'Alan Wake 2' Gamescom Report
“You left us on quite the cliffhanger,” teases insipid light-night talk show host Mr. Door, as he playfully admonishes his guest for the glacial pace of their output.
Said interviewee happens to be none other than pulpy crime novelist (turned unwitting adversary of evil) Alan Wake, who is more than a little perplexed by the rhetoric of the man sitting across from him.
Befuddlement, of course, is one of Alan’s defining traits and right now he is unable to figure out: A) how he got here in the first place; B) whether he’s already been through this pantomimic ordeal once before; or C) if the studio audience currently snickering away hyena-like in the darkness even exists. More importantly, though, he has no recollection whatsoever of penning another book.
You see, he’s been suffering from crippling writer’s block for the past few years and, as far as he can tell, hasn’t been able to jot down so much as a preface in that entire time. And yet, Mr. Door insists that Alan has come on the show tonight specifically to promote his latest work: a long-gestating sequel to a cult favourite of his named Departure.
That book was all about a frustrated author (an obvious self-insert character) who discovered that the line between the real world and his own fictions was starting to blur. With horrific consequences.
If that sounds at all familiar, it’s probably because you played the first Alan Wake back in 2010. Indeed, the narrative of Departure and that game are so interchangeable that they are — for all intents and purposes — one and the same.
They’re both focused on the titular writer, as he takes an impromptu vacation to a secluded town in the hopes of finally getting his creative juices flowing again. It’s there that the humble wordsmith’s life is turned upside down, after his wife is taken hostage by one of the supernatural villains from his own stories and he becomes the prime suspect in her disappearance. What follows is a head-spinning tale of eldritch nightmares, light versus dark, prophetic texts, sinister doppelgangers and Asgardian-themed rock bands.
I’d say it all makes sense if you’ve played Remedy’s twisty-turny classic, but that’s honestly a bit of a stretch. The point is that Alan Wake is screamingly meta, with Departure serving as a kind of epistolary retelling of it in-universe. And just like that original game, it left a lot of questions unanswered.
Referring to the ambiguous ending of Wake’s novel, Mr. Door continues: “We’ve all been dying to know what: ‘It’s not a lake, it’s an ocean’ really means.”
This winking line of dialogue, which is actually about the cryptic conclusion of Alan Wake itself, gets a belly-laugh from the crowd. Not just the fictional one that Mr. Door is addressing within the diegesis mind you, but also from the roomful of journalists who are watching this scene unfold over at Gamescom 2023.
We’re all in on the self-aware, 4th wall-breaking joke: Remedy knows that it’s been an eternity since Alan last signed off with that ominous portent, and their sequel (just like the author’s new book) has a lot to live up to.
An Overdue Comeback
Believe it or not, Alan Wake was released an alarming 13 years ago. People like myself — who were literal kids when it came out — are now fully-grown adults and a lot of younger gamers weren’t even born at the time.
Suffice it to say, the whole landscape of entertainment has changed so much in the intervening years and they simply don’t make AAA titles like this anymore. As such, you’d think the prospect of making a sequel now — accounting for the various shifts in audience taste and the weight of expectation that comes with producing such a belated follow-up — would be overwhelming.
However, if that’s the case then Remedy isn’t showing any signs of the pressure getting to them. On the contrary, their media of Alan Wake 2 exuded pure confidence, in a way that was very reassuring for a long-term fan like myself. It was the kind of presentation that lets you know everything is in good hands, and that the developers are truly happy with their passion product.
In a small movie theatre (cunningly disguised as a book signing for Wake’s hardbacks), the presentation actually took place a few blocks away from the main Koelnmesse venue where the rest of Gamescom was taking place. Here, we were treated to 41 minutes of uninterrupted gameplay, some live-action footage that will be integrated into the experience, a breakdown of new mechanics, and a Q&A with both Creative Director, Sam Lake, and Game Director, Kyle Rowley.
We unfortunately didn’t get any hands-on time, but the capture we saw was all from the latest build. Among other things, it convincingly demonstrated how slick the refined combat will be in the hands of a veteran player (the QA Tester was especially proficient at nailing those headshots), as well as the title’s spectacular visuals and engrossing atmosphere.
