This weekend saw the confluence of two major gaming events: the first annual Game Awards (replacing the Spike VGAs), and Sony’s first-annual self-congratulatory Playstation Experience. Both displayed the usual ostentatious budget dick-waving and embarrassing lowest-common-denominator pandering that defines too many gaming events. The Game Awards saw one prominent GamerGater giving an award to another prominent GamerGater while bellowing “YEAH! AWESOME!”. The PlayStation Experience featured the announcement of a PS4 port of Final Fantasy VII...with no additional remastering work. But brow-raising announcements were made at both events. Let’s dig in.
After the atmospheric, down-to-earth emotional rollercoaster of Gone Home, I’d happily play anything from developers Fullbright. They’ve earned the benefit of the doubt. There’s a zero-gravity BioShock vibe about the teaser for Tacoma - appropriate given the team’s work on the BioShock 2 expansion Minerva’s Den a few years back. We’ll have to wait until next year to find out what Tacoma is, exactly, but I’m sure as hell intrigued.
In a similar vein, Adrift (whose ridiculous numeral-infused actual title I refuse to type) is a spacebound first-person experience, or FPX, which is an acronym I can totally get behind. This one plays it a little more highly-strung, projecting the feeling of a video game adaptation of Gravity. You play an astronaut surviving after an in-orbit calamity, and developer Adam Orth claims it's an adaptation of how his life unravelled after, as an Xbox creative director, he told fans to "just deal with" the Xbox One's always-on requirement.
Hailing from the opposite end of human evolution, Before is a new title from the makers of Rust that features cute cavepeople as they struggle to survive in prehistoric Earth. The art style is absolutely beautiful, with a bold colour palette and characters who look like 3D South Park renderings. Playing as cavepeople probably means some rudimentary animal husbandry, too, so I’m down.
Sierra cofounders Ken and Roberta Williams received special achievement awards, and while they were absolutely adorable in their acceptance speeches, the neverending march of capitalism had to carry on. So a new King’s Quest trailer debuted, to the wonder and joy of all in the audience, myself included. The new game looks funny and full of character: a breath of fresh air when most fantasy games take themselves so seriously.
Meanwhile: newly-formed Hazelight Studios (made up of some of the people who made the must-play Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons) showed a tease for an as-yet-untitled game. Stoic Studio revealed they were working on a sequel to The Banner Saga (whose first instalment I rather liked). No Man’s Sky continued to confound and amaze with its seamless procedural space and planetary exploration. Nintendo showed off its new Zelda, with Shigeru Miyamoto displaying bizarre amazement at systems that have existed in other open-world games for years, and Mario Maker, which will let players create their own batshit insane Mario levels. And a distasteful trailer for Until Dawn saw the crowd going wild for a helpless woman pulled screaming from under her bed by a killer. They can't all be winners.
But perhaps the most exciting announcement of the weekend for many gamers came from the PlayStation Experience. Alongside a January 27 PS4/Vita release date for the Grim Fandango remaster, Double Fine announced that LucasArts' Day of the Tentacle will receive a remaster as well. So, there’s that: two of the greatest adventure games of all time coming to modern systems next year.
It’s almost like we don’t need new games at all.