Gamescom 2023 Previews Summary

Like every year, Gamescom took place in Cologne in 2023 as well. Lasting from August 23rd to August 27th. It offered a look at a plethora of upcoming games, both AAA and indie. I took the trip down to Cologne to go hands-on with some of these titles and get a first idea of what to expect based on these previews.


Cocoon, developed by Geometric Interactive and published by Annapurna Interactive, is a puzzle game in which you play a moth-like creature that carries around little worlds that you can jump in and out of.

What put Cocoon on the map the moment it was announced, is that this is the new game by Jeppe Carlsen, the lead gameplay designer of Limbo (2010) and Inside (2016). You might not immediately think it, considering it does look like a departure from his previous games that were 2D narrative-driven platformers, but Cocoon shares a lot of its identity with them. 

who’s this mysterious entity?

What made those games stand out at the time, especially Inside (2016), is the unbelievable atmosphere, and Cocoon follows in those same footsteps. Creating a world, or worlds I suppose, that evokes a mysterious sense of dread. The sound design is outstanding as well and helps in making the environments feel alive, or at times highlighting the lack of life in it.

But the focus of Cocoon is the puzzles, and from what I played, they seem great. The central mechanic of carrying around tiny worlds that you can enter is used to great effect and, without a doubt, much more than just a simple gimmick. Interestingly, it creates an almost metroidvania-esque progression. At one point, I would defeat a boss in one of the worlds, which would then enable the ability to create crystal bridges in the real world around the world orb that I was carrying around.

carrying the world on his shoulders (literally)

Cocoon is one of my highlights of Gamescom and I can’t wait to see more of it. It’s launching on September 29th of this year and will be available on PC, Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series.


Demonschool, developed by Necrosoft Games and published by Ysbryd Games, is a turn-based tactics RPG about students who’re trying to figure out what’s going on at their university, while navigating through both the human and demon worlds.

The immediate point of comparison is the Persona franchise with the high school setting, the bizarro dimension, and daily activities to do between story beats, and I wouldn’t be surprised if those games served as an inspiration for Demonschool. But it also carves its own identity, most notably with its combat.

combo your enemies to death

It’s turn-based combat on a grid that you move around. I jumped into a big boss fight right away, assuming I’d get the hang of it fairly quickly, but I was proven wrong almost immediately. Despite the illusion of simplicity that the combat signals at first, it’s infinitely complex. On the surface, you can move, you can hit enemies, and you can combo with your allies if they are positioned correctly. It’s simple stuff until you realize you only have three hit points per character, and that every combat counter is designed to completely reshape what you previously understood to be the frame of possibilities you’re operating in. Combat is less of a challenge in dealing a lot of damage quickly – in fact, there aren’t even levels or anything like that, meaning your damage numbers will mostly stay the same throughout the entire game – that it is a puzzle in which you have to figure out the trick for every new encounter you come across.

Just like the endless possibilities in combat, Demonschool has endless potential to be something incredible when it releases on PC, Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series.

Drova – Forsaken Kin

Drova – Forsaken Kin, developed by Just2D and published by Deck13, is an action-RPG set in a grim fantasy world inspired by Celtic mythology. The go-to pitch for this game at the Gamescom booth seems to have been “Gothic (2001) in 2D”, and I guess I get the idea.

Drova isn’t an RPG that’s interested in helping you if you’re struggling, or lending you a guiding hand. If you’re like me and miss the map lying in one of the houses at the beginning, then you just don’t have a map. If you can’t defeat an enemy, it’s time to get better, because there aren’t many ways to get stronger in the short term. Do side quests and you might get a slightly better armor or weapon. The only way to figure out what to do is by talking to NPCs, and even then they might not give you the most concrete answers.

the areas all more or less looked like this, maybe in the full release there will be more variety

The visuals I did not care for in Drova. While the pixel art is well down, although also nothing extraordinary, the color palette is just so uninteresting. It’s an ocean of brown and green tones with very little to break the monotonous sludge. I get that it’s a grim world in the wilderness, but would it have killed you to do a little more?

