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Friday, May 24, 2024

Geek Pride’s top five games of EGX 2018

Some of the most prominent games at this year’s EGX were Metro: Exodus, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Life is Strange 2 and The Division 2.  However, all these games are sequels and required queuing for up to two hours.  Sod that…

Instead, for true innovation, the more discerning gamer knows they need to look at the smaller independent studios.  As a smaller studio does not have significant capital investments hanging over them, they are able to take greater risks in experimenting with gameplay.

Phoenix Point – Snapshot Games

Those of a certain age will know the name of “Julian Gallop”; the man behind the original 8-bit versions of Chaos and Laser Squad.  Gallop made his name with turn-based tactical games, cementing his reputation with UFO: Enemy Unknown (otherwise known as XCOM).

Thus, when it was first announced that Phoenix Point would see Gallop returning to the genre that he first helped create, the reaction was understandably momentous, with it earning at least eight times their stated kickstarter goal.

Having seen the game in question, I can confirm that it is everything that fans of the original UFO/XCOM loved.  Unlike the current XCOM by Firaxis, which offered a streamlined but restrictive approach, Phoenix Point brings some of the streamlined approach demonstrated by Firaxis whilst maintaining tactical flexibility, as well as introducing vehicles and mammoth-sized enemies.

Sunless Skies – FailBetter Games

Despite the similarity in name to Sunless Seas, this is not a sequel.  Instead, Sunless Skies is a whole new game, where FailBetter games built upon what they learned with Sunless Seas to create a new game set in the world of Sunken London.  Above all though, FailBetter Games have maintained their irresistible talent for storytelling.

Instead of exploring the depths of the oceans, players now venture out into deep space.  But this is no Star Trek, boldly going where no one has gone before.  Instead, it is more akin to a steampunk version of Firefly with a healthy dose of HP Lovecraft’s cosmic horror.

Vanguard – DevClever

As much as I love the Elite and Wing Commander games, a problem with many space-fighter simulations is that it often boils down to a series of head-on charges with none of the dog-fighting typified in science-fiction.

Vanguard: Fight for Rudiarius seeks to counter this by having different fighters that offer pilots different special abilities.  Building upon the spirit of gladiatorial combat in ancient Rome, Vanguard allows players to pilot various types of space fighters, each of which relies on the players using different tactics in order for their side to emerge victorious.

What is especially impressive about Vanguard was that it allows cross-platform gameplay.  Thus, one player could be using a PC, whilst playing with another player on a smart phone and a third on a console.

Into the Breach – Subset Games


Saying the letters “FTL” will either result in gamers sobbing in despair or excitedly waving their arms in jubilation.  FTL: Faster Than Light, to give its full name, was an incredible real-time strategy rogue-like space game.  So, when Subset Games announced their next game was to focus on mechs, the bar was set very high.

Playing out on a ten by ten grid, Into The Breach has players fighting off waves of monsters whilst protecting the buildings of the cities they are defending.  In may ways, Into the Breach is just as much a puzzle game as it is a strategy, but it is an undeniably gripping experience.

Strange Brigade – Rebellion

There is a lot to like about Strange Brigade; from the fast-paced action to the intuitive mechanics.  However, the sense of gung-ho humour in the styles of 1940s adventure serials that permeates the game is definitely the biggest draw.

Strange Brigade feels like you are playing in one of the Indiana Jones or The Mummy films (the Brendan Fraser ones), which is more than enough for me.

Peter Ray Allison
Peter Ray Allisonhttp://www.peterallison.net
Science Fiction: the final frontier. These are the articles of the freelance journalist Peter Ray Allison. His continuing mission: to explore strange new realms of fiction, to seek out new genres and new visions of the future, to boldly geek where no one has geeked before.

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