This year, the team behind REZZED, brought the PC and Indie gaming showcase to Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre. Myself and Uncle Fista went along (hand in hand) for the Saturday showing, and here’s a brief rundown of what we saw, smelt and got our hands on. And what a fantastically refreshing show it was!
As we were one of the first through the door (some would accuse us of ‘shitting the bed’ being that early), we had a good chance to take a steady mosey round the show floor and get our bearings. Oh, it was wonderful…hardly a soul there. It was all well laid out, ominously lit and easy to get around. There were only a few retail stalls there (INSERTCOIN representing well) so it was all games, games, games. And what a diverse, eclectic mix there was!
Each time we passed the area throughout the day, it was packed with people shuffling cards, shaking dice and enjoying spirited debate about ‘the rules’. Also in play was King of Tokyo which was getting a lot of interest.
The unmistakable title Chaos Engine caught our eye and I was keen to don my rose tinted spectacles for a blast on a title familiar from my youth. The developers were on hand and told us that they’d taken the original source code and audio to create the game. Memories came flooding back, this time complemented by using an Xbox controller. Still in all its glorious pixelated goodness, they’ve added an optional ‘glow’ to the graphics, just to take the edge off.
In a closed off area, Rezzed had organised a ‘Game Jam’ competition. This was for teams and individuals to develop a game, from scratch in one day. Given simply the title “The 80s” to work with, coders and designers were beavering away to create titles, that would be reviewed by a panel of experts, the following day.
There was a bit of commotion going on as a crowd had gathered around a title from Greenfly studios called QuickDraw. Coming soon to PlayStation, PC and Mac, it’s a gun slinging game that uses very limited on screen displays, but rather employs up to seven PlayStation Move controllers and audio cues.
Each player battles to be the fastest sharp shooter in the West (Midlands) using only the Move controller as they prepare for a Spaghetti Western stand-off. If you’ve got the space and a fist full of Move controllers, then it’s a great party game and a diverse use of those glowing controllers.
I wanted to check out a title I’d seen on YouTube; Ethan:Meteor Hunter. It’s a platformer which uses time freeze game mechanics to great effect as you must manipulate the environment around you. Well-polished visuals and audio from the team of French developers, who were on hand to give players a gentle nudge when faced with a tricky puzzle. It was great to see gamers gathered around the screens offering up ideas to solve the puzzles that players were stuck with…and that “A-haaa” moment when it was solved.
The Leftfield Collection was a chance for up and coming, enthusiastic developers to shine amongst the larger publishers at the show. Unfortunately this was a rather narrow corridor housing around 20 divergent titles for us to play, two of which were hooked up to the Oculus Rift headsets (Ether One and Undercurrent).
I managed to get hands on with Luminesca which was a calming, cute, undersea exploration puzzler. Daren and I hooked up for some bromance gaming with the co-op platformer SneakSneak, soon realising that team work was the only way forward. Next to us was a title called “HACKER”, which I recommend you check out…not before digging out an old keyboard to use with it first though!
iOS devices were represented with an unusual title from Nyamyam games, called Tengami. In development for three years, it’s a wonderfully aesthetic game based on the mechanics of pop up books. The team told me about how they created their own tool kit which enables them to use paper engineering in game that can be recreated in real life. Hoping for a release later this year, it’s a journey through puzzles with a very tactile feel as you manipulate the ‘paper’ landscape.
Team 17 were there, along with a giant roaming worm mascot, to promote their PC exclusive refreshment of the turn based strategy franchise, WORMS: Clan Wars. I managed to get a chat with the lead programmer, Gavin Hunt, who was keen to point out that Team 17 had listened to feedback from the fan base to move the title forward and now features the inclusion of community clans and online leader boards. There is also a fully featured single player campaign across a variety of environments, set in a museum, narrated by The I.T. Crowds Katherine Parkinson. It’s a fully recognisable, multiplayer, WORMS format, with online multiplayer games of up to four teams. Online Leagues will be a strong feature which is fully flexible as your team climbs higher and higher up the boards, with various rewards and challenges being thrown up online, which can be managed via Team 17’s proprietary companion app on smart phones. You can apply here to be included in the closed beta for a chance to get hands on and put your team of Worms through their paces.
Now time to scrub up and try our hands at Surgeon Simulator 2013 from Bossa Studios. Very excited about getting hands on with this as the team had taken their original title (developed in 48 hours at the Global Game Jam in January this year), developed it further and integrated not only the Oculus Rift system, but also the Razor Hydra control system! What a cracking bunch of guys, so proud of what they’ve created and engaging with everyone that managed to get a chance to try out the fully immersive experience. While Daren was busy trying to perform a heart transplant with his bare hands and a clock radio, I was asking about the audio in the game. The sounds were provided by an effects studio from a list of rather odd requests from the team. Interestingly, the theme tune was created by their flat mate DJ Producer and is based on the BBC Casualty TV Show theme tune.
Even though the Rift was only running at 720p resolution, coupled with the Hydra controllers, the experience was very convincing. I wasn’t the first one to lose my balance and almost fall off their stool! It soon became evident that it’s almost as fun for the audience gathered around you as you flail your arms about trying to smash open a rib cage with a claw hammer!
One more title that deserves mention (there were so many others great games that I just didn’t get chance to play) has to be VlamBeer’s Luftrauser 2D shooter. What appears to be a very simple shooter, with a muted colour pallete, soon turns out to be a death defying battle of the skies as you master the controls of your randomly generated fighter plane. The hook? There are some 125 combinations of plane, they each develop their own dynamic soundtrack, which fits perfectly with the action and REALLY gets your heart racing. This will be released on PC, Mac, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita soon. After I’d commented on the great aesthetic and muted pallet, developer Rami told me they were working with other game artists to develop special colour mixes for the game, including Fez creator Phil Fish!
Unfortunately we didn’t get to check out any of the excellent developer sessions organised, but they are all available to watch via the Eurogamer YouTube Channel. At least watch the Game Jam footage to hear one of the greatest Arnie impressions!
Bravo Eurogamer and Rock, Paper, Shotgun…it was a fantastic show and a real video gaming palate cleanser. Come back to Brum next year please. It was bostin’.
For more Rezzed 2013 thoughts and feelings, why not listen to Episode 196 of the Midlife Gamer podcast where Daren discusses the trip in depth.