The lights are on
I can’t imagine the indie teams that made the trek to Tokyo for this year’s big Japan game show could have been especially pleased about their placement. Set aside in a hall far removed from the main convention space, and adjacent to the merchandise booths visited by only a small number of show attendees, the message came across loud and clear that indie titles haven’t quite breached the mainstream in the Japanese gaming scene. And that’s too bad, because when set against the glut of me-too mobile titles and other familiar fare in the main halls of this year’s show, many of the indie titles looked amazing.
While the hall placement wasn’t great, the dedicated setup area for the visiting indie teams was large and included dozens of options. We’ve chosen a few of our favorites to share.
Black WitchcraftDeveloper: Quattro Gear
This side-scrolling action-title doesn’t have any trouble capturing one’s eye. Beautiful visuals echo Vanillaware’s Odin Sphere, which is on purpose – the team at Quattro Gear cites that game as a chief inspiration. You play one of two witch character leads in this goth twist on the formula. One wields a katana in battle, but we got to play with the other heroine – Ligeia – who wields a magic suitcase that can transform into a spear, axe, gatling gun, and more. The combo focused action has you juggling weak, strong, and skill attacks, along with pulling in summons, like a maid-shaped demon who shoots a bazooka. I fought an enjoyable boss battle against Death, who appeared as a towering undead bride. Quattro Gear is aiming for a 2016 release for this stunningly pretty project, and they plan for players to have lots of platform options with a release on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
Masquerada: Songs and ShadowsDeveloper: Witching Hour Studios
Masquerada has been making the convention rounds in recent months, and each time the game is making strides. The game is inspired by classic RPGs like Baldur’s Gate and Dragon Age. You play from an isometric perspective, and engage in battles that can be fought both in real time, or in a pause-and-play format that recalls the recent Transistor. In the game world city of Ombre, magic can be used, but only by those with the power of special masks. The story follows hero Cicero as he works to challenge the Masquerada, a group of individuals who have hoarded the masks for themselves. Fully voice acted narrative and a beautiful art style help Masquerada stand out, which it especially aims to do when it releases on PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Mac in April of next year.
Lost In HarmonyDeveloper: Digixart Entertainment
I’m thoroughly charmed by this self-described “narrative music game,” which includes dev team members from the Ubisoft team that created the recent Valiant Hearts. Built for an iOS and Android release in January 2016, you play as Kaito, a teenage boy looking to grow up and overcome his fears. To do so, he has the help of his maybe-girlfriend, Aya, who rides upon his back as he skateboards through the world, confronting his terror of crowds, water, heights, and more; every chapter focuses on a particular fear. Gameplay has you sliding Kaito’s skateboard side to side to dodge obstacles, while simultaneously tapping out rhythms to the accompanying music. The tunes run the gamut of genre selections, including everything from remixed classical music to new tracks from Wyclef Jean.
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Email the author Matt Miller, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.