Welcome to The Dark Place
As you’ll probably already know, AW2’s campaign is divided into two parts. One half focuses on the original protagonist — now stranded in the mysterious netherworld of The Dark Place — while the other centres on franchise newbie: Agent Saga Anderson.
Still in the “real world,” the latter will get to explore more familiar locales, like Bright Falls and Cauldron Lake, as she carries out an investigation into a string of ritualistic murders occurring there. Conversely, Alan finds himself trapped in a nightmare very much of his own making, with The Dark Place taking the form of a surrealistic purgatory where everything is drawn from his subconscious and then made physical.
It’s this portion of the game that we get to see in our vertical slice, as Alan traverses a distorted simulacrum of New York that’s been cobbled together from his hazy memories & tortured imaginations. Indeed, this version of the Big Apple doesn’t bear much resemblance to the genuine article whatsoever, with it feeling more like a heightened, film noir cliché of that city: drenched equally in torrential rain and infernal neon.
It’s essentially a more fantastical take on the seedy world that Max Payne used to inhabit. So, it’s only fitting that we keep bumping into that iconic vigilante here. Or, more accurately, we bump into Alex Casey; the hardboiled protagonist from Alan’s own series of blockbuster novels, who just so happens to look, dress, act and narrate his life in exactly the same way that Max did. To put it another way: he is Payne in all but name.
It’s a fun cameo that gets a huge reaction from the audience and suggests that Alan Wake 2 is going to lean even harder into that connected-universe stuff that Remedy was exploring in 2019’s Control. When asked about this, Creative Director Sam Lake confirms that there will certainly be plenty more easter eggs where that came from (as yet another example, we later encounter NPC that has the uncanny likeness of Shawn Ashmore from Quantum Break), as well as some explicit ties to the studio’s back catalogue.
However, he is also quick to point out that AW2 will still be a fundamentally standalone affair, and that newcomers aren’t expected to do “tons of homework” in order to piece together what the hell’s going on. This isn’t like the Marvel Cinematic Universe, where there are certain pieces of required viewing that you need to experience to make sense of the wider saga. Instead, it’s much closer to something like Tarantino’s oeuvre, where there are cool intertextual links for fans to spot, but you’re not missing out on anything important if these go over your head.
Returning to the aforementioned exchange with Max (sorry, “Alex Casey!”), it’s not the joyous meeting between creator and creation that you might expect. On the contrary, the detective is frenzied, jumpy and instantly hostile with Alan, going so far as to threaten him at gunpoint.
You can’t fault him for being a little on edge though, given his present circumstances. The Dark Place is hardly a relaxing environment to find oneself occupying, characterised as it is by inconsistent geography, trippy dream logic and confusing scenarios that would flummox even David Lynch.
A Darkly Beautiful Feast For The Eyes
On the plus side, that does also make it the near-perfect setting for a horror game.
Dripping in atmosphere, our bizarro interpretation of New York manages to make that overused cityscape feel somehow fresh again. We’ve all played countless games set in the Five Boroughs (ranging from superhero adventures to chaotic sandboxes and zombie apocalypse simulators), but this one has a moody aesthetic that’s completely its own.
The expressive lighting, cast from all of the gaudy neon signs in the area, renders each scene almost monochromatic. Echoing the visual stylings of Control, it’s as if somebody has applied an overpowering colour filter to everything; immersing us in sickly green shopping districts and demonic red alleyways.
Elsewhere, the deserted streets are populated only by menacing shadows, whispering away in your periphery and threatening to ambush Alan at a moment’s notice. Some of them will follow through on these warnings, while others are content to just ominously watch from the sidelines. The problem being that you can’t tell which is which until it’s already too late, creating a sense of paranoia that hangs over every single minute of our vertical slice.
The city’s infrastructure is all wrong too, with road networks that don’t quite add up, stairs that ostensibly lead nowhere and bridges that can’t be accessed by any conventional means. Think of it a bit like the fake version of Paris from Inception and you’re in the right ballpark.
