Fan Expo is a convention that takes place in Toronto, featuring big name celebrities, overpriced merchandise, and an opportunity to see upcoming games and movies. In the previous installment I looked at all the mainstream games coming out for the current generation of consoles. In this installment I’ll be looking at all the indie games. Digital: A Love Story, Analogue: A Hate Story, They Bleed Pixels and a few PSN games were also available to play but these games have already been released for at least 6 months so I’m not going to cover them.
Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime
This is a two player co-op game where you need to fly a ship, fight enemies and get upgrades. You don’t control the ship directly, but one of two people. Each room in the ship corresponds to a different part of it. One part controls the engine, another the shields, 4 are for guns (one in each cardinal direction), and a final one for the superweapon. This means that at any point in time, only two parts of the ship are in use. I found myself frantically flying while my partner was trying to get shots off, but if we felt that we were in a fairly safe position we’d both move man the guns. As we and our enemies moved, we found it prudent to change the direction of the shields. It was a lot of fun, and I’m looking forward to the level of content the final game offers.
A Long Time Coming
This is a game made within 24 hours for Feb Fatale, which was a game jam hosted during February. You play a woman who cheated on her boyfriend and needs to either hide the fact or tell him during dinner. The game only lasts for ten minutes and is only playable at conventions. There are no plans to release it to the public either as a paid game or as freeware. The most notable aspect is “Knife Time”, where you need to choose to respond to your boyfriend with hostility, respect or just break down and confess. It’s named Knife Time as the original concept involved throwing knives at a board to pick your response, but in this version you just push a button. It wasn’t a bad game, but it was too short and ultimately unfulfilling.
Super Time Force
This is a platformer coming out for the Xbox 360, although a PC port is scheduled to be released afterwards. You play as one of 5 characters, each with their own abilities. One character has a gun with bullets that ricochet off walls, another can create a shield that absorbs all incoming fire, etc. In the game you can rewind time and switch characters whenever you want. This is extremely important as each character dies in a single hit, and each level has a very strict time limit that usually isn’t longer than a minute. What’s unique about this game is that any iterations of your character still exist even after rewinding time, so you can have ten copies of yourself shooting at a single enemy. It’s very fast paced and was extremely fun to play.
This was my favorite indie game to play at Fan Expo. It looks like a turn based strategy game as you play on a grid, but it’s actually real time. You can move in any direction, including diagonally, and you have three main attacks to use. When you step on a square it becomes your color, and you can buy and place units and traps on any square you own. However, enemies can also take over squares in a similar manner. You also have three attacks to use, so you’ll be dividing your time between conquering parts of the board and directly attacking the enemy. There was only one level to play but it was a lot of fun. The developer promised that the full game will have a story with lots of unique characters, but there was no note of this whatsoever in the demo so I have no idea how it will turn out.
Shuyan: The Kung-Fu Princess
This is an extremely basic iPad game that only has a tutorial. You tap the screen to move your character, and swipe to attack an enemy. I ended up doing nothing more than madly swiping across the screen to win without any thought or effort. However, the developers were very open to feedback and wrote down all the complaints anyone made (including all the ones I made), so if they do improve the game I expect it to at least be a good time waster for a dollar or two. They also said that the game will have a satisfying story as well, but the demo was focused solely on gameplay so I didn’t get to see any of that.
This is my least favorite demo. It’s a bow shaped peripheral for iPhones, and it comes with around 70 free apps that work with it. Every game is controlled by turning and tilting, with one button. To push the button you need to pull on the trigger, but to make sure it works you need to pull the bow all the way back so it’s tight. Trying to hold it tight is extremely difficult while tilting and turning around. The games are generally unfun and I really didn’t see the point in paying 130 dollars for the peripheral considering that I can tilt the iPhone and touch the screen with my hands just fine. The games they had to demo were a CoD knockoff, a bowling game, and a turkey hunting game. None of them actually had a bow and arrow in them.
And those were all the game demos to play at Fan Expo. I’m going to end off with the story of the EB Games booth (owned by Gamestop). They had regular giveaways, and because of this drew a huge crowd. To win a prize you had to have a great costume, as voted on by other people in the crowd, but after a while they just start to literally throw prizes amongst the crowd so long as people were chanting for them. They had Dishonored masks, Assassin’s Creed posters, copies of Fable 3 for the Xbox 360, anything. And even from the other side of the convention, you could hear them chant. EB GAMES. EB GAMES. EB GAMES. As a joke the host threw an empty box into the crowd as a prize, and they started to chant for that next. EMPTY BOX. EMPTY BOX. EMPTY BOX. The host asked them to chant for anything. To chant for free games, to chant for discounts, to chant for lanyards, to chant for him! And they did every single time, just for a chance to win a 5 dollar piece of merchandise or a ten dollar game that no one wanted. This is what the game industry is now: mindless consumerism.