It’s hard to tell where Summer Game Fest began and E3 ended but some combination of those events took place over the past few days, so instead of trying to make heads or tails of the schedule I just figured I’d plop all of my miscellaneous conference highlights here. Sure we had big presentations from Microsoft and Nintendo, but a couple of smaller events bolstered the show by just announcing a deluge of games.
These announcements are only a small slice of the things that were shown in their respective digital events, which is my way of saying that this isn’t in any way a comprehensive list. I’ve broken the announcements down by which conference they were a part of, and not in any sort of ranked order. Enough caveats though, let’s dive in.
The first “conference” that I’m going to highlight games from is the Wholesome Direct, where chill vibes and good feelings were prioritized over the likes of guns and boobs or whatever. These titles are all very relaxed or peaceful, so consider that as we look at some games that are cozy as
A LITTLE TO THE LEFT
Described as a “cozy puzzle game” about organization, A Little to the Left is supremely the kind of shit that I’m into. It’s colorful and charming, and seems incredibly chill. Also, it scratches that “mundane activity game” itch that I apparently always have, so that’s good. It’s planned to release on October 21st of this year.
BEHIND THE FRAME
I thoroughly enjoy the idea of using art to solve puzzles, and Behind the Frame looks like a game that will do just that. One could easily look at this game and call it a voyeurism simulator which in all fairness, it might be. I’m digging the art style and the general conceit of the game, but whether it all comes together in a cohesive fashion while telling a good story remains to be seen. It’s scheduled for a September 2021 release.
Lake feels like one of those games that’s going to try and shatter me on an emotional level. Sure it may just look like a game about being a woman who returns to her hometown to take a break from her fast-paced city life, but I bet there’s going to be a lot of coming to terms with life in said small town that’s going to make me get real introspective. Those messages really resonate with me regardless of the medium of storytelling, so I’m fully expecting this to either destroy me, or literally miss the mark entirely. While no firm date is given, Lake will apparently release this year.
Look at this game and soak in its borderline offensive levels of adorableness. I’m in love with the art style and music that’s on display in Button City, but I genuinely have no clue what the actual game is like. I’m guessing it’s an adventure game with some arcade-inspired mini-games, and that is very exciting to me. I look forward to trying it when it releases on September 12th of this year.
THE GECKO GODS
A puzzle-platformer where I play as a gecko? You can go ahead and add that to the list of things I never thought I’d say let alone want to play, until now that is. The Gecko Gods looks incredibly rad from top to bottom, although my only concern is how good it actually feels to move around and interact with the world as a gecko, but only time will tell if that concern is valid or not. It’s planned to release sometime in 2022.
PASSPARTOUT 2: THE LOST ARTIST
While not the deepest game I’ve ever played, Passpartout was an incredibly neat idea for a game that had it had a little more meat on its bones, I probably would’ve championed more when it came out. But apparently a sequel is on its way, and I’m more than willing to give this next installment a shot. I look forward to selling my shitty artwork to people who would rather call me avant-garde than actually critique my work. I just wish that I was able to pull off this exact scam in real life. I couldn’t find a release window for this game, but it’ll get here when it gets here.
Hell yes, add it to the pile. Unpacking is another super chill looking organization-based puzzle game that I’m so here for. The music and the art seem to work in wonderful concert, all in service of providing the chillest vibes imaginable, and lord knows I could use more chill vibes these days. It’s planned to release at some point this year.
I do love me a good cooking game, but since Cooking Mama decided to go the way of the dodo it’s been up to games like Soup Pot to fill the void. I’m excited for the chill vibes and all, but I’m also excited to check out a bunch of recipes from plenty of regions that I’ve never encountered before. Also, there aren’t any fail states in this game, so I don’t have to worry about burning my apartment down while making these recipes which is always a welcome bonus. Slated for August of 2021, I won’t have to wait much longer to play Soup Pot.
There’s a voxel raccoon in this trailer which makes me incredibly happy to see because there just isn’t enough of that in games these days. But I guess Moonglow Bay has other stuff going on with it too. You are the bravest fisher in all of the titular bay and are tasked with reinvigorating the economy through fishing and cooking, while everyone else ostensibly cowers in fear of the monsters that occupy local legend. Seems cool and all, but that raccoon is mostly why I’m playing. It’s probably the main character too. I’ll get to chill with that raccoon at some point this year too.
The game is fucking called Pupperazzi, like what else do you want to know? It’s Pokemon Snap if it was about taking pictures of dogs, which I cannot believe doesn’t exist yet. Thank goodness that this game is coming soon because I need this exact sort of heat in my life, especially after bouncing off of the kind of underwhelming New Pokemon Snap. On Steam, the release date is listed as “woof bark bark,” so that might mean it’s coming soon, but I’m not as fluent in dog as I’d like to admit
Family drama and cooking? I’m all about Venba and whatever it’s setting out to do. I don’t know anything about the game outside of what’s in the trailer but from what I can glean from it, it is absolutely the kind of game I would play. There sure are a lot of games that have great art styles, seemingly poignant stories, and some sort of cooking mini-games in them, aren’t there? Oh well, I’m game for Venba when it comes out this November.
Below is everything I found that was particularly interesting from the Guerrilla Collective Day 2 presentation. Please note that this Guerrilla is not affiliated with the Guerrilla Games studio behind games like Horizon: Zero Dawn and the Killzone franchise, which is something I had to look up to confirm. It makes sense, right? How would that even make sense? Anyway, here’s some more cool looking games.
Not only am I drawn to Akatori because of its great stylistic choices, but the combat itself looks fast and frenetic in a way that I’m drawn to. I feel as if it’s pretty hard for a pixelated 2D game to stand out these days thanks to the sheer number of them, but Akatori is speaking to me in a way that very few of these games do. Akatori is slated to release at some point in 2022.