Speaking of which, as was the case in Christopher Nolan’s iconic film, the environment here also feeds on elements of the dreamer’s subconscious. In this case, The Dark Place is quite literally plastered with Alan’s psychological hang-ups. Buildings are covered top to bottom in graffiti that taunts him with his worst fears, subway signs artfully conceal hidden insights into his current thinking, and you’ll find various posters that refer to plot beat from the original Alan Wake (such as an advert for Night Springs or a poster that mentions Cynthia Weaver).
Expanding on some of the best ideas from the first game’s DLC episodes, you are quite literally touring Alan’s mind here and it makes for a truly fascinating setting. Of course, it helps that the whole thing looks so bloody gorgeous as well, boasting some of the most high-fidelity, tactile graphics we’ve ever outside of racing titles.
You can tell that an incredible amount of care and attention-to-detail went into creating each and every asset, because they all hold up to the intense scrutiny of the massive cinema screen we’re watching on. The reflective surfaces behave in a highly believable way, there’s subtle cavitation on metal pipes, you can see where paint has been visibly chipped off the walls, and it looks like each of Alan’s individual hair follicles has been animated separately.
The end result is astonishing; to the point where you can barely distinguish between the game’s computer-generated sequences and those live-action bits that the team at Remedy are so fond of. In fact, when you transition between the two— as we did in that aforementioned talk show scene — it’s honestly seamless.
Leaning Into Horror
Describing his vision for The Dark Place, Sam Lake cites an eclectic bunch of inspirations.
There are the blatant neo-noir reference points like Taxi Driver and Se7en— which informed the oppressive look of the city itself— but then there are also some formative horror influences at play. According to Lake, these include Hereditary, Midsommar, Silence of the Lambs, Blue Velvet and the assorted works of Stephen King.
Ari Aster’s filmography getting namechecked was of particular interest to us because, while the first Alan Wake was a relatively tame affair, the fact that those movies are now in the mix would seem to indicate that the developers are aiming for a more intense vibe this go around. Sure enough, that theory is backed up by the gameplay we see, as it quickly becomes apparent that Remedy has been taking notes from the last 13 years of survival horror.
For a start, the combat has been reconfigured so that it’s far scrappier and more intimate. When it comes to dealing with The Taken (Alan Wake 2’s returning enemy type), the same rules that applied back in 2010 are still in effect here. As before, your shadowy foes are totally invulnerable until their darkness-infused shields have been burned away with a torch or another environmental light source, at which point you can fill them with lead. But what has changed for the follow-up is how great of a threat even a single Taken can pose. Whereas before you could easily contend with waves upon waves of these baddies, they’re no longer mere cannon-fodder and the prospect of going up against just a couple of them is enough to get you on the defensive.
As such, the encounters have been scaled back somewhat and it’s less about withstanding endless hordes of them it’s basically the inverse of that typical Alien to Aliens progression that we’re accustomed to with horror sequels.
In fact, the Taken’s newfound durability reminded us most strongly of how Capcom gave their zombies a significant upgrade in the Resident Evil 2 remake. As was the case there, we’ve gone from perceiving of our opponents as disposable grunts to now seeing them as legitimate threats. The tables have turned and it’s completely upended the feel of combat in a way that’s revelatory to the experience.
Elsewhere, there are few other places where Alan Wake 2 has taken its cues from the horror genre’s heavy-hitters. Among other things, there’s now a greater emphasis on resource management, you can visit quasi-safe rooms to stock up on supplies, and the environments have a vaguely metroidvania quality to them. Get ready for lots of backtracking and key hunts!
Not to mention, the general tone of proceedings is several shades darker. For example, at one point Alan hallucinates the aftermath of a grisly subway fire (set by deranged cultists) and imagines that he is crawling over the charred bodies of the deceased while also listening to the echoes of their desperate screams. It’s a deeply unsettling moment that goes a lot harder than anything in the first game.
