At gamescom 2013, we caught up with the daring, quirky developers bringing new experiences to PlayStation – and got our hands on their games down at the Indie Arcade.
PlayStation loves Indies; those inspirational, unpredictable, independent game developers who dare to be different. This was brought to glorious life in the Indie Arcade at gamescom 2013, where we had a chance to get our hands on some of the weird and wonderful titles coming your way on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita – and to chat to some of the creative brains behind the games.
One title that wowed the crowds was Murasaki Baby on PS Vita, an emotive tale of a little girl lost in a dark fantasy world, with only a heart shaped balloon for company. Unlike most games, Murasaki Baby uses beautifully hand-drawn characters and environments to tell its story. "People say to me 'are you nuts?'" game director Massimo Guarini told us, "but that's just how we like to work. We make the games that others just won't make".
At the Indie Arcade, we had a the chance to play Murasaki Baby, using all of the PS Vita system's features to guide the little girl past traps, pitfalls and crazy creatures straight out of a child's bad dream. Also on show for PS Vita was Spelunky, a classic platformer that hurls you headlong into perilous caverns, and Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, bringing another dose of shady thugs, dangerous missions and blood splattered action to gamers. Fez plunges you into a vertical world on the hunt for treasure maps and artefacts, while Malicious: Rebirth transfers the much loved hack, slash and magical spell casting action from PS3 onto the portable device.
If there was an award for the most brilliantly bizarre indie game, then Octodad on PS4 would surely claim the prize. A tale of an octopus trying to blend in with the human world, Octodad is eight-legged evidence of just how daring indie developers can be. Also in the arcade for PS4 was Contrast, a beautifully crafted art-deco world where you play a femme fatale character who can shift between light and shadows to solve mysterious goings-on in a smoky, film noire setting.
HELLDIVERS is an all-out co-op blaster coming to PS3, PS4 and PS Vita, where players are always outnumbered against alien hordes attacking the planet – but have the full might of Earth's military to hit back with. Another action-packed title coming to PS4 that we were able to play is RESOGUN. Described by Harry Krueger of developer Housemarque as "the spiritual successor to Super Stardust", RESOGUN puts a whole new perspective on space shooters and gives players a fresh angle on an interstellar battle.
Even more creativity is set to explode onto PS3 and PS4 in a burst of colour is the whimsical playground of Hohokum. Ricky Hagett of developer Honeyslug gave us an insight into how the game came about: "It started off as a collaboration between a guy who draws and a guy who makes games – my friend would send me pictures and I'd try to create something from them. And it still works the same way, except now we get to collaborate with Santa Monica Studios as well".
Another indie title announced that explores a colourful fantasy land is Rime, from Spanish developer Tequila Works, who told us what it's been like to work alongside PlayStation; "It's been so refreshing; where others saw problems, they see challenges. Where others saw darkness, they've seen the light".
Alex Lee of SCE Worldwide Studios was able to provide extra insight to this: "We seek out talent and passion and aim to form long-term relationships. For example, the team that made Doki-Doki Universe worked from a small room in their house. We were able to help them with the technology they needed to make their game and now they've seen it on huge screens at E3 and gamescom. We've always worked this way, it's just that now there's a name for it".
This talent and passion – along with a healthy dose of nostalgia – was especially evident from Matt Birch of Heavy Spectrum, at gamescom for the announcement of their re-imagining of the 1989 Amiga classic Shadow of the Beast. "We were a group of friends who'd made a few games, but wanted to do things our way," Matt told us. "It was a game that really made you imagine, and that's something special. So we pitched our dream to PlayStation, and that dream was Shadow of the Beast – and now I feel like my 16-year-old self is back and revealing it to the world!"
As Shahid Ahmad told the audience at the PlayStation gamescom 2013 showcase, independent developers are now able to create what they want and release their games when they want. At the Indie Arcade, Shahid told us a little more about what the relationship between indie developers and PlayStation means:
"What does indie mean? To developers, it means freedom", Shahid said. "It's easier now to make a game than at any time in history and that's a beautiful thing because it enables creativity. Without that creativity, gaming will die out so we want to engage with those developers who have the power to revolutionise gaming."
Vive la revolution!
Spelunky, Dust an Elysian Tale and more, available now