With movies, TV, comics, and video games all being highlighted at the same time, New York ComicCon can easily bombard and even overload your senses. Even so, I was able to maintain my focus for just long enough to elbow my way through the massive crowds and get my hands on some awesome games?and here are my top five picks from this year?s show.
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst
Developer: EA DICE ? Publisher: EA
I wasn?t the biggest fan of the original Mirror?s Edge, and I think part of the reason was that while it had a lot of great ideas, some of them fell flat on their execution. My first time getting hands on with its reboot, however, has me as excited as fans who were head over heels for the original. While I only got 15-minutes of playtime, I?ve never felt more free while running through an open world as I did when controlling Faith. Dare I say, it even felt natural sliding through ventilation shafts, running up walls, and climbing over ledges in fluid, seamless motions that never took away my momentum?
The most telling part of how far the series has come since its original iteration, however, was combat. Having a full head of steam allowed me to pull off some insane one-hit takedowns on armed guards. The only time I had trouble was when I messed up a jump and slowed down my momentum. While I still closed the distance quickly between myself and my assailant?and proceeded to use punches and a spin kick finish to take them down?it took precious time that, had the individual not been alone, would?ve left me as a sitting duck. Situations like those further drive home the point that stopping likely means death in this new Mirror?s Edge, and flight is almost always a better option than fight.
Developer: Coldwood Interactive ? Publisher: EA
My penchant for puzzle-platformers means that Unravel and its unlikely protagonist Yarny have jumped towards the top of my most anticipated games list. It?s heart-warming story retelling an old woman?s life, and those she?s lost touch with, is your only motivation to guide Yarny through a world wrought with peril around every corner. Taking advantage of the fact that Yarny is made of?well, yarn?you can build makeshift bridges, lasso up to grapple points, and find inventive ways to traverse the wide-open world set before you.
In the demo I got to play, Yarny had to find its way through a forest and then past the ocean. The forest required careful precision as I leapt between small branches before finally tying Yarny to the end of a kite, using his weight to guide my unlikely vehicle down to the shoreline. There, the tide was my greatest foe, as timing momentum-driven jumps between the oncoming waves was far more difficult than it may sound. It was only a taste, but the more demos I play of Unravel, the more excited I become to see what other obstacles can be thrown in my path?and how I can overcome. If what we?ve so far is any indicator, Unravel will be a can?t-miss platformer next year.
Developer: Lab Zero Games ? Publisher: 505 Games
I didn?t play Lab Zero?s first game, Skullgirls, choosing instead to appreciate its beautiful art-style from afar. Hearing how much fun folks in the office had with it, though, I resigned myself not to make that mistake twice when the studio recently announced its latest game, Indivisible. This adventure sees a young girl named Ajna seeking revenge on local warlords who have ravaged her rural country town. When she decides to go on this classic quest, however, Ajna finds she can absorb certain individuals into her being, and let them out to help her battle when she needs to (thus comprising your four-person party with Ajna always at the front).
I was able to play Indivisible up through its first major boss fight, and it reminded me in many ways of newer titles like Dust: An Elysian Tail and Child of Light. Its side-scrolling exploration and art design aren?t anything new to gaming, but require tight platforming from the beautifully drawn characters. And, should you contact an enemy, the world seamlessly transitions into combat, where Ajna and her crew have to each wait for their individual time meters to fill before they could attack?and, while doing so, also possibly interrupt the time meter of their opponents. Depending on the direction you?re holding when you attack, as well as how much meter you let accumulate, your characters can do a variety of different moves. Some focus on singular opponents, while other moves perform area of attack damage, which are great for crowd control.
Even with only having played Indivisible for a half-hour, I could see the depth the combat had, and I couldn?t put my controller down. If Ajna?s story is even half as compelling, it looks like Lab Zero has another hit on their hands?should they hit their Indiegogo target, that is.
Developer: Team Gotham ? Publisher: 505 Games
We?ve seen a lot of first-person exploration games recently, but Team Gotham?s The Guest creates a terrifying atmosphere that gets your heart racing and makes you question how much further you want to go from almost the very first puzzle. I was only able to explore a couple of rooms in my short demo, but hallucinations, ominous warnings, and evidence that your character isn?t the first person to become trapped in this foreboding hotel in the middle of nowhere were enough for my curiosity to power through my fear.
Relying on your wits, you?ll have to solve a slew of riddles on the way to piecing together the bigger picture of what is keeping you there. While those I saw in the demo were nothing more than finding the broken pieces of an item and putting them back together, or combining items to make something new, promises of more complex conundrums down the line have me excited to see what The Guest can do when finished. The only question now will be whether to experience The Guest in virtual reality, or with a keyboard and a mouse.
Rise of the Tomb Raider
Developer: Crystal Dynamics ? Publisher: Square Enix
With only weeks until Rise of the Tomb Raider releases on Xbox One, I still had yet to experience any of my dear Lara Croft?s newest adventure for myself. Demos and events had always seemed to conflict with other appointments, so I?ve been relatively in the dark when it comes to how Lara has changed since her recent reboot on the last-gen consoles. But, at NYCC, I was finally given a chance to play a small snippet of the game in a segment called ?The Prophet?s Tomb.? Much like riding a bicycle, the new mechanics from the last game?and the familiar gameplay the series has long been known for?came flooding back to me.
Leaping away from collapsing floors, shooting out spike traps, and using levers to raise or lower the water level to obtain my encrypted prize has not only never felt so good, but also never looked better. The dynamic lighting of torches flickering against stones covered with a thin slime caused by the humid conditions of Lara?s environment was a sight to behold, and the slight nuances her expression would convey made her more lifelike than ever. My only disappointment was that, like many of the games I experienced at NYCC, my time with Rise of the Tomb Raider was short.
If you?d like more of a chance to experience Rise of the Tomb Raider, however, be sure to check out our own Emma Schaefer?s preview from a couple weeks ago, where she played an extended demo of the hands-on I got, as we all wait patiently for what is shaping up to be the best Tomb Raider game yet.