PlayStation Experience has been nothing if not consistent since its inception four years ago in providing a heaping helping of first-party, third-party, and Indie video game titles to look forward to and this year was no different. What was different this year is that we here at EGM sent a small strike team to the show floor to divide and conquer and see more than ever before. Although we don’t have any specific release dates (a common theme at this year’s PSX), each editor we sent came back with five favorite titles they saw that you should be excited about seeing on PS4 and PS VR in the next year.
Evan Slead’s PSX Picks
Publisher: Devolver Digital
|The Swords of Ditto|
While top-down adventure games are not a new genre, the folks at Onebitbeyond have found a way to honor and refresh the formula made famous by The Legend of Zelda’s early years with The Swords of Ditto. I lost track of time exploring the different areas of town and solving the intriguing puzzles in the many dungeons in the game. What’s amazing about the whole thing is that it definitely feels like a Zelda game, but with your character able to permanently die. Each death rockets time forward 100 years and brings in a new hero character each time. The lore subsequently grows as the player gets through the game and with each passing of your hero. In the end, your world could have gone through a thousand years of changes and 10 different heroes that saved the kingdom.
|Developer: Fourattic, Devolver Digital
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Crossing Souls is dripping with 80’s nostalgia, from the synth music to references to films like E.T., but Fourattic and Devolver told me they wanted to make the game more than a play on Stranger Things. In the action-adventure pixel-art game, I was given five playable teen characters that have different abilities, from a nerdy kid with a laser gun and jetpack to a tough boxer that can take extra hits. The game had the great design choice of teaching me how to play through scenarios where each character’s attacks were necessary, instead of just telling me what everyone does in a text box. At first, I was blown away by the cutscenes done in the art style of the original Mega Man cartoon, but seeing how interesting the plot was getting in just the first few stages has me really excited to see how the entire game flushes out.
Games should always push boundaries beyond just those of gameplay, and Lienzo’s Mulaka is already standing apart by focusing on a culture not seen much in media. The 3D action-adventure game is based on the Tarahumara people near the Mexican-American border, with players stepping into the role of a shaman with the power of the demigods. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the gameplay, but I loved the hand-to-hand combat and ultimately had a blast getting to transform into a bear and bird for a chance to explore the mountain landscapes. Every enemy had an interesting design, with some invisible until I toggled on a spiritual ability that identified them. So, even in that small way, I felt I was learning more about the culture that inspired the game. Then, when I talked to characters looking for healing, I could tell a richer storytelling experience was going to be seen throughout the game.
|Monster Hunter: World|
I have to admit that Monster Hunter is not a franchise I’m familiar with, but I could immediately tell that Monster Hunter: World is a step up from the previous entries. I jumped into a four-team online multiplayer journey to hunt down a monster in the Wildspire Waste section of the game’s huge ecosystem. As a hunter, I was fitted with tons of abilities, but as it was my first time playing, I stuck to simple light and heavy attacks. It was an interesting mechanic to have to look for environmental disturbances as clues to find the proposed monster, and after my team trudged through a muddy swamp and found countless footprints, we were hot on the giant horned creature’s tail. The scope of the fight already felt huge when searching, but when we saw the creature, it was actually intimidating. Overall, I could see this being a great chance to hop online with friends.
|Developer: Drinkbox Studios
Publisher: Drinkbox Studios
As a hardcore Metroidvania fan, I was excited to see how Drinkbox Studios updated the already enjoyable gameplay from the first Guacamelee!, and thankfully, they delivered in heaps of chickens. The art direction has an extra polish, with more gloss and sheen on the gorgeous and colorful backgrounds. More importantly, though, the platforming is taking new strides, as the luchadors can transform into a chicken that comes with new abilities, like wall jumping, and a bonus meter that turns them into an unkillable chicken monster. Getting to play co-op was just as exciting, with my partner and I tag-teaming the game’s first boss, who came with a twist. Environmental hazards will play a key role in the platforming, as they need to be avoided, but also used to move through levels and harm certain enemies. I can’t express enough how much fun it is to play this game, so I just hope it arrives as soon as possible in 2018.