I can see how Drova might be for some people, but it wasn’t for me. I was frustrated more than anything else, but if this sort of game is for you, it’s set to release next year on PC, Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series.

Echo of the Waves

Echo of the Waves, developed by Oneira Games and self-published, is a puzzle game with a stunning hand painted artstyle. In Echo of the Waves you play as Zephyr, a musician, as well as a cartographer from far away who’s discovering the island and looking to preserve their bond with nature.

The game plays with perspective, as the main mechanic is rotating the camera to create hidden shapes in the environment and then playing music to activate their innate power. Initially, I struggled a bit to figure out what I needed to do, but once I got the general idea, most of the puzzles felt very organic. While the environments are 2D, there are often multiple of them layered behind each other that you can jump and forth between, making it a 2.5D game.

I truly adore the artstyle here

As I mentioned before, it features a beautiful hand painted watercolor art style, which is the reason I was drawn to Echo of the Waves  in the first place, if I’m honest. And it really is just stunning to look at and helps in creating a very calming experience with its blue tones and orange highlights. Add to that the music present in the game and you’ve got a relaxing journey that will test your pattern recognition skills as it provides a beautiful new world in front of you.

Echo of the Waves will release on PC in 2024.

Edge of Sanity

Edge of Sanity, developed by Vixa Games and published by Daedalic Entertainment, is a Lovecraftian survival horror game set in Alaska. It’s hard to look at the game and not think of John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982), with its total isolation in a barren snow-covered landscape and the threat of a cosmic horror.

I don’t know when this specific 2D illustrative style became the go-to artstyle for Lovecraftian horror indie games – I’m guessing it must’ve been Darkest Dungeon’s (2016) release – but I dig the style, even if it’s not exactly original anymore.

what hides in the darkness?

In terms of gameplay, we need to clarify the survival horror title this game carries. It’s not a survival horror game in the traditional sense. Think of it more as a survival game with horror elements. Going on expeditions, gathering important resources needed for survival, uncovering what the hell is going on around you. I only played the first couple, levels that were understandably still rather tame in the horror department, so I’m curious to see how far the game goes in that aspect.

Edge of Sanity will be available on PC and Nintendo Switch.

Everdeep Aurora

Everdeep Aurora, developed by Nautilus Games and published by Ysbryd Games, is a 2D platformer built around exploration, featuring a striking 16-bit aesthetic. Set in a world with an ongoing apocalyptic meter shower, society has fled underground and rebuilt their lives there.

The core of Everdeep Aurora is drilling downwards, excavating the hidden world beneath the ground, and dealing with its new inhabitants. As much as this is an intriguing world, there wasn’t much that got me to care for it in the demo. I would do things for them, drill around to find a place I was told about, pick up a key that’s needed somewhere, platform my way up somewhere etc. I was doing things, but I didn’t care why I was doing them or what I was doing them for. I hope in the full release the world will feel a bit richer to solve this issue for me.

I love the frame within a frame UI

The lo-fi aesthetic of it all is so up my alley though. The 16-bit artstyle with a limited range of colours. The design of the UI creates a frame within a frame in which you’re playing. The score is reminiscent of older games. It all creates a fantastic atmosphere of an old Gameboy game, with some modern touches.

If Everdeep Aurora manages to make me care about the why, and the who, and the what of it all this could make for a pretty great experience. Everything else around it has potential without a doubt. Everdeep Aurora will release on PC and Nintendo Switch.

Granblue Fantasy: Relink

Granblue Fantasy: Relink, developed by Cygames, who are also publishing the title, is an action-RPG based on the Granblue Fantasy franchise. For people that don’t know, Granblue Fantasy (2014) is a famous mobile gacha game set in a fantasy world with steampunk influences.

