The lights are on
ZodiacPlatform: iOS, PlayStation VitaDeveloper: Kobojo
Zodiac may be spearheaded by French company Kobojo, but it will definitely remind you of JRPGs of yore. Final Fantasy VII scenario writer Kazushige Nojima and Final Fantasy: Tactics composer Hitoshi Sakimoto have also signed on to the project. The art style is breathtaking and reminds me of something out of a Vanillaware game with its beautiful hand-drawn environments and animations. You move via the touchscreen by holding down your finger in the direction you want to go. Enemies appear on screen and if you hit one, the battle starts. Battles are turn-based affairs with three battle companions. You can swap jobs on the fly. In my demo, I saw the monk, alchemist, and earth wizard in action. The earth wizard can heal others, but takes damage in the process. The monk, with the most health, can draw the enemy to target it. Zodiac also boasts an elemental system, where if you’re facing off against a water-based enemy, you’ll want to use earth attacks. I enjoyed strategizing with the turn-based battle system; victories weren’t handed out easily, which kept me on my toes.
Guild Of DungeoneeringPlatform: PC, Mac, iOSDeveloper: Gambrinous
Guild of Dungeoneering is delightfully fun, and one of the most engrossing roguelikes I’ve played. You run your own guild and hire heroes to send on dungeon runs. The big draw is you build the dungeons without direct control of your hero (only in battle). You decide via randomized cards where enemies go, place rooms, and make different paths to give your hero access to gold. Your end goal is to get your hero to the dungeon’s boss and win, but getting there is a trial in itself. All battles are turn-based, and you get three random cards to choose from to select your battle actions. These clashes are tense; you must make sure you always pay attention to the battle at hand. For instance, some cards can block an incoming physical and magic attack. I enjoyed the challenge and being strategic with where I placed rooms. Even more exciting is that you also level up your guild, allowing you to build new rooms like a library for better magic equipment.
Moon HuntersPlatform: PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, PCDeveloper: Kitfox Games
You can play Moon Hunters cooperatively with up to four players to build a culture’s mythology. A storyteller is relaying your journey to a future generation. Basically, you’re creating your own legend, going through levels (all procedurally generated), having moments of triumph and tough decisions. Your dialogue choices shape the journey. For instance, if a villager asks for food, you can choose to be compassionate or selfish. You’ll then gain the appropriate personality trait with your response. Your story could end up being one of rags to riches to gaining and losing pride. Moon Hunters is an action/RPG, complete with swords and magic. Each character has a regular attack and a more powerful one that’s on a cooldown. Playing with others is fun, and I enjoyed how talking to NPCs brought up amusing dialogue, like a lady villager who hits on you. Hey, it’s your choice if you want to return her admiration!
The Westport IndependentPlatform: PC, Mac, Linux Developer: Double Zero One Zero
A good simulation game puts you in an interesting role with great dilemmas. That’s exactly what censorship simulator The Westport Independent does. You’re editor-in-chief of an independent newspaper that the government is shutting down. It’s your decision of what to do with your paper’s last days. You could sensationalize headlines, speak the truth about the government, or continue to follow the rules. But remember, what you print has impact. Managing your writers will be tougher the more they don’t agree with your views, especially on government. Even more so, what you choose to print affects the town and people of Westport. Will you change things for the better or worse? I know I’m intrigued to see if I can get the town to a better place.
HiveswapPlatform: PC, Mac, and LinuxDeveloper: What Pumpkin Studios
Hiveswap is a 3D point-and-click adventure game that’s based off the Homestuck comic by Andrew Hussie. The game reached its Kickstarter goal in two days, being the highest funded Kickstarter at the time with $2.48 million. Even if you haven’t experienced the comics, you can still dive into Hiveswap; the characters and setting are brand new, it’s only set in the same world as the comic. The first episode centers on Joey Claire and her dorky kid brother Jude. The game begins with the two living a normal life, when one day they activate a portal to an alien planet. The adventure is set in the ‘90s, so you’ll see remnants of the decade scattered about, such as an SNES, Tiny Toons, and Bugsby. Joey’s primary weapon is a flashlight, and she also has ballet and tap skills to take on baddies. Jude can communicate with her via walkie talkie from his treehouse and pass her items via carrier pigeon. She eventually makes it to an alien planet, where she discovers an evil plot to destroy the world. The adventure features branching paths for replayability, but what I loved most was the fun creativity in the world. For instance, Troll Twitter exists and you can learn about other NPCs, making friends or enemies with them using the social network.
To see more cool games from the show, check out our list of the best indie games from GDC 2015
Email the author Kimberley Wallace, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.