Hello! Welcome to the Geeky Brummie Gaming Roundup!
This week, E3 is over so now we’re relying on scraps of rumours and speculation for an update. Rejoice!
Bonkers Kojima Conspiracies
As we all know, Hideo Kojima is a quirky guy with a tendency to make playful announcements, and with shenanigans like a fake Swedish man and a playable teaser attributed to a fake studio, it’s perhaps unsurprising that people now kind of expect more of that. Which is why the past week has been a rollercoaster of conspiracy theories.
Back in April, the PS Blog revealed an indie title made by a new Dutch studio called Blue Box Studios coming exclusively to PS5 later this year. It’s a first-person horror title with a teaser trailer showing some spooky woods. It’s a bit ropey, and further digging has shown that much of the trailer consists of reused assets from the Unreal store. But so far, so unremarkable.
However, speculation began to bubble that Abandoned wasn’t quite what it seemed. Why would a new, untested game studio get so much attention from Sony? Why an exclusive? Why was so much of the trailer seemingly an asset flip?
Most of this was restricted to random subreddits and other dark corners of the internet until the past week, where it all kind of blew up following the announcement of a special trailer app that will reveal the first gameplay of the project. For a start, special trailer apps aren’t generally a thing, and for a small untested indie game to get Sony to allow this seems bizarre. They also tweeted a “hint” that the game began with S and ended with L, which fanned flames to such a degree that the conspiracy fire became an inferno.
And so people went digging, with many, MANY puzzle pieces being thrown together to try to make a picture that this game was actually Hideo Kojima reviving the cancelled Silent Hills project with Guillermo del Toro and Junji Ito, with Sony publishing and Konami licensing the IP.
This went on for a good few days, but then some spanners began to get thrown in the works. Fellow Dutch indie developer Rami Ismail noting that the company have an official registration in the Dutch Chamber of Commerce, something he notes is next to impossible if you’re a Japanese auteur faking a company for PR purposes. Similarly, Jason Schreier of Bloomberg did some digging, and the more he looked, the less likely it seemed to be a secret Kojima prank. An interview with game director Hasan Kahraman soon followed. Kahraman himself also took to Twitter with a short video where he looked exhausted and urged people to stop claiming he’s secretly Kojima in a wig.
There is still a lot of strange things circulating around this studio, but part of me wonders how much of it is typical industry secrecy, how much of it is people online simply not understanding how game development works, and how much of it is an indication of something larger. One thing is certain though. The chances of this being a Kojima-driven Silent Hill game are zero. Due to the fallout between the two, it’s highly unlikely he would ever work with Konami again. And since Konami are more interested in shilling skateboards with gross nurses on them than licensing any of their properties to other publishers, the idea that Sony are doing something is also highly unlikely.
There’s a degree of entertainment in all this. The secrecy does lead to a lot of interesting speculation about what the project is, and there is still certainly something odd about that “trailer app” being released sometime today as you read this, but too much of this has become wild accusations and a feverish insistence on knowing what’s really going on, seemingly to the detriment of the actual team behind all this. And that’s where this needs to stop.
Abandoned is an interesting project to follow though, and I’m very interested to see what the final game will be after all of this.
EA Play Confirmations and Rumours
EA have confirmed the time for their EA Play presentation on 22nd July. It’s at 6pm UK time, and WWE star Xavier Woods will be hosting.
But what can we expect at the show? As well as the usual FIFA shenanigans, it’s likely we’ll hear more about the upcoming EA Original indie title Lost in Random, and maybe something about a Bioware project, seeing as Dragon Age and Mass Effect have both been confirmed to have new titles on the way.
But one interesting rumour circulating around, and one that seems to be coming from multiple sources, is that EA will be reviving a beloved IP we haven’t seen in a while. And, based on further information floating around, that IP is Dead Space, which is apparently getting a “reimagining”.
I’m not sure what this will look like, but here’s hoping it’s more returning the franchise to its roots and not deciding to lean into the microtransaction-driven co-op shooter that Dead Space 3 became. This is why I’m wary of what EA are planning, especially as much of the original team are now off working on The Callisto Protocol (https://www.ign.com/articles/the-callisto-protocol-wants-to-be-the-scariest-next-gen-horror-game-ever), a separate space horror title. We’ll know more on the 22nd, but if EA surprise us and get this right, we could have two solid space horror titles on the way, and I have no complaints about that!
In other rumoured news, an entry on the Australian ratings board website is suggesting a “Castlevania Advance Collection” is on its way, with Konami published (as you’d expect for Castlevania) and M2 as a developer, who were the team that produced the Castlevania Anniversary Collection. It’s looking likely that we’ll be getting a collection of all the Game Boy Advance Castlevania games soon and if so, I’m excited as I’ve been meaning to track down those games as I’ve never played them before.
Elsewhere, some future Epic Store releases may have been leaked. Due to data mining, two notable folders have been found. The first of these is Final Fantasy 7 Remake, indicating that its much-awaited PC release may soon be on its way.
But more interestingly is a folder entitled “Alan Wake Remastered” which is interesting because no Alan Wake remaster has ever been announced. However, we do know that Remedy, the developers of Alan Wake, have a publishing deal with Epic, with two confirmed releases coming from the partnership. These are set to be in the same franchise, one a smaller release and the other a much bigger one. As there have also been hints that Alan Wake 2 is on the way (the biggest of which is arguably the AWE DLC for Control, which practically screams a confirmation at the end), this new find suggests the big release is this long-awaited sequel while the small release is a remaster of the first title.
