EGX returned to London this year from September 22 to September 25 to showcase upcoming indie and AAA titles, panels and numerous fun activities to indulge in inbetween previews and interviews. I took a trip down to London on Sunday to check out some previews of upcoming Indie and AAA titles.
DECEIVE INC., developed by Sweet Bandit Studios and published by Tripwire Presents, is a multiplayer espionage game where you disguise yourself as an NPC (or even an object with the right perk) to reach your objective. But you’re competing with rival spies, and must either avoid or neutralise them as you work towards your goal.
DECEIVE INC. was a lot of fun and I can see this as being especially great to play with friends. You must work your way around the map and collect intel (the game’s currency) from computers or search for key cards in order to access each area to reach your goal. Intel can also be used to unlock safes sitting around the map which will offer up various gadgets for you to utilise in your mission.
You have various character types to choose from in DECEIVE INC.: Trickster, Tracker, Disruptor and Vanguard. I chose the character who was carrying a pistol and had the perk of becoming temporarily invulnerable to enemy attacks when activated. The map we played in was a 70s-themed underwater building, similar to Rapture from Bioshock, only with more afros, brown, patterned furniture and flared trousers.
The aim of each mission is simple. In the game mode we were playing, there were twelve players with the objective of snagging a briefcase and then escaping. As well as other players, you’ll be under disguise from NPCs too as only some uniforms will have access to certain areas. If you’re caught in the wrong place, you’ll be shot on sight by guards. Of course, shooting your weapon will also break your cover and draw NPCs and players to your location.
I was the first to claim the briefcase, though once it’s in your possession, the other players will be alerted to your location. And only one person can leave the building with the briefcase. At this point, I had run out of ammo without realising and found myself in a manhunt, unarmed. So, my preview came to an end.
DECEIVE INC. is currently planned to release in early 2023 on PC, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S.
Planet of Lana
Planet of Lana, developed by Wishfully and published by Thunderful Publishing, has been on my radar for a while, so I was pleased to see it at EGX London this year. Planet of Lana is a sci-fi puzzle platforming game where you play as a young girl, Lana, who is accompanied by her friend, Mui, as you journey across a beautiful planet, filled with wondrous creatures and nature.
The first thing that hit me about Planet of Lana is how captivating the music and visuals are. Although I wish Lana herself had a bit more detail, the scenery background is both stunning and creative, with the orchestral score taking my breath away during the starting scenes of the demo.
Planet of Lana’s gameplay reminded me of a 2D version of The Last Guardian; in order to solve puzzles, you must command Mui to access certain areas that you are too big to fit through and also interact with certain objects, such as biting through rope. You are also not a fighter, and your enemy encounters involve avoiding enemies. Planet of Lana’s Steam page alludes to stealth aspects, though this wasn’t shown in the demo. There is also a mention of Mui being able to hypnotically control creatures with the same white eyes as her, but I didn’t see this either.
What I did experience was some of the starting puzzles, which were tricky and I can imagine they will get more difficult as Planet of Lana progresses, with the Steam page also hinting at some action sequences which require quick reflexes. Either way, the Planet of Lana demo was a beautiful introduction to the game and I’m really looking forward to seeing how it unfolds.
Planet of Lana is due to release in Spring, 2023 on PC, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S.
House Flipper 2
The House Flipper 2 stand was one of the busiest stands at the exhibition and it wasn’t hard to see why once I sat down to give it a try. Having not played the first game, all I knew about House Flipper is that it’s a house renovation and design simulator which draws players in by being incredibly satisfying. Which is absolutely correct.
Since returning from EGX, I have jumped on the first House Flipper game because I enjoyed the preview for House Flipper 2 so much. We were given 20 minutes to try out all the new features in the sequel and also have a go at renovating a house. The time limit wasn’t nearly enough, and I can see myself sitting at this game for hours on end without even realising it. I definitely craved more time on it.
After increasing dramatically in size since House Flipper, developers and publishers Frozen District have made House Flipper 2 much more detailed than its predecessor. Rather than picking up handfuls of rubbish and it then disappearing into thin air, you’re filling up rubbish bags and taking them out to the bin. On top of this, painting now works with much more freedom; rather than automatically painting in vertical strips, you can move your mouse around to choose exactly what and where you want to paint. You could put down just a small square if you wanted to. Demolition also gives the player much more control, rather than knocking down large parts of the wall, you can be more intricate with what you’re knocking out.
During the demo, we tried out the sandbox mode, which just gives you the creative freedom to renovate a house. House Flipper 2 also has a story campaign, and I’m looking forward to seeing what this entails.