Arcade Mania looks like the kind of management game I can get into. While the term “management games” can illicit a certain sort of image in your mind, this one seems a lot more hands on and systems light in a way that I can get into. I really like the core gameplay loop on display here along with the general theme of the game itself. Setting high scores in order to wring more cash out of score-chasing consumers sounds like a blast. Arcade Paradise is allegedly releasing at some point this year.
There aren’t enough firefighting games out there which says to me that the gaming industry at large is fucking up quite severely. Luckily it looks like Firegirl is gonna do me up right and let me put out fires and save civilians in the most ridiculous and over the top way possible. There’s a part of me that really enjoys the farfetched nature of the game, but there’s also a weird part of me that wouldn’t have minded a slightly more realistic take on firefighting. It’s hard to judge from the trailer though, hopefully the final product will strike the right balance for me, when it releases sometime this fall.
You look at this trailer and tell me that I’m wrong for thinking it looks dope as hell. You can’t because Robodunk looks objectively cool. I’m into this wild robotic take on NBA JAM and hope to high hell that it actually plays as well as it presents itself. I also hope it’s the kind of game that can stand on its own without the need for other players, but that one might be a bigger ask. With no concrete release date or window to speak of, there’s no telling when I’ll be able to play Robodunk.
Why yes, I would love to hover-board my way through a climate change stricken Venice in the not so distant future. Thanks for asking. I’m all about these hopeful takes on dire situations, because while we will fuck this planet to the core via climate change, it’s very optimistic to believe that we’ll have hover-boards. I think Venice 2089 looks rad and is trying to tell a story that I personally haven’t seen in a video game before, all of which makes me very eager to try this one out. With no release date however, who knows when I’ll actually get to play it.
In the trailer above, one of the designers of White Shadows describes it as less of a puzzle-platformer and more of a trip through a black and white dystopic city. That description is actually a pretty big relief to me because this game could have easily been a spooky game that I wouldn’t want to play, but instead I get to marvel at the ultra stylistic art without worrying if some monstrosity is going to try and make me piss myself. I look forward to not pissing myself on September 10th this year, when White Shadows releases.
And finally we arrive at the Future Games Show, the last of the conferences that I dug through to find games worth mentioning. This show may have been the lightest of the three in terms of games that resonated with me, but hey, not everything is made for my sensibilities and that’s okay… for now.
ESPORTS BOXING CLUB
Boxing is back, baby! Unfortunately it’s coming in with a pretty miserable name like Esports Boxing Club, but I can look past that if the game itself holds up. I feel like no one is making boxing games these days which is a damn shame, because those Fight Night games back in the day were really fun to play, even if you were like me and knew nothing about boxing. Here in 2021 however, I still know nothing about boxing, so everything is the same except I’m older now. Anyway, the boxing game looks cool and I wanna see the men fall down a bunch. Allegedly this game is planned to release into early access at some point this summer.
Look at this beautiful game. Really soak it in. Harold Halibut looks like a really interesting adventure game with some clever little mini-games sprinkled throughout that I would very much like to play as soon as possible. I think the world seems like a really interesting place I want to get know and explore, while the characters look pretty diverse and hopefully are backed by a quality script that does them justice. The weirdest part about looking this game up however, is Google is convinced that it came out in 2019, which I don’t think is the case. I have no idea when it’s coming out for real however.
The first two OlliOlli games were these very stylish and fun 2D skateboarding games, that were fun little diversions in my mind. I was never head over heels for the series, but I maintain that they are supremely fun in their own right and deserve to be celebrated. That being said, OlliOlli World looks to build upon just about everything from the originals, 3D-ify them, and let them loose in an open world. That all sounds great to me quite honestly, and I am very much looking forward to do many McTwists in the future when OlliOlli World releases later this year.
TWO POINT CAMPUS
The follow up to 2018’s Two Point Hospital comes in the form of Two Point Campus, a very silly university management game in vein of the Theme games from the 90’s, like Theme Hospital and Theme Park. From just a thematic stance, I think I’ll enjoy running a goofy school much more than running a goofy hospital thanks to the trauma of still paying off a medical bill from 2016, but I’m willing to be that people with student loans probably will have a similar reaction to Two Point Campus when it comes out in 2022.
CONWAY: DISAPPEARANCE AT DAHLIA VIEW
And for our final game we have Conway: Disappearance at Dahlia View, a gritty-looking detective thriller set in England during the 1950s. Despite the painfully long and difficult to remember name of the game, I feel like there’s an excellent story lurking somewhere in there, and I am eager to experience it. Hopefully the gameplay side of things holds up its end of the bargain, but I guess I’ll find out later this year when it releases.
Wow gang, that was a lot of games that I had to barely write anything about and I’m already exhausted. I hope there was something in this article you came away with a newfound interest in, but regardless of if you did or didn’t, you should really look into all the games announced across both Game Fest and E3. because there’s a lot I did not include here.
With the world trying to get back up to speed with everything after last year, one thing was extremely evident: While AAA studios suffered big losses in terms of planned products slipping past their release dates, indie development seemed mostly unaffected. It makes sense that these smaller teams were seemingly less impacted by having to work at home and collaborate with their teams virtually than their AAA counterparts, because they’ve probably been developing games under these conditions the entire time. Indies really made the show and in a lot of cases, upstaged the bigger studios who didn’t know how to handle the transition, so a well deserved kudos to them.
Anyway, that’s going to do it for The Bonus World’s E3 2021 “coverage.” I know it was pretty light this year, but I think this struck a good balance for me in terms of my work load and just life in general. Thanks for the constant support, and thanks for taking the time to check out our handful of articles.