Our favorite indie games from EGX 2022

Our favorite indie games from EGX 2022
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The RPS crew has once again made its way to London for EGX 2022. There was a lot to see at this year’s show and as always we ran a few of our own stands. The first was the Steam Deck Zone, filled with thirty of Valve’s handhelds full of games for everyone to pull up a chair and play. The second was a showcase of weird and wonderful controllers, including an incredibly uncomfortable pool table, a digital plant that would grow through light control, and a game where you use a keyboard as a tie.

Alongside this, the RPS gang explored the exhibit space, and here are highlights of what we saw, who we chatted with, what we played, and just general show shenanigans. Enjoy!

Rachel: I had a loop around my favorite part of EGX – The Leftfield Collection! There have been a handful of games that have already been released, like the wonderful village romance, Strange Horticulture, and Railbound, but there have also been many new game demos.

The first one I discovered was The Wings of Sycamore for its beautiful paper doll art style. It is a flight sim set in a fantasy archipelago inspired by Victorian Britain and you are tasked with taking on tasks in an airplane. Flying the plane feels great, and it’s fun to explore the delicate world of pen and ink. Must see.

I also had a lot of fun playing The Block, a miniature city builder that’s more of a digital toy than a game. Each level lasts a few minutes and you create beautiful miniature dioramas. James had also told me about Albedo Approaches Zero, a strange walking sim style game where you wander around an alien planet with strange monuments. Not much happened, but the atmosphere was incredible, particularly impressive that it was able to cut through the hum and noise of EGX.

The strangest was Telusfax, a game set in the Teletex system of an old TV. Using a giant TV remote as your controller, you’re tasked with searching through the system’s various menus and lists and finding the names of five different TV show hosts. I got kind of distracted by being bombarded with different colored text and menus that I couldn’t find a single one of, but I had fun poking around the digital innards of an old TV.

Tiny Bookshop sees that you run a small bookstore *checks notes*.

Rebekah: I just want to highlight a couple of brilliant indie demos that I got to try out on Friday. The display for Eros Xavier’s love solutions was enough to get me dragging my colleagues across the exhibition floor for a closer look. I mean just look at this brooding androgynous angel in a sharp trench coat. Absolutely a Rebecca game.

I was expecting a dating sim, but what I got was something along the lines of an Untitled Goose Game, starring a cynical cupid rather than naughty waterfowl. Eros Xavier looks and talks like a noir detective, but Love Solutions agency specializes in made-to-order breakups. Basically, you sneak into couples’ homes and mess with their stuff until they get so annoyed with each other that they break up. It’s pretty goofy, though the demo’s ending takes a surprisingly somber turn – and drops some lore references that I need to see to follow up. Chatting with the devs revealed that they are looking for a publisher so I highly request that someone take care of this ASAP so I can find out what happens next!

Appropriately, I almost completely overlooked the Tiny Bookshop as it was tucked away next to Chucklefish’s most conspicuous Eastward booth. I’m so glad I didn’t overlook it because this is definitely the laid back and charming management sim I need in my life. I semi-seriously wanted to be a bookseller when I felt the call to write about video games for a living, so this was like a glimpse into an alternate timeline for me. To be honest, there are few things I would rather dream of than rocking my tiny trailer by the sea and helping beloved second-hand books find a new home.

Wildfrost is a tactical roguelike deckbuilder who has a strange obsession with naked gnomes…

liam: I didn’t play much at this year’s EGX as these things often weigh me down with a fair amount of heavy camera gear, but I’m glad I found the time to check out the already excellent Wildfrost. I was resigned to never finding a card game as inventive or as tactical as my beloved (and sadly deceased) Duelyst, but Wildfrost is perhaps the game that makes me fall in love with the genre again.

With no traditional CCG mechanics, cards can be placed on the battlefield for free, with Wildfrost introducing a challenge through the use of timers that count down each time you select a creature or spell from your hand. Once these timers reach zero, enemy fighters will attack your friends. Your goal is to destroy a rival leader before they can take out your own. It’s an immersive twist on the classic Slay The Spire formula, and combined with beautiful animation, gorgeous character design, and top-notch music, Wildfrost is definitely one to check out. And I’m not just saying that because PR gave me a little pin with a naked gnome on it after I finished my demo.

Oh I also played Sonic Frontiers and absolutely loved it. The six-year-old on the ward next to me was having the time of his life though, so I think that’s the opinion that really counts.

