboid’, ‘S.T.A.L.K.E.R’, and Rock Steady’s Arkham games. From what I gathered at Gamescom you are a journalist trying to make sense of what seems like an experiment gone wrong, whereby the inhabitants have become crazy and mutated.
The visuals of this game are good. They are using Unreal 5 as it has that volumetric, realistic look in the environment. Some aspects of the game look almost photorealistic especially when the game wants you to make use of the camera to take photos of areas of interest. I did notice some textures and models do seem to give that bought from an asset pack, but what this two-person team has achieved is outstanding.
Gameplay wise, this game is a mix between ‘Dead island’ and ‘Subnautica’. The game uses melee and weapons for you to defeat the zombie creatures but also offers a crafting system. From what I played, the game ran smoothly and the objectives were clear to make. I didn’t see too much of the story and at this early stage, I can’t comment on the progression. I’ll be interested in the investigation system and the survival aspect of the game pans out. Outbreak Island doesn’t yet have a release date but I would put this on your wishlist to look out for.
This game takes clear inspiration from Doom Eternal. From the description of the game, it may not sound like it –
“Deadlink is a cyberpunk FPS with roguelite elements. You’re the first operative to be recruited to the experimental Deadlink project.”
The roguelite elements are taken from the game such as Gunfire Reborn or Binding of Issac. Where you enter rooms, fight enemies, and progress. There are shops where you can spend the currency that you find throughout the level to spend on upgrades and health. You can also find upgrades as you progress which are random boots to stats. Only one floor was available at the booth and ended with a boss fight.
The gameplay is where the inspiration from Doom Eternal can be found as the gameplay is very close. The movement is similar with a pace that matches that of Eternal’s gameplay. There is a dash system that will allow you to avoid shots and traverse the environment quickly and a grapple system on the soldier class, where you can grapple onto enemies and draw yourself closer for a kill. Using your class abilities is also how you get armour points back, which is a cool mechanic.
Many of the enemies have unique ways of killing them from regular grunts to witches that need to be shot when not in view. I did find that the game did need to do a better way of showing how you kill some of the enemy types, but I am sure the developers are open to that type of feedback.
Visually this game is very stylised, using sharp flat light which allows some of the environments to pop out with colour. particles are flashy and colourful without being distracting. My only issue is that the enemies’ models look great but are difficult to stand out from the background. I fed this back to the developers as I was playing and they seemed respective to the feedback.
This was one of the flashier games at the event and a game I will be pre-ordering once it comes into early access. The release date is at the end of this year, so I would check it out and add it to your Wishlist
You Suck At Parking
You suck at parking is a great little puzzle game centered around navigating obstacles to get to your parking destination. The game is a top-down driving game where you test your skills and reflexes by driving to parking spots as quickly as possible.
The art style takes inspiration from games such as ‘Overcooked’ and ‘Lonely Mountains: Downhill’. It has a semi-low poly art style and uses plenty of colour to make the environments pop out. From the demo I played at their booth at Gamescom, the environments ranged from winter to summer, and even sky environments.
The gameplay uses a trial and error system, where you will be trying to find the best way of navigating the environment to figure out how to not suck at parking. Furthermore, the controls are slippery, this is to add to the challenge and offers a unique gameplay dynamic where you can use drifting to your advantage to get the best times around the map.
Their are powerups scattered throughout the levels that boost your car and jump pads that make your car fly up in the air. This keeps the gameplay fresh and I am interested to see what other types of levels this game offers.
Another Roguelite shooter and our final game to talk about is ‘Roboquest’. The game is inspired by ‘Borderlands’ meets ‘Gunfire Reborn’.
Visually this game has a great cell-shaded cartoon art style, which makes the levels stand out visually because they are so bright and appealing. I couldn’t tell if the levels were procedurally generated or pre-generated but they looked unique and varied. Models have a lot of detail included and the levels look crammed with detail.
The gameplay does take the Borderlands hero-based system of skills and upgrades. You can also swap out your weapons for new better ones, similar to Gunfire Reborn. The shooting felt great and although I didn’t play the two-player co-op function, I imagine that would be the best way to play this game. The gunplay was smooth and the skills/abilities worked coherently together to make a fun and engaging experience.
I died before getting to the end-level boss but enjoyed my time playing the game. This game is currently on early access and is on sale until September 6th. I would say a fun game to play with a buddy and I am interested to see how this game progresses.
I tried so many more games at Gamescom 2022, these were some of my personal favorites that I wanted to shout about. The indie game section was a clear highlight for me at the show, because you could see the passion the indie developers have for their games. At Redux we are hoping that we would be able to partner to help some of these developers to reach the potential of their games. Gamescom was an amazing experience and we can’t wait to see what EGX in London will have to offer.