Likewise, there’s a queasy bit later on wherein we stumble across the scene of a gruesome ritual sacrifice and are presented with a stark-naked corpse that’s had its chest cavity ripped open. From that image alone, it’s clear that Remedy has decided to crank things up a notch for this sequel and that they aren’t taking prisoners. Gone are the days of those bloodless axe murders and quirky rock concert set pieces.
Finally, we have to briefly mention the “Angel Lamp.” A new tool that’s been added to your inventory, this device will allow you to drain light from one place, store it for posterity, and then later distribute it somewhere else. In some instances, this will be so that you can create your own little safe havens in combat scenarios, but it’s also going to be necessary for solving a few of the game’s puzzles.
We get to see the mechanic in action during one particularly nerve-wracking set-piece. Here, Alan has to make his way through an underground labyrinth by activating and deactivating certain lanterns, which in turn unblock parts of his escape route.
It’s not an especially taxing conundrum by any means, but the idea of forcing you to deliberately turn off lights (and therefore put yourself in mortal danger) so that you can progress is an ingenious one. If Remedy can continue to find similarly clever ways of using the Angel Lamp like this, then it could be one of the sequel’s best additions.
All in all, our preview of Alan Wake 2 was pretty much everything that we wanted. Like its predecessor, this game is shaping up to be a potent combination of creepy, mysterious, ambitious, and at times even darkly comedic. 13 years may have been a long time to wait, yet if this is any indication then it will all have been worth it.
Alan Wake 2 will be released on Wednesday the 27th of October on PS5, Xbox Series X/S and PC.
Opinionated, Verbose and Generally Pedantic. Loves Horror in all of its forms.
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At this year’s Gamescom we tried to stack our schedule with as many horror (or horror-adjacent) titles as we possibly could.
Rushing around the expansive halls of the Koelnmesse venue — trying to make each of our back-to-back appointments — we barely had chance to catch our breath across the jam-packed three days we were there. Among other things, we previewed nearly an hour of Alan Wake 2, got the inside scoop on Still Wakes the Deep, had a lengthy hands-on session with Lords of the Fallen, and then went on a perilous expedition into the bowels of Moria.
But that only represents a small fraction of the exciting projects we saw here. In addition to those big tentpoles, we also took a look at the efforts of some plucky solo devs and indie studios who’ve been working away on interesting little titles that you might be sleeping on.
Here are 9 of the best that we think you should be on your radar.
There’s been something of a resurgence lately in old-school survival horror, with scores of indie releases trying to ape the feel of PSOne classics like Silent Hill. Between Puppet Combo’s Murder House and last year’s phenomenal SIGNALIS, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the 1990s never went away.
CONSCRIPT is yet another example of a game that’s hoping to tap into this nostalgic craze. It has all the elements you’d expect to see in one of these throwbacks; from the low-res visuals to the top-down perspective, deliberately stilted combat, and obtuse puzzles.
However, what sets it apart from all the other titles that are cashing in on this voguish trend is its unique period setting. Dropping players into the trench boots of a French infantryman (at the infamous Battle of Verdun), CONSCRIPT renounces the schlocky thrills of Raccoon City or Derceto Manor, in favour of the very real atrocities of WW1.
A much more human enemy substitutes for the usual zombie throngs here, as you futilely try to repel the advancing German forces. On that note, none of the threats that you’ll be facing were concocted in a secret lab by avaricious supervillains, nor is there anything remotely supernatural afoot. It’s just the everyday horrors of war; pure and simple.
Explaining the concept to us at his Gamescom booth, Solo Developer (and history graduate) Jordan Mochi said: “We’ve all played enough survival horror titles that have monsters and ghosts. And I didn’t want to do that in my game, because I felt it would just cheapen the experience. I believe that depicting one the world’s bloodiest conflicts should be scary enough in its own right.”
On that point, we’re inclined to agree. After all, the short demo of CONSCRIPT that we played assured us that Mochi has been able to do justice to his heady subject matter. Indeed, his game envelops you in the hell of trench warfare, and authentically conveys the sense of impending doom that comes with harbouring the terrible knowledge that you may have to go over the front lines at any moment. Published by Team17, you can add CONSCRIPT to your Steam Wishlist now.
