Back in late 2018 when Kinda Funny decided have a showcase of inde games to stand if for the lack of a PlayStation Experience keynote, everyone was surprised to hear of its existence. Somehow, despite the few months of preparation time, they were able to pull it off, and did so exceedingly well.
The polish and pacing of the presentation, let alone the announcement ranging from new indie kickstarters to AAA releases, lead to the presentation being one of Kinda Funny’s most impressive pieces of content.Now, many months later, the crew has decided to do another showcase, this time right in the middle of E3. And I’m glad to say that, for the most part, they once again nailed the presentation.
The main thing that seems to be missing this time around is the prestige of the original show. The heartwarming intro of the first showcase, with its numerous guest cameos, and the 1-2 AAA announcements, like SEGA’s Judgement announcement last year, gave the showcase a certain gravitas. But considering that this showcase was right in the middle of bigger press conferences, the brevity and faster pace of this show helped better serve those watching live, as a longer show would have a higher likelihood of being overlooked.
Because this showcase was much more streamlined, the games themselves took center stage, and my oh my, were there a lot of them. Now, I obviously can’t go over all 63 games in this pices, so I’ll only be highlighting the ones that stuck out to me most. I’ll be linking to Twitter accounts for each game, but if you want a full list of titles, including Twitter handles for each developer, then visit this Google Doc created by Trevor Starkey. Now without further ado, let’s get to my first game.
Wave Break: This brightly colored boat game is masquerading as a Tony Hawk game, and I gotta say, I’m very into it. With it’s over-the-top 80s tone and addition of guns to use against opponents, it seems like a very odd concoction of mechanics. But those few seconds of gameplay look promising, and I hope to get my hands on it soon, as Funktonic is running an open alpha for the game during E3.
Looking For Heals: This is one of the few games shown that I actually played myself. At MomoCon this year, I got my hands on it, and I talked about it on a recent episode of the Los Harrow Games Podcast. It’s like Diablo in the style of Overlord, and if the trailer and my hands on time is any indication, it’ll be a compelling combination for this rouge-like. Even the artstyle is fairly distinctive, as it’s incorporation of 3D art means it doesn’t rely solely on pixel art like many of other indies. I’m hoping for a console release, but it’s out now on Steam Early Access.
One Night Stand: The art style of this game was immediately striking, as it looks like the video for A-Ha’s smash hit, Take On Me, but with some muted color added. From there, it seemed for be a game about young love from a female perspective, a topic I don’t see enough games tackle. One Eurogamer quote in the trailer claimed that the game wasn’t afraid to “go there” and the brief shots of some risque selfies confirmed that to me. Overall, it’s giving me similar vibes to the more relaxed narrative vibes that games like Life is Strange give me, and now that it’s coming to consoles, I look forward to seeing how a wider audience enjoys it.
Refractor: A metroidvania game, with a tetris block as a protagonist? What a wild idea. And it seems to be more than just a visual gimmick, as gameplay is even affected by it. seeing that the map is a puzzle itself kinda blew my mind. The moment-to-moment gameplay seems to be a mix of melee combat and platforming, so if they nail those basics along with it’s unique hook, I’ll be very excited to try it out when it drops.
Rawmen: This game was easily the most bewildering thing I saw at the showcase. This bizarre blend of arena shooters and soup chefs has, yet again, an immediately striking art style that seems to blend a bit of Overcooked with Splatoon. It’s incredibly odd, especially for what if effectively a multiplayer shooter, but that is precisely the reason I wanna get my hands on it.
Freedom Finger: Besides the School House Rock-esque artstyle, Freedom Finger didn’t strike me as anything special, especially when it reminded me of some PlayStation Minis I played back on the PSP. Then they showed that Nolan North would be in the game, along with other apparently well known names that were unknown to me. Then they said music from Aesop Rock would be in the game, along with other apparently well known names that were unknown to me. Then the finger grabbed enemies and used their projectiles against their fellow fighters. The mechanic seems to be a ingenious way to add some variety to what otherwise would be a pretty standard shoot-em-up. Looking forward to this one.
Etherborn: This was one of the most mind bending games shown during the whole presentation. It seems to be some kind of 3D puzzle platformer, but th3e focus seems to be less on nailing jumps and more on just rearranging the world to progress. What stands out is how the game plays with perspective, as it seems to have mind bending set pieces similar to those found in Monument Valley. I’ll definitely keep my eye out for this one.
Skatebird: If my love for Wave Break is any indication, I’m a sucker for Tony Hawk-likes. How about making one in quick the player character is an adorable baby bird and the skate park is a tiny diorama with ordinary household objects? Eh, I don’t know if I care- THERE’S A BUTTON TO MAKE THEM SQUAK ON COMMAND. This game is clearly one of my favorites from that show, and you can actually play an alpha demo on their Kickstarter page if it interests you as much.
Fling to the Finish: Considering that the Jackbox Party Pack 3 is one of my favorite games of all time, you can assume that couch co-op[ games are among my favorites. Fling to the finish is another one of those, but in an interesting twist, it forces two players to share a controller. The game looks like a physics based race through Wipeout-esque obstacle courses designed to throw you and your partner off course. Can’t wait to take it to parties and family get-togethers.
Police Stories: Law enforcement is often portrayed as a power fantasy of excessive force rather than the measured, thoughtful response to chaos that it’s supposed to be, and video games is a medium most guilty for this. That’s why Police Stories, a game where you play as officers who are trained to not shoot first, caught my attention. It seems to be running in an engine similar to Hotline Miami’s, so when gunplay does begin, it looks to be fast and brutal. Looking forward to this one.
Tamarin: Yet another 3D platformer, but the twist is, this one is…cute! Okay, admittedly this one isn’t reinventing the wheel much, but I love 3D platformers with adorable characters. Hopefully they’ll nail the gameplay when it launches.
Superliminal: This one was biggest standout of the show. It’s minimalist trailer was entirely gameplay and it’s perspective based mechanics impressed with each twist on the concept they showed. Unbelievably excited for that one!
Recompile: This game seems to be combining a lot of mechanics I tend to love in other games, such as puzzle solving and 3rd person shooting. Add to that a striking, sci fi art style and some bizzare character design, you have what could be an indie classic.
And that’s all of my highlights from the showcase. Again, I highly recommend checking out the full list of games linked above if I didn’t mention a game from the show that stuck out to you. Hope you guys have a great E3, and if you are heading to the show, try to give some of these a shot as well!