Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night at E3: ‘Igavania’ Comes Back in a Big Way

Fans still mourning the abandonment of the Castlevania series will have something new and interesting to sink their teeth into with the coming of Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. The game was funded on Kickstarter back in 2015, when the total funds collected amounted well over five million dollars—five times the initial goal. Fans were thrilled over the prospect of a new game helmed by Koji Igarashi (the brains behind many Castlevania games), and so far the game is looking suitably compelling, and reminiscent of the series it’s based on.

Our look at Bloodstained during E3 included a quick 20-minute demo taking place, for the most part, on a ship. We jumped right into the game as Miriam, a young woman who is slowly succumbing to an alchemist’s curse which slowly crystallizes her skin. The goal so far appears to be finding and stopping Miriam’s old friend, Gebel, as he summons a demon-filled castle with which to threaten humanity. Along the way, of course, Miriam’s own humanity is at risk. While fighting through the ship, we (as Miriam) picked up some cool-looking weapons, played around with her combat abilities, and faced down an intimidatingly huge boss enemy before crashing onto land. The demo was cut off not long after making landfall, but we still got a look at the town surrounding Bloodstained’s much-discussed demon-infested castle, and fought off a few straggling demons for good measure.

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‘Rend’ at E3: Faction-Based Survival in a Post-Ragnarok World

Frostkeep Studios—a developer composed of industry veterans from Blizzard, Riot, Sony, and more—showed off its hybrid survival multiplayer title Rend at E3. The game is Frostkeep’s answer to ArkMinecraft, and other popular survival games. Rend has been designed to accommodate players who don’t want to worry about all their progress being destroyed by enemies when they log off for the day. All of this is set in a fantasy world based on Norse mythology, where the prophesied apocalyptic destruction of old gods has already occurred.

Rend is a faction-based MMO, and instead of joining one later as you gain prestige, the game begins with you choosing a team right from the get-go. Players will have three to choose from: the militaristic Order, enlightened Revenant, and mysterious Conclave. You also won’t have to worry about weighing your options to search for advantages in one group or the other, as Rend‘s factions were designed to stand on equal footing and maximize the sense of balanced competition. This idea also applies to players of discrepant levels. Usually if you play an MMO and wander into the path of a max-level character as a newcomer, they’d be able to blow your character out of existence without a thought. In Rend, everyone has a fighting chance. Max-level characters will have more tools at their disposal, having amassed abilities and perks, but a level one character could still reasonably tangle with them; it’s all about playing smart.

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The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit at E3: Unleashing the Power of Imagination

Square Enix and Dontnod were offering a look at its next entry in the Life is Strange universe, The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit. The game is intended as a lead-in to Life is Strange 2 (which, incidentally, we’ll be hearing about from Dontnod in the next few months), and it’s all about that feeling of youthful wonder we embrace when we’re kids.

Captain Spirit is the story of Chris, a lonely 10-year-old boy with enviable amounts of imagination. Dontnod’s intent behind the game’s design was to keep the same style of cinematography and feel as Life is Strange while improving on rendering tech and graphics. Based on the demo, the mission seems to be accomplished; with Captain Spirit built in Unreal Engine 4—where LiS was built in Unreal 3—the game has been noticeably upgraded. At the same time, Captain Spirit’s narrative and artistic style unmistakably belongs in the Life is Strange universe.

Our first look at Captain Spirit let us design Chris’ superhero costume and get a feel for his life. Chris has adopted the “secret identity” of Captain Spirit, a superhero who takes on the most nefarious of monsters. In truth, we get to see Chris’ imagination carry him around his home. Camera shots in the game are cleverly arranged to make it seem like Chris is actually levitating objects and turning on televisions with his mind until after the fact, when we see the remote behind his back. In one section of the demo, we see Chris enter a dark room and the whole world shifts until Chris is standing in a clouded, purple plane with an angry entity called the ‘Water Eater’ in front of him. If he summons his courage (and cape) to tame the monster, we see him standing proudly before the Water Eater’s quieted mass of black smoke—and then we’re standing in a back room of Chris’ home where he has actually managed to fix the malfunctioning water heater. Moments like that one are delightfully effective in hearkening back to the time when players were 10 years old and full of that same energy.