Hellboy: Web of Wyrd
Through no fault of its own, this one has a bit of a pall hanging over it, given that it features a posthumous performance from the late Lance Reddick.
For what it’s worth, we think he’s done a great job in the lead role here and brings a suitably cantankerous quality to his portrayal of Anung Un Rama. It’s pitch-perfect voice casting and you could envision him having one day become synonymous with the part (much like how Mark Hamill made the Joker his own) had circumstances been different.
In general, Hellboy: Web of Wyrd is shaping up to be a faithful adaptation of its source material that will no-doubt please fans. Created in partnership with Dark Horse and original creator Mike Mignola, it nails the recognisable art style of those comic books by seamlessly translating it into 3D. With thick heavy lines, bold colours, minimalist detailing and heavy shadows — plus a deliberately lower frame rate in certain places, recalling the Spider-Verse films — it’s a veritable feast for the eyes.
Elsewhere, Mignola’s world-building and lore have been respectfully preserved too, with one notable exception. This version of Big Red has had to quit chomping on cigars, not for the sake of his health, but rather for the game to secure its desired ESRB rating.
That one trivial concession aside, Web of Wyrd delivers practically everything you’d want from a Hellboy brawler. There’s opportunity to interact with your B.P.R.D colleagues, to wield the iconic Samaritan hand cannon, and to unleash the devastating power of the Right Hand of Doom. Throw in some weighty punch-ups against a diverse roster of eldritch creatures and everything falls into place.
Developed by Upstream Arcade and Published by Good Shepard Entertainment, Hellboy: Web of Wyrd will be released on the 4th of October. It will launch on Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC. You can add it to your Steam Wishlist here.
Forgive Me Father 2
The original Forgive Me Father was one of the better boomer shooters to come out in recent years, distinguished by its Lovecraftian theming and hand-drawn aesthetic.
When it came to the latter, developer Byte Barrel told us that their ambition was for every single frame to look like it could have ripped straight from a comic-book panel, and it was certainly very screenshot-worthy in that respect. Whether you were just standing around admiring the gothic scenery or blasting weird fishmen into tiny giblets with your shotgun, you could pause the action at any given juncture and just marvel at the grotesque artistry of it all.
Capitalising on what worked so well last time, Forgive Me Father’s upcoming sequel is aiming to crank up the splatter to an even more ludicrous degree. While one of the highlights in the first game was how you could shoot a zombie’s head off, only for them to then replace it with a spare noggin that they happened to be lugging around, that’ll seem positively tame compared to some of the outrageous sights you’ll witness in this follow-up.
The preview we saw at Gamescom was a non-stop orgy of blood, guts and eviscerations that reached near-comical levels of excess. After a frenetic shootout, you often couldn’t make out the environments anymore because every square inch of them was now covered in some kind of fleshy viscera.
On the less gloopy side of things, Byte Barrel is also making a few technical improvements to the established formula. Namely, Forgive Me Father 2 will have more interactive levels, an expanded upgrade system, a new hub area, and sprites that can face in up to eight directions instead of just one (meaning that you can now appreciate all that sweet, sweet gore from different angles)!
Brought to you by Fulqrum Publishing, Forgive Me Father 2 can be added to your Steam Wishlist here.
A fellow boomer shooter (and Fulqrum Publishing stablemate), Diluvian Ultra has a lot in common with Forgive Me Father 2. At least on the surface.
Both titles have embraced a retro design philosophy, whereby success is dependent on you constantly moving, unloading ammo with reckless abandon, and generally making a mess of the place. Indeed, taking things slow and playing cautiously in either of these upcoming releases is highly discouraged.
Which makes perfect sense in the case of Diluvian Ultra. After all, you wouldn’t expect a game about an undead, space zealot who’s hell-bent on getting revenge to exercise much in the way of restraint.
If you’re wondering what differentiates this one in such a crowded field, it’s the innovative approach to calculating damage. You see, enemies in Diluvian Ultra effectively have two colour-coded health bars; one measuring the integrity of their armour, and then another (sitting just beneath that) for displaying their life force. In order to whittle down the former, you’ll need to hit opponents with matching yellow projectiles, while the latter is depleted exclusively through the use of red attacks.
