Tonight was my second time at the SAT with the IGDA (the first being when Arkane Studios President, Raphael Colantonio demoed Dishonored last September – audio available here). On this occasion it was for "DemoNight”, an event where Montreal studios display their work in various states of production, each within a 7 minute bite sized chunk.
Outside of Visceral Games’ Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel, the productions were all indie efforts. Some of which, tickled my fancy, whereas others were situated firmly in the “oh, just have a wank” territory.
One of the first up, and arguably the darling of the night was “A.N.N.E.”, an apparently solo project by one Moise Breton, an ex Beenox developer and Art Director on The Amazing Spiderman. A.N.N.E. is an adorable action platformer sharing DNA with Mega Man, Metroid and a touch of Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet. The game has a lot of heart and with the bleeps and bloops of the retro chiptune soundtrack, it’s hard not being reminded of Fez. I’m going to be keeping a close eye on this one.
Follow progress on A.N.N.E. here.
Soon afterwards an American team known as “The Circle Machine” shown off their cyber punk stealth puzzle game, “Neuro-Hack”. The premise involves the hacking of people’s brains to light up areas of the world containing hackable terminals. These terminals allow the player to lower security gates and allow escape from the level.
Hacking characters in the world to adopt their vision cone is a nice take on the rather tried and tested light/dark mechanics that have become commonplace since the days of Thief. It’s especially nifty that the hacking of an enemy allows the player to light up a moving path as said hacked enemy patrols an area. The music sets a good cyberpunk tone and the visuals, though simple, do a great job of setting the scene. A build of the game is currently available for free here.
Follow The Circle Machine’s progress on Neuro-Hack here.
Quite possibly the most intriguing game of the night came from “Contrast”, a 1920’s film noir inspired world, filled with puzzles and mystery. The player takes on the role of a young girl apparently alone in this stark monochromatic world, but her purpose and motives were unclear as the story elements were skipped in the interest of time. The mechanics seemed well polished, though I could see the kinks of the Source engine a mile away. The gist of the game is that the player is able to jump from a standard third person perspective onto/into flat surfaces in the form of a shadow, using other shadows as a means to explore the environment.
One scene had the player using a spotlight to light up areas of a cabaret show one musician at a time, building up to a full musical number, featuring a Jessica Rabbit esque stage show in a silhouetted form. This classically ample breasted shadow then acted as a platforming stage for the character to traverse whilst the shadow conversed with a typical 1920’s era detective type. I’m convinced that said detective in the aforementioned dialogue was Deus Ex: Human Revolution’s Adam Jensen. Convinced!
Follow Compulsion Games’ progress on Contrast here.
The only other game of note to me was Mercenary Kings, which for all intents and purposes, was a Metal Slug clone with the addition of loot and crafting. It looked pretty fun and the art was solid, but I’ve had my fill with this genre, so it’s not something I can see myself playing. Though, if you’re interested, you can find out more here.
I feel tonight got me suitably “pumped” for the upcoming Montreal Game Jam. If you live in the area and aren’t busy this weekend, you still have a chance to sign up!