Dark Devotion, Young Souls and Tales of the Neon Sea – Gamescom 2018 Preview
After recently telling you all about my visit at Devolver´s booth, I´m back with more titles I checked out! This time some of DotEmu´s and Zodiac Interactive´s games and damn, they´re some damn promising ones at that. So be sure to burn these names into your memory, there´s something for everyone here!
Dark Devotion looks and feels much like a 2D Souls clone. I mean, there´s everything, from the stamina bar, the dark art style, few but tough enemies and even respawn system. However, it´s actually in development since long before the original developer even played any of From Software´s Souls-games. While the team grew from one person to several, he also played those great games and can definitely see the similarities, even though it was originally inspired by a tiny, unknown indie game.
So, Dark Devotion may be one of the very few games trying to mimic the Souls-style without even realizing it! Yet, that doesn´t eradicate some of the problems I already saw during the demo, like the ever-present stamina bar. For me, having this “feature” in a 2D game almost never is a good idea if implemented like this, as it restricts the space even more and slows down everything without adding anything. Especially during the boss fight, it quickly turned out to be somewhat of a mixed bag, big enough to allow most movements and evades in an appropriate amount but too short to actually restrict the player more than the enemy moveset already does.
Generally, the whole game looks amazing, feels quite great with direct controls, no animation priority and no form of restricting movement but also couldn´t impress me with its gameplay. I love the designs and practically everything about the presentation but similar to GRIS, it just didn´t feel any different than other 2D Souls-like. I hope the full release can impress with great design and a meaningful way to capitalize on the solid combat, it would be a shame if it would become just another one of them. I really like the team and visuals after all.
Dark Devotion will release on PC and consoles
Young Souls was another indie game which simply impressed through its visuals, featuring a lovely 2D art style full of amazing looking animations and designs. At the same time, it promises a rich story around two rebelling teenagers and is written by a really promising guy. Unfortunately, the demo only included content of the actual gameplay/combat part without telling anything about the plot, though that was enough on its own to grant a pretty good impression of what will await the player here.
Generally speaking, the whole game revolves around exploring dungeons. Beginning with selecting one of the few dozens that will be available in the final product and are randomly generated. Before entering there´s also the possibility to equip new gear and damn, Young Souls has a lot of it. From your typical armour divided into boots, pants, body, helmet, to swords and shields and even potions, spells … yeah, everything you could wish for. I really like how this extensive system allows for various playstyles, due to the huge armour and weapon selection, making it possible to either play a slow tank or fast damage dealer.
Then it´s time to enter the dungeon and battle through various arenas, killing all enemies until you arrive at the boss. The combat is similar to other 2.5D games, where you can actually go from the foreground to the background, similar to brawlers. So, in order to hit an enemy, you have to be on the same layer. On the one hand, a proven system and it works pretty well with the solid, direct gameplay. On the other hand, it often became difficult to tell what enemy was on which layer. Combined with the fact blocking only blocks incoming attacks from near layers, I was sometimes hit simply because the environment was too crowded or flooded. Especially annoying when it´s not a super easy game like this one. Though since it´s still some time away, such problems can be fixed and I enjoyed the visual mix between retro and modern styles way too much in exchange.
Young Souls will release on PC (and probably more)
Last but not least, Zodiac Interactive´s Tales of the Neon Sea, a light puzzle game with one hell of a neon pixel-art style. Taking over the role of a cyber-enhanced detective, it´s our job to uncover various murders, mysteries and more in this cyberpunk game. Did I already mention it looks fantastic as well? It manages to create such a unique futuristic world like only a few other indie games did before and infuse it with the typical indie charm. I mean, there was a part in the demo where you played as an adorable cat … what could you ask more?
Well, as a common theme in this series of indie previews: A more interesting or challenging gameplay. It´s still your average, very easy puzzle game, that heavily guides you on a beaten path without many difficult passages or anything revolutionary. Luckily most puzzles are mixed with the great humour I came to love about the game, making them entertaining nonetheless. The only truly cool thing are the investigations, where we have to search a dead body (in this case) and find evidence. All this basically boils down to finding the vibrating controller spots but it´s neatly presented and quite cool, at least for the demo and I hope they can do some cool detective stories with this.
And that´s it for DotEmu/The Arcade Crew´s and Zodiac Interactive´s line-up I took a look at! While some may think I criticise the gameplay a bit too much, considering not many games actually deliver something unique in the indie space, seeing the ever-same adventure system, for example, can get on the nerves … in any form whatsoever. I hope you´ll stick with me for the next preview, which will be about Rising Star Games!