If the gacha of it all sounds scary to you, don’t worry, this game has nothing to do with that. It’s a fully fledged anime action-RPG. The fact that Platinum Games one worked on this is apparent with how exciting and fast the combat feels, combo-ing down your enemies with an endless barrage of attacks that weave into each other without missing a beat. It feels incredible to fight whatever enemy stands in front of you, and the combat is easily the main selling point for me.

the enemies are frequently much bigger than you

While the demo didn’t have much of any story, I have hopes that Granblue Fantasy: Relink will deliver in that aspect as well. I think as long as they deliver something on the level of the average JRPG storyline, I will be happy. Anything more than that and this game has the potential to be something really incredible.

Granblue Fantasy: Relink releases on February 1st 2024 on PC, Playstation 4, and Playstation 5.


Hauntii, developed by Moonloop Games and published by Firestoke, is a twin-stick-shooter adventure game set in Eternity, a place where souls gather, one of whom is the titular Hauntii. With no memories left, all that Hauntii can do is explore this mysterious world and, in the process, hopefully remember who they once were.

It’s a stunningly beautiful game with an equally beautiful soundtrack. The gameplay encourages exploration and experimentation with its haunt mechanic, which allows you to take control of pretty much anything in the environment, leading to some surprising possibilities to overcome obstacles. I won’t spend too much time writing about Hauntii as I’ve already written an Impressions piece that you can read here. Just know that this was one of my highlights from Gamescom 2023.

Welcome to Eternity

Hauntii will release on PC, Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series.

Heist Schoolers

Heist Schoolers, developed by Naraven Games, who are presumably self-publishing the game as well, is a narrative-driven horror game in the vein of Until Dawn (2015). Inspired by classic slasher films from the 80s and 90s we follow a group of six teenagers that decide to pull off a heist at their high school to steal the solutions for their upcoming exam. But when they enter, something more sinister awaits them.

The group of characters splits up pretty much right away, as the school is made up of multiple buildings with their own visual identity. In the demo I played, you’re a character sitting outside on top of a tree keeping an eye on everything, notifying other characters in case you see anything unusual. The dialogue here is fantastic, the characters’ banter with each other feels very real, and it’s simply fun to listen to them. They perfectly capture that cheesy feeling from classic slasher films, while never diving into the absurd.

again, a very eary build so don’t judge the presentation too much

I don’t want to talk too much about the visual presentation as this was a very early build I got to see. Apparently, they only started working on it at the beginning of this year, so the fact that they had anything to show at all is quite impressive to be honest. Accordingly, they are in a very rough shape, but there was enough there that, paired with my conversation with the developers, I can imagine that this will make for an atmospheric environment to explore. It’s also worth noting that the key art is stunning and tells you so much about the kind of game this aims to be.

Heist Schoolers will release on PC.


Hyenas, developed by Creative Assembly and published by Sega, is a hero-based extraction shooter where you compete in teams of three against each other to secure valuable merchandise. Unfortunately, the game is incredibly bland and I can’t imagine this will survive for very long.

The mechanic that’s supposed to set this apart from other games like it are the zero gravity sections. On every map there are parts of it where gravity is deactivated and you can use your boosters to fly around. This sounds a lot cooler than it actually is in practice. Maybe I just need to spend more time with it, but it felt quite clunky in this play session. Apart from that, it’s your classic hero-based shooter with an extraction element.

“get your limited sonic plushie now”

But the reason I’m calling this game bland, is because the hero designs as well as the environments have no sense of identity. You would never be able to pick this out from any other game like it, and if you did, it would exclusively be thanks to the rather cheap Sega references sprinkled into it.

Is Hyenas a bad game? No. But I don’t see why you’d play this over something like Apex Legends (2019). And with the oversaturation of extraction shooters that we’re about to see, I have a hard time imagining this one standing out.

Hyenas will release on PC, Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series.

I doesn’t exist – a modern text adventure

I doesn’t exist – a modern text adventure, developed by LUAL Games KIG and published by DreadXP is, as the title would imply, a classic text adventure with a modern twist. It advertises itself as being about control, isolation, and mental health, and while I can’t say for sure how well those topics are handled, the demo certainly gave me some first insights.

