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Non-RPG Round-Up - E3



When developer interviews are done and the all appointments have been attended, there are still hours to fill and so many games to see, apart from the RPGs already covered here. This, then, is a compilation of some of the more memorable games I got the chance to go hands-on with, or in some cases face-to-face with the dev.

Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star

This action-heavy combat game is the next sequel in the Fate series, and features fast-paced single-player combat against hordes of on-screen enemies. Players take control of three characters over the course of the game, all based on historical figures. In the Fate universe, mages have summoned these mythological beings to win the Holy Grail. In a hands-on demo, I took control of Nero Claudius, a female warrior based on the legendary Roman emperor. Gameplay revolves around destroying enemies to claim each sector of a stage; once all sectors have been claimed, players move on to the next stage. But this is easier said than done. In order to claim individual sectors, a set number of special units called Aggressors must be defeated. Getting to them is the challenge, however, as there can be hundreds of low-level mobs swarming around each zone, making it necessary to first carve a path to the Aggressor. Some sectors will feature a special boss character that must be defeated in addition, also based on historical personalities. During the demo, I faced off against the Bloody Demoness Elizabeth, a foe inspired by the frightful Elizabeth Bathory. Enemies are also able to contest sectors you've already claimed, so the game becomes a constant struggle of claiming new sectors while backtracking and defending the ones already conquered.


The Guild 3

The Guild is medieval do-anything and be-anyone life simulator. A sandbox game not centered on action, quests, or wanton destruction, but on building a rags-to-riches story for an entire family dynasty. Start as a serf and be able to literally become whatever you want. Every action players perform nets some quantity of experience points, letting you rise through the ranks of life, going from common serf to full-fledged citizen, or even a noble. Perhaps you've got your eyes set on becoming mayor, or to go even further and one day take the Archbishop's place. Or maybe you're content with your lot in life, and just want to stay at your station. Any play style is possible, provided one finds a mate and has offspring — it's the only way to continue the family line. Earning different titles brings new privileges and gameplay options; getting involved in politics, for example, will require being voted into office, and will let one have a hand in civic matters. Other, more self-serving paths are also available, like being a disreputable thief. At least twelve historical city maps will be available, spread out over the Holy Roman Empire and medieval England, France, and Germany. A sixteen-player multiplayer versus mode will be available, and the game editor may eventually also be published, letting users create custom maps and content.


We Happy Few

Walking the E3 show floor, We Happy Few seemed like it was one of the games that got a significant amount of buzz from its showing at Microsoft's press conference. Set in a stylized 1960s-era England, its aesthetic immediately evokes images of Bioshock. The opening sequence is incredibly atmospheric, and leaves the player immediately awash in questions that need answering. There’s a mysterious drug called Joy that the population seems to rely on ("Happiness Is a Choice"); when the main character skips a dose, his surroundings shift in disturbingly subtle ways. There are odd letters one can find and read, telling of other employees who seem to have disappeared suddenly. Everything looks to be in a general disarray, the toilet is out of order, and it seems no one has really bothered to pick up the place in quite a while, or even worked in it. The other characters, ordinary office workers but for their unsettling clownlike make-up, also make a big deal out of you not taking your Joy, calling you a Downer and raising an alarm. Hunted by nightstick-wielding Bobbys, you are exiled and made to enter the real world — which is not as bright and sunshiny as the Joy would make one believe. From here on out, the world is procedurally generated, with integrated story sequences. I did not make it far before dying, but crafting plays a role in the open-world gameplay, as do managing your character's hunger, thirst, health, and sleep requirements.


Deliver Us the Moon

I was initially attracted to Deliver Us the Moon due to its gorgeous visuals of an astronaut on a deep-space station, and its quiet and solitary feel that reminded me of sci-fi horror games like Alien: Isolation. While the developers told me that this is not a horror game, they did make allowances for the story being tense and thrilling. In the demo I played, I controlled an astronaut, in full space suit complete with reflective helm visor, as he docks his vessel to a station orbiting the Moon. I then had to traverse the empty, hollow halls of the abandoned station, turning on several generators as I went to power up the station-to-surface lift that would take me to the Moon's surface. Like any good thriller, the excitement lies in the build-up, always expecting some unpleasant surprise in the dark and forlorn depths of the tunnels that I walked through, behind each door as it slid aside. The developers know how to make good use of anticipation, and at one point I jumped as a door opened and I was immediately pulled into an airless vacuum, before the safety doors could seal just in the nick of time. The game continues as your character takes the lift to the lunar surface, but alas this is where I ended my demo, for fear of spoiling too much. Deliver Us the Moon already looks amazing, and may appeal to those looking for an atmospheric slow burn.



2Dark is a spiritual successor to the original Alone in the Dark survival horror series, conceived by one of that game's driving forces, Frédérick Raynal. I quickly learned that the innocuous, 2D, almost-pixellated look of 2Dark is misleading, and conceals something far more sinister underneath. It is a mature game dealing with disturbing themes, namely serial killers who prey on defenseless children. Players take on the role of Mr. Smith, a former detective whose wife was horrendously slaughtered three years ago, and his children kidnapped, unfound to this day. Having been fired from the force for his obsession with finding his missing kids, Mr. Smith now takes it upon himself to track down society's vilest scum, those sick and twisted individuals who wouldn't even flinch away from harming little children. His mission is to face down these evil killers and their henchmen, and safely rescue the kidnapped children, all the while hoping to find any leads that will help him locate his own. The top-down stealth game is relentless: your sole source of lighting often comes from your flashlight, there is no auto save (just a limited-use manual save), and every noise you make could be heard by the foes around you. Combat is suggested only as a last resort — your goal isn't to go in guns blazing, but get the kids out alive — though the serial killer bosses must be vanquished to continue. A stage cannot be ended until every kidnapped child has been rescued, and if even one dies, it's instantly game over. Though the game deals in horror, it's really focused on realistic nightmares; the serial killer I saw in the demo was a deranged circus clown who dressed children up like animals and made them perform deadly feats in the menagerie. Other stages will include a dark mansion and an abandoned hospital, for instance. 2Dark will release for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One by the end of 2016.

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