Here are our impressions of the ten shortlisted games of the show.
One of the highlights of the Develop Brighton Conference is the ever popular Indie Showcase, a free to enter competition that offers Indie devs the chance to exhibit their unpublished games to the world. The showcase this year featured ten independently developed games unpublished by a third party which were shortlisted by a panel of experts. There’s an official voting process at the show which chooses an overall winner selected by the panel of judges and a people’s choice candidate awarded based on community votes through the site. We also thought we’d add our own personal choice based on our hands-on impressions of the games.
10. Growbot by Wabisabi Play
Growbot is a 2D point-and-click adventure about a robot saving her home from a dark crystalline force. Set upon a biopunk space station bursting with fantastic plants and aliens. You play as Nara, a growbot in training to become a captain. When your station home is attacked by rapidly growing crystals, it’s down to you to save it. The visual style is also unique, featuring Evans’ award-winning illustrations. Growbot is about halfway through development and will be ready for release in one and a half to two years time.
Lisa Evans from developer Wabisabi Play told us: “In Growbot you interact with plants and flowers, collecting their sounds and combining them to create shields, protecting your station”.
9. This Dead Winter by Kindred Games
This first thing that strikes you about This Dead Winter is the stunning particle physics of the snow the lead character, a bright red fox strides through. You move through the stark, snowy world in a smooth and intuitive way sporadically presented with puzzles for you to solve whose clues are often left to find in the world around you. At its heart, it’s an adventure game, but there are some interesting mechanics here and the possibility for some interesting puzzle scenarios.
“The snow is quite striking against the foxes red pelt, it’s instantly eye drawing,” said solo developer Robert Potter. “But I’m hoping to draw people in with the story and the environmental storytelling of it and then hopefully the more unique mechanics”.
8. Supermarket Shriek by Billy Goat Entertainment – The Indie Game Website’s Choice
Supermarket Shriek is quite a strange game, even in the realm of indies. So, you play as a goat and a man who find themselves trapped in a shopping cart together with each one steering their respective side. The game can be played in single-player or co-op mode and involves guiding the two unlikely companions through a range of obstacles set up in supermarkets and shops. It’s a hell of a lot of fun controlling the careening pair through the various challenges the game presents and the slick graphics and cell-shaded art style only further add to that experience. Also, there’s a unique co-op mode in which players can literally use their voices to guide their side of the trolly to the finish line, now that sounds like a mad night in with the Mrs.
“There is a little tale we’re trying to tell, obviously one that’s very emotional” jokingly said Director of Billy Goat entertainment, William Barr. “I like to think of this less as a game and more as a piece of art really,”.
7. What the Golf? by Triband – Overall Winner
The golf game for people who hate golf. Explaining the future ahead and what they’re hoping to bring to What the Golf, developer Rune Drewsen told us that they are working on a multiplayer mode, as well as having plans to include a level editor, with creations uploadable to the Steam Workshop. With a huge variety of bizarre and humorous levels already, such as clubbing yourself towards the hole, or throwing hundreds of golf clubs haphazardly across the green, there are (golf) bags full of potential for this game. In the full version of the game there will be about 150 levels.
“We sat down in the office and realised that nobody really likes golf games. We wanted to make a game that was so funny, nobody in the future would have to make another golf game,” said Rune Drewsen from developer Triband.
6. Tanglewood by Big Evil Corporation
Tanglewood is a brand new and original game for the SEGA Mega Drive and Genesis, to be released on cartridge following its successful Kickstarter campaign. It’s a true 16-bit cartridge Mega Drive game, using the original languages and hardware. Heavily inspired by games such as Abe’s Oddysee and Flashback, and set in a fictional world, the game follows a young creature, Nymn, who is separated from the family pack after the sun sets. Unable to get back to the safety of the underground home, Nymn must find a way to survive the night terrors and get to morning. The game is scheduled for release on physical cartridge first, which is expected soon and on Dreamcast sometime later in the year.