Nick Plessas’s PSX Picks
|Developer: London Studios
|Blood and Trust|
From the makers of PlayStation Worlds’ London Heist mission in PlayStation VR comes a game that takes the same criminal experience to a new level. London Heist was pulse-pounding at the best of times, but it suffered from more than its fair share of technical hiccups, ultimately bogging it down. Blood and Trust still hasn’t found the most ideal method of moving through the environment—requiring the player to look at preset locations and automatically move there with one button press—but shooting is nearly immaculate this time around. The mission available at PSX this year had me moving through a casino, taking out criminals with a handgun as I went, and every kill was more satisfying than the last. The climax of the scene is an on-rails section, in which the main character is chasing a target down numerous hallways with henchmen popping up on every side, and it is during this I got to see just what precision and epicness the motion controls and ballistic physics are capable of.
|Developer: Grip Digital
Publisher: Grip Digital
Bullet-hell shooters are about as classic as they come, but rarely do they ever dabble with a first-person perspective. Mothergunship is exactly this, challenging the player to take on missions to save the planet from aliens, as said aliens fight back with crazy contraptions and curiously slow-moving projectiles. Memorizing patterns of their shots could be a useful strategy, except for the fact that every mission is procedurally generated, and one slip-up means the permanent loss of your character and having to continue from scratch. This also results in the loss of the insane modular weapons you’ve crafted from parts earned by dropping enemies, so sometimes your success can simply be the luck of not getting a challenge room totally covered in lava. Your own wits are about all you can rely on in Mothergunship.
|Developer: Warhorse Studios
Publisher: Deep Silver
|Kingdom Come: Deliverance|
Swords and Sorcery is arguably the most popular subgenre for RPGs, and Kingdom Come is attempting its own spin on it by cutting out the sorcery. As I experienced from several missions demoed at PSX this year, the game shirks fantasy for an adventure founded in realism, even going as far as being based on historical conflicts of 15th century Europe. The game does share similarities with the Skyrims of the world, with an open world to explore and action-based combat to master, but more valuable to the developers is the game’s story and how it can branch for every player. The only real concern is whether or not people explore enough to fully come to terms with what the game has to offer. There is an insane number of routes the story can take, and players will want to be sure they cover every inch, or they may miss out on some key adventuring.
|Developer: Quantic Dream
|Detroit: Become Human|
There were two Detroit demos available at this year’s PSX. The options involved one with the possibility of a child falling off a building, while the other sported some brutal domestic violence, so I went with the former, as both were equally dark. As it turns out, it isn’t hard to prevent the child from falling, with dialog choices that are easy enough to gauge with a little emotional intuition. The adventure game is all about these interactions, supplemented by exploration to learn more and prepare for coming scenarios. After combing the demo’s apartment crime scene, I confronted the rogue android on the ledge and was able to talk him down with what I had learned, at least until cops starting blowing holes in him. Players looking for fast-paced action likely won’t find much here, but something more methodical and contemplative with consequential decisions? Detroit might be your thing.
|Developer: First Contact Entertainment
|Firewall: Zero Hour|
Fans of Rainbow Six Siege may soon be leaving it for this evolution in close-quarters tactical shooters. At least in this early stage, Firewall doesn’t have much of an identity in its basic content, but the game’s virtual reality element does wonders for the sub genre. It took a while for me to come to grips with just what VR brings to the table during my demo with the game at PSX. When cutting corners in other shooters, your body moves with your vision, but Firewall doesn’t have this limitation. Granted, this is somewhat standard for first-person VR games, but in the close-quarter hallways of Firewall, being able to check your corners by quickly swiveling your head, or lean your gun around a corner to keep your body safe, makes all the difference.
