While at the Rezzed expo recently, my other-half pointed out how many more narrative games were on offer than in previous years. It’s one of the highlights I mentioned on in my round-up post published this week: it’s this kind of title which usually appeals to me the most, and I came away from the Tobacco Dock adding more upcoming projects to my wishlist than I’d done during any other time at the event.
A few examples: handmade adventure Harold Halibut by Slow Bros. is one I backed on Kickstarter and looks impressive hands-on. Midnight Hub’s atmospheric Lake Ridden caught my eye at EGX last September and the new section of the demo was great. Futuristic thriller State of Mind by Daedalic Entertainment seems like something I’ll be able to get my teeth into; and my stepson was pretty taken with Backwoods Entertainment’s hand-painted Unforeseen Incidents.
After having some time to reflect since Rezzed, something else struck me. So many of these narrative games cast the player in the role of a male detective trying to solve some mysterious or vaguely-supernatural case, usually related to missing people or murders. What is this new obsession we have with investigating the unknown, upholding the law and bringing wrongdoers to justice?
Not that I’m complaining at all. The following titles look like they’re going to be excellent.
The Sinking City
First up is a game by Frogwares, developer of the Sherlock Holmes series, which is set in an open-world inspired by the works of Lovecraft. Players find themselves in a city dominated by a supernatural force and suffering from floods, and it’s up to them to find out what has taken control of the minds of its inhabitants before they succumb to madness themselves. There’s no release date as yet but this is definitely one to watch out for.
Du Lac & Fey: Dance of Death
As the Ripper stalks London’s streets, players join Arthurian immortals Sit Lancelot Du Lac and Morgana Le Fey on a quest to stop history’s most infamous murderer and save the city. I was able to switch between both characters (the latter portrayed as a dog) in Salix Games’ demo in order to question people and solve puzzles. It’s hinted that Fey isn’t actually a canine, so that could add an interesting element to the project.
The Peterson Case
Described to me as a cross between The Vanishing of Ethan Carter and Outlast, Quarter Circle Games’ project looks amazing; I had to stop partway through the demo because I didn’t want to spoil it for myself! Set in a location near the Roswell UFO incident, Detective Reinhardt must explore a deserted house to find out what happened to its missing residents. He soon discovers an unearthly presence within, which is hot on his trail…
This turned out to be one of my favourites at Rezzed which is no surprise: it’s being made by Grundislav Games, the creator of Shardlight, and has a very ‘Wadjet Eye’ feel about it. Set in an alternate steampunk-ish Victorian past, Miles Fordham must solve five cases each with multiple suspects, false leads and different outcomes. I like the fact that you can move on if a case seems unsolvable, with the story adapting to your choices.
I didn’t get to play Disco Elysium by ZA/UM until the final day of the expo as the stand was constantly busy, but it was worth the wait. It’s an interesting mix of detective-show and isometric RPG where players can choose the type of cop they want to be through an original skill system which takes feelings, doubts and memories into account. Kick in doors, interrogate suspects, or simply get lost in the city of Revachol as you unravel its mysteries. This one was my game of the show.
The fact that more narrative games were on offer at Rezzed this year was one of its highlights for me; and I love a good detective story so I’m really looking forward to playing those above. That being said however, it can be challenging to give such titles the attention they deserve at expos and this is something I’ll be delving more into later this week.
If you got a chance to play the games above at Rezzed, what did you think? Were there any other titles which caught your attention out on the show floor? Let us know in the comments below.