“The game has been in development for about six years; most of that was learning assembly language,” said Matt Philips of Big Evil Corporation.
5. 3030 Deathwar Redux: A Space Odyssey by Bird in Sky
3030 is a hybrid Elite-style/monkey Island-style game that blends our favourites: sci-fi references galore and adventure game style dialogue. You explore star systems, mine and fight pirates in top-down mode. When leaving your ship the game switches into a scrolling classic Adventuring mode, where you explore derelicts, talk to shady characters or head over to the space bar for a drink. Your character has lost his crew and has to build his ship up, whilst at the same time the universe is in turmoil. The game has been in development for about 12 years and is now available on Steam.
Matt Griffiths from Bird in Sky told us: “There’s an open world where you can do loads of procedurally generated missions in a really massive universe. It’s a lot of game.”
4. Fugl by Kotori Studios
Fugl is a meditative game, designed to be played for short periods. Relax and feel as free as a bird as you create your own adventure, with no time constraints or set goals. Discover and observe hundreds of unique animals whose features your shape-shifting bird can absorb. Controlling your bird feels incredibly smooth, on PC, and perhaps even more so on iOS, whilst the VR version fully immerses you in the fantastical world. The developers are hoping for a January launch, with the Early Access version available on steam now. The Switch version has also been accepted by Nintendo, but this will be released at a later date.
“Fugl is a palette cleanser,” said Gorm from Team Fugl. “It’s perfect if you need 10-20 minutes to de-stress and relax,”.
3. NeuroSlicers by Dream Harvest
What’s an indie round-up without something cyber-punk themed thrown into the mix, but NeuroSlicers is trying to do something from its RTS counterparts. There are clearly a lot of inspirations it draws on, but primarily it takes the classic RTS formula and adds some helpful mechanics from the MOBA genre as well. It’s fast-paced, with games only taking from five to ten minutes, your units are controlled by AI and there’s a focus on accessibility that aims to not lose any of the strategic depth RTS’ are famed for. They’re also thinking about integrating player created learning systems to help make the game more approachable for novices of the genre.
“It’s a cyberpunk, real-time strategy game that tries to solve two major issues that we felt were in the genre,” said Justin French founder and CEO of Dream Harvest. “Firstly was the incredibly steep learning curve often associated with RTS games, especially on PC and secondly what we believe to be the lack of true innovation when it comes to pushing the genre forward”.
2. Skybolt Zack by Devs Must Die – People’s Choice Winner
Skybolt Zack is the weirdest fusion of genres you can imagine, this is a fast-paced platformer meets rhythm action. It felt like what Sonic would be like if it was a Guitar Hero game, so it’s easy to see why this was selected as the people’s choice. It’s fast-paced, brawler mechanics make it easy to pick up and play but there are clearly many layers to its difficulty as with any rhythm action that requires you to create more complex music with your combos. The music is something of note also, as the pace is dictated by the combos you choose, as in the enemies you kill, as you progress through the level meaning it has to be procedurally dynamic to retain the right feel for a rhythm action game. It’s fast, it’s fun and it’s certainly interesting to see such an odd fusion of genres somehow work.
1. HyperBrawl Tournament by Milky Tea Studios
You know what’s better than senseless violence? Senseless violence involving a ball and that’s exactly what HyperBrawl Tournament is. Following on from the legacy of games such as Speedball 2, you take part in a Galaxy-wide hyper speed handball tournament with no rules other than score goals and beat your opponent. This intense sports brawler features a wide range of dynamic maps and game-changing abilities. You can play it in 1v1 and 2v2 format online and it will also feature a single-player campaign mode at launch. It’s simple but fun and has the potential to add some interesting strategic elements depending on how they develop the characters.
That’s our roundup of the best indie games on show at Develop Brighton this year featuring a great mix of new and inventive work. If you’re interested in seeing some more of our round-ups of other shows check out Our 10 Favourite Games From BitSummit 2018 what we think were The Best Indie Games of E3 2018 or what we selected as EGLX 2018’s top ten indie games.
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