For the second year running, BAFTA staged the Inside Games Arcade, a showcase of some of the UK's most vibrant indie games.
Down in the vaults of London’s Tobacco Dock at EGX Rezzed a room full of peculiar curios, thoughtful puzzlers and incredible talent hummed with excitement. BAFTA’s Inside Games Arcade contained a diverse selection of games hand-picked to showcase some of the finest work in development by British designers and developers.
Taking the inexorably popular endless runner genre and setting it to hyperspeed, Alone sends players careening across space to see how long they can last threading their way through the tight caverns of different worlds and avoiding falling obstacles. Played at breakneck speed to a thumping soundtrack it’s a fierce adrenaline rush.
Equally breathless are the arcade thrills of Dashy Crash, a game that sends you down a hectic highway littered with hazards as you compete for the highest score. And sticking with cars, albeit for a more realistic driving simulation, is Project CARS – a gearhead’s dream made reality supplied with a few dozen garages full of vehicles to take for a spin.
If you’re in the mood for something a little more calming, Pneuma: Breath Of Life continues the trend of intriguingly designed and dazzling first-person puzzlers. While the meditatively paced A Light In Chorus sends you exploring a visually stunning world made entirely of light particles.
Also thick with style is Calvino Noir, a game that mixes the mood of classic film noir with the strategy of a heist game. More than playing up to its influences, it tells a dark and gritty story from the perspective of multiple characters as you sneak your way through a rain-drenched 1930s city.
A Good Snowman Is Hard To Build and HUE are two more games that ask you to put your thinking caps on. The former is a beautifully presented and challenging puzzle game about an oddball monster who builds snowmen, while the latter has you navigate a world by manipulating its colour palette to progress.
Elsewhere, the influence of tabletop gaming can be seen in Concrete Jungle, a unique spin on the city building and management genre that has you construct your utopia from a deck of cards. Table Tennis Touch offers a well-implemented touchscreen recreation of the lightning-fast sport. And the intensity and pizzazz of space combat is realised in impressive style by the frantic 5v5 battles of Fractured Space.
VR is also well represented with the bonkers loot-the-room antics of Smash Hit Plunder and curious puzzle adventure Esper. That more developers are embracing and experimenting with this constantly evolving technology is a sign that further interesting and unique games are sure to follow.
Still, what’s an arcade without a twin stick shooter? The Kraken Sleepeth brings the vibe of a H.P. Lovecraft story to the genre, sending you to the ocean depths in a bathysphere you must upgrade to survive as the light slowly fades around you.
When it comes to our fondest memories of games, though, nothing can quite top the idea of friends gathered around a single screen for some wild multiplayer action. Mutiny! is pure chaos and joy distilled into video game form, as players work cooperatively as a pirate crew to defend their ship from attack while also competing to see who can collect the most coins. More than living up to its name, it’s never too long before cutlasses clash between allies in a vicious attempt to gather the most plunder.
That a small room can contain so many different titles that would suit any mood or situation just shows the awesome breadth and variety of games currently available or in development by some of the best British creators in the business today.
Words: James Pickard