2021 Summer Games Fest and E3 roundup: Action Adventures and Platformers

‘Tis the season to stoke up gaming gluttony and premature hype – yes, E3 and the Summer Games Fest have come and gone! I don’t think I need to introduce E3 but in case you’re like me and were wondering what the Summer Games Fest was, it’s a relatively new digital showcase event created during pandemic times by Prime Gaming after E3 was cancelled in 2020. Both featured oodles of game trailers and announcements from big and small name publishers across the week of June 10-15. Steam Next Fest, a revamp of the Steam Games Festival, followed immediately after on June 16-22 to celebrate upcoming Steam games with hundreds of demos. 

Anyway, I’ve had a gander at the announcements and found some goodies that have sneakily made me click that ‘Follow’ button. I picked the following titles completely due to personal taste, so expect a lot of anime-inspired and/or weird niche stuff, and hopefully you’ll find something interesting too!

There were too many intriguing games for one post so I split them up. This one covers Action Adventures and Platformers. Links to the others below:

Adventure and Simulation games
Nintendo Direct
RPGs

Akatori 
Developer: TeamNora Games     Publisher: HypeTrain Digital
Genre: Metroidvania
Platforms: PC, Switch
Release date: TBA

Formerly known as DeathStick, Akatori has switched names but the slash n’ jump gameplay still looks slick. Armed with a quarterstaff and combat fan, Mako can pummel obstacles from a variety of angles (pogo-jumping is always a boon in my opinion) in a nicely rendered pixel style. There’s a lovely sense of flow to Mako’s whirling moves but the real draw here is the world-switching mechanic that enables you to flip between two parallel dimensions. It’s like the reverse castle in Symphony of the Night and I love Castlevania. Pulled off well, this could be something special.

Anuchard 
Developer: stellarNull Publisher: Freedom Games
Genre: Action Adventure 
Platforms: PC, PS5, Xbox X/S
Release date: Early 2022

Calling upon classics like Terranigma and Soul Blazer, the inspirations behind Anuchard aren’t very familiar to me but its retro 2D dungeon crawling had me feeling wistful nonetheless. The core battle gimmick is a nifty knock-back ability that allows the faceless Bellwielder to solve puzzles and satisfyingly ricochet enemies into each other like skittles. Anuchard is the name of the game’s fallen civilisation and what the Bellwielder aims to restore – but, first, they have to rescue the lost villagers and cook a hearty meal. The story so far doesn’t break the mold but I noted a bit of tongue in cheek humour so perhaps there will be some twists in this age-old tale after all. 

Blind Fate: Edo no Yami 
Developer: Troglobytes Games     Publisher: 101XP
Genre: Action Adventure
Platforms: PC, Switch, PS4/5, Xbox X/S/One
Release date: 2021

I try not to get waylaid by primarily cinematic trailers, regardless how stylishly slick they look or how many of my favourite tropes they put in, but Edo no Yami honestly has an intriguing schtick by playing around with what you see on the screen. A blind cyber-samurai on a quest for vengeance, your character must rely on his other senses and virtual simulations to ‘see’ his surroundings. The rub, of course, is that the data for those simulations might not be accurate. It adds another layer to a game already tagged as difficult but I’m a sucker for the unexpected so bring on the mecha kappa!

Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising  
Developer: Rabbit and Bear, Natsume Atari    Publisher: 505 Games
Genre: Action Adventure 
Platforms: PC, Switch
Release date: 2022

First, a bit of bum news: Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes, the highly anticipated spiritual successor to the Suikoden series that raised over 481 million yen with Kickstarter, has been delayed to 2023. Better news? A spin-off is coming in the meantime to whet the appetite and, fingers crossed, the extra time for Hundred Heroes will make for a better game in the end. Set in the same world as Hundred Heroes, Rising features 2D real-time combat with town building elements and goes into some of the backstories for the humongous cast of Hundred Heroes. There’s little information out – not even a trailer on Steam at the moment – but screenshots look pretty and I’m looking forward to getting cozy with the characters before the main course. 

