AdventureX 2023 Roundup - Part One - Narrative Gaming Is Doing Just Fine, Thank You
AdventureX 2023 returned to London this weekend, opening its doors at the University of Greenwich to 20 developers demoing their games, as well as 650 attendees and an exciting roster of guest speakers sharing their experience making narrative-focused games.
With the likes of Revolution’s Charles Cecil (Broken Sword), 3-Fold Games’ Chella Ramanan (Windrush Tales), Grundislav Games’ Francisco Gonzales (Lamplight City), David Akinola (NIXIE) and Tom Jubert (Subnautica) to name a few, there was a huge amount of talent in attendance and the convention showcased some wonderful games that we can look forward to in the next couple of years. Here are some of our favourites.
Miniatures (Release: Q2 2024)
Other Tales Interactive’s collection of experimental short stories challenges the gamer’s expectation of what narrative is, which is no bad thing. Two of the four stories were available to play: Familiar which immersed you in a series of satisfying tasks such as putting together a piece of furniture, and The Paludarium where you took control of a young girl and her dad building a home for a reptile.
Each story’s art style was both distinct and beautiful, and we’re excited to see how the remaining two parts slot into the wider game next year.
Death of the Reprobate (Release: TBC)
Joe Richardson’s latest dive into Renaissance art after The Procession to Calvary is even sillier than the first, and we mean that as a compliment. The heir of Immortal John has been summoned to the sickly monarch, but immediately gets caught up in a Python-esque cavalcade of tasks from daddy who wants you to perform seven good deeds. Cue a lot of funny interactions with local townsfolk, such as teaching a boy to fish, or betting on monkeys playing dice to try and win a set of bandages. It makes sense in context.
It’s packed with gags and the animation of characters pulled from paintings created by masters like Bosch has been stepped up a notch. It’s all accompanied by appropriate classical music, with each location having a different piece. Looking beneath the wacky surface, there’s clearly a lot of love for the period here which will delight fans of art, point-and-click adventures, and daft jokes alike.
Asterism (Release: TBC)
Here’s something you rarely see: a mixed media release combining games and music. Claire Morwood’s concept album has been incorporated in Asterism with wonderfully hand-crafted felt figures and paper planets, and it’s your job to explore strange worlds while creating a music video on the fly.
Underlying themes of self expression and mental health form the basis of the abstract story, but it’s also been cannily shot to make you feel like a proper music video producer. It shouldn’t work on paper, but it really does.
Octopus City Blues (Release: Q2 2024)
With visuals looking like a slimy riff on classic SNES RPGs, Octopus City Blues goes all-in on the weirdness front, which bely the extremely polished gameplay lurking beneath. As tentacle trimmer Kaf Kafaryan, you’re pulled into a bizarre underworld metropolis where octoblood is the latest drug hitting the streets, and beetles roam around waiting to be stamped on.
The game features some interesting gameplay elements such as a Gossip system, where you try to wheedle information out of the locals to help solve puzzles, and a trading system that lets you try and push a mark into handing over more cash than they originally intended… but if you get shut down, you might lose that option entirely. Object combination puzzles are neatly signposted and the world is a tentacle-filled joy to explore. We have no idea where the story is headed, but it is a blast to play. There’s really nothing quite like this in development at the moment.
Windrush Tales (Release: TBC)
Billed as an interactive photo book, Windrush Tales tells the story of two Caribbean immigrants in post-war Britain. It’s moving and gorgeous, as you might expect from the BAFTA-nominated developer of Before I Forget.
A branching narrative and beautiful hand-drawn graphics tell the story of siblings Rose and Vernon via their descendant, and the presentation and fantastic music should hopefully make this a hit. It’s already looking very polished, and the subject matter is both timely and vital. We're hoping this hits the digital shelves next year.
Alongside these titles were a few more which we've already reviewed, including Paws of Coal, Rusty Lake's Underground Blossom, and HRO: Adventures of a Humanoid Resources Officer. All are very different and worth checking out.
There are plenty more games to talk about from AdventureX, check out part 2 of our roundup here!
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