While E3 proper is where most of the action is during the week of the show, the Media Indie Exchange has been a constant highlight. It offers a chance to see some smaller games away from the noise and lights of the show floor in a space that’s a bit more quiet and casual. Makes for a great end to the Longest Day of the show both for its more relaxed atmosphere and the chance offers to chat with folks — and of course to see plenty of great games! Here’s what we managed to check out:
The Sojourn (Shifting Tides)
Like most the demos I played during the MIX, my memories of The Sojourn’s are still pretty fresh on my mind, thanks to the strong sense of style and presence. In this case, the first-person perspective lent to a pretty immersive experience. If it weren’t for the hitching framerate of the pre-release version that I played, I would’ve kept going, so I opted on waiting until the final build is released so I can really dive in and really sink in some hours solving what felt like some really cool puzzles.
RoboCo (Filament Games)
RoboCo felt straight to the point: build a robot, get it going and perform mundane tasks around a very simple looking house environment, all without letting a poor baby die. How could I not like that? As a fan of games like Kerbal Space Program and Banjo & Kazooie Nuts n’ Bolts, I couldn’t help but make the comparison, and the devs handling the demo took that as a huge compliment. I’m definitely interested in playing more of this down the line.
Jet Lancer (Vladimir Fedyushkin and Nicolai Danielsen)
My immediate comparison to this game was Lunar Lander at first glance, but upon playing it, it immediately fell to the wayside. It’s a frenetic dogfighting game that really kicked my butt thanks to the sheer breakneck pacing that’s inherent to flying jet planes. It was a quick demo, but it really left a mark.
Legends of Ethernal (Lucid Dreams Studio)
I loved the bit of what I played of Legends of Ethernal. Say what you will of the title, it felt like a solid adventure game, and the combat was already in a pretty tight state in development. The crew behind it have a lot of experience in the gaming industry having worked in a lot of AAA games, and that was evident in what I played during the MIX.
Creature in the Well (Flight School Studio)
I bet a lot of journalists were caught off guard by this game, and to good reason. Sure, it’s not the first one to bring pinball (and dare I say, Breakout and Arkanoid, the latter one of my favorite NES games of all time) mechanics to platforming and combat, but Creature in the Well’s overall gameplay felt really fresh and incredibly cool. I can’t wait to see more of this soon.
Bite the Bullet (Mega Cat Studios)
Bite the Bullet is a side-scrolling action game in the vein of Metal Slug/Contra with a dash of Diablo thrown in where you can eat anything. Yes, anything — enemies (both organic and robotic), guns (so you can learn how to craft them later), bullets, you name it. That’s important because you need to keep yourself fed. Can’t very well fight on an empty stomach, after all! Moreover, what you eat alters your body type, which means you literally are what you eat. You run through levels shooting through hordes of foes, earning experience points to earn new skills (with separate skill trees for different diets), and occasionally sorting through loot dropped from fallen enemies. One particularly funny example was an “Organic Assault Rifle.” It’s all extremely silly in the best way. While I didn’t make it very far in the demo (been a while since I played a game like this), it was definitely a good time overall.
Sakuna of Rice and Ruin (Edelweiss)
My friend and guest contributor Leo Faria went nuts about this game before and during E3, so I took it upon myself to play its demo during the MIX, and yeah, it’s really cool! I immediately saw the obvious inspiration that it took in games like Vanillaware’s Murasama: The Demon Blade, and it played incredibly well to boot. I only got to try out the first stage at the show, but it managed to leave a mark. It should be coming out soon, so there’s bound to be a review over at Entertainium, so keep an eye out for that.
Samurai Gunn 2 (Beau Blyth)
Samurai Gunn 2 is more Samurai Gunn. That’s about all it needed to be too, as the original was already pretty much perfect. Just throw some new stages in and it’d be fine because, hey — the game’s already great! But they decided to do more with its sequel. In addition to more stages and characters, Samurai Gunn 2 has a full story mode that can be played solo or cooperatively. While we didn’t get to see that in the demo (it’s a local multiplayer game, after all; of course we’re not gonna see the single-player content in a demo!), it definitely sounds promising given how limited the single-player options were in the last game. Mechanically, Samurai Gunn 2 also adds a sort of air-dash, which should make getting around some of the more treacherous stages easier (not that it stopped us from still falling to our deaths on some stages). The catch it costs one of your bullets, so you have to be careful about using it, which adds another layer of split-second strategy to an already fast game. Having been the first time we’d played Samurai Gunn in a while, it was a fantastic reminder of how good it is. There’s currently no release date yet, but we definitely can’t wait to play more.
Thunder Rally (Typical Entertainment)
Similarly to Samurai Gunn 2, Thunder Rally’s a blast to try out at the MIX. I did much, much better at it, though, even if things got really hairy by the end, and we all saw our demise at the hands of the creator of the game who was playing against us and hm, seemed to be pulling his punches until the very end. Oh well. I still really liked it, so take that as a big compliment for the game. An overhead multiplayer combat racer is always welcome in my book, and if it plays as well as this, even better.
Adam Ascending (Parable Worlds)
For a game about climbing an icy mountain, Adam Ascending was incredibly exciting and not at all boring. I admit I didn’t play a bunch of it, but the little that I did had me wishing I wasn’t as tired and in a hurry to test a ton of other demos so I could stick around and spend more time taking in its environment, which felt very immersive even as a demo. I’m keeping a bookmark on this one for sure.
The Wild at Heart (Moonlight Kids)
I’m a sucker for isometric adventure games with a great art style, and The Wild at Heart has that in spades. I only watched someone else play it at the MIX, so take my impressions with a grain of salt, but it felt like a really solid foundation for a cool game, even this early onto development, merely months in.
Quantum League (NGC Studios)
I never imagined that I would run into Quantum League again after trying it out at the MIX, but I totally did see it again at BIG Festival last week, and since then, my impression of this game is still really good. The entire concept behind Quantum League playing like an FPS puzzle time-bending game but in a multiplayer environment is absurdly compelling. I hope the folks at NGC can nail it as well as the demo seems to, I’d definitely be down to playing this for real once the game is out.