So, I’ve already told you about the big meals that Rezzed 2014 has served up, but what about the big buffet of lighter bites that it offered? These little nibbles were, as it turned out, much more fulfilling than the main courses, and more varied in their flavours.
As I say, one thing I loved about Rezzed was it’s focus on more indie titles. I’ve always found Indie to be more unique in what it can give a gamer, and Rezzed was no different. One moment I was hitting McG with an 8-bit piñata stick, the next I was a rag-doll jelly baby in a frantic version of the Royal Rumble.
The latter of those, Gang Beasts, was possibly one of the more popular titles I saw at Rezzed. It’s already the game of the con for both McG and Micster, but what did I think?
Well for starters, I really enjoyed it. Gang Beasts is an obscenely simple concept: get 4 figures, looking like corpulent folk in morph-suits, and beat the Hell out of the other 3 before they do the same to you. Once your foe is adequately pummelled, pick them up and throw them out of the ring/off the ferris wheel/off the truck/into some grinding gears. Yes, that’s right, there are a litany of ways to attain victory in Gang Beasts, and they all involve some hilarious game physics.
The main focus of Gang Beasts isn’t just the battle, it’s the way you do battle. The fight system begins as just a simple left-punch/right-punch type of sparring, before you get into grabbing and grappling your fellow players in what often results in a whole manner of hilarious ways. I’ve seen players caught on ring ropes, dangling off a window-washers pulley, and holding on for dear life after falling foul of a conveyor belt toward a flame-pit.
The amount of arenas in Gang Beasts is numerous and wonderful in the dangers they represent. They can be as simple as a wrestling ring, or complex as a ferris wheel on a pier. The former simply asks you to dump your enemies over the ropes, Royal Rumble style, but the ferris wheel is more complex. Sure, the end of the pier is there, as you all start in the same carriage, but fall high and hard enough, and the wooden planks of the pier break open to provide watery death below. You can only watch as you struggle to get away from the aforementioned grinding gears, or see your player get hit by a sign, as you stand on a moving truck.
Gang Beasts is, quite simply, bizarre fun. I have rarely seen such an overall reaction to a small indie game than I did at Rezzed. It wasn’t just the 4-player battles that gave that overall feeling of gameplay, but the hilarity of watching the various ways the game’s floppy physics bent and warped players as they hung onto each other, walls, all while laying the odd punch or two. People roared with pleasure or sheer amusement as the fights happened on-screen, and Boneloaf have hit a very good nerve in gamers with Gang Beasts. It doesn’t look like the most advanced of games, but the gameplay knocks that all out of the park. It is intense, brilliant multiplayer fun, and I look forward to seeing more.
Just around the corner was an indie game which also grabbed my attention. Giant monsters destroying cities is big business now, and Kaiju Panic looks to grab that cultural love and turn it into a damn fine game. Like most of the games at Rezzed, it is something with a look that borders on the twee and cute, a style that catches the eye and makes you smile, dammit. In fact, it fits the whole game itself, which has a strong aura of Japanese style feel, gameplay, and love of giant monsters.
The game itself is a nice mix of Real Time Strategy and Tower Defence. You mine a meteor for it’s resources, and use those to build giant missile towers, and other assorted weapons of mass destruction. Weapons that, once built, will defend your city from the hordes of kaiju who threaten to crush it blind. In fact, it is very reminiscent of Command & Conquer, with the harvesting = more buildings approach being very similar.
But this is no serious, war to settle the score type game, this is something far lovelier. After all, your defence missiles won’t launch themselves, so you go round the map, collecting meteor currency and local civilians to stop the kaiju. I had such joys as a sumo wrestler and a clown to help me save the world, with each one having an identity and look that I learned upon completing a level. That little bit of personalisation made them more than just another commodity, and somebody I want to save and protect. Jerry the Clown isn’t just another bundle of sprites, he’s Jerry the freaking Clown. I was informed that this will extend to backer rewards, with people able to pop themselves in the game as well.
I’m already tempted.
In the demo I played, the kaiju were represented by malevolent, bouncing red balls. Some fairly small, some titans of bouncing ballness. In the final game, there are going to be a whole host of kaiju’s for you to panic over, with some reflecting the change in location. They are as sweet as the rest of the visuals, and you barely want to destroy them.
Overall, Kaiju Panic was like Gang Beasts, in that it had a simple, good all-round gameplay that drew you in to a wider level of fun. The developers informed me that there was more to come, and it’s already jumped to the higher echelons of my list. And it should jump to yours.
Next up? Well there were 2 other games lurking in this area: Tiny Keep and Concursion. One a unique spin on the dungeon crawler, the other taking it’s gameplay from a whole host of retro delights. Both very, very, interesting.