The lights are on
E3 is all about hype – the newest consoles, the biggest games. While gamers anticipate the event as another chance to get a look at some of the games they’ve been anticipating for years, it’s easy for worthy titles to get lost in the jungle of press conference and oversized booths.
The following games might not have the biggest marketing budgets or buzz, but they are well worth your attention. In fact, many of them are promising enough to potentially best some of the industry’s big franchises in terms of quality. If nothing else, they prove that – despite what some might say – creative game design was not missing from E3.
Papo & YoDeveloper: MinorityPublisher: SonySystem: PlayStation 3
This PlayStation Network exclusive is more than just a promising new downloadable game. On the surface, it appears to be an action/puzzle game with a novel setting and characters. Players are cast as Quico, a young boy who must work with the giant creature Monster to solve a multitude of physical puzzles set in a city environment. The catch is that, on occasion, Monster eats a poisonous frog and becomes an unruly danger to himself and others, increasing the challenge for the beleaguered Quico.
While Quico and Monster’s tenuous relationship makes for interesting gameplay dynamics, it’s a more personal matter to the game’s lead producer Vander Caballero. In fact, Quico and Monster represent Caballero’s own troubled relationship with his alcoholic father growing up. As a result, Papo & Yo because an intensely personal, dreamlike parable about growing up in difficult circumstances. We’re rooting for this one; the game industry could use more games that have a message beyond “shoot the enemy.” For more check out our previous coverage of the game, and its trailer.
“If I learned anything from my 30-minute demo of the game, it's that Papo & Yo is far from the same old game experience players are accustomed to.” – Jeff Marchiafava
Metro: Last LightDeveloper: 4A GamesPublisher: THQSystems: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC
The sequel to one of 2010’s cult hits, Metro: Last Light continues the saga begun in Metro: 2033. Developer 4A Games isn’t necessarily concerned with fundamentally changing the design of the modern shooter, but it is using standard FPS mechanics to tell a harrowing, horror-filled tale that felt refreshing in an E3 awash in seemingly identical military blockbusters. In many ways, it’s survival horror shooter.
Players take the role of Metro 2033 protagonist Artyom in post-apocalyptic Russia. This time, it appears you’ll be spending more of your time above ground – a contrast from the largely subterranean first game. Based on what we saw of the game at E3, Metro: Last Light retains the grim shock of the first game, assaulting the player with gruesome demons and frantic, ultra-violent combat. As part of a small band of human survivors, Artyom is hardly the all-powerful super-soldier we’re used to playing in most FPS games. In a ruined city, surrounded by demons, he’ll be content to make it through the long Russian night. For more, check out our E3 impressions.
“With Metro: Last Light’s genuinely creepy atmosphere, 4A Games may succeed in their attempt to make a different kind of shooter.” – Dan Ryckert
Retro City RampageDeveloper: VBlank EntertainmentSystems: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii, PC
A downloadable game that originally started as homebrew developer Brian Provinciano’s attempt to remake Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto III on the NES, Retro City Rampage has grown into an amazingly large tribute to the 8-bit era of gaming. The game has been in development for a few years, which shows in both its polish and level of detail.
While the game is mostly played from the top-down perspective – think Smash TV meets GTA – Vblank Entertainment has added side-scrolling stages as well as tributes to old-school classics like Super Mario Bros, Commando, and The Legend of Zelda. It’s impressive how much game there is here: Vblank says there are over 50 story missions and 30 challenge levels.
Retro City Rampage is also notable for its excellent chiptune score, which perfectly evokes the mood and feeling of an 8-bit game, while bringing a greater degree of musical complexity. This game charmed the pants off everyone that saw it at E3. Watch this trailer to see why.
DishonoredDeveloper: Arkane StudiosPublisher: Bethesda SoftworksSystems: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC
While this game already graced the cover of Game Informer (check out our Dishonored hub page for more), it didn’t seem to garner much attention at E3. That's odd, because the game was on display in both trailer and playable form, and looked great. Arkane Studios hopes that Dishonored can deliver a truly open-ended take on the stealth/action genre, and based on Adam Biessener’s hands-on impressions from the show, it's well on its way to accomplishing that goal.
Giving the player open sandbox environments and a toolbox of tactics, weapons, and abilities, Dishonored claims to have nearly endless solutions to each deadly mission in the game. In Adam’s hands-on demo, he could infiltrate a mansion using such divergent means as crashing through the front door, riding a waterfall into the sewer below, or sneaking across rooftops to enter from the fourth story. Compared to the fairly limited and superficial “choices” available to the player in most games (take route A or route B to the next cutscene), Dishonored is trying something truly ambitious. Let’s hope Arkane can pull it off.
HawkenDeveloper: Adhesive GamesPublisher: Meteor EntertainmentSystem: PC
Of all the games at the show, one of the biggest grassroots buzzes surrounded Adhesive Game’s Hawken. This free-to-play online multiplayer title has been steadily gaining interest since PAX, and at the show it seemed to be one of the under-the-radar titles that people were raving about.
The concept is simple: Hawken is a multiplayer, first-person, mech shooter. However, Adhesive went away from the lumbering mechs of the Mechwarrior series in favor of insanely fast-paced, vertical gameplay that you might associate more with a series like Unreal. While it’s not reinventing the wheel, it’s staggering to see the high production values and polished gameplay that have been created by a nine-person team. It’s a game you need to play to really appreciate, so sign up for the beta on the game’s official site and watch the trailer below.
Email the author Matt Helgeson, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.
These look like a great sleepers. Dishonored probably the best of all ofvthem though.
The Cave ^ -^ Can't wait. Im surprised Dishonored is considered under the radar.
I love article like this and would like to see more of them since there are always great games out there that slip through the cracks due to the over saturation of the game market today.
While there are a few games I hadn't heard about yet, I'm surprised many of this didn't get some love.
THANK YOU for finally giving Hawken some attention. That, and a game called Overgrowth, are two very below the radar games that continue to astound me every time I see new media.
Dishonored and Metro Last Light are two well known games, and they don't belong on this list.
holy hell, then ArmA 3 must be MEGA under the radar.
Im really Disapointed that Dishonored had to be put on this list, but it was overlooked which makes me sad because it was my Game of Show. Hopefully it does well when it comes out this October
how the heck can dishonored and xcom be on this list!! they were 2 of the best games of the show!!
Metro last light looks awesome
we can all ask what makes game informer gush about a game in that case.
Dishonored looked like it is going to be a mix of Assassins Creed and Bioshock, which is great! One game I was hoping you could've put in the list was Watch Dog. It came out of nowhere and presented itself with amazing graphics and a pretty crazy combat system. I hope that both of the games developers keep up the good work!
Good list. Can't wait for Dishonored.
I've been follwing Dishonored since its announcement. I'm really anticipating it and I hope it will do well. I love everything I've seen of it so far.
I would put Deadlight on this list. It is coming out as part of the summer of arcade promotion for the Xbox 360, but was neglected in the Microsoft press conference. That game looks really interesting.
See, this is the kind of stuff I read GI for. Thanks, guys & gals of Game Informer.