EGX, formerly the Eurogamer Expo, is a videogames trade event. Basically a big building full of playable games on PC and console, EGX Rezzed focuses on indie titles with sessions by game designers and the opportunity to chat with developers on the show floor. I went along at the weekend, arriving in London at 9am after only managing to get two hours sleep, or less, for the proceeding couple of nights. Over a day of chugging more than 10 cans of Relentless, I played a whole bunch of upcoming videogames, almost all of which I'd never heard of.
Radial G: Racing Revolved
Before heading to Rezzed, I had two things I knew I wanted to do: try Gang Beasts, and use an Oculus Rift. To that end, the very first game I headed to in the morning was Radial G. A sci-fi racer very much like F-Zero, this is exactly the sort of game I assumed would work on the Rift. And I was god damn right!
The game is really fun, a great sense of speed, smooth controls and well-integrated Rift support. Even though I'd never used the Oculus before, looking up at the next part of the track felt completely natural.
The Rift itself, though, is something else. Surprisingly comfortable fit on the face, screens which are perfectly pleasant despite being mere centimetres from the eyes and an amazing 3D sensation. Since I was a kid, various devices have come along every couple of years claiming to be virtual reality. After being suckered by so many Argos knock-offs shining LEDs into my eyes, I was hesitant to believe the hype surrounding the Rift. Slipping it on and looking down, however, I would have been hard pressed to tell you the difference between my real body and the one from the game, were it not for the boobs.
Pro Puzzle Wrestling
Perhaps because I was wearing my Dean Ambrose attire, my friend and I were then approached by the developers of Pro Puzzle Wrestling. A two-player match three puzzler where various colour combos translate to special moves, it was a fun little game.
At the moment, PPW is a little bare-bones but the developers had a lot of fun ideas about animation and commentary and story modes which will hopefully lead to something worth playing. Also, their name is a reference to one of my favourite Simpsons gags, which is a big thumbs up in my book.
The Dangerous Kitchen
Next up was this little gem. Played, charmingly, on Super Nintendo controllers, this played a lot like Super Smash Bros. Choosing a colour, each player takes control of a little round character and, using a simple but deep one-button control scheme, knocks the other players off the arena. It took a little getting used to, and because we were pretty unskilled the match lasted a little too long, but this was a fun little couch multiplayer game which I would recommend to anyone who enjoys the Smash Bros formula.
Talking to Shaun Roopra, one of the game's developers, on the show floor revealed my favourite little factoid about De Mambo. The option was deliberately included to play my favourite Smash Bros metagame – quitting in and out of the menu screens over and over to annoy the other players who are waiting. Top Bantz, Dangerous Kitchen. Top Bantz.
As one of the only Wii U games at the entire show, it was natural I would gravitate towards this. And I'm glad I did! Looking and controlling a little like a slowed-down Geometry Wars, Cyberstorm was a fun, five-way deathmatch with just the right amount of tactical death and also twitch shooting. Discovering that the devs, naturally Nintendo fans, hailed from Bristol was just an added bonus. After I got chatting with them, they directed me to another game developed just down the road from me and another Oculus Rift title, so I knew where I had to go.
It was at this point I should have noticed how conveniently I'd been finding games which appealed to me, how my exploration of the event was playing out like a linear videogame. But I was a fool.
Another Rift experience, this time a procedurally generated first-person horror. Set aboard an abandoned ship, the player explores a randomly generated exterior to escape one of various different monsters. It controls nicely and uses the device excellently, though for me it was much more fun to watch other people play than to play it myself. I heard some very amusing screams.
As a game, it is a little simple in its current form, and I can't see myself playing it over and over once the initital shock wears off. That said, as a demo for the terror-inducing potential of the Oculus Rift itself, it cannot be overstated. Strapping my mum into this and watching her go would be hilarious. As I left, I kept imagining things creeping in the periphery of my real-world vision.
Just next to the Monstrum console was a game called Steredenn. An R-Type style side-scrolling space shooter, this was difficult but fair with a really satisfying sensibilty of ship designs. Big chunky sprites constructed big, powerful looking space vessels which were very pleasing. I didn't play for long, but if this sort of thing is your cup of tea, I can only recommend.
The other Bristol-based game, this is a fun, frenetic twin-stick multiplayer shooter with a wonderful art style, slick controls and a great sense of humour running throughout. Unfortunately, I was absolutely rubbish at it! I don't know if it was the lack of sleep, the excitement or just my own inadequacies, but I couldn't keep up with the bullets zipping around the screen. Thankfully, the rounds are short enough and the game silly enough that death was more of an amusement than a frustration. Another recommendation for anyone with a couch full of drunken gamers to amuse.
The only game I played at Rezzed which I'd heard about in advance of the show, I was intent on playing this before I left. I was lucky enough to get a chance early in the day and then, after exploring the stalls and perusing wears and nipping for a Dominos up the road, I encountered a second chance. Albeit after waiting for an obnoxious group of children to finish their unreasonably long turn. I swear to god I was seconds away from giving the biggest one an Attitude Adjustment.
The game itself, however, is solid gold. Playing unlike anything else I've ever played, this is a multiplayer wrestling brawl through the lense of madcap physics and brightly coloured lunacy. Seeing Santa punch a dinosaur in the face over and over to get it to let go of his beard and fall into the abyss is absolutely hilarious. The levels are genius; a brawl atop a pair of lorries, a royal rumble in a wrestling ring and a horrifying ordeal amidst some meat grinders were personal highlights.
I'm not going to have much to say on the mechanics and workings of the game that you haven't read elsewhere, but suffice to say it is well worth a go if you get the chance. Only confirmed for Steam at the moment, I pray to the old gods and the new for an Xbox release.
After the show closed, I headed to the pub and got wrecked, as is my wont, before being pointed kindly in the direction of a tube station. While journeying home through London's gem of a public transport system, I encountered a very drunk man arguing with the police and throwing the contents of his shopping bags at them. Stepping around smashed eggs and a lidless packet of I Can't believe Its Not Butter, I acquired an unopened packet of bacon.
I was drunk enough that it didn't seem unusual. After a fight sequence, one obtains replenishing foodstuffs; this is known. I should have realised it was too videogamey.
The next morning, I was riding home on the bus with the friend I'd explored the convention with. We were discussing how much the Oculus Rift felt indistinguishable from real life. It was then that I realised I couldn't remember taking it off.
Suddenly it all made sense.
How conveniently I'd been shepherded from one game I'd like to another. How I'd obtained a power up from a fight sequence. How I hadn't seen a mirror all weekend.
I was still inside.
I clawed at the back of my head. There was no use. Who's to say these are even my real hands? Maybe my real hands are clutching a gamepad, no more real in their movements than the world is.
I write this in the hopes that somebody out there is a human being, trapped like me in this digital world. If not... if you're all just constructs... kill me now. Better to die free than live a slave.
Or, y'know, if this an artificial reality... just send me some KFC. Starting now, indefinitely, until I say stop. Cheers.