Montreal Comiccon 2016: Video Game Wrap-up
The 8th edition of twice annual Montreal Comiccon has come to a close. Covering comic books, anime, sci-fi and games, a record 56,000 were in attendance, including us. Focusing on indie games (while we poked around the other exhibits), there is a lot to report. If you missed the recap on the Creator’s Night featuring indie game developers and their work, read it here. For gameplay footage, demos, and our impressions of what was shown, read on.
Creator’s Night only covered a fraction of what was on the actual Comiccon show floor in the indie games corner. There were so many games and we tried to get to them all, but as the exhibition was really popular, we missed a few. But we did get to some good ones. Like:
Rise of Balloons
DEVELOPER: Mirum Studios
Rise of Balloons is a mobile puzzle adventure game developed by Mirum Studios. This game tells a meaningful story about a hopeful little girl with a red balloon living in a world full of depressed people. She sets out on a journey to give out balloons to spread her joy and using her small gestures to make the world a happier place. The puzzles lie in how to navigate the little girl in order to get the balloon to each child. The main message here is about the little things and paying it forward. Rise of Balloons was released on iOS and Android on June 2.
Impressions: Rise of the Balloons is a unique game. The first thing that caught our eye is the beautiful artwork, especially in the contrast of darker shades of color for the world it is set in. It makes our character and her red balloon truly stand out, as well as the yellow balloons she delivers to the other children. The puzzles itself are challenging and thoughtful but never frustrating. We were only able to try out a little part of it but our full review of Rise of the Balloons will be coming soon.
DEVELOPER: Artifact 5
Currently under development by Artifact 5, Anamorphine is a surreal first-person exploration game aiming to have a full release in early 2017 on consoles, PC and possibly VR. We play as a man who has gone through trauma but is in denial. As we walk through the house, we collect memories that will piece together to what our character has gone through. Anamorphine is a purely visual and sound experience. There will be no text nor will there be any action. It will be an experience that will have heavy tones as the players dive deeper into the story. More specifically, it places focus on mental illnesses like depression.
Impressions: Anamorphine’s show floor demo was different from the teaser above or the gameplay demo on their Youtube page. It was a rather small space that lead into another room with the player’s cellist wife that radiated in light. As we approached, it activated a beautiful fantasy world full of beautiful trees and a plant that blossomed from the ground and then ended in realizing this was just a memory that was placed in the mental palace before the demo ended. In this demo, Anamorphine definitely lives up to its surreal world. In fact, the world was beautiful to walk through. It can feel emotional with its beautiful background music and could be a journey worth discovering. The demo itself was only a snippet of the whole story that showed a lot of promise however, from the Creator’s Night, this was a story full of abstract imagery that will have more meaning as a whole.
DEVELOPER: Maitop Games
Bomb Conflict is the latest game developed by Maitop Games. They have released Gravity Bounds and kids game series Play with Friends. In Bomb Conflict, we play as the God of Gravity to save the world from unknown invaders who are dropping bombs by shifting the gravity and lining up the bombs to defuse them. It is a puzzle adventure with a time crunch aspect as the bombs may detonate at any time. Bomb Conflict will require strategy to overcome the obstacles.
Impressions: Bomb Conflict is a simple game to learn. It reminisces a little of the little labyrinths where we had to navigate a little marble through the course avoiding the little spaces. The concept here is easy as it only asks to shift the board (aka the gravity) in any direction and hopefully in the least moves possible however, the board will have pertruding walls and will change in shape that will influence how the bombs will roll. We only played a few levels and it was already giving the impression of a mind boggler. One thing I’d like to see implemented is to be able to tilt the phone like a board instead of swiping. That would be incredibly cool. However, the game itself is one that could potentially be a mind boggler. Rest assured, we are also going to give this one a go and come back with a full review!
DEVELOPER: Gingear Studios
Open Bar is a mobile puzzle game with a cocktail theme. The goal is to create bars from shifting the puzzle and placing in the pieces. The pieces to be placed can be rotated and the pieces on the board can be moved from one slot to the next However, the slot will automatically be filled with the piece at the bottom. The gameplay above will show it all. As the puzzles progress, there will be missions. Every puzzle and mission will reap an in-game currency reward that will unlock a prize which is a new category named after various cocktails. This new category will have different color themes to match it. Just like an Open Bar, there is an endless amount of puzzles. It will never take more than a few minutes to complete utilizing a simple three moves (and puzzle pieces). Open Bar is currently available on both iOS and Android.
Impressions: We had a much longer time spent on Open Bar. Initial impressions are that while it starts off building on its mechanisms, it never becomes frustrating to play. Open Bar is appealing to look at with a simple yet slick art style. Its color schemes are done really well and the cocktail theme is unique. The puzzles themselves are fun and quick and at times, takes a little time to give it some though. Perhaps it is because it only has three moves to complete all the time that it increases its challenge. We are currently playing this game and unlocking more levels on our own. The review for this one should be coming up.
The Ones We Missed
While we didn’t get a chance to try these games out, the titles below did catch our attention and are on our radar:
- Void and Meddler by Mi-Clos Studios: episodic non-linear adventure (1st episode released already on Steam)
- sU and the Quest for Meaning: Platformer
- Stick Squad by Brutal Studios: Mobile action sniper game
- Flint Hook by Tribute Games: Action platformer
- Mages of Mystralia by Borealys Games: Action adventure with spell creation
But the one everyone was here to see is the follow-up to the 2013 first-person survival horror video game, Outlast.
DEVELOPER: Red bBarrels
Outlast is survival horror game about an investigative journalist who ends up exploring a remote psychiatric hospital and the frights inside. It was an unexpected massive success. Red Barrels then released a DLC called Outcast: Whistleblower, a kind of prequel to the original story, and it too was a hit. The announcement of Outlast 2 was probably the best news for many horror fans, though it comes with with many questions about what the premise would be. Now we have know. As Red Barrel Games circulates their demo at gaming conventions and here at Montreal Comiccon, it is hard to not be excited. We can’t show you the demo, but the teaser is above and tells of a new setting and story. At the demo, Red Barrels did a Q&A and had a gamer sit down to commentate over the live demo, and there’s was no doubt what they showed looked great. The scares were constantly there. The atmosphere super creepy. It had everyone watching pretty tense.
Outlast 2 is based on cult events such as Jonestown and is set in the Arizona desert. It’s a big change to an open environment from the previous game where we were trapped in a claustrophobic psychiatric facility. It looks to be a good shift. We’ll definitely keep you updated on this. Meanwhile, it’s set for release in the Fall. However, if you’d like to have something to pass your time, they are releasing a comic called The Murkoff Account, though we only have the announcement, no other details.
So there you have it. Lots to look forward to. We’ll have more reviews and info coming soon.