by James Toal
EGX is a wonderful time of year for people like me, hundreds of games just waiting to be played. Luckily for myself, I was invited by the Square Enix Collective, a support system for indie devs, to have a look at the some of the projects they have to exhibit at the expo. I played Tokyo Dark, Battalion 1944, and Fear Effect Sedna due to them all offering something unique that I had not encountered from any other game at the event. How did they fair? Well, let’s dive right in.
The demo focused on detective Itō as you search for your missing partner. A dark alleyway light by neon signs and the seedy underbelly of this part of town leads you to question if you will truly find what you’re searching for. The Point n’ Click style of gameplay is perfect for the story, as clicking on every little object makes you feel like your edging closer to uncovering the mystery. What makes this game unique though, is the in-game S.P.I.N. mechanic.
This keeps track of your Sanity, Professionalism, Investigation, and Neurosis. These affect how the game progresses. For instance, your sanity can decrease so low that it can lead to a nervous breakdown. If that happens, it’s game over. Carefully balancing decisions that alter these statistics is engaging, immerses you in the experience, and makes you care about your characters’ wellbeing. It also helps that Detective Itō is a relatable character and the writing for her portrays her well in a distressing situation like this.
The demo ends with you climbing down a well to find your partner held at knifepoint, with a red-haired woman smiling back at you. The title appears and you’re left wanting to know what happens next. The pacing and overall tone of the game was promising, a tense investigation followed by charming writing, puts this on my list of games I need to finish this year.
Tokyo Dark was released on 7th Sep 2017.
Arguably the biggest game that the Square Enix Collective pushed at EGX, Battalion 1944 is a World War II multiplayer shooter in the vein of genre classics such as Call of Duty 2 and Medal of Honor. The game recreates the feel of these older games by focusing on the fast-paced reactive shooting, and the basics of overcoming your online opponent with good old-fashioned military infantry. No perks, no wall riding, just your skill and how fast you can kill the enemy.
I’ll admit, I was initially sceptical upon seeing the game for the first time at EGX. The booth was a few feet away from Activisions’ latest release, Destiny 2. Further down was Star Wars: Battlefront 2, and even further down was Call of Duty WW2. How could an indie game like this compete? I was caught off guard when I found that my experience was very positive. Taking shooting back to its roots did feel enjoyable, running around the map trying to outwit the enemy was genuinely fun.
This game has potential, but will players want to abandon the improvements modern shooters have developed? It’s hard to say right now, but I’ll be keeping a close eye on the development of this title. May it’ll just be one of the big surprises to catch audiences off guard in 2018.
Battalion 1944 is aiming to release the game in early 2018.
Fear Effect: Sedna
The first Fear Effect came out in 1999. Eighteen years later and now we finally have a sequel being developed by Sushee Games. For disclosure, I never played the first game but was aware of its existence. Playing this game for the first time and being introduced to this new franchise was interesting, to say the least. Fear Effect: Sedna is a pausable real-time tactical action game. You can choose to tactically progress through the level, while also being able to control each action in real time.
The cell-shaded style of the game suckered me in immediately. Games like Borderlands or The Wolf Among Us used this aesthetic very well, and Fear Effect uses this style to suit the game’s overall tone. While there may be shooting, espionage, and sexual themes. The game seems to not take itself too seriously, which I really adore. The banter between the two female main characters, Hana and Rain, was quite enjoyable and with lines that fit right in a James Bond Film. It delights in it’s slightly corny nature, which made me look forward to the next cutscene.
The gameplay itself was simple to learn and it was fun to switch between different the play styles. I preferred to take on the enemies in real time. But, the potential benefits to being tactical did lead to me to more opportunities to gain the advantage in a fight. The open nature of the combat did leave me feeling positive for how audiences would receive the game; what better way to include more player choice than to give them different and unique ways to play depending on their skill? When this does eventually come out, let’s hope that it has made the correct balance in pleasing older fans while also gaining a new audience.
Release date for Fear Effect Sedna is unknown, but they’re in the final stages of development.
Overall, the Square Enix Collective did impress me with what it had to offer. Giving developers a step up to show their game is admirable, and gives games a shot in the spotlight it wouldn’t otherwise have. The games that I managed to see show that if given the right sort of attention, can succeed and attract an audience that will thoroughly enjoy the game. You can bet that I’ll be keeping an eye on what the Collective decides to highlight next.