Team 17’s had one of the more consistent lineups year after year. Their electric mix of games always provides some fun surprises (such as the excellent Yoku’s Island Express last year), which makes it a worthwhile visit year after year. Here’s what we played:
I love a good local multiplayer game, and Overcooked remains one of the best. So of course I jumped at the chance to give its sequel a spin and see what’s new. To put it simply: It’s still Overcooked and it’s still great.
The demo had a few levels to tackle. In them, myself, a platypus, and my partner, a unicorn, were tasked with making sushi rolls. The first kitchen we served was a simple affair; there were no obstacles or complications to contend with, nor any variance in the orders. All we had to do was make sushi. Easy enough. Doubly so, in fact, thanks to the score multiplier. Where before your tips were determined solely by how quickly you got orders out, now any tips you receive are doubled, tripled, or quadrupled as long as you keep orders coming out. Should make earning those three-star ratings a bit easier, I hope.
In the second kitchen, however, things fell apart quickly. We were still making sushi rolls, only now two of our kitchen’s walkways were conveyor belts. Where before we had a shaky but functional sort of cooperation, here we fell apart immediately. Granted, that was in part because my partner decided to test if a glitch in the first game had carried over (something about piling up a ton of ingredients in one spot), which left me being the one to do all work for the first 20 seconds or so, and consequently made it difficult to access other ingredients due to all the vegetables strewn across the ground. Our lack of communication was definitely the biggest problem, though.
Luckily the game now has a proper emote system, allowing you to communicate visually in addition to verbally. Given that Overcooked 2 also has online play, I imagine those emotes will be extremely useful (though spinning in place might still be the most effective way tell someone where they’re needed). We’ll find out when the game launches on August 7.
First thing that struck me about Planet Alpha was how beautiful it was. It pairs a sort of low-poly aesthetic with lush, dense scenery that results in a really striking look.
The demo began as a leisurely stroll through the planet’s lovely scenery, eventually becoming a stealth game once a fleet of robots began invading. Shifting the planet itself seems to be the game’s hook. At certain points, you can rotate the planet to change the time of day. Both times were for some light puzzle solving — one to open a door, the other to rotate orbs until they were properly aligned — but it’s not hard to imagine how it could be used to alter the environment.
The platforming was pretty rudimentary for the most part, though once the stealth elements kicked in, traversal quickly became less straightforward. The tall grass I’d moved through previously now served as cover for me to sneak through, while blocks both acted as stepping stones and mobile cover to avoid the watchful gaze of the hostile robots. The game’s checkpointing feels generous so far, which is definitely welcome considering how frustrating a stealth sequence can become.
Planet Alpha is currently slated for release sometime this year.
Mugsters is a puzzle game wherein you attempt to free your fellow humans and destroy the invading aliens’ equipment through the most ridiculous and explosive means possible. Or at least that’s how it looked like when I watched others play it. When I played, I ended up playing around to see what would happen, trying to figure out how to complete levels. Maybe it’s just because I jumped in mid-demo, but it wasn’t ever clear what I needed to do. Completing objectives — or doing what looked like what I needed to do — didn’t accomplish anything. The levels kept going until I voluntarily left. Felt like I was missing something.
That said, the levels provided a fun playground in which to create and watch chaos unfold. Driving cars into turrets to destroy them or into buttons to open doors, frantically trying to out maneuver foes while avoiding lasers, spike traps, and more, all while trying to rescue my fellow humans and hopefully keep them alive led to some ridiculous shenanigans. If nothing else, Mugsters seems like a grand ol’ time in that regard. Mugsters is out July 17.
Genesis Alpha One
After seeing in it a hands-off demo last year, this year I was able to play Genesis Alpha One myself. The demo walked me through the basics of building and maintaining my ship, which seemed pretty straightforward last year, but felt pretty daunting when doing it myself. Not because the process is difficult, mind you, but because of how quickly things can spin out of control.
Some of the aliens you encounter while on expeditions for resources might hitch a ride on your way home. If they do, you have to be quick to suss out where they’re hiding to make sure they don’t build a nest and start killing your crew. Turrets provide some assistance, but you need to crawl into the ducts to root out the infestation. Fighting them off wasn’t so much the problem, though; it was the lack of ammo in my guns. My pistol always carried a single shot (that thankfully recharged) and my rifle, while fully stocked at first, soon went empty after going planetside a couple of times. I didn’t know how to get more ammo, so I had to rely heavily on the turrets to defend the crew, which didn’t help much how few I had to go around.
Eventually one of the rooms had to be deactivated due to damage or interference of some sort (think it was the main power station). With little to no ammo left to defend myself or the ship with, and no idea how to fix the current predicament, I ended my demo there, hoping that next time I could do better. Genesis Alpha One launches on September 4.