The Strength of Summer Game Fest Was in its Indies
It's indie season baby
The bulk of Summer Game Fest has now been and gone, with streams from the likes of Capcom, Sony, Xbox and Summer Game Fest itself.
These events looked to set the stool out for the next 12 months of gaming and beyond, however, many on the internet were quick to point out that, so far at least, things aren’t looking good and that the shows were “weak”.
We got in-depth looks at games like Street Fighter 6, The Calisto Protocol and Starfield, but there were no major triple-a surprises, nothing that really set the gaming world alight.
There will always be triple-a games and the releases will always ebb and flow. Some years, like 2017 and 2018, we’ll be blessed, other years, like this one, things will be more sparse but to me, that’s not a bad thing and Summer Game Fest showed exactly why that’s the case.
Over the week of festivities, alongside the blockbuster shows from the industry’s heavy hitters was a smattering of streams that showcased some wonderful indie titles. There was the Day of the Devs tenth-anniversary stream, the Devolver Digital stream, the wholesome direct and more. Even during the streams from the likes of Xbox and PlayStation, indie titles managed to take their fair share of the spotlight.
The two giants showed off games that included Stray, Hollow Knight: Silksong, Rollerdrome and Cocoon. That’s just four of the indie titles that come from studios with amazing pedigree and there were plenty more too.
For me though, pound for pound, the Day of the Devs stream was the best show of the season. It showed off more than a dozen games, each of which was super unique and appealed to a wide range of audiences.
Time Flies will give players a snappy pick-up-and-play game, Roots of Pacha a deeper Stardew-like farming sim, Birth a unique puzzler, A Little to the Left another relaxing puzzler and that’s just a handful of them. I genuinely believe that while there aren’t many triple-a-bangers, gamers should still be feasting.
The Devolver event, as always, was fascinating too, with plenty of fresh games on the docket. Cult of the Lamb is arguably one of the most anticipated indie titles out there and if you were on Twitter any time around Devolver Digital’s showcase, you’d have seen that The Plucky Squire is probably one of the most talked-about games of this month.
The game is the debut title from All Possible Futures and sees players take control of Jot, jumping between 2D levels in a storybook and 3D levels in the “real world”. It’s this type of creativity that makes indie games great.
The Plucky Squire wasn’t the only indie game to catch the attention of Twitter either. Metal: Hellsinger, which showed up during Geoff Keighley’s event, has dominated the social media platform, with players competing with each other to get high scores on the newly released demo.
The rise of Neon White mirrors closely that of the Metal: Hellsinger demo, which after getting some spotlight during Summer Game Fest, has seen droves of players competing with each other in the speed-run-focused levels and sharing their scores on Twitter.
The strength of the upcoming indie games was heavily reflected on the show floor at Summer Game Fest Play Days in Los Angeles. I got to try my hand at some heavy hitters, including Street Fighter 6, Sonic: Frontiers and Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course (although technically that’s indie), but I had the most fun checking out the assortment of indie games available.
I went hands-on with eight games from the Day of the Devs showcase, including Time Flies, Roots of Pacha, Birth and A Little to the Left, and came away excited from all of them. I also got to check out my biggest surprise of the show, Escape Academy from Coin Crew Games, a super authentic, very fun escape room game.
All of this leaves me excited. It shows that there’s no reason to fret or be upset at this “lack” of blockbusters. Instead, we should be ready to explore the deluge of incredible indies from Summer Game Fest that are set to come our way.