As GDC wraps up for 2016, it was a strong and interesting show; the heavy (and I mean heavy) emphasis on VR is intriguing, and I will obviously tackle that, however what I also really enjoy about the conference is it is always a place where I get to see a bunch of Indie Games that may not have been on my radar yet, that I now have firmly ensconced on my wishlist.
Again, being that we are PlayStation heavy here at The Guys From, I will not be touching on anything XB1 or Steam exclusive (as that's just not our jam), so feel free to tell me how I'm a fanboy.
PSVR Priced, Dated, Rolled
The main focus of PlayStation's actual presence at GDC 2016 was focused (some would say, finally) on their forthcoming PSVR headset. We were given a price at 399$ US (which up here is a slightly insane-for-being-more-than-the-PS4 550$; thanks crappy economy) and the release window of October 2016.
Now, before moving on, I have to say that for VR, that price tag is very reasonable (if you ignore the fact that you do need to have a PS4, a PSEye, move controllers...bundles I get, and there are a lot of us with PS4's, but still), especially when you compare the PSVR cost with what a good Oculus or Vive rig will cost--this is a definite selling point, and a good checkmark for Sony.
Seems like those days of "you'll get a second job to pay for it" Sony are completely dead and buried.
There is also the fact that there is a 'cinematic mode' which will allow you to play any game as if you were on a cinematic sized television--which is a cool feature--and the target of 50 games between release and the end of the year...which to me sounds a little ambitious, but considering the little games that they have been teasing forever (oh 100ft Robot Golf), I can imagine this will be very possible. Sony even had a AAA game announcement with the Star Wars Battlefront exclusive experience coming to PSVR (which is a nice get there, and is sure to move some units), and I for one could totally see that making a difference.
All that said, I cannot say that it hooked me completely. This is still one of those situations where I think it might be the best plan to see what happens in the marketplace, and to see how the hardware goes. Now I am not saying that I don't think VR is going to be a thing (it is), I just am not all that sold yet, especially when I'm being asked to spend more than I spent on the PS4 to pick one up (AND I do not have an EYE or Move controllers...because why would I have Move controllers).
I do hope that this works for Sony, and that the PSVR is a successful piece of tech, but to me, until I see that thing on it that I absolutely have to have, and cannot get anywhere else, this is a peripheral that I'll try, I'll experience a bit, but cannot see being a part of my near future.
Could that change? Sure. Maybe I'll have a 'come to Shuhei' moment, but as of today, I remain cautious.
Now, onto the indie games:
1) ARK: Survival Evolved
This snappy looking first-person adventure/survival game (whose first iteration, ARK: Survival of the Fittest is available on Steam in Early Access now) looks like a hell of a lot of fun. The basic premise is that you are a person who wakes up on a mysterious, primordial (and futuristic?) island called Ark where you are forced to survive, and hopefully thrive, amongst all sorts of beasts, from dinosaurs, to delicious dodos, to giant beavers.
The game has deep customization and crafting systems, as well as what appears to be an intense, RPG style amount of work to be done...and I for one cannot wait to see this on PS4. I do worry about about whether or not it's going to be a strange 'always online, always multiplayer' experience (not really my bag) but with how fun this looks, I can always hit mute and go ride some dinosaurs.
For more info, head to their website here
Sheltered came to PS4 this week (!) and I have not had a chance to get my hands on it as of yet, but this post-apocalyptic management sim (seemingly something like a Fallout Shelter which came to iPad last year, but a lot sadder) is a game that I'm really looking forward to giving a shot.
From their website, here is the best description of the game I could imagine:
With all hope lost, how will you cope in this bleak new world? How you handle the many moral choices you’ll encounter on a daily basis could be the difference between your family surviving or dying. Combat claustrophobia, radiation and mental exhaustion as you cling desperately to life in the cramped, cold and scary underground shelter. You’ll have to leave the scant protection the shelter offers behind as you’re forced to venture outside into the dangerous desolate wasteland to scavenge for vital supplies which could ensure your families survival for just one more day.
I realize that sounds depressing, but that is a game type that you don't see much, and I have always liked city-builders and management sims of this sort, so a little 15$ indie set in one of my favorite settings, has really captured my attention.
Plus, maybe I could find Eli from Book of Eli and explain to him why his entire premise was deeply flawed...
Kickstarted by Discord Games, Chasm is a Metroidvania, 16-bit style game with RPG elements that just looks like an absolutely great time. This is one of those genres that is really hit-and-miss for me (as while I do like a good MV style game, it has to scratch the right itch), but Chasm has got me interested, particularly through the concept of having 6 procedurallygenerated worlds to travel, and it appears to have a bit more of the Castlevania in it than Metroid--which is a bonus for me.
However, it is in the customization, in weapons, armour, spells, etc. that really piques my interest, as all of those little old-school RPG things, with a hack-and-slash adventure is something I hope to sink my teeth into at some point soon.
If you'd like more info, head to their website.
4) I Am Setsuna
Tokyo RPG Factory has recently released their first RPG I Am Setsuna in Japan, and knowing that (with some SquareEnix publishing) I will also be getting my hands on this classic style JRPG has got me very excited. The director of I Am Setsuna, Atsushi Hashimoto, has spoken to a few outlets about what is missing from today's RPG's when compared to the Golden Age, and how this game brings back Chrono Trigger's Active Time Battle system back, meaning that this is probably the closest game to the classic RPG's that I grew up adoring, again.
Look, for anyone who knows me, you know that this is a game type that I really enjoy, and maybe, in between all the Persona 5 ing (and perhaps Final Fantasy XVing) I'm planning on doing, I could spend a little time grinning like a wee boy in some turn based action, complete with stunning music.
If you're looking for a bit more info, or just some pretty snow, head to the I Am Setsuna website. Which is the US site, btw...but I could not find an English trailer...
This game also blindsided me completely; I am a sucker for horror, but it is so rare that I get excited about a horror game anymore...Until Dawn aside, I cannot think of the last horror game I was looking forward to in the past few years. 2Dark looks like a really fun little twist, running as a stealth-horror-adventure game, set in the cutesy sounding town of Gloomywood, which is...apparently, filled with terrifying serial killers and monsters galore who are out to stop the main character from saving his children.
I hope against hope that this can be a Hallowe'en game, and that it achieves the promise it appears to have.
As a quick aside, I just wanted to point out that there are a lot of other indie games that were at GDC that I am quite exited for (Alienation for example, or Tacoma) but I wanted to point out the five that really caught my attention that were not already on my radar.
Now I just need to finish Broforce and Nom Nom Galaxy, so I can get on to all these other amazing titles....