EGX at Birmingham NEC has been and gone for another year. While there are those who will complain about queue lengths, who was and wasn't at the convention, and pre-booked demos, this year's show was another fantastic success. The fact that the hugely popular PlayStation Access were there for all four days is a real indication of how EGX is quickly becoming an event to watch. While it won't compete with E3 for some time yet, the show still has it's fair share of must-see games and should-see indies. Let's highlight seven of them.
1. 'Sonic Mania'
When the old-school Sega start-up tune began, I new I was going to love Sonic Mania. As the announcement trailer stated, this takes Sonic back to his routes. Strip away borderline bestiality-laden storylines, or unnecessary characters, and you are left with what makes Sonic games the classics that they are: fast-paced levels filled to the brim with split-second shifts in direction, robotic baddies, and collectibles.
The EGX demo contained two levels: Green Hill Zone and a new film-studio-themed level. Green Hill Zone was an incredible re-do of a piece of gaming history. While the new level on show didn't quite hit the mark (far too many teleporters and unexpected bouncers), it was obviously created by people with a love for the series.
Sonic Mania is scheduled for release in 2017 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows.
Overcooked has already been available for a little while, but admittedly slipped under my radar. With online multiplayer being the norm these days, many people have forgotten the traditional joys of couch co-op. Overcooked brings this back with gusto. One to four players team up to run an increasingly demanding kitchen. While it starts simple enough with onion soup, the recipes become more complex, orders increase, and the kitchens themselves build up the difficulty. Overcooked is perfect for when you just want to play something with friends and family. If you've ever wanted to release your inner Gordon Ramsay, this Team 17 game should be in your library.
Overcooked, by Team 17, is available now for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows.
Yooka-Laylee from Playtonic is the rare piece of evidence that Kickstarter can lead to great games. Created by some of the team behind N64 classic Banjo-Kazooie, Yooka-Laylee takes the "if-it-ain't" broke approach applied to Sonic Mania and pretty much does what should have happened all those years ago. You play as a bat and lizard team-up, exploring open levels, amassing a wide variety of collectibles in order to open up the next level, all the while meeting hilarious characters. Genuinely laugh-out-loud scriptwriting lifts this game above all the pale pretenders that have been and gone.
Yooka-Laylee by Playtonic is scheduled for a Quarter 1, 2017 release on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Steam, and Wii U.
4. 'Little Nightmares'
Probably my favorite stand at EGX 2016, Little Nightmares was also one of my top games from the show. An exploratory puzzle game, Little Nightmares places you as a tiny girl trapped in a twisted, surreal underwater version of childhood. You are sought after by gruesome chefs intent on turning you into their next string of sausages. Check out the trailer below.
While this game looks beautiful, it is the atmosphere and puzzle platforming that elevates it to among the best in show. You genuinely feel on edge while playing, aware that the chefs are out to get you. The EGX 2016 demo even had me scratching my head at one point, which was a pleasing amount of challenge.
Little Nightmares, by Tarsier and published by Bandai Namco, is scheduled for a 2017 release on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows.
5. 'Dad Quest'
Imagine a 16-bit-style poster showing a shadowy father-figure wielding twins as nunchaku. You might think that Dad Quest by Sundae Month can't possibly live up to this image. Well, you'd be wrong. Dad Quest puts you in the place of the eponymous dad. You use your child as either a projectile or a melee weapon to defeat enemies and explore the world. As you go, you level up the dad and child to improve their skills and abilities. Obscure in content, with some classically witty dialogue, Dad Quest sets its surreal stall out early on and doesn't let seriousness even get its foot in the door.
Dad Quest, from Sundae Month, will be available on Windows, Mac, and Linux with an expected release date of December 2016.
6. 'Into The Black' VR
Into The Black was my first VR experience, and I am so glad it was. This survival game puts you into a third-person perspective as you control a bear, or a fox, trying to survive the 1988 wildfires in Yellowstone National Park. Being created by Naomi Kotler, as part of her Master's in Game Design and Development, Into The Black demonstrates that the future of VR is not just the first-person realm. Instead, being able to see and control your character from over the shoulder offers an exciting perspective. It was a beautifully crafted locale, with some touching lighting effects and story beats thrown in. While most VR games will have superior advertising budgets, they will struggle to be as memorable as Into The Black.
Into The Black will be available for Oculus Rift.
Farpoint made me feel like the first time I played Super Mario World. It was astounding, and I now totally get VR. I played this with the gun accessory for PlayStation VR, and it was amazing. I spent the first five minutes of the demo time just looking around me, examining at the gun, staring at my body. My brain quickly switched and forgot I was in the middle of a gaming convention. I was on a sandy, alien planet. Being able to twist the gun to see all around it was unbelievable. Seeing my arms and legs in a spacesuit was a dream come true.
The experience was so complete that when an enemy appeared and jumped at me, I took a step back. Movement is controlled with the thumb-stick on the gun accessory, and you pick up weapons by bending down and grabbing them. The moment that sold me on Farpoint was at the end of the demo. From a cave emerged a giant, acid-spitting spider. The sense of scale was beyond anything you could understand from just watching on a screen. Easily the game of the show, and possibly the first real reason to buy a PlayStation VR.
Farpoint, from Impulse Gear, has no scheduled release date but will be on PlayStation VR.
What game from EGX 2016 are you most excited to play? Let me know in the comments section below. And for more GameOrNought EGX 2016 picture, check out the GameOrNought FaceBook page. Follow our Twitter to keep in the loop, or subscribe to our page or Wordpress blog. Visit my YouTube page for Let's Plays and streams.