Kimberly kneels on Luke's stomach in Street Fighter 6 with a burst of ink and paint on screen

Street Fighter 6 was one of the bigger blockbusters at this year’s show.

haydenMission: I also wanted to chat about Wildfrost, but I can see Liam already churning out a few words. In this case, I’ll just say that Big Berry is the best card. It’s a tall, burly berry person with a naive expression, and I love it. I want Big Berry merch. The rest of the designs are also very fun, but Big Berry is my personal favourite.

Other than that, my highlight was beating Liam, Ed and technically James in Street Fighter 6 (I didn’t fight James directly but he lost to Liam and I beat Liam so he wouldn’t have stood a chance). This impromptu Street Fighter competition proved a lot. First, fighting is a youth game, and the team’s dinosaurs just couldn’t keep up. Second, Street Fighter 6 is incredibly stylish. They’re still muscular people punching each other and leaping through the air, but with streaks of color or billowing neon sparks accompanying every punch, kick, and block. Katharine’s recent preview and Ed’s thoughts on the modern control scheme both have far better words than I can provide in this short snippet, so read them and enjoy Street Fighter 6. It’s a good thing.

A lucky Ed playing Judgment on the Steam deck.

Ed: There was a point where Liam, James and I did a little browsing of the shelves at a body pillow stand. Liam and I even crouched down to get a closer look at the body pillow cases (if that’s the technical term?) and flipped through various anime people in “relaxed” positions. We (I) were looking for a Yakuza pillow, preferably Kiryu or Majima, to take home and hold on to. Unfortunately it didn’t happen, but I recognized a few more anime people than I cared to admit.

Hayden and I also got our first look at the Steam Deck in EGX’s Steam Deck Zone. I figured it was a lot bigger than I expected, maybe big enough that riot police would take it as their next-door battering ram. However, it was comfortable to hold and the screen was nice! The verdict went smoothly, which was madness in my books. Also – verdict on a handheld device? now This is a treat.

Morse was one of the games on the RPS Future Of Play booth.

James: I had great fun – probably a sonically inappropriate amount – with Morse, the Battleship/Typing Of The Dead hybrid played primarily by typing in Morse code. This is real Morse code too, not a playful approximation, and developer Alex Johansson had even constructed a custom controller using a real Japanese-made electrical telegraph. This added a nice, clicking, tactile dimension to the game, which was further enhanced by a stunningly satisfying “fire” button that sent the artillery I had dialed in via dots and dashes. To be honest I’m not sure how gaming will compete with a keyboard.

A few yards down the Leftfield Collection, I also enjoyed tinkering with Albedo Approaches Zero. Running sims aren’t often my thing, but desolate sci-fi planetscapes certainly are, and between the odd star stripes and musical monoliths scattered around the moon I was stuck on, Albedo Approaches had zero vibe to spare.

Also, I was only at the body pillow stand as an emotional support for Ed, so there.

Catherine: Most of my EGX time has been dominated by demo dates I’ve scheduled in the weeks before, but the best thing I’ve played that I wasn’t already booked for was Ninja Or Die, a beautiful 2D platformer -Roguelike at the Marvelous Europe booth. It’s essentially a two-button game where you can only jump – using your analog stick to draw your trajectory and A to execute it – and it’s fast as hell and flashy. Attacks are automatic as you leap into enemies, but there are also plenty of environmental hazards to worry about, including lots of spikes, swinging axes, and at one point, an ascending floor of buzz saws. It was a bit overwhelming at times, but eventually you become one with your jump and use instinct and intuition to analyze the flow of combat. It’s not out until next year, but you can try the free browser demo for yourself right now if you fancy giving it a try.

Otherwise I had a great time with both Goat Simulator 3 and House Flipper 2. I haven’t played much of the original entries of either game, but these sequels got me hooked. Goat Sim 3 this time added multiplayer to its massive sandbox, so you can share your stupid escapades with a buddy. It also seems a lot more structured than last time, offering plenty of quest objectives for nearby activities, as well as a whole host of collectibles to hunt down. At one point I also turned into a slightly obscene banana, so that’s it. House Flipper 2 has now become pretty much a complete first-person Sims simulator that lets you clean up houses and at the same time fill them with pieces of furniture to do everything exactly the same way. The physical process of cleaning has also been greatly improved, allowing you to drag your mouse in all directions to paint walls and wipe dirty windows. It was extremely chilled and I can imagine wasting hours on it when it finally comes out next year.

#favorite #indie #games #EGX

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