Gamescom continues to be astonishingly huge. So many people, so many games!
The conference in Cologne, Germany just wound down its ninth annual event. There was grumbling from some quarters about the lack of big AAA game announcements. But there was more than enough on display from the independent developer community to make the show worthwhile.
We're going to cover a lot of them in the coming weeks and months on Gamasutra's sister site, IndieGames.com .
For now, here's just a tiny glimpse of the wonders available on the show floor and behind closed doors.
Described as a personal experience for puzzle lovers and players interested in interesting narratives, Solo has you helping a little sailor travel through an archipelago chock-full of puzzles and philosophical musings.
These puzzles seem quite varied and the narrative interludes don't really serve any purpose except making you think hard about your own life. What most impressed me, though, were all the little details that made Solo's world come alive, from the lively fauna to the ability to take pictures with your camera just because it's nice. What a wonderful world to lose yourself in (and think about heartbreak).
Well, I can tell you right away that I don't quite see the appeal here, but apparently there's a huge market for agricultural simulators out there. So, what makes this indie outing by a small Dutch studio noteworthy? There's both a sandbox mode that lets you mess around in all kinds of tractors and farming equipment and a mission-based career mode which lets you build up your farm from humble beginnings to the mother of all farms. All of this without getting your hands dirty.
This tough, top-down dungeon crawler relies on familial ties to give you a sense of progression. Much like Rogue Legacy before, you're playing as a family who makes a living from dungeon-delving and monster-killing. Pick the family member that best suits your play style and upgrade your skills or family facilities inbetween runs. The game really looks quite lovely and I dig the slightly somber atmosphere.
The character design of this tower defense / platformer hybrid gave me some serious Studio Ghibli vibes, which is always a good thing. As grandpa/granddaughter team you traverse a rather lovely-looking 16-bit world, fight critters, and set up your defenses to brave an onslaught of enemies now and again. While the platforming felt just a tad sluggish to me, the overall presentation has me very much looking forward to the full release later this year.
Set in the world of their Trine games, Frozenbyte's Nine Parchments is a cooperative action game that has you flinging spells as one of (up to) four wizards. It's bright, it's colorful, and it offers a ton of customization options, so everyone can run around with silly hats and whatnot. This one is a blast if you're playing with a full party - and you might need the extra help if you want stand a chance against the game's huge bosses. That giant mantis shrimp definitely meant business!
Space zombies are invading your Martian settlement, so go build some towers and zap those monsters good! There is a pretty neat twist to this tactical base defense game: each building needs crew to operate, so you need to have a plan for what to build and where to place it. If the zombies overrun your towers, you can still tell your people to retreat and operate another building, so you'd better make sure that they don't end up as zombie snacks. The tower defense genre isn't exactly known for being innnovative, but Marz Rising looks like it could actually bring something new to the table.