In terms of gameplay, it’s very much a text adventure. You tell your little guy what to do and then he does it. You start in a sort of escape room with a plethora of items that can be interacted with but are all missing something to be used properly, and so you have to figure out what goes with what. It also comes with the classic traps of a text adventure, as you have to use the exact words it wants you to use and sometimes I would write what I thought was a pretty clear command and it just wouldn’t understand.

the visualization of what’s happening is very nice though

While it starts out pretty basic, it turns very meta eventually. With your little guy talking to you directly, and you talking to him, as well as a third mysterious voice that’s trying to control him. The existentialism becomes immediately apparent as the little guy talks about his inability to control himself and wanting to break out of this loop, oh yeah did I mention there might be some sort of time loop going on? I’m very intrigued where the story will go, and how far the game will really go with its announced themes.

I doesn’t exist – a modern text adventure will release on PC.

Killing Floor 3

Killing Floor 3, developed by Tripwire Interactive who are also publishing the title, is an intense co-op action/horror FPS set in a futuristic world where the megacorp Horzine has created an army of bioengineered monsters, also known as zeds. I didn’t get to go hands-on with this title, instead I got a simple presentation with some basic information and got to talk to the team for a bit.

The game is being worked on in Unreal Engine 5, an engine that, based on the few titles we have seen using it so far, is absolutely stunning. And what I saw from Killing Floor 3 looked great as well, with the art direction reminding me a lot of the System Shock Remake (2023) from earlier this year. Lots of dark, grey hallways, with neon lights accentuating important bits.

the enemies look very menacing as well

There isn’t much I can say about the gameplay, as I didn’t get to see much. But it looks like it will indeed be more of Killing Floor for fans of the franchise. But with the almost cyberpunk-esque aesthetic the game brings to the table, I might check it out once it releases, if it turns out to be enough fun to justify shooting through hordes of enemies with no story to really grip you.

Killing Floor 3 will release on PC, Playstation 5, and Xbox Series.


NARUTO X BORUTO Ultimate Ninja STORM CONNECTIONS, developed by CyberConnect 2 and published by Bandai Namco, is the newest entry into the Ultimate Ninja Storm franchise. A franchise that’s near and dear to my heart, even if it’s more or less the same each time.

This stays true for this newest entry as well. From what I played, the combat is essentially the same thing we’ve played in previous entries, but with even more characters this time around. I’m pretty confident though, that if you’re a fan of this franchise like me, then you probably didn’t expect anything else to begin with. Because guess what, the gameplay is pretty solid, as it has always been. I’m not a fan of the anime arena fighters, of which we get a few each year from whatever shounen is popular at the moment, but Ultimate Ninja Storm has always been the shining light in an otherwise extremely mediocre genre, and it continues to be that.

you got to have a classic naruto vs. sasuke fight in your game

What is different about this game, though, is that it will have a wholly original story with some original characters. While I didn’t get to see any of that, and as such can’t comment on it beyond what you’ve seen in the trailers, I’m definitely excited to see what they have cooked up here, and if it will be worth anything or if it’s just a cheap bombardment of fanservice moment.

Regardless, I’m excited to once again throw down as some of my favourite ninjas. This game probably won’t be revolutionary, but quite frankly, I don’t need it to be.

Boruto going up against a Susano’o sounds like an interesting matchup

NARUTO X BORUTO Ultimate Ninja STORM CONNECTIONS will release on November 17th 2023 on PC, Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Nitendo Switch, Xbox One, and Xbox Series.

Persona 5 Tactica

Persona 5 Tactica, developed by Atlus’ P-Studio and published by Atlus and Sega, is a tactical RPG spin-off of Persona 5 (2016), a game I love so dearly. It’s a new game with some new characters, as well as a returning cast from the main game.

While the game adopts a new, dare I say simpler, artstyle, it doesn’t lose the flashiness of Persona 5 (2016). Keeping the original art design in tact and simply applying it to a slightly different look. Of course, the music we all know and love is here again as well.

don’t worry, no aiming is required

For the combat, I hope it becomes more complex as the game progresses, because what I got to see was rather simple. Persona 5’s (2016) combat admittedly isn’t the most complex either, but the battles there are also a lot quicker while they are more involved here by their very nature. During any turn of yours, you can walk around the battlefield and attack enemies within range with your normal or special attack. By the end of your turn, you’ll want to make sure you stand next to a wall or some other sort of cover as that will protect you from enemy attacks. The only mechanic I got to see that really goes beyond those basic principles of combat, is the Triple Threat attack. If you manage to position your units in a triangle around a group of enemies, they can launch a powerful team attack, reminiscent of the All-Out Attack in Persona 5 (2016).

