Our favourite picks from the show.
EGX 2019 has come and gone. Once again, they had a huge indie game selection showcasing some fantastic games from a range of genres. Some were the results of years of work from a small team; others were one-of-a-kind titles with extraordinary artistic direction. Here are the six games we enjoyed the most while walking around the show floor, in no particular order.
6. EX Zodiac
I don’t think I’ve played a game that captures the essence of 4th generation gaming so brilliantly as EX Zodiac. As soon as I sat down to play it the visuals took me back to the secret stages of Sonic 2, with bright colours bursting from the screen in such a way to immediately trigger a strong sense of nostalgia.
This 3D rail shooter is a love letter to Star Fox and has you fly through waves of enemies to shoot at as you’d expect. While still a work in progress with no release date as of yet, what was playable was the sort of arcade-y action we have a soft spot for.
You can check out EX Zodiac and keep track of updates at its itch.io page.
5. Bird of Passage
I’m now going to take you to the weird and wonderful place known as the Leftfield Collection, the section of every EGX where the most artistic and experimental games are shown. Bird of Passage is a visual novel which takes place entirely within taxis, where your character talks about themselves and their past to the drivers as you are driven throughout a black void, populated with the occasional roadside.
The aim is to discover more about the character you play, a tall humanoid figure with shining white attire and a giant eye covering their face. Each journey in a taxi will allow you to uncover a specific detail before you are dropped off. The experience accompanied by slow, repetitive synth music – intensifying the sense of mystery you feel throughout your time playing.
Bird of Passage demands investigation from its player and keeps you in your seat with an outstanding tone set by visuals and audio. It’s well worth playing.
You can play Bird of Passage here on the game’s itch.io page.
4. Shady Part of Me
Moving on to something totally different, Shady Part of Me is a puzzle game which goes at a far slower pace. You play a girl and her shadow simultaneously as they make their way to freedom.
The puzzles you encounter all revolve around manipulating light in one way or another. While the girl you control can move around freely, for the most part, the shadow can only move on surfaces with a light source shining on them. The puzzles make you sit back and think about what you need to do to proceed onwards and illuminate your way to freedom. Nothing beats sitting still at a booth at EGX with strangers lurching behind you, judging every pause you take.
The game isn’t completely colourless, but it’s intentionally muted. The environments are dull, but this means light is clearly visible on the walls around you. That’s not to say the art style is uninteresting by any means; the game is presented in a hand-drawn style, the rooms you walk through brought to life with shades of grey and cross-hatched shadows.
You can wishlist Shady Part of Me on Steam. Its release date is, as of yet, unannounced.
Staying on the topic of 2D action adventures, Olija delivers fast-paced action in a similar manner to the next game in this round-up, Kunai, but with some impactful differences that make it a distinctly enticing experience. In this game, Faladay and a crew of voyagers are left stranded on a hostile island after their ship is wrecked in a storm. There, he finds a magical harpoon which empowers him to escape.
Now, this ain’t just any magical harpoon. By throwing it at objects and enemies in the world you can warp to their location, which the developers at Skeleton Crew Studio use in both combat encounters and puzzles.
All of this is placed within a neat-looking pixel art style reminiscent of classic action games from decades ago. Playing Olija feels like you’ve gotten your hands on a retro game that was tragically lost to time. It’s a game we can’t wait to get our hands on again.
With no release date or Steam page as of yet, you can keep track of Olija by following Skeleton Crew’s Twitter.
We’re all suckers for good movement mechanics, right? Any time we see a developer who’s implemented some crazy method of getting their character from point A to B, our ears perk up. Kunai is a 2D Metroidvania that does just that, with creative movement at its core – and was one of the funniest games at EGX this year.
You play a cute robot in a dystopian future, devoid of humans but littered with their creations. Armed with a pair of kunai, you swing throughout the world cutting your way through a plethora of enemies as you go. It’s a fast-paced and enjoyable experience, rewarding for skilful players and practically begging for speedrunning.
Kunai has no set release date, but you can add it to your Steam Wishlist here.
1. Cris Tales
If one game stood out more than any others whilst browsing the booths in the Rezzed section of EGX it was Cris Tales. The beautiful hand-drawn visuals paired with its vibrant palette draw you in immediately.
The game is a classic RPG, and a clear homage to legendary titles like Chrono Trigger and the older Final Fantasy titles. The main gimmick revolves around the use of time to solve puzzles and defeat enemies, as you’re allowed to transport freely between past, presence and future at will. This allows for some truly unique puzzle situations and combat interactions, which keeps you thinking of outside-of-the-box solutions during your time playing.
You can download the demo for Cris Tales on their Steam Store page, with the full game releasing sometime in 2020.
There were plenty more amazing indie games at EGX this year but these are the ones that really stood out to us. We can’t wait to see what new innovations and artistic endeavours next year brings. If you’re getting ready for Halloween and fancy filling up the end of the month with some suitably scary indie games then why not check out what we think are Top 7 Games Inspired By Silent Hill or Top 7 Free Horror Games.
Connor Makar is a freelance games journalist with bylines at Eurogamer and Kotaku. He loves fighting games and will jump at any opportunity to play a few rounds, even when there are far more important things he needs to do.