Where things get really interesting is that your so-called “lethal damage” fluctuates according to how much of the red bar is exposed on screen. So, if you’ve not worn down the enemy’s shield whatsoever, then your next lethal hit won’t even make a dent in their health pool. On the other hand, if you’ve completely sapped them of all their armour, then you could be primed to deliver a one-hit kill.
It’s an intriguing gimmick that promises to add an extra layer of strategy to combat and to get you thinking on your feet. Be careful though, because the same rules governing how your foes take damage also apply to you. You can add Diluvian Ultra to your Steam Wishlist here.
If you prefer your shooters to be of the slower, more methodical variety, then Ripout ought to be your jam.
A procedurally generated, co-op experience, it tasks you with exploring derelict spaceships that (surprise, surprise) are overrun with killer cyborgs. As with something like Left 4 Dead or last year’s The Anacrusis, there are only a finite number of missions to choose from here, but the scaling-difficulty, randomised objectives and unpredictable enemy spawns should keep you coming back for more.
Yet what most stood out to us was the relatively measured pacing. Taking a leaf out of Alien: Isolation’s book, you could feasibly go several minutes without encountering a solitary bogey in Ripout. Instead, the developers at Pet Project Games are content to let the mounting dread and anticipation do all of the heavy lifting, before then unleashing some unspeakable body-horror abomination just as you’ve let your guard down.
Where a lot of similar games feel like they have one tempo (i.e.: hordes endlessly pouring in without a second’s abate) Ripout has a nice ebb and flow that makes its scares all the more effective once they arrive.
Not to mention, it also featured our standout weapon of Gamescom 2023: the versatile pet-gun. A firearm that’s affixed to what appears to be a baby xenomorph, this can be used as your standard-issue assault rifle, but its true potential comes from that detachable critter.
With the mere press of a button, you can dispatch your pet to either distract opponents or to graft onto them. When it returns, it will then come furnished with their cybernetic enhancements and a new secondary fire for you to try out.
In our demo, we saw the pet fuse with a gelatinous sac that discharged poisonous gas, as well as a powerful laser capable of vaporising monsters to a crisp. Suffice it to say, we can’t wait to see what other tricks it has up its sleeve when the full game releases.
Published by 3D Realms, Ripout will be coming to PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC later this year. You can add it to your Steam Wishlist now.
Rounding off our list of shooters that we sampled at Gamescom, Remedium is more of an arcadey, twin-stick affair.
Although the gameplay is pretty typical in that regard, it was still worth a gander in our opinion thanks to its fascinating setting. Blending together aspects of post-apocalyptic sci-fi, renaissance history and viral outbreak horror; it’s unlike anything we’ve ever seen before in the genre.
The central conceit is that all progress in this world came to an abrupt halt after a dreadful plague began spreading throughout the population, infecting both humans and animals alike. You yourself have contracted this nasty disease — which, in a subversive twist, actually gives you some cool buffs in combat — and thus embark on a quest to find a cure.
Along the way, you’ll be gunning down waves of mutant dogs, birds and even rhinos with your old-timely blunderbuss. Speaking of which, the other distinguishing feature here is that almost every piece of equipment in your arsenal can be augmented with elemental properties, through the era-appropriate science of alchemy.
In practice, this means that you’ll be able to transmute grenades into water bombs, coat your rounds in flammable liquid, or reconfigure your weapon as an electrical conduit. Judging from our brief test drive, it looks like there will be great scope to fiddle around with these options and to create your ideal builds.
Don’t just take our word for it though. You can see what all of the fuss is about right now by signing up to the Remedium playtest on Steam!
Open-world survival crafting indies are a dime a dozen nowadays, and you no longer count on such overused keywords to turn heads. If anything, those labels are more likely to provoke beleaguered eye-rolls than they are to pique anyone’s interest.
Fortunately, Vorax has found a way to spice up these tired proceedings by chucking in giant deformed babies, bloated mutants, and creatures that resemble Belial from the Basket Case movies. Who knew that breathing fresh life into a genre could be so simple?
