10 Exciting Games You May Not Know About
By Alessandro Fillari | @afillari on
The Games From Day of the Devs 2018
Just when you think there are plenty of games out right now, there are more titles waiting in the wings when you least expect it. At the recent Day of the Devs 2018 event held in San Francisco, CA, hosted once again by DoubleFine Games and iam8Bit, we got to explore the venue and saw dozens of games planned for release on PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. In addition to hosting Spelunky 2, the Day of the Devs event also offered visitors the chance to play Justin Roiland's new title Trevor Saves The Universe and Kingdom Hearts III, which releases on January 29, 2019.
Much like last year's roundup, we've pulled together a list of some promising titles that not only surprised us with their cleverness but impressed us with their originality and quirkiness. Though Day of the Devs 2018 offered well over 50 titles to try out, we've selected 10 games that really stuck out for us. While Kingdom Hearts III is certainly an impressive game, we felt it was better to highlight some games that haven't really been given the spotlight yet.Here's our list of exciting games we saw during Day of the Devs 2018.
And yes, in case you were wondering, Gang Beasts also made an appearance. As a staple of every DoubleFine event, the bizarre party-brawler game has become one title you can always expect to see at one of San Francisco's many other gaming events as well. It's currently out now on PC and PS4.
Creaks, Amanita Design | Release: TBA 2019
Coming from Amanita Design, the same team behind 2009's haunting point-and-click adventure Machinarium, Creaks is an equally atmospheric jaunt through a dark world beneath our own. Playing as a silent protagonist, you suddenly discover a hole in your bedroom wall. Soon after, you find yourself spiraling down into the dark abyss below, uncovering a cavernous hodgepodge of broken homes hobbled together into rickety structures. You'll eventually come across dangerous mechanical monsters that attack on sight but are averse to all forms of light--they turn into furniture as soon as it touches them.
Creaks is something of a puzzle-platformer, and you'll have to make careful jumps to overcome hazards in the environment while avoiding the gaze of the mechanical beasts lurking the creaky halls. What's interesting about Creaks is that its unique visual style--which has a similar aesthetic to one of Roald Dahl's darker children's books--strongly evokes a feeling of isolation and curiosity. As you go further into the dark, labyrinthine networks of the ruined homes, you'll learn clues about what created such a depressing place and how it all somehow connects to you. Set for release sometime in 2019 on PC and other consoles, Creaks is looking to be an exciting follow-up to the studios' previous game. -- Alessandro Fillari
Gris, Nomada Studio | Release: Dec. 13, 2018
After strong early impressions, it's exciting to know that Nomada Studio's stylish puzzle-platformer, Gris, is almost here. Gris, the main character, practically flows through environments, effortlessly traipsing over gaps and sliding down hills. The world she's in is rich with architecture that vaguely recalls M.C. Escher accentuated by glimpses of Salvadore Dali-esque surrealism. It makes for a very striking game.
For all the wonder inspired by the visual presentation, the orchestrated soundtrack balances it out with hints of sorrow. Gris wants you to feel something, and has been intentionally designed to downplay its difficulty, preferring instead that you remain focused on subtle cues and overarching themes as you progress.
There's still so much we haven't seen, including how Gris, the character, will evolve as the story unfolds. We're thankful that we won't have to wait too long to find out what else lies in store for us. And while there's no word of a console release yet, PC and Mac players can give it a go in less than a month's time, on December 13. -- Peter Brown
Desert Child, Oscar Brittain | Release: December 11, 2019
Desert Child is about as unassuming as video games get. It's part life simulator, part adventure, and part break-neck jet-bike racing. Quiet strolls down the slums of a futuristic city are interspersed with RPG elements (such as upgrading your hoverbike, increasing stats, and eating food), as well as high-speed vehicle segments that see your character shooting down crates of money or flinging pizzas to hungry customers. The races are thrilling little breaks between the monotony of your character's daily life and echo classic shoot-em-ups, right down to the powerups you pick up along the way.
