With the recent nonsense surrounding Mass Effect 3 and the series' indomitable 'fans', my cynicism for big budget games has started to reach dangerous levels. The blame for this rubbish without doubt falls across the board as the self-righteous ME fan's disillusionment is surely only encouraged by the growing incomprehensibility of the games publishing industry. Crippling DRM and unashamedly flagrant DLC have naturally worn down gamers and their response seems to have come in the form of miscalculated rage, which is, I guess, understandable. But with all these issues now clouding the general excitement and fantasy which game releases once inspired, it's worth turning to smaller games which, not without grand ambition, have managed to exist without all the marketing politics which now plague the colossal budgeted 'AAA' games.
Here are four forthcoming games which are looking pretty inspiring:
Legend of Grimrock
The prospect of dungeon crawling has always filled me with a sense of reverence. Misguided admiration for early-90s teens who had mastered the unimaginable depths of Wizardry cemented the genre for me as an inaccessible realm of danger which, in many ways, it was. However, the dungeon crawl has persistently been a popular, if not particularly mainstream, game genre for a long time and, perhaps with the help of Skyrim's popularity and Etrian Odyssey IV's impending release, could possibly see a resurgence.
Enter Legend of Grimrock, a die-hard dungeon crawler's dream! First-person, turn-based, grid-based, exploration of corridors upon corridors of dark dungeons. What more could you ask for? Sunlight, perhaps? Colour? Never! Anyway, Legend of Grimrock is actually quite visually impressive - and perhaps even accessible. The environments and character models look really great, the combat looks accessible and the inclusion of a magic-casting rune system looks to make combat a little more exciting than watching numbers. Add to this puzzles and riddles and it looks like it could be an incredible game - if a little on the humourless side.
Legend of Grimrock is released on the 11th of April and is available to pre-order now from GOG.com.
Another exploration game, this time instead of the seriousness of dungeons, magic, orcs and riddles, here we have an owlboy-thing! Put simply this game looks incredible. It has beautiful pixel graphics which hark back to the days of yore - again the 90s - and although this isn't anything new, what with retro games such as Cave Story, Treasure Adventure Game and so forth, I can't help but be excited by the opportunity to become engrossed in another platform-adventure game. Much like Cave Story, Owlboy looks to involve platforming as well as flying sections. You can also use others to help you with your adventure.
There is a demo currently available here: http://www.roflgames.com/DPadWebsite/www/OwlboyWebsite/index.htm
The game comes out later 2012
I'm not entirely sure what Feist is. On the surface it appears to be similar to the 2D puzzle game Limbo but the website's description of the game having "dynamic, action packed gameplay" is a little more intriguing. In fact upon watching the trailer it's clear that not only do physics play a role but combat also. I don't have much to go on - there's a video of the devs discussing the game, but it's in German - so without simply guessing it's hard to really say what this game will be like. Of course there is some merits to that and the game appears all the more intriguing because of the lack of information. I'm especially interested in whether the game will have a detailed narrative and story. Limbo's stark design complemented its striped back yet engaging narrative. In the trailer for Feist there appears these enemies with crowns on - who could they be? Will the game give us a straight narrative or will it let the design do the talking? In any case this game looks very exciting.
Feist, according to the website, is set to be released this Summer.
Described as "a game about rewiring things and punching people", Gunpoint is being developed by PC Gamer writer Tom Francis. In Gunpoint you play a freelance spy who uses tools to hack his way through 2D levels. Basically a puzzle game, but the mechanic of cross wiring - in which the player can cross-wire electrical appliances and outputs - looks to really make this game worthy of much interest.
Strangely Gunpoint reminds me a little of Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective and this is perhaps why I'm so excited by it. There is also appears to be an element of humour to the game which is always welcome - as the missions detailed in the video below seem to all involve unnecessarily launching through windows. Like all the games mentioned here Gunpoint also looks bloody amazing, with daintily small pixel art people and environments (I love the rain!). Great stuff!
Gunpoint should be released "later than may 2012"