Developed by IndieGala (who are primarily known for being a digital storefront, but recently have branched out into development), the game has all of the usual trappings of this type of fare. You’ll be gathering resources by day, boarding up windows at dusk, and withstanding infected swarms when night falls. Just like in countless other games.
Yet it still managed to get on our radar due to its insane bestiary, more story-driven approach, and immensely satisfying chainsaw.
If you want to give it a spin for yourself, the very same demo that we played at Gamescom can now be downloaded off Steam.
Gori: Cuddly Carnage
A frenetic candy-coloured bloodbath, Gori: Cuddly Carnage more than lives up to its homophonous title.
The team at Angry Demon Studio (another fantastic name by the way) have delivered a balls-to-the-wall hack & slack, wherein not a millisecond of playtime can elapse without somebody being graphically dismembered.
The attention-grabbing hook is that you control an anthropomorphic, hover-boarding kitty cat who has taken it upon themselves to *checks notes* depose an occupying army of sentient unicorn plushies. Having somehow passed by quality control at the factory, these innocent-looking toys come in many different shapes and sizes, but are united by a common goal. That being to wipe out their human makers.
With mankind having sealed its own fate then, it’s up to you and your A.I. skateboard to defend the planet; one day-glo massacre at a time.
Yes, it’s every bit as ridiculous as it sounds. However, what took us by surprise was just how polished and mechanically refined Gori is.
A game with such a quirky premise could easily coast by on the strength of its zaniness and use it as a crutch, yet that’s not the case at all here. On the contrary, we found the platforming to be incredibly responsive, the combat to be buttery smooth and the vibrant spectacle to be consistently eye-popping.
Published by Wired Productions, Gori: Cuddly Carnage will be heading to PlayStation 4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC and Nintendo Switch in 2023. You can add it to your Steam Wishlist now.
The Time I Have Left
Overflowing with ideas, The Time I Have Left ended up being a real dark horse and quite possibly our star of the entire show at Gamescom 2023.
Structured as a desperate race against the clock, it casts you in the role of a woman (residing in some far-flung, dystopian future) who discovers that she has only 6 hours to live, owing to a fatal illness of indeterminate origin.
Resolved to make the most of these precious last moments, she makes it her goal to escape from the underground facility that’s currently holding her captive before that hourglass runs out. Even if doing so means fighting until her literal dying breath.
Of course, this proves to be easier said than done, given that the mysterious affliction is also causing her to flit back and forth between the real world and some kind of nightmare dimension that’s inhabited by demonic creatures.
Unlike Remedium — which similarly features a protagonist surviving on borrowed time — there is a proper countdown mechanic for every chapter here, forcing you to make tough choices about where you want to explore and what parts of the story you want to meaningfully engage with. Complicating these matters further, if you are ever defeated in the game’s turn-based combat (against bizarre monsters that wouldn’t feel out of place in a Hieronymus Bosch painting), then you’ll skip ahead a few minutes, further increasing that sense of urgency.
There’s a lot going on in The Time I Have Left and we’ve hardly scratched the surface with this description. While we waited for our hands-on session, developer Ground Game Atelier told us all about their lofty aims, including how they wanted to explore the psychological blow of getting a terminal prognosis, and how an individual is supposed to process that and ultimately get their priorities straight.
With that said, if you’re in the market for something that’s not afraid to tackle hefty themes, this one could be quite special. Planned for release in 2024, you can add The Time I Have Left to your Steam Wishlist now.Gamescom 2023An Overdue ComebackAlan Wake 2 Sam LakeKyle RowleyWelcome to The Dark PlaceA Darkly Beautiful Feast For The EyesLeaning Into HorrorAlan Wake 2 will be released on Wednesday the 27th of October on PS5, Xbox Series X/S and PC.GamescomAlan Wake 2Still Wakes the DeepLords of the Falleninto the bowels of MoriaCONSCRIPTHellboy: Web of WyrdForgive Me Father 2Diluvian UltraRipoutRemediumVoraxGori: Cuddly CarnageThe Time I Have Left