There's a lot of depth hiding under Desert Child's unassuming visuals. The game's pixel art is very reminiscent of the 80s' adventure game boom (a la King's Quest), but there is a whole slew of things to keep track of. Your bike needs constant maintenance and upgrades to remain competitive in races and events, and you'll need to keep track of your hunger from day to day by visiting various food vendors around the city. It may sound like a lot, but the soundtrack, dialogue, and eclectic style of gameplay make Desert Child's world feel alive and worth visiting. -- Joey Yee
Disco Elysium, ZA/UM | Release: TBA 2019
Formerly known as No Truce With The Furies, Disco Elysium mixes many styles and elements of a hardboiled detective drama with the mechanics of traditional CRPG. Placing you in the shoes of a brilliant detective with some serious baggage, you'll follow leads to solve a different cases in and around the dystopian city of Revachol--mirroring the style of a '70s police thriller. But there's a bit more going on than your typical gum-shoeing antics, and your investigation will slowly unravel a greater mystery.
Instead of swords, magic, guns, and other tools to engage your enemies--which are commonplace in the CRPG sub-genre--the greatest assets you have are your own intuition and way with words. At the beginning of the game, you'll find the main character communing with his subconscious, referred to as the lizard brain. From here, you'll form the basis of your character. Whether he's tough-as-nails cop with a pushy attitude or an anti-social genius investigator, your choices will impact the type of character your detective is, which in turn offers some unique twists to many of the different encounters you'll have.
Coming out in 2019 on PC, Disco Elysium offers up some fun twists to the CRPG genre, which is backed up by some impeccable writing that recalls memorable moments from the classics in hardboiled detective dramas. -- Alessandro Fillari
Lonely Mountains: Downhill, Megagon Industries | Release: TBA 2019
Lonely Mountains: Downhill is a physics-based mountain-biking game that doesn't shy away from making your life difficult. That, however, is part of the fun. Lonely Mountains isn't unfair, but it does teach you early on that braking is just as (if not more) important than accelerating. Fail to work within the limitations of your bike and body, and you'll likely wind up flying off of cliffs or headlong into massive boulders and forced to start again.
As your skills gradually build, you'll progress from risky turns to exciting ramp-jumps over valleys. These are the moments when it's time to accelerate, and as you can experience for yourself in the game's PC demo (available on Megagon Industries' website) the variable pacing keeps you on your toes while it orchestrates a tense race downhill.
Lonely Mountains won't be out until 2019 (there's no firm release date at the moment) but it's worth giving the demo a shot to see what it's all about. It's an intuitive game that showcases a sport which rarely gets the video game treatment. The only other example is the recently released Descenders, but where that game aims for a slightly more realistic representation of mountain biking, Lonely Mountains goes for a cute and accessible look to ease you into the experience. -- Peter Brown
Sloppy Forgeries, Jonah Warren | Release: TBA
If you equally enjoy fine art and crude MS Paint drawings, Sloppy Forgeries is a fun, quick, competitive mash-up of the two. Utilizing dual mice, two artists (or whatever you want to call yourselves) square off to recreate a famous painting from scratch. The winner is the person with the highest percentage of paint in the correct place, but you're only given a handful of colors and brush sizes to complete your forgery, which is absolutely intended. The keyword here is "sloppy," meaning that no matter what, your artwork is going to look a crude finger-painting, but the joy comes in seeing how close you can get to painting the Mona Lisa using giant blobs.
Rounds last 90 seconds each, which seems like almost enough time for a masterpiece, but in reality, you're usually left with large sections of the canvas empty or with paint splotches in the very vague shape of a human being. Sloppy Forgeries almost feels like it was rescued from the Island of Misfit Jackbox Games, as the head-to-head art competition is reminiscent of games like Drawful or Tee K.O., but it could evolve into something all its own. After all, it's got hundreds of years of content to draw from. -- Joey Yee
Eastward, Pixpil | Release: TBA
Eastward is a game that practically speaks for itself. One look at its gorgeous pixelated world reveals eye-catching distractions galore. It's a single-player RPG that promises to have lots of metropolitan sightseeing and dungeon running, where you control a duo of characters and swap between them to solve puzzles.