The added realism to the House Flipper sequel makes it so much more satisfying to play than the first game, if that’s even possible at all. With more design options available, this is a worthy sequel and was my favourite game from the exhibition. I will be jumping on it upon its PC release in 2023.
The Last Worker
The Last Worker, developed by Oiffy and Wolf & Wood Interactive Ltd and published by Wired Productions, caught my eye due to its art style. The art is hand drawn based on concepts illustrated by Mick McMahon (Judge Dredd), which greatly reminded me of Borderlands and Telltale games. Set in the sunken city of Manhattan, you play as, you guessed it, the last human worker in a distribution centre which is otherwise run by machines.
The Last Worker very much holds dystopian vibes and its Steam page promises a ‘thought-provoking and comedic story’ and a huge environment the size of Manhattan. The demo I played at EGX seemed to be the game’s tutorial, so I wasn’t able to experience much of the story or explore the map, but the comedy was certainly there. You’re introduced to a robot worker in the warehouse who insists you undertake the tutorial, despite the main character’s protests that he has worked at the centre for years and knows what he’s doing – I imagine the AI’s lack of understanding in comparison to humanity’s intellect is going to be a common discussion based on the themes that The Last Worker will be exploring.
During the tutorial, I worked my way around the distribution centre to process packages on a hovering forklift truck-type of vehicle. Although this in itself wasn’t very exciting, The Last Worker holds a lot of promise and I look forward to seeing more of the game as it has a tremendous team behind it. On top of this, it has performances from Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Jason Isaacs, Clare-Hope Ashitey and David Hewlett, and the music is scored by Oliver Kraus who has collaborated with Adele, Sia and Florence and the Machine.
The Last Worker is planned to release in the first quarter of 2023 on PC, PC VR, Meta Quest 2, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S.
Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty
After reviewing Thymesia this year and having… somewhat a negative opinion of it, I wasn’t really ready to try out another Soulslike just yet. Despite this, I was drawn to the Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty stand at EGX and found myself surprisingly impressed with what developers Team NINJA and publisher Koei Tecmo have put together.
Unlike the demo currently available to download on PC and consoles, the Wo Long demo at EGX did not feature the game’s tutorial and actually places you close to a boss arena. Having not played the Wo Long demo with the tutorial, I found the game was a lot to take in at first. Not only are all the buttons in completely random places in comparison to most Soulslike games, but there are also magical elements to learn too. I eventually understood the controls towards the end of the timed demo, however, I can definitely see Wo Long being far more enjoyable with enough time to not only learn the controls and mechanics but also build upon them by levelling up skills and perks.
You have a choice between different character builds based on the elements, so I went with a stealth build which had water elemental magic. Although Wo Long is very much a Soulslike, it’s developed by the same team who made Nioh, so the gameplay can also be compared to this. The most notable gameplay mechanic that I found difficult to master was the dodging and parrying system. Unlike most games which feature these mechanics, the block and parry buttons are different, so you have to commit to either one or the other. On top of this, the dodging is very sensitive as you can dodge different ways depending on where you’re pointing the left joystick (with a controller), I found this a bit finicky, though with more time I would have eventually gotten the hang of it and maybe even benefitted from how precise it was.
Set during a dark fantasy version of the Later Han Dynasty in China, 184 AD, the three kingdoms in which Wo Long is set in are ‘overcome by chaos and destruction’ with the imperial dynasty about to collapse and demons plaguing the lands. You play as a nameless soldier who must fight against these demons and enemy soldiers and ‘awaken the true power from within’.
Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is set to release in early 2023 on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, and PC.
For Hexposure was one of the smaller titles that I played at EGX, as it was developed for Abertay University’s DARE Academy DES310 Module. Despite this, For Hexposure is really polished and is exactly what I would consider a ‘cosy game’.
For Hexposure is a pixel-styled crafting game where you play as a witch who runs a potion shop. The gameplay consists of taking potion orders from a cast of cute and loveable characters and then crafting the right potion to suit their needs. Unfortunately, the unpaid bills are piling up, and you must gain ‘exposure’ by successfully completing tasks in order to prevent the house from being taken away by the landlord!
The recipes for each potion will often be told in riddles, and the ingredients need to be prepared correctly and the potion mixed at the right heat setting in order to successfully craft the right potion. As you progress, the recipes will become more complex, though you can check your recipe book again at any time for a reminder!
For Hexposure is very light-hearted and fun to play. I loved all the little characters that entered the shop with their different problems, as well as reading through their social media reviews at the end of the day.
For Hexposure’s Itch.io page also hints at there being a diverse supply of storylines in each character request and I’m interested to see how the game’s difficulty progresses the more you play!
For Hexposure is now available on Itch.io.