Persona 5 Tactica will not reach the heights of the original Persona 5 (2016), but I think it has the building blocks to make for a solid spin-off entry for the franchise. Persona 5 Tactica will release on November 17th 2023 on PC, Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series.

Post Trauma

Post Trauma, developed by RED SOUL GAMES and published by Raw Fury, is a horror game that harkens back to the classics of survival horror. Most notably by bringing back the fixed camera perspectives.

Using them, Post Trauma creates some beautiful compositions that make it easy to identify what’s important in any given space. This is needed, since the game isn’t interested in needlessly holding your hand beyond that. You’ll have to figure out what to do and where to do it by yourself.

do I want to know what’s in that hole?

Post Trauma puts a focus on puzzle solving, but there’s still some combat. The combat, sadly, isn’t particularly good from what I got to see, with it feeling more like I was just aimlessly flailing on enemies, rather than anything more strategic I’d want from a horror game.

Post Trauma features some pretty cool art design though, with interesting looking enemies, and sterile, abandoned environments that highlight the weird cosmic horror that hides within them.

some cool, otherworldly stuff going on here

If you want some more in-depth thoughts about Post Trauma, I wrote an impressions piece that you can find here.

Post Trauma is set to release in Spring 2024, and will release in PC, Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series.

Psychotic Bathtub

Psychotic Bathtub, developed by natsha who are also publishing the title, is an interactive multilinear narrative in which you make decisions that will shape your story. It’s about Ophelia, who has a fictional psychotic disorder, and with every decision it can escalate further.

Psychotic Bathtub is a game that deals with many topics adjacent to mental health. Death, suicide, self-destruction, intrusive thoughts, guilt, escapism etc. As such, it won’t necessarily be an easy game to swallow, although it does, for the most part, carry a lighter tone that makes those topics easier to stomach. It does this thing that I love, where it takes completely mundane tasks that for people with mental disorders might be difficult, and then enhances those struggling emotions with surrealism.

this is the only location in the game, and it’s all the game needs

The story and, accordingly, the ending will change with every playthrough. I only did a single one in my session, but even just with that, I got a pretty good grip on the game and its fantastic writing. Psychotic Bathtub is at moments funny, at others heart-breaking. It can be uneasy and tense, or light-hearted and amusing. But through it all, it takes the matter of mental health very seriously, and even though it’s a fictional disorder, parts of it were certainly relatable to me.

Then there’s also the striking art style that got me to pay attention to this title in the first place. The illustrations are simple, but so effective and the usage of colour similarly seems very carefully arranged. This is a game that I can’t wait to play over and over again to see all the possible endings and scenarios once it releases.

Psychotic Bathtub is set to release in 2024 on PC.

Sand Land

Sand Land, developed by ILCA and published by Bandai Namco, is an action-RPG set in the world of Sand Land, a manga created by Akira Toriyama, the creator of Dragon Ball (1984-). In it you play as Beelzebub, a fiend prince, in a world that’s not much more than a massive desert.

The opening of the demo is exciting as you’re chased by a massive sand dragon that buries itself through the ground and jumps out at you every few seconds. After that, it becomes decidedly less exciting as you have to traverse the empty desert. I understand that it’s supposed to be a desert with not much going on, but there has to be a more interesting way to design your open world.

“oh wow I can’t wait to explore this exciting world”

Then comes a combat encounter. The combat feels good, albeit not amazing, but if it doesn’t become more complex as the game progresses, I fear just spamming the attack button might just be enough to come out as the winner in every battle.

The character designs are classic Akira Toriyama. If you’re not familiar with his work beyond Dragon Ball (1984-), it all kind of just looks the same. If you dig his style, there’s more of it. If you don’t… well, then this isn’t anything different.

