Yesterday, H and I spent six glorious hours trawling EGX, the video games expo in Earls Court which runs til Sunday. SUCH joy. The cosplay! The Streetpassing! The hunt for new games we’d heard of, and new things to fall in love with and throw our pounds at in the near future.
Towards the end I was hungering for new Street Fighter so wasn’t wild about visiting Rezzed, the indie zone, but blimey it’s grown since I last went a couple of years ago. And double blimey – this year’s had some of the most beautiful and entrancing games I’ve seen since playing Okami, that gorgeous watercolour RPG reboot. All the ones I tried were works in progress, and these ones were my favourites.
A Light In Chorus
When I was still a music journo years ago, I went to the first year of End of the Road. It was entrancing for many reasons – it’s the most beautiful festival I’ve ever been to, go – but my favourite moments were a star walk with an astronomer, through Larmer Tree Gardens’ dark, star-rich countryside, and the light forest. This is a section of woods simply festooned with golden lights. It leads to a piano on a little stage that anyone can play, and it was one of the most uplifting things I saw all weekend.
This game shares the beauty of stars, of lights strung up in night time woods, and of music. I played a PC demo, merrily clicking on random things with no idea what I was doing. Did I care? I did not. It was total joy. I followed a little path of lights, picking up new commands like focus, or inventory, along the way through a wood of lights, leading to what looked like an abandoned funfair, all picked out in lights. It is the most beautiful thing I’ve seen in ages.
Here’s the blurb about what the game is actually about from people who should know:
A Light in Chorus is an exploration game set in a world made entirely of particles. It’s probably fair to say that it’s a game that’s more concerned about mood and feel than win-states. You move around the world as a reconfigurable swarm of points;- adopting the shapes of things around you, illuminating hidden landscapes and revealing shadowy fragments of a much larger mystery…
Also, shifting a bunch of particles around a glowy world is quite fun.
(Please don’t hate us for the F word!)
My laptop is seven years old, so I really hope they bring out a console version. But either way, I can’t wait to see a finished version. Sign up for updates at www.alightinchorus.com, and find the game at EGX in The Leftfield Collection just off Rezzed.
If you like stop motion animation with handmade sets, then form an orderly queue: that is pretty much what Lumino City is about. At EGX, the team – artist Luke Whittaker, co-founder Katherine Bidwell, and developerDaniel Fountain – even brought some of their sets along so you could see them after playing the (utterly adorable) demo.
You play a little girl whose grandpa is kidnapped while you’re making him a cup of tea – the mechanics of making tea are simple and entrancingly distracting while the poor chap’s being forcibly removed. Obviously, you head off to find him and then some quirky, gorgeous puzzles ensue in similarly lovely settings.
It’s fated that I like this game, quite apart from the fact it’s Zoolander-levels of ridiculously goodlooking. The team’s credits pop up post-kidnap: I think I went to university with the music director. And today the studio, State of Play, tweeted me to say they’re based in Camberwell and would I like to pop into the studio sometimes? Yes I would! Can I come now? Oh, now is not convenient because you’re at day two of EGX? Fair play. So expect a studio report soon from this creative, clever studio, who are showing in Rezzed. And check out the prequel Lume too.
How To Be A Tree
The Leftfield Collection again. I loved this odd, funny game from developer Jimmy Andrews, which played like a cross between Thomas Was Alone and Journey. You play a tree – a tree who can move with the help of physics! Scrunch up the tree into little gaps and infuriate the moving eye who idolises you. I’m not sure how much, if any, longevity this game has but it was beautiful to play and the difficulty level as you learn to leap and scrunch up, moved smoothly. Plus it reminded me of the old Prudential advert and I’m pleased that someone has given becoming a tree the thought that advert deserved. Ooh: Thomas Was Alone’s creator Mike Bithell is showing his next game, Volume, in Rezzed, but it was packed each time I went past so didn’t get to have a go. If you get to, let me know!
The Adventures of Bertram Fiddle
The first game from animation studio Rumpus Animation in Bristol, this point and click adventure for PC and iOS is a glorious trinity of striking looks, wit and plot. Also double entendres about grandfathers with massive clocks and Bertram’s wife, Wortha.
You’re Bertram Fiddle, an adventurer in Victorian England who ends up on the trail of a dreadful villain with a magnificent name. Who doesn’t immediately want to locate Geoff The Murderer? I love the animation style, the silly jokes and the fact that one of the people you meet in the trailer is getting a back massage from a dodo when you meet him. All this is done with the help of your manservant, and Peruvian Cyclops, Watson. Bertram Fiddle is out this autumn, and you can find it in Rezzed. Lovely. I for one can’t wait to meet Lady Ravisham.
And that’s it for my super-favourites. There is LOADS at EGX, so if you have a spare day this weekend I really recommend you go and check out some games. The Oculus Rift is there too – brace yourself for queues, I’ve never played so much Pokemon all year – and H and I had a go on the space flier EVE: Valkyrie. 3D really, finally is awesome.