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Underworld Ascendant at E3: First Impressions

Underworld Ascendant is Otherside Entertainment’s upcoming sequel to the Ultima Underworld games. The game returns players to the perilous grounds of the Stygian Abyss as the Avatar, a human magically transported to the Underworld. Essentially, the character is a self-insert as you’re playing someone yanked from their life into an undead-infested hellscape.

One of the first things prominent on Underworld Ascendant’s E3 demo was the lack of character classes. The game is meant to be played freely in every sense, meaning there is no definitive way to play and no abilities restricted by class. I puzzled my way through the tunnels of the abyss equipped with sword, bow and arrow, and a magic wand that let me bind my enemies in place.

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‘Anderson’ Game at E3’s IndieCade Showcase is a Virtual Escape the Room

E3’s IndieCade Showcase is a fascinating miscellany of smaller, independently developed games. I had the opportunity to try out one of those selected for the showcase, a VR title called Anderson, and learned how to plot an escape to a digital world.

Anderson was conceived as a means for developer AJRPG to familiarize themselves with VR, adding extra layers of immersion to an already compelling genre of game. According to the makers of Anderson, its development was a surprisingly quick, streamlined process. The game is not made with complex tools; it’s built in Unity, and all of its assets are free from Unity’s store. The point of the game wasn’t to make something huge a with unique art and setting, but rather to use simple means and mechanics to create an engaging story.

It takes a minute to get your bearings in the world of VR, but once the world—or rather, captive’s closet—of Anderson has been entered, a search for information begins immediately. Its aforementioned narrative comes to play as you try to figure out why you’ve been taken captive at all.

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The Sinking City Demo at E3: A Haunting Lovecraftian Mystery

The Sinking City as a game is equal parts noir mystery and alt-historical horror story. While playing through Frogwares Studio’s E3 demo, we got to solve a creepy missing person’s case, and see the game’s dark interpretation of an East Coast city. A little under a year still remains until the game’s release, but the content we’re seeing right now is pretty compelling.

“Lovecraft” is right in The Sinking City’s tagline, and they’re not kidding. Briefly running around the city showed off otherworldly monsters and hybrid monster-people, and still other people who have been “augmented.” True to its title, the city you play in is partially submerged in sea water, and filled with strange sea creatures in the ‘channels’ that were once streets.

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‘The Spectrum Retreat’ at E3: Art Deco Mystery Meets Science Fiction

The Spectrum Retreat was winning awards before ever releasing to the general public. Creator Dan Smith won the BAFTA Young Game Designers Award in 2016 for his prototype of the game, and from there it has become a full-fledged multi-level puzzle game coming to consoles this summer. Published by Ripstone Games, The Spectrum Retreat takes players through a deceptively tricky hotel where nothing is as it seems.

Gameplay in TSR is reminiscent of Portal or QUBE, as shown in Smith’s E3 demo. Players start out in a bedroom of a strange hotel, furnished in art-deco style and deserted except for its faceless workers. The workers don’t offer any explanation for your presence, and won’t let you leave. From there, players find their way through the hotel with the ultimate goal of passing through every floor and reaching the roof. Along the way, increasingly taxing color-based puzzles attempt to hinder players’ progress—and the more puzzles you solve, the further you dive into the hotel.

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'State of Mind' At E3: Smart Dystopian Sci-Fi With an Unnervingly Possible Future

Daedalic Entertainment’s story-driven sci-fi adventure, State of Mind, is rapidly approaching its release date. At E3, Daedalic showed off a few samples of gameplay and gave us a look into a future that is detailed, engaging, and doesn’t require as much suspension of belief as you might think.

State of Mind is the next step up from Daedalic’s past point-and-click adventures, and this game utilizes a heavily styled 3D design combined with investigation and exploration driven gameplay. It’s also quite dialogue-intensive, and designed to attract fans of single-player narrative-heavy titles. The peek we got at E3 showed gameplay with two different playable characters: a journalist named Richard and his unknowing semi-copy, Adam. The two characters already make for some interesting storytelling possibilities, and they’re only two out of six characters that players will be able to pilot during the game.

Developers also emphasized that State of Mind thoroughly explores the idea of Trans-humanism. A main point of the story is the copying and uploading of a human’s consciousness into a digital world, and another body. Players will be engaged on the social and political implications of such technology, and will even have to decide in the course of playing what a digital life is worth.

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