We’re now in the final third of 2020 and I haven’t been to a gaming expo yet this year. COVID-19 has made large public gatherings here in the UK too risky, and the tickets we had for events such as Rezzed and Insomnia were all cancelled and refunded.
EGX was due to take place this weekend and instead we’re playing games indoors by ourselves, thanks to the coronavirus. There’s always next year though and I’m waiting with my card in hand ready to purchase tickets as soon as they’re released. In the meantime, let’s take a look at some of the titles I’ve come across at the expo during previous years – both good and bad – and figure out what we’re going to play for The EGX-perience stream on Twitch tomorrow.
Eurogamer Expo 2012 (old event name): Fable: The Journey
I honestly don’t remember much about my first EGX at all, an event attended socially with a few friends as it was before I started blogging. It’s understandable then that the only thing I recall playing there was the demo for Fable: The Journey. I’d loved the series since experiencing the first game in 2004 and was eager for another instalment – but when I then went on to purchase the title on the day of release, it was so disappointing. I’m hoping some of that old magic will be recaptured with Fable IV soon.
EGX 2013 (event renamed): SpecialEffect
My first ‘blogging’ expo and another that I don’t recall too well. But this was the year I came across the stand for SpecialEffect, and seeing the work they do to help physically-disabled people play video games inspired me to sign up to become a volunteer for the charity. I’ve taken part in their annual gaming marathon GameBlast since the first one in 2014 and our planning for next year’s fundraiser begins in a couple of weeks’ time. Keep your eyes peeled for more details about what GameBlast21 is going to hold for us!
EGX 2014: Life is Strange and Monstrum
The buzz among bloggers at this expo was around Life is Strange, a new episodic narrative adventure featuring a female protagonist. We were fortunate enough to be invited to a press-only demo and were excited by what we saw. It therefore may seem strange that I didn’t get around to playing the game until five years after the release of its final episode. I finally completed it in May this year – and was hella annoyed by its characters, and now have absolutely no desire to play Life is Strange: Before the Storm. Sorry.
The diamond in the rough was Monstrum and this is the EGX 2014 title we’ll be playing during our stream. I’ll never forget our first experience of this one: we were waiting to interview the developer, and the guy currently playing had to put down the controller because he was too scared to continue. It takes place on a derelict cargo ship and, as the levels are procedurally-generated, you never know where you’re going to find yourself or which monster you’re trying to escape from. Expect me to hide behind my cushion while Pete plays.
EGX 2015: Shadowhand and Lumo
I first came across Shadowhand at this event and ended up choosing it as my game-of-the-show. In an old blog post from the time, I wrote: ‘Any title that can convert me to a new genre and leave me wanting more is worthy of a mention in my book.’ By the time I’d completed all 20 levels at the end of last year however, I was sick of solitaire. Playing straight through was probably the wrong thing to do; I think I would have enjoyed it more if I’d dipped in and out of the title, playing other games between levels.
The EGX 2015 game we’re going to be playing this weekend though is Lumo. This isometric puzzle-platformer gives plenty of nods to the ‘golden age’ of video games that older gamers will recognise and is pretty tricky, but I’m hoping well at least make it through to the part where you travel between levels using an elevator. It’s here that players hear a song called Hold My Hand Very Tightly by Whistlin’ Rick Wilson – a track which comes with an interesting backstory about 8-bit computer magazines and singing alter-egos.
EGX 2016: The Black Death and Horizon Zero Dawn
I feel so sorry for the guys from Small Impact Games. We spent a nice hour talking to them about medieval multiplayer The Black Death and they were so lovely and welcoming; and their developer session about surviving the development of the survival genre was very enlightening. But sadly the title just never took off thanks to mixed reviews and it’s still sitting in early access. Pete bought it to try it out for himself and, even though we could see what the developer was aiming for, it was buggy and a little empty.
On the other side of the exhibition hall was Horizon Zero Dawn and that’s the EGX 2016 game we’re going to play during our stream. I usually steer clear of the big-budget areas at expos because they’re overcrowded and consist of queues which take several hours to get through, but I couldn’t help but be intrigued as I walked past the stand. Aloy is now one of my favourite female protagonists – she’s just too good to hate for looking amazing, even after rappelling down a mountain or sliding into a bush.
EGX 2017: Detroit: Become Human and Strange Brigade
The highlight for me this year was getting the chance to play the first section of Detroit: Become Human. I’d adored the other titles by the developer even though they weren’t to everybody’s taste, and I knew I was going to love their latest story about androids and acceptance. Streaming the game in March turned out to be one of the most stressful gaming experienced of my life: I panicked at some of the choices I had to make because I didn’t want any of the characters to get hurt, and can only apologise for the swearing.
EGX 2017 game which is going to feature in this weekend’s stream is Strange Brigade. It was thanks to one of the best stands at the expo that the queue was constantly full and, even though we didn’t get the opportunity to try the demo, we had fun watching the trailer outside. Sometimes a title is made even better thanks to a good narrator and I love the posh English voice that commentates your actions – what more could you want when shooting zombies in a cursed tomb than someone shouting ‘Tally-ho!’
EGX 2018: The Gardens Between and Flotsam
When I saw The Gardens Between at the expo this year, I was reminded how I’d added it to my wishlist a while back thanks to an art-style that looked like a cross between The Witness and Oxenfree. This lovely puzzler went on to become one of my favourite releases of 2018. Playing it left a mark on me and there were many things I realised long after the credits rolled which gave it a deeper meaning, such as the bittersweet reason for its name and the use of the time-rewind mechanic. I can’t deny that I had tears in my eyes.
It’s the watery Flotsam that we’re going to be playing tomorrow though, the highlight of not just EGX 2018 but other expos too for Pete. It might seem strange that he was drawn to a quiet resource management game considering how much he likes action, guns and explosions, but there’s something which keeps him coming back every time the developer releases a new update for their early access project. It’s a great title to chill out with on a Sunday morning over a cup of tea because the art-style is so relaxing.
EGX 2019: Beyond a Steel Sky and Death Stranding
My favourite memory from this year was getting to have the booth for Beyond a Steel Sky all to myself, and being allowed to play for a longer than the allotted time thanks to making it my first stop on the first day of the expo! Later during the day we got to see Charles Cecil talk about the project and his enthusiasm for the adventure genre was infectious. Reviews of the game weren’t entirely positive upon release but now seem to have improved, and I can’t wait to play it and Beneath a Steel Sky back-to-back at some point.
Saturday’s game however is going to be Death Stranding. There was no demo at EGX 2019 but we did get to see a 20-minute presentation which was shown in a closed booth in the middle of the exhibition hall – and didn’t do much except make us even more confused about what was going on. I can’t say I’ve ever felt the desire to play this one and I have mixed feelings about it after completing my first Hideo Kojima title for a game-swap last month; but Pete wants to try it, so I’ll withhold judgement for now.
Come join us over on Twitch from around 15:00 BST tomorrow afternoon for The EGX-perience stream, where we’ll be playing the games noted in today’s post and talking about our favourite expo memories. Hopefully the event will go ahead next year and we’ll see you all there in person.