Ray Carsillo’s PSX Picks
|Developer: Foam Sword Games
Publisher: Double Fine Productions
|Knights and Bikes|
When I was a kid, my bike was everything. It represented freedom and Knights and Bikes immediately reminded of me of those days of my youth. In this game, you play as a pair of young girls who become fast friends as they explore on their bikes, too, and their young imaginations quickly make the mundane seem adventurous. While the girls can leave their bikes and explore on foot, using Frisbees and water balloons as weapons against enemies their imagination comes up with, they never stray far from their bikes. All serving a mission to find every secret their sleepy town has to offer. Developer Foam Sword Games is comprised of a pair of former Media Molecule developers—including Rex Crowle, one of the minds behind Tearaway—and the animation style features some charming similarities to that gem. What might be the best part of Knights and Bikes, though, is its story supports single-player, and both local and online 2-player co-op, so you and your best friend can both relive those days of exploring on two wheels.
|Developer: Sirlin Games
Publisher: Sirlin Games
As a fighting game fan, I admit that sometimes the genre has a high barrier for entry. While pros count frames and analyze hit boxes, the more casual fan can struggle with rote memorization of lists of combos that seem downright impossible. Fantasy Strike is looking to change that, though. Developed by Sirlin Games and led by their president, David Sirlin—a fixture in the pro fighting game scene for many years himself—Fantasy Strike delivers a deceptively simple fighting game. The game touts a roster of 10 characters ranging from zoners to grapplers that feature colorful designs you’d expect from most fighting games. What’s different here, though, is each character only has a few attacks to memorize. You’ll find yourself fast becoming an expert in your favorites, allowing you to focus on strategy more to take advantage of each character’s unique specials and the game’s Yomi Counter—a throw counter that involves letting go of all inputs altogether. All this combined could make Fantasy Strike truly a fighter for everyone.
|Developer: The Voxel Agents
Publisher: The Voxel Agents
|The Gardens Between|
First revealed at Paris Games Week this year, The Gardens Between is the story of two best friends who finds themselves trapped in a surreal world and must find their way home. It’s a puzzle game that requires the player to turn time backwards and forwards to affect the semi-fixed pattern the two friends are constantly walking on. By interacting with certain parts of the world as the friends walk their respective paths, players can perform simple tasks like lighting lanterns, or potentially rebuild or destroy entire parts of the world to fit their needs of progressing and taking one more crucial step home. Although The Gardens Between looks like it won’t be the longest puzzle game, with the final product looking to have less than 30 levels, it still is shaping up to be a memorable one, especially if you love time manipulation as much as I do.
|Developer: Massive Monster
Publisher: Armor Games Studios
|The Adventure Pals|
The Adventure Pals is a zany, off-the-wall 2D action-platformer that will put a smile on your face the entire time you’re playing it. The colorful art style pops off the screen and channels cartoons like Steven Universe or Adventure Time. The humorous writing should keep you entertained throughout as you play a boy trying to save his dad, and all the other old people in your world, from being turned into hot dogs. You’ll ride a giraffe through hundreds of levels set across five distinct worlds, and fight crazed critters alongside your trusty pet rock, including a giant breakfast monster made up of sentient bacon and eggs. There are tons of collectibles to find, like several cupcakes per level, and even more fun to be had as you explore and solve puzzles on your quest. The only downside to Adventure Pals might be dealing with so much food-oriented content might leave you a bit hungry afterwards.
|Developer: Household Games
Publisher: Household Games
|Way of the Passive Fist|
Beat ‘em ups were one of the genres I cut my teeth on growing up, especially X-Men and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Looking to those beat ‘em ups for inspiration, Way of the Passive Fist looks like it could’ve been ripped from any early 90s cartoon, with a colorful hero knocking off a cavalcade of insane-looking bosses before facing off against the evil mastermind behind all the shenanigans prompting our hero to fight in the first place. Where Way of the Passive Fist differs, though, is in order to beat your enemies, you must wait for them to attack first. Only by timing your dodges and blocks correctly can you then wear your enemy out and knock them out once exhausted. Way of the Passive Fist also shines in how it lets you customize your player experience. Instead of typical difficulty settings, you are given sliders that can affect how often enemies appear, how strong they are, how frequent checkpoints are, and more. It’s a modern take on a classic genre that I can’t wait to play more of when it’s finished.