With the world's population shrinking, the sudden surge in towns being attacked by strange creatures, and the discovery of a mysterious girl with a pivotal backstory, Eastward seems like it will be nestled in throwback RPG tropes. If it weren't for the real-time combat, you wouldn't be blamed for comparing Eastward to the style and attitude of a game like Earthbound, what with all the strange personalities and expressive characters that have been teased thus far.
Eastward is listed on Steam as "coming soon," which hopefully is code for sometime before the end of 2018. In a world where Nintendo refuses to release Mother 3--the Japan-exclusive follow-up to Earthbound--a game like Eastward seems like it will go a long way to scratch the collective itch for a quirky yet grounded pixelated RPG. -- Peter Brown
Tunic, Andrew Shouldice / Finji | Release: TBA 2018
In many ways, developer Andrew Shouldice's Tunic will remind you of early games in The Legend of Zelda series. The downward camera angle, the wooded fantasy setting, and of course, the lead character's garb--a green tunic--are very clearly and specifically evocative.
The lead character isn't a boy hero in the traditional sense, but rather a pint-sized fox. The world it explores is softly rendered with a strong depth-of-field effect that offers immediate visual appeal on top of the nostalgic foundation. As you'll have to defend yourself during your travels, you'll make use of a lock-on-based combat system that allows you to dash around enemies while maintaining focus on a specific target--a lot like the highly influential Ocarina of Time.
As publisher of another charming game starring a cute creature--PSVR's Moss--Finji has reportedly imparted some of its own expertise to help Shouldice refine Tunic's setting and overall character. The game is definitely shaping up nicely as it nears release. As we found out during E3 last year, Tunic will be an Xbox One console exclusive, though both PC and Mac users will also have access to the game via Steam when it eventually releases later this year. -- Peter Brown
The Wild At Heart, Moonlight Kids | Release: TBA 2019
Though the style and tone evoking the classic adventure films of the '80s now feels a bit passé, the upcoming puzzle-adventure game The Wild At Heart presents some neat twists to those familiar tropes. Coming from developer Moonlight Kids, this charming adventure game that channels elements of whimsy and nostalgia offers up a charming take on some familiar adventure gameplay. When a young outcast finds himself lost in the woods, he stumbles upon a forgotten world filled with strange beings known as spritelings. Eventually, he'll be able to partner up with these creatures to explore the world, solve complex puzzles, and overcome obstacles that he can't do alone.
Yes, this totally sounds like Pikmin, and the developers weren't shy about their love of Nintendo's series. But what The Wild At Heart brings to the table is deeper focus on learning more about the world and its inhabitants. As the main character develops a stronger bond with the spritelings, you'll discover different areas of the woods and meet other characters who will need your help. The Wild At Heart has very charming vibe, and with its Spielbergian style in full-swing, it goes out of its way to tug on your nostalgic heartstrings. -- Alessandro Fillari
Line Wobbler, Wolbbly Labs | Playable Only At Special Events
Not all games need screens. In the case of the "1D dungeon crawler" Line Wobbler, all you need is a doorstop and a strip of LED lights to play. Using the springy metal controller, you guide a green light through levels filled with what we can assume to be monsters but are essentially just lines of light. You attack them with a quick flick of the spring, wobbling the controller back and forth. Ease your way through enemies and you'll make it out alive, but push too hard on the controller, and it's a game over for you.
While the game was propped up against a wall in a gentle curve, the physical placement of the LED strip makes the game all the more unique. Hypothetically, you could attach it to any surface you want to incorporate physical objects into the game, radically changing the difficulty in the process.
It may seem like a simple game, but the visual stimulation and tactile feel of the controller make it one wobbly experience you won't find anywhere else. -- Joey Yee