Earlier today Geoff Keighley kicked off This year’s Non-E3 season with Summer Game Fest, a loud two hour showcase of all the ways you can kill people in video games in the coming year. It was, to be quite honest, a lot. Fortunately, the folks at Day of the Devs showed up immediately afterward with a show that felt more like guided meditation than advertising.
Day of the developersa “fantastic celebration of indie games”, now in its tenth year, followed the company-imposed excitement of Summer Game Fest through details a handful of more low-key projects currently in development† One minute Naughty Dog creative director Neil Druckmann was talking about a mind-bending remake that leaked hours ago, and the next, we learned about Time fliesan intriguing minimalist game about trying to make the most of an insect’s short lifespan.
The transition felt like a cool breeze, and not just because everyone joined Kotaku was finally free to take a breather from the frenetic responsibility of live event coverage. Every game shown on Day of the Devs has been something I’m interested in. And it’s not just about fulfilling my own personal taste. Despite their more laid-back vibe, shows like Day of the Devs often showcase more innovative game design than any event that scores the latest Duty to reveal.
It’s become abundantly clear that gaming is much more capable of evolving into the infinitely expressive medium it was always intended to be if it manages to break away from the mainstream’s obsessive desire for higher framerates, resolutions, and body counts. Here are some good examples of this phenomenon from Day of the Devs.
A little to the left is a “cozy puzzle game” that asks the player to decorate a house that needs to be cleaned up well. Oh, and sometimes a cat comes along to mess up whatever you were stacking or sorting, just like in real life. It’s due out later this year and there’s a demo available on Steam right now if you’re into that sort of thing.
animal welfare builds a gritty, old-fashioned adventure with layers upon layers of secrets to discover and solve. It gave me huge Nifflas vibes, if you are familiar with games like In a deep forest and knyttand I can’t wait to hop through the lush environments in search of hidden mysteries.
Birth puts you in the shoes of a strange creature as it navigates a large city and looks for a way to lessen its loneliness. What better way to stop feeling alone than by making your own companion out of extra bones and organs? Its distinctive, eerie yet beautiful art style really sets it apart from just about everything else in gaming today.
Fox and Frog Travelers: The Demon of Adashino Island follows the titular Fox and Frog as they travel through regions inspired by the developers’ Japanese background. But while neon lights and street food lanterns can give the game a cozy atmosphere, apparently there’s something treacherous lurking in the shadows.
goodbye world is a meta-narrative game about the “passion and struggles” of two young indie game developers, with influences ranging from Ghost world until mother 3† The fuzzy aesthetic is meant to evoke bygone days of Super Nintendo and Game Boy Advance graphics.
Of course I’m not going to pretend that the hilarious homogeneity of Summer Game Fest can’t also be found in Day of the Devs. The latter simply replaces the explosive shootbanginess of the former with developer after developer gently describing projects in immaculate apartments. But still, the games looked much nicer and more original than the literal half dozen Empty space knockoffs Keighley begged us to care.
For more information about the games shown on Day of the Devs, be sure to visit the show’s official website†
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