This penultimate installment of my annual E3 report features two of my picks for Top Five Best in Show.
Telltale’s Next Episodic Adventure
Another Top Five Best of Show!
Founded largely by former members of LucasArts games, Telltale games has been creating very solid episodic adventure games for years (the Sam and Max series, Puzzle Agent, Wallace & Gromit, Jurassic Park, Back to the Future, etc. Then they seriously upped their game with The Walking Dead in 2012. Have you played that? It’s not only one of the best adventure games I’ve ever played; it’s one of the best games of any kind I’ve ever played, period.
Which means that I am always eager to see what the evil geniuses at Telltale are up to when I go to E3.
This time around they’re partnering with Gearbox Software to create Tales From the Borderlands. This idea made sense to me immediately. Borderlands is a frenetic, first-person shooter action RPG hybrid with an extremely engaging science fiction setting. This new episodic game will be an adventure game set within that universe.
The story is set in the chaos surrounding Handsome Jack’s death in the second Borderlands game. It’ll be a five-episode game for all platforms, and in a first for Telltale, you’ll be playing two different characters.
You’ll play Rhys, a mid-level grunt at Handsome Jack’s Hyperion Corporation, and Fiona, a mysterious rogue who may or may not be a Vault Hunter. Like all Telltale games, it features fantastic voice acting, this time by the likes of Patrick Warburton, Sam Witwer, Nolan North, and others.
The demo/preview they showed us at E3 introduced the plot of the first episode, which has to do with stealing a vault key (the most valuable objects in the Borderlands universe). The game feature the same weirdly satisfying 3D cell-shaded comic-book come-to-life look of The Walking Dead, and its script is hilariously worthy of the Borderlands franchise.
Due to begin with Episode One later this summer, Tales From the Borderlands looks like it could be another winner from one of my favorite studios, and it easily makes it into my Top Five Best of Show.
Tales From the Borderlands
Later this year
Daedalic to the Rescue
The Devil's Men
Top Five Best in Show! The most intriguing traditional point-and-click adventure game I saw at E3 was, not surprisingly, from Daedalic Studios in Germany. They’ve been creating games I’ve been liking more and more, including the Deponia and Dark Eye series, Night of the Rabbit, and their recent collaboration with Gene Mocsy, 1954: Alcatraz.
This time around, one of their lead creatives, Kevin Mentz, has some very appealing tricks up his sleeve with his new game The Devil’s Men.
Very newly announced (on June 11), the game is a steampunk crime mystery taking place in 1871 in a British seaside town.
The town is home to a strange group of men called “The Devil’s Men,” who are mysterious and shadowy and all take the names of famous characters who have sold their souls to the Devil. Someone is bumping off these guys, one by one, and that’s the mystery you must attempt to solve when playing the game.
In the game you play two very different characters. The first is Adelaide Spector, a peg-legged daughter of a detective who disappeared years ago. Since his disappearance, she’s been homeless.
The other character is a violent street thug named Emily.
At a certain point in the game, you gain the ability to switch between the characters at will. Each of the ladies can solve problems in her own way, so the game has lots of branches you can follow.
The aspect of the game that caught my interest the most was the following dynamic between the characters: At times in the game, one character can make a decision that gives her an advantage… but actively hampers or hurts the other character. And since these two characters aren’t exactly enemies, but in fact must work together to solve the mystery, this tension between them, regulated by the player, sounds like it has a lot of potential to be interesting.
While it’s still early in development, this is a game that will stay on our radar until its release in mid-2015.
The Devil's Men
In addition to The Devil’s Men (not to mention an upcoming sequel to The Whispered World), Daedalic has a light-hearted puzzle adventure in development called Fire.
In Fire you play Ungh, a cave man whose job is to keep the group’s fire burning. The game has a cute, cartoony look, and in a fashion similar to Machinarium, the story is told with no words.
On each level, Ungh’s goal is to reach a lightning bug, making the game a series of environmental puzzles. I happen to really like environmental puzzles and so this looks like fun to me. There’s also a lot of humor. Its tone and emphasis on puzzle-solving by experimentation made me think of one of my favorite old games: The Neverhood. Which, of course, is a very good game to be compared to.
PS, Android, Mac, iOS
If you’re still a fan of the old SNES cult classic Earthbound, you might be interested in Citizens of Earth, a failed Kickstarter game that was rescued by Atlus.
Like Earthbound, Citizens is a traditional Japanese-style RPG that’s set in a bright, sort-of-modern, urban setting. You play the newly-elected Vice President of Earth who has to recruit a bunch of citizens to help him fight evil. Actually, every single character in the game is either an enemy or someone you can recruit! Enlist the barista! The schoolteacher! The homeless guy!
The game sports a bright, shiny look that’s got a lot of appeal.
Citizens of Earth
PS4, PS Vita, WiiU, Nintendo 3Ds, Steam