Reports From The Front – An EGX 2014 Round-Up Part 2

Today we conclude our hands-on impressions from this years Eurogamer Expo – EGX 2014. If you missed part 1, click over here to read our impressions on Alien Isolation, Dying Light, Fable Legends and Mortal Kombat X.

After passing through the desert of the waiting, dehydrated, dying for a piss and nauseous from the interesting bouquet of the affair, aching legs were rewarded with a brief stint on some of the newest and most hyped games just waiting to be released – and here, at long last, are my impressions:

Far Cry 4

Far Cry 4 doesn’t feel like a step in the right direction at all, in fact it doesn’t particularly feel like a step in any direction: with visuals aside, it’s hard to remark on any particular innovation in what it’s offering, it’s a well polished shooter offering a smorgasbord of features cannibalised from past iterations and its genre contemporaries.

The environments may be lush, but these days it’s hard to sell a title on a lush environment alone. The combat is frantic and effective, yet unremarkable, so far we’ve seen a Ronseal of a game: doing as stated on the tin, but not uplifting our expectations of games in general with any new and exciting mechanics.

That said there’s nothing immediately apparent, in the short demo we got to spend time with, that iswrongwith the game, so perhaps with more extensive play the nuances and innovation I was hoping for might pop out of their hiding places. This one could go either way, and for the sake of its beautiful levels and environments I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

The Evil Within

The survival horror action game taking nods from Resident Evil and Silent Hill alike made a bold appearance at this year’s EGX, taking the opportunity to spunk its branding all over the front of the exhibition centre and to have its Mincecraft-style ‘boxhats’ covered in its edgy horror livery distributed to all and sundry attending.

The long wait in the queue however was amply rewarded with enough game time to explore a decent chunk of gameplay, though with little hints concerning the objective, this time was certainly necessary.

The Evil Within felt, after a fashion, a little more old school than the gaming public might be used to with most of today’s releases. The story was delivered, as it was, and the player is given certain tools and then is left to their own devices. This certainly fuelled a sense of true exploration, which has perhaps long been missing since games broadly introduced compasses and mini-maps to cut out the middle-man and feed the modern gamer’s need for instant gratification. The gameplay harked back to a time of less is more, where there was more horror to be found in what wasn’t there than what was.

Don’t get me wrong, though, The Evil Within certainly has the potential to be a bloody freaky game, a point perfectly exemplified through certain puzzler minigames required to pass through the demo level involving moving probes about in a somehow living brain. When things started to get a little bit voodoo, with each cock up draining your own health bar, it was around then that the tingles started in the base of my spine.

The only detraction to the title is that it becomes sort of normalised with its weapons and in the demo section ammunition, whilst not abundant, was hardly scarce either. However twisted, however Clive Barker things might get, I knew I had another 5 shells left for my trusty double-barrelled, and in most past gaming experiences that has proved enough to get me out of a tight spot or two.

That said, there’s enough weirdness on offer here, along with a noir-style tale exploring madness and the dark side of the human psyche, and if that sounds appealing as it does to me, then I’ll heartily recommend having a crack at the full version come release on 14thOctober.

Lords of the Fallen

After the critical successes of the Souls series, there was little doubt the subgenre would wait long before being picked up by another developer. What constituted the gist of Dark Souls has been taken up by Deck13 Interactive and CI Games and made into a slightly more player-friendly experience.

For those who don’t know, Dark Souls was a horrifyingly tough experience, punishing the player for their failures and forcing improvement through a near Spartan regimen of rewarding only the highest of success, disdainfully beating away the failing gamer with hardly so much as an explanation. If patience was not your virtue, or you just had an inclination towards clumsiness with action hack’n’slashers, Dark Souls would visit Armageddon upon your skull. Without being too dismissive, because it’s a worthwhile game to play, Lords of the Fallen feels somewhat like a Dark Souls for dummies. The initial challenge may be of a similar stature, but the merciless punishment for failure is simply not present and accounted for.

Perhaps this is a good thing, but I can’t help but wonder whether the fear of failure, of death, being meaningful, was what lent Dark Souls its power in the first place, and that without that, Lords of the Fallen – similar as it is – might feel impotent in comparison.

The player takes on the role of Harkyn, a criminal and sinner who must travel into the demonic plane to seek redemption for his evils. How the story will flesh out, however, is unclear from the demo, which gives little away in terms of narrative.

Visually it’s gritty and it’s gory, ticking all the right boxes, though the environments could’ve been cloned from any fantasy setting as far as the demo goes: a grim, dimly-lit castle/fortress. We’ll be seeing more of this come release on 31st October.

The Talos Principle

This was an offbeat, indie puzzler found in the PlayStation area of the event. I was primarily tempted by the comfy looking beanbags in front of this particular set up as my legs were getting tired, but what I found before me was perhaps a diamond in the rough, though I didn’t stick around long enough to find that out for sure.

The premise is a simple one of having a beautifully rendered 3D environment for the player to navigate, but one that is filled with obstructions, the player must puzzle their way out, manipulating doors and switches as they see fit.

Blessed in the demo level with a signal jammer and a tool used for manipulating, linking and reflecting beams of light, which in their turn open doors and such like, it didn’t take all that long for confusion to set in and a guiding hand to become necessary.

Touted as a ‘metaphysical parable about intelligence and meaning in a doomed world’, I feel as though its creators might be under the illusion they’re Plato and Socrates reincarnate, which might be a little above their station, however it’s got promise and it’s looking polished, so PlayStation puzzle fans, skin your eyes.

The show floor was a tiring place to be, but a worthwhile one, so here’s to many happy EGXs to come. With a little luck I’ll be better at skipping the queues next year.If you too managed to get some time with any of the games mentioned here, let us know your views in the comments below.

Sam Finch

Sam has been unable to peel his bloodshot eyes and RSI-ridden wrists from the world of gaming since he was first introduced to it, like all good junkies, by his Grandad. From those early days of MegaDrive sweetness, bashing through the throngs of enemies on Shining Force II, his love of all things games has extended upwards and outwards onto a variety of platforms. You can either believe that spiel, or get the real scoop and know that his spaceship actually crashed here some years ago and he is currently incognito as a games writer for Console Monster.

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