Sand Land will release on PC, Playstation 4, Playstation 5, and Xbox Series.

Songs of Silence

Songs of Silence, developed by Chimera Entertainment, who are also publishing the game, is a turn-based strategy game with real-time battles, set in an epic fantasy world that delights with its unique artstyle.

The combat is essentially auto battling, as the units will simply go at each other without your control. You do, however, have some special abilities that you collect throughout your campaign that can be used to influence the battle slightly. Even more importantly, you can impact the battle before it even starts, by taking good care of your army and managing your units correctly. This is what has to be the focus of the game, and so preparing for each new enemy is much more important than the fight itself.


You will be spending a lot of time managing your army here

Moving your armies across the map is then turn-based, with a limited number of movement points that you can spend each turn before allowing your enemies to move. You’ll need to make decisions if you want to spend them all and get your units in a weakened state, or only move half as far as you theoretically could, but in exchange keeping your army ready and alert.

The artstlye of Songs of Silence is stunning with some truly striking illustrations that have an ethereal quality to them and use vibrant colours to really make it all pop. They make this fantasy world that’s split into two dimensions, the light and dark world, come to light beautifully.

A look at the game as you navigate the map during your turns

If you want to know more about Songs of Silence, I have written an impressions piece that you can take a look at here.

Songs of Silence will release on PC.

Vampire: The Masquerade – Justice

Vampire: The Masquerade – Justice, developed by Fast Travel Games, who are also publishing the title, is a first-person stealth action VR game set in the universe of Vampire: The Masquerade. A franchise that has had plenty of games made based on it, most famously the classic Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines (2004), now has a VR entry. And it’s eerily similar to Dishonored (2012).

I don’t mean this as a bad thing, the Dishonored series is a beloved franchise, and there aren’t many games like it these days. But it’s impossible not to think of Dishonored (2012) when you’re sneaking through houses that you can scan with your magical hand for hints, when you’re blinking from roof to roof in an attempt to pass the guards without notice, when you’re shooting enemies with a crossbow on your right arm.

I hope you know how to aim with your hands

What does set it apart is the fact that you’re a vampire, which means that you need to consume blood regularly to continuously use your abilities. But since you can’t drink blood from corpses, you need to find other ways, like approaching enemies while they are still alive, or picking up rats from the ground.

If you want to hear some more in-depth thoughts and watch gameplay, we’ve released an impressions video about it that you can watch here.

the power fantasy of playing a vampire is always fun

If you’re looking for the next good immersive sim, and have access to VR, Vampire: The Masquerade – Justice is a game to keep an eye on. It’s set to release on November 2nd 2023, and will release for PSVR2, Meta Quest 2, and Meta Quest 3.

We Stay Behind

We Stay Behind, developed by Backwoods Entertainment and Application Systems Heidelberg, who are also publishing the title, is a single-player third-person mystery set in a world with dreamlike qualities where close to anything is possible. In the kickstarter, the developers themselves call this game a mix of the surreality from David Lynch’s Twin Peaks (1990-1991), and the beautiful landscapes with a focus on story from Firewatch (2016).

In the game you play as Laura Tanner, a renowned writer, who interviews the residents of Laburnum Creek that don’t want to leave despite the comet that’s on its course to destroy the small town. As you talk to the people, they’ll tell you about the strange events that are occurring in Laburnum Creek, stories that increasingly blur the line between dreams and reality.

the environments are beautiful and serene

Despite the, at times uneasy happenings that you hear about, the atmosphere is calming and has a very melancholic quality to it, fitting for a small town that’s about to be destroyed, I suppose. That’s in big part due to the beautiful landscapes you’re traversing. Firewatch (2016) really is the perfect point of comparison here with its serene forest trails, rivers, and the occasional house. But the music equally helps create the atmosphere with some graceful, instrumental ambient tunes.

We Stay Behind is a game that really peaked my interest and one that I will keep my eye on for sure. It will be released on PC and Nintendo Switch.


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