EGX is the one time of year where I get to completely immerse myself in the one thing I love the most. It’s where I can see what upcoming or already released indie titles are worth checking out and this year there were tons of them.

Nestled inside the now massive indie section of the con were some pretty amazing games. The oppressive salesman like vibe of flashing lights, flyers and t-shirts thrown at your head where all the AAA devs dwelled seemed to fade away once I stepped inside the booth.

There was a friendlier, quieter and almost homely feeling to the Megabooth as everyone wandered around idly chatting to devs or just watching games from over the shoulders of other con attendees. It brought up a lot of nostalgic feelings in me reminding me of great days spent in arcades watching the bigger kids laugh and joke about the games they were currently shoving that month’s pocket money into.

It’s one of the reasons I love the indie area of EGX, it always feels like you’re hanging out with friends playing games, instead of listening to a sales pitch regurgitated from a AAA games sales rep whilst you stand in lines for hours.

I spent a lot of time wandering the aisle of the Megabooth playing a ton of great games, but here’s a little roundup of the ones that stood out the most to me.

 

Ironfish

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First up to bat we have deep sea exploration game Ironfish. Developed by Beefjack Games Ironfish puts players in control of Cerys, a deep sea investigator for a top British Naval group who receives a mayday call and sets off in her trusty submarine to investigate.

You control a small submarine as you explore the dark depths of the ocean using your sonar to find what the developers told me were ‘points of interest’. These turned out to be small chests and items scattered around the submerged landscape.

To collect these items you need to physically get out of the submarine first. This is where the real challenge lies because like the real ocean, the underwater world of Ironfish is full of deadly creatures. Quite often you will find yourself swimming frantically away from sharks or hiding inside sunken ships waiting for a clear path to your sub.

When I asked what his inspiration for Ironfish was, the game’s creator Dean Edwards said: “I’ve always liked the ocean and I’ve always watched a lot of nature documentaries. There was one about the giant squid in the wild and it was just so dark and they couldn’t really see anything. I remember thinking, wow this would make a really cool game concept.”

Since Ironfish is played from a first person perspective I thought it would be perfect for VR. Edwards responded, “it’s an interesting idea, but for us our focus is on getting this game right first.”

With tons of creatures to see, deep underwater canyons to explore, the ability to upgrade your sub and hints of otherworldly elements at play Ironfish definitely has a lot going for it.

Ironfish really stood out for me as I was super intrigued by the underwater exploration theme. It allowed me to live out my dream of exploring the ocean in my own personal sub without having to suffer from my crippling fear of being in open water in real life.

Ironfish is set to come out on PC and Mac and is currently on Steam’s Greenlight programme.

 

Crystal Rift

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Next up we have Crystal Rift., developed by Psytec Games. Crystal Rift is a grid based dungeon crawler from a first person perspective and it has full VR support.

Players get to explore what Jon Hibbins, one of the two primary developers behind Crystal Rift, describes as “a Dungeon Master, Eye of the Beholder influenced grid based dungeon.”

To win you merely have to escape the dungeon, but that’s a lot harder than it sounds as there are numerous creatures, dark apparitions, puzzles and traps standing in your way.

A lot of Crystal Rift’s puzzles involve pulling switches to open doors or create bridges, but it all works really well in VR as you physically look around the room for hidden buttons or levers.
Aside from puzzles there’s also plenty of monsters. According to Jon: “There’s some fairly big 200 foot dragons, giant worms and other monsters that we didn’t show in the demo that you can run into.”

To defend yourself against this players are given a magical sword that has several unique abilities that range from creating a shield to freezing enemies and shooting fireballs.

In terms of VR support, according to Jon Hibbins Crystal Rift has “support for the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive headsets and there are also plans to include the upcoming PlayStation VR headset as well.”

So you can experience the jump scares and spooky hallways of Crystal Rift in full virtual reality regardless of what headset you opt for. It was my first ever experience with VR and it sold me on the concept of donning a headset and wandering around a virtual world. In fact, I was so enamoured with it that I wouldn’t stop singing its praises for the rest of the convention.

Crystal Rift is out now on Steam’s Early Access programme for PC and Mac, plus there are plans to bring it to consoles in the future.

