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  • The Coolest Games Weve Played at GDC 2018

    first_imgStay on target This week we’re covering one of the biggest shows in the video game industry. No, E3 didn’t get bumped up three months. It’s the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, California! E3 is all about publishers, media, and now a distressing amount of public fans flooding Los Angeles to check out a bunch of products. But GDC is a place for artists and technicians who actually make games to come together to share knowledge, network, and party.Much of what happens at GDC is so academic and inward facing it’s not too relevant unless you yourself want to become a game developer. I could try to recap a panel about new lighting and coding breakthroughs, but skimming past the juicy technical details kind of misses the point. Plus you’re better off just watch full archives of those panels.However, when you get this many game developers all in one spot, naturally they’re going to bring new video games with them for the press to play and write about it. And as press that’s exactly what we’re going to do. Here’s our list of the best games we’ve played at GDC 2018.AdChoices广告A Way OutA few years ago the small game Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons made big waves with its innovative approach to “co-operative” gameplay. Players used the dual sticks to simultaneously control a big and little brother to explore and survive, with the physical acting of playing this way acting a metaphor for their bond.A Way Out, made by the same creative forces, explodes this idea out on a AAA scale. Two players, either online or ideally on the same couch, control two very different escaped convicts slowly getting to know each other while trying to evade authorities in the 1970s. And the game explores and encourages this cooperation through countless creative gameplay scenarios. Sneak up together on two guards and stealth kill them. One of you slowly drives a stolen police car while another hides in the back. Splash fish toward your partner for him to spear. Then start a fire with the wood he collected to cook dinner. Play Connect Four together. You both even have to agree to a plan before you can execute it.Gameplay in A Way Out is constantly changing to suit the needs of the real focus: the two-man show. Even the camera dynamically shifts from typical behind the back splitscreen to a swooping tracking shot that swaps between the two characters and ends on a 2D beat ‘em. The developers want there to be no filler in the linear and roughly 8-hour campaign, and I didn’t see any of the inventive ad-hoc mechanics repeat themselves during my lengthy playthrough. We don’t have to wait much longer to see how the story ends, together, because A Way Out releases March 23.Dead Static DriveSaying your game is like Grand Theft Auto for Cthulhu mythos is a great way to get me to pay attention. And although I didn’t play too much of it, I did find Dead Static Drive very attention-grabbing. From a top-down perspective I drove around a stylish backwoods environment a bit like Kentucky Route Zero but with a kind of apocalyptic vaporwave bent. I stopped at the gas station to use the bathroom and recruit survivors. Unfortunately, most perished when a giant flaming tentacles emerged from the ground and we barely beat it into submission. I then clumsily refueled my RV and drove off, presumably into the next nightmare. This is one is definitely on my radar now.Knights and BikesIt feels weird we have to keep saying this but sometimes it’s just nice to see a game about kids for kids. Knights and Bikes draws inspiration from stuff like The Goonies, Costume Quest, and Paper Girls to present a vibrant and gorgeous childhood adventure about growing up bored in rural 1980s England. The animations and parallax layers turn the world into a drawing come to life, which ties into how the two girl protagonists use their imaginations to turn construction equipment into wizard’s towers or frisbees and water balloons into deadly weapons.It’s like those South Park RPGs but actually for kids or Drawn to Death but good. Once I learned the developers at Foam Sword used to work at Media Molecule (LittleBigPlanet, Tearaway) the beautiful visuals made more sense. The gameplay didn’t impress quite as much with its basic combat and puzzles as well as fiddly bike controls, but the world was arresting and positive enough to make it impossible for players to walk away unhappy.Spartan FistFor as much as I don’t like roguelikes in the long run, the brief, repeating, difficult, and mechanics-driven nature of the genre does demo pretty well. Spartan Fist’s big mechanic is that it’s a first-person brawler in which you travel from arena to arena clobbering other gladiators until you can move on. You can throw weak punches and charge up strong ones as well as shift between different fighting stances to break certain enemy defenses. It’s