Should also be noted, by the way, that Alan Wake recently disappeared from Xbox Game Pass, so the imminent announcement of a remaster could be the reason for this.
I hope so, because if this means Remedy’s bizarre universe gets even bigger, then I’m already excited.
Let’s kick off new releases with some releases that I accidentally skipped on their release within the past month or so but are noteworthy enough to draw attention to. Let’s start with Sumire (PC, Switch), which is a narrative driven emotional game starring a young girl and a watercolour visual style. And then there’s Overboard! (PC, Switch), a narrative mystery game that’s garnering a lot of acclaim because you’re the murderer – a debutant who’s killed her husband on a cruise ship – and the goal is to evade capture by the end of the cruise, and if that’s not a fantastic concept for a game, I don’t know what is.
Meanwhile, Nintendo snuck out their answer to PlayStation’s Dreams, and no, it’s not another Mario Maker. Game Builder Garage is a rudimentary coding tool designed to help complete beginners, particularly children, learn how to code using a typically Nintendo interface of “nodons” replacing some of the more complex aspects of coding. It’s a bit basic and certainly pales in comparison to similar tools, but it’s a neat little package all the same.
In things that actually released this week, let’s move onto re-releases. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 kickflips its way onto Switch this week, which feels like a great place to put the quick burst arcade gameplay of that series. It’s an excellent modern remake of a classic anyway, so unless you’ve played it on another system, you should make sure to pick this up.
In remakes and remasters, Square Enix have released a remaster of PS1 JRPG Legend of Mana (PC, PS4, Switch), marking the first European release of the game, while Sega have licensed out their IP for Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX (PC, PlayStation, Switch, Xbox), a remake of the Master System title with a new art style. Both look incredibly faithful to the originals, which is fine for Mana, but for Alex Kidd that does mean this release is full of random obstacles and weird 80s game industry decisions, so consider yourself warned on that front.
In small indie releases this week, Super Magbot (PC, Switch) is a 2D platformer with a twist – you can only use magnets to get around and you can’t jump normally. Roguebook (PC) is a roguelike deckbuilder, which instantly makes my eyes roll, but if you’re into that genre, this one’s got input from Magic the Gathering creator Richard Garfield, so that’s neat.
Elsewhere, Devolver’s latest title is Phantom Abyss (PC), a tricky multiplayer title about raiding tombs and plundering their treasures, but each tomb is randomly generated and is actively hostile to the player at all times. Expect frustration. For something a little more gentle, may I suggest Lego Builder’s Journey (PC, Switch), a puzzle game in the vein of Monument Valley. You move bits of Lego around to guide a little Lego person to their goal in each of the tiny levels. The game has a highly realistic visual style that genuinely looks like a stop motion made with Lego.
For sports fans, Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 – The Official Video Game (PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One) is the awkwardly titled licensed game of the Olympics that almost never was. It’s a sports game, so good if you’re into that sort of thing. And also there’s a ridiculous Sonic mascot outfit in the game so if you want to pretend you’re the sweatiest athlete of all time, the opportunity is there.
Speaking of beloved mascot characters playing sports, Mario Golf: Super Rush (Switch, unsurprisingly) is the latest in the Mario Golf franchise, and has everything you’d usually expect from a game in that series. It also has a chaotic speed mode, where everyone plays at once, sort of like Golf With Your Friends but with actual characters on the fairway. So if you want to, in Nintendo’s own words, “smack your balls” simultaneously with friends, then Nintendo are willing to help. Oh dear.
The biggest release of the week is Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance (PC, PlayStation, Xbox), published by Wizards of the Coast themselves. It’s a spiritual successor to the Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance series, with this game set in Icewind Dale and based largely on the novel series The Legend of Drizzt, which are terms like likely only mean something to you if you’re deep into DnD. And apparently it’s also really bad, as most of what I’ve seen of it have been glitch compilations and examples of archer animations where the arms move but not the torso. It might be a big release, but it’s not a good one. Be warned.
Indie Game of the Week
In indie game of the week, why not relax with Sun Haven (PC). It’s a hybrid of farming simulators like Stardew Valley and traditional top-down RPG titles, with a magical world full of quirky characters where you can choose to go adventuring or stay and chill on your farm. It’s an interesting blend that looks like a relaxing time, and with a cute art style to accompany it, I have to make it the Indie Game of the Week.
Game of the Week
Overall Game of the Week this week, however, is Scarlet Nexus (PC, PlayStation, Xbox), which is a lot of anime nonsense from Bandai Namco, but it’s my kind of anime nonsense. Especially after I recently played through Code Vein, which has a similar style (although the games are unconnected).
It’s an action RPG set in a post-apocalyptic world where a race of creatures known as “the Others” have invaded and are trying to eat human brains. And to solve this, you and your fellow animes must head out and battle them in a fun, Platinum-style romp.
I played the demo that’s available on consoles and had a blast with the short bit of gameplay they provided, where you use a combination of party buffs, hack and slash gameplay and the simple act of chucking bits of scenery around with psychic powers to take down an increasingly weird set of enemies. There’s also a lot of weird stuff about brain links and more than likely some existential crises around the Others as you’d expect from any good post-apocalyptic anime, so it looks like a good time.
And that’s it for this week! Thank you for joining, I’ll be back next Friday with more news and releases!