 

Cerulean Moon

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Cerulean Moon was one of the more interesting games of the show. A beautiful little pixelated platformer, the game has a unique concept that involves moving the level instead of the character
with the simple flick of a finger on a touch screen.

Nacho, the developer behind Cerulean Moon, said that his inspiration behind the level movement concept was “to create a platformer that works well for touch screens. There are a bunch of them (platformers) already but they tend to have big virtual controls and you don’t really know what you’re pressing as they have no tactile feedback.”

He continued, “so the main idea was to create a platformer that was designed from the ground up for touch screens.”

In regards to launch platforms for the game Nacho also said: “It’s been designed for touch screens, but it also works with the touch pad on the PS4 and the Steam controller. So we’re aiming to hit iOS, Android, PS4 and Steam.”

Cerulean Moon really caught my eye on the showfloor that day. It’s not often you find a developer creating something so unique out of such a simple concept as moving the environment instead of the character.

Cerulean Moon is set to launch on iOS and Android early 2016 with possible console and PC versions appearing further down the line.

 

Dead of Day

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Developed by Trebuchet Games, Dead of Day is a zombie survival game mixed with a classic 1980’s dungeon crawler style.

According to the game’s developer Jason Darby, there was a lot more to be put into the game than what they had on show, but what they did have was still pretty interesting.

Dead of Day is set in a modern post-apocalyptic USA that’s infested with zombies and there’s two main parts to the game: base building and exploring warehouses, schools and other abandoned buildings to find supplies.

But it’s not just the basic ravenous undead you have to contend with. There’s also wild animals and bandits that can decimate your camps whilst you’re away hunting for supplies.

For those that are curious, the types of zombies included in this game are the slow Romero kind. But Darby did say his preference was for fast running ones: “I don’t think slow zombies could take over the world.”

He also described the rather interesting community system Dead of Day has. “We’ve got about 50 characters and they all have their different skills, likes and dislikes plus their own personalities. So during your game you will often hear them around the campfire commenting on your decisions or moaning at you.”

Although there was still a number of things still to be added to the game it was nice to see someone taking the oversaturated genre of zombie games and giving it a fresh spin. We’ve had shooters, open world games and even dating sims so perhaps a dungeon based RPG based around the shambling undead could be just what the genre needs.

Dead of Day is set to come out on PC and Mac April of 2016 with other platforms like iOS, Android and PS Vita further down the line. There’s also a Kickstarter page you can check out if you want to help fund additional soundtracks and art for the game.

 

Aperion Cyberstorm

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Developed by aPriori Digital, Aperion Cyberstorm is a bright and colourful twin stick shooter that allows you to create pixelated carnage in a series of colorful levels with an array of unique weapons.

Jonathon Price, the game’s designer, described the idea behind Aperion Cyberstorm: “We wanted to make something quick and arcade-like so Geometry Wars was a good inspiration for it. We also took the chaotic bullet hell style of something like Ikaruga and turned it up to 11.”

My time with the game was spent playing against the devs themselves in a multiplayer match and the multiplayer matches in this game are as chaotic as you would think. But it’s not just multiplayer you can mess around in with Aperion Cyberstorm because there’s also two other modes.

There’s onslaught, which is a horde mode that has you fighting increasingly difficult waves of enemies. There’s also a campaign mode that features a full story that you can blow through on your own fighting bosses across four different worlds and collecting ships and unlocking new abilities.

Although I only got a few rounds in on Aperion Cyberstorm and the devs were happy to have a rematch I genuinely think this will do well on the Wii U. To me it seems like the perfect kind of party game to wheel out when you have friends round, plus they seemed to be the only other devs focusing on Wii U development that I could see so that caught my attention right away.

Aperion Cyberstorm will be available on the Wii U by early next year, but Jonathon did advise me that they are considering other platforms with a possible PC release in the future depending on the game’s initial reception on the Wii U.

Even though I was only there for four days, the Indie Megabooth left a lasting impression on me. There were so many great games to play and developers to speak to, but these are the ones that I still thought about on the train ride home and still talk about with friends a week on from the convention.

So well done EGX, I look forward to seeing what next year has to offer!