pretty deep and especially funny contrasted against the cute and pastel retro blocky 3D models of the characters themselves.The MessengerWhat Shovel Knight is to the NES era in general The Messenger is to old-school Ninja Gaiden specifically. As the nimble shinobi you hop, slash, and make use of various tools just like Ryu Hayabusa. Climbing walls, throwing grappling hooks, and gliding on stretched fabric let you skillfully traverse treacherous terrain. But what changes everything on both a gameplay and, presumably, narrative level are the various tears you’ll find as you work your way through the Metroidvania map. Going through one changes the art style from 8-bit to 16-bit. Not only is it a cool visual trick but it alters the layout as well. Environmental puzzles challenge you to hop between time and processors at just the right time. Devolver Digital is putting this one out soon and we’re hyped.Kingdom: Two CrownsOn paper Kingdom: Two Crowns sounds almost overwhelmingly complex. In a flat, rotoscoped-animated 2D pixel fantasy world you build your kingdom across the flat planet. As you ride on horseback as monarch you recruit local peasants as citizens, pay for their tools and protective walls, and reap the benefits as you keep the economy flowing. So it’s a credit to the game’s design that these disparate systems blend together so seamlessly nearly no UI is required to explain them and push players to intuitive strategizing. New in this version is the ability for two players to play cooperatively, adding another dynamic element to wordlessly sync up with.Island Time VRWe haven’t really been interested in checking out too many virtual reality games at GDC but we’re glad we made an exception for Island Time by Flight School. The game understands that VR shines in small detailed environments as well as scenarios that mine comedy from being able to interact with mundane objects so freely. Like an arcade game players try to reach a high score, in this case by surviving long enough on a deserted island. Craft spears, crack open coconuts, catch fish, and use flint to spark fires on logs to cook meals. I quickly fell into a tactile survival groove, with a crab played by Kinda Funny’s Greg Miller shouting guidance along the way. Props to Island Time for understanding the proper scope of a VR game. And it’s releasing just next month.Untitled Goose GameWe really hope Untitled Goose Game by House House doesn’t change its title. It’s so perfect already. You just run around as a goose getting up to goose shenanigans like stealing food for a picnic and making farmers wet. It doesn’t even do the Octodad thing where you attempt to use the awkward animal controls to simulate humanity. You’re just a honking, flapping, grabbing goose. There’s beautiful absurd purity in that. The fact we played this in a hip party literally called That Party only adds to the charm.Super Meat Boy ForeverThe original Super Meat Boy is one of my all-time favorite games not because of its difficulty but because of the sheer level of perfect platforming controls you have to overcome that difficulty. Sure there was rarely ever a reason to stop running but the fact that you could and make precise pinpoint movements was part of the fun. So by turning the game into a straight-up auto-runner, presumably because of its mobile roots, I was a bit disappointed by Super Meat Boy Forever. When things are clicking you can fall into a nice rhythmic groove but recovering from tiny mistakes becomes exponentially more tedious when you can’t stop. Fighting against the controls is the opposite of what Super Meat Boy is about. At least the spruced-up graphics look like your memories of Meat Boy, not the aged reality.GolemDeveloper Longbow Games is primarily known for historical strategy games. So the casual fantasy puzzle adventure game Golem represents a nice creative change of pace for the studio. Drawing inspiration from artsy hits like Monument Valley and Journey, Golem tells its story of a desert world searching for water entirely through glowing pictograph murals and environments like desalination plants. All of the puzzles are environmental as well. Climb surfaces to new heights. Pull pumps to get water flowing. Knock down pillars with rolling pipes.But the main gameplay hook is the Golem itself, a glowing magic rock you must carry with you to the end of each stage. At first it starts as dead weight. You frequently separate from it and manipulate the environment to carry Golem to the exit. But throughout the ten levels Golem evolves into four other forms like a simple biped or swinging ape until it is more capable than you. It’s a bit like A Boy and His Blob. This keeps gameplay varied and introduces a cool shifting power dynamic. Golem launches first on PC this summer.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. Trade In Your Nintendo Switch For a Better Battery (With a Catch)Get Used to ‘Fortnite’s’ Powerful Mech Suits last_img read more