LOS ANGELES — Last week’s Summer Game Fest was mostly a virtual affair, packed with video game trailers that may or may not launch in the next 18 months. But as the game industry moves closer to convention preview normality, we scored invites to two early June events featuring playable games coming soon.
You may have already seen my biggest hands-on highlights from those events: Street Fighter 6which is fantastic, and Sonic Limits, which is weird but promising. This article summarizes the “best of the rest” based on hands-on testing at the Summer Game Fest Play Days event in Los Angeles and a series of remote Tribeca Games Festival demos. Some of the world’s biggest developers and publishers were missing from the events — likely because many of their games have been pushed to 2023. Despite this list leaning more towards the indie side, we’re behind these game preview highlights thanks to how they felt to play.
Cuphead: the delicious last course
The infernal brutality of cup will return later this month as a $7.99 DLC pack. If the level of the example boss I played is any indication, this DLC will be a sweet spot for series fans rather than the cup formula upside down.
A new playable character, Mrs. Chalice, is available as a “charm” that one player can equip at any time, and she comes with a few beginner-friendly perks, including an extra health point, a double jump, a parry that doubles as a forward streak and a somersault that adds a few frames of invincibility. Her new skills weren’t necessarily necessary in the new boss battle I played, although she was bad at them cupI still struggled with the three phases of the fight, including an abrupt transition to floating, rotating platforms (remember Super Mario Worldsecond Reznor fight).
She’s available in a new campaign that executive producer Marija Moldenhauer tells Ars is similar to the original game’s third island, with seven bosses and two platform levels. Moldenhauer says the DLC will have six bosses, which she says are more involved and complicated than the stock game’s roster, but she wouldn’t otherwise clarify what else the DLC will include.
Moldenhauer also says that the DLC contains almost as many hand-drawn backgrounds and animation frames as the entire standard cup campaign. This could mean that the boss fights I haven’t played yet are even more intense or that there’s another huge platforming challenge coming up. Anyway, $7.99 seems like a must-buy DLC option for anyone who’s already invested in it cup‘s carefully hand-drawn 2D action.
EA and Codemasters hosted a F1 2022 gameplay demo to show off the newest feature of the series: VR racing. Codemasters producers on site confirmed that the studio’s combined brain confidence had matured enough to add a VR mode to F1thanks to contributions from those who have worked on VR modes in DiRT Rally and Driveclub VR† (Evolution Studios made the latter before Codemasters bought it in 2016).
The playmaker’s kiosk combined Fanatec .’s CSL DD F1 Bundle with a Quest 2 VR headset. Good news: the result strikes the right balance between fidelity and performance, along with considerations for VR comfort while navigating F1dignified straight. The only consolation exception came from times when the game’s particle-filled clouds filled my gameplay view, causing my headset frame rate to drop. This problem usually occurred after a gnarly spinout when I had disabled all driver assistance systems; when I leaned on the game’s optional F1 for dummies, all-assist mode, F1 2022 felt like a fantastic carnival ride.
Codemasters didn’t have much else to show off F1 2022 at SGF, but the driving was fun enough to get me excited for playing VR mode on my PC when it launches on June 28th.
At some point, the oversaturation of indie “seek-adventure” games (better known as “Metroidvanias”) has to run its course, right? What can anyone else do to exceed the critically acclaimed likes or surpass? Hollow Knight† Axiom Vergeand big story†
Although I’m not immediately convinced animal welfare will surpass the other greats of the genre, my one hour demo has me very, very intrigued. First, it has new, beautiful ideas for rendering pixel art, thanks to the only designer, programmer and artist who builds the game engine from scratch – and has reduced the complete package to a limit of 10 MB so far. The game’s lighting and physics models are among the most impressive I’ve ever seen in a 16-bit aesthetic, perhaps even surpassing the pixelated, chemical reaction madness of noita†
Plus, this adventure has clever ideas for skipping battles altogether. animal welfare asks players to focus on tricky maneuvers, solving puzzles, and discovering hidden paths as they unravel the mysteries that obscure the lack of dialogue. Instead of wielding weapons, your eight-pixel glob of a hero should make the most of items such as fireworks — which cast lighting effects on the 2D world while frightening potential enemies — and a handy grappling whip that can be thrown into crevices to otherwise untouchable world elements.
Spicy controls and alien pixel art designs made my demo experience with animal welfare memorable so far, and looking forward to the eventual release (currently tied to a vague “early 2023” window).