Garden Story
Developer: Picogram   Publisher: Rose City Games
Genre: Action Adventure
Platforms: PC, Switch
Release date: Summer 2021

You might think Garden Story is simply competing for the Cuteness Incarnate Award but there’s more than pretty looks here. The game channels various inspirations: top-down Zelda is the obvious one but look closely and you’ll spot a sprinkling of Stardew Valley’s community focus and Animal Crossing’s island customisation. You play as a grape (yes, grape) fresh off the vine and the newest guardian of The Grove, which has been infected by Rot. The main story concerns restoring the island and uniting the different seasonal villages through the usual shebang of exploring/collecting/crafting/fighting/fishing. It’s been hard to choose which games to highlight amongst the flurry of wholesome indies but I’ve personally had my eye on Garden Story for a good year now and I’m excited it’s at the last squeeze.

Hoa 
Developer: Skrollcat Studio Publisher: PM Studios
Genre: Platformer 
Platforms: PC, Switch, PS4/5, Xbox X/S/One 
Release date: 24 August 2021 

It is a little oversaid to make Ghibli comparisons but Hoa deserves it for the beautifully whimsical hand-painted illustrations and melodic soundtrack on show. Cute, gentle, emotional are words that pop out in the description. In other words, it’s very much in the same vein as Ori or Unravel and that’s not a bad thing! For every gritty cyberpunk or dank Lovecraftian nightscape, sometimes it’s just nice to play something nice. The story is about Hoa’s journey ‘back to where it all began’ and maybe it’s the cynic in me but I’m anticipating a gut punch somewhere amongst all the childlike wonder and marvelling at nature stuff. Hoa certainly has the look – hopefully it’ll play just as beautifully!

Hunt the Night
Developer: Moonlight Games  Publisher: DANGEN Entertainment
Genre: Action Adventure 
Platforms: PC
Release date: TBA

With combat that flies faster than a bolt from a crossbow, Hunt the Night is the sort of game I’d be very bad at but play anyway. In a world consumed by Night, Vesper is a blip compared to the gruesome horrors she must face but at least she has a well-equipped arsenal of weapons and magic. So far it looks like Moonlight Games have done well to create a dark atmosphere with the lore to match. I’m loving the gory pixelated style (pixels come either very cute or very disturbing, don’t they?), garnished with a ghoulish soundtrack made in collaboration with Hiroki Kikuta of Secret of Mana fame. I never knew I wanted the unholy child of Zelda, Castlevania and Dark Souls but there you go. 

Kitsune Tails
Developer: Kitsune Games   Publisher: Kitsune Games, MidBoss, Ratalaika Games
Genre: Platformer
Platforms: PC, Switch, PS4/5
Release date: Early 2022

Mario is the clear inspiration behind this cute retro adventure and you’ll recognise many mechanics and enemy patterns in the guise of traditional Japanese yokai – rather apt considering our heroine is a shapeshifting kitsune! I also sniffed a whiff of Shantae and Monster Boy in the numerous ways our kitsune transforms to gain different elemental abilities. The shark onesie lets her run across water while the power of an arctic fox (aka. adorable fox snowman) can freeze enemies into platforms. The game builds upon the traditional 16-bit Mario plot but rather than saving the princess, she’s saving her girlfriend, confronting her (spurned?) mentor turned antagonist, and navigating the complicated relationships between human and kitsune. Hopefully, Kitsune Games puts as much emotion as charm into their pixels because that would make a wonderful tale!

Loot River
Developer: straka.studio  Publisher: straka.studio, SUPERHOT PRESENTS
Genre: Roguelike 
Platforms: PC, Xbox X/S/One 
Release date: TBA

Honestly, ‘procedural generation’ and ‘roguelike’ are two things I avoid like the plague but I was instantly taken by Loot River’s grisly trailer. It has all the trappings of your standard roguelike: dismal dungeon crawling, lots of dying, blood splatter like confetti –  but the addition of Tetris-styled platform-shifting adds a breath of fresh air among stagnant waters. By moving blocks strategically, you can push back foes, isolate them, and funnel them to the slaughter. It looks very simple to troll the braying abominations by deftly shifting the right platforms to stay just out of reach but I imagine it’s harder in practice. It’s a thrilling combination thinking about the sheer number of puzzling possibilities to be had. Will you create a path to escape or into the fray? Think fast, because the beasties won’t wait.

Moo Lander
Developer: The Sixth Hammer Publisher: The Sixth Hammer
Genre: Metroidvania
Platforms: PC, Switch, PS4, Xbox One 
Release date: Early 2022

Moo Lander is quite unlike most metroidvania at first glance. First, you operate a UFO, a vehicle that lends a vast amount of manoeuvrability from the get go. Secondly, your objective is to tame angry alien cows and find an infinite source of milk after a galactic war over the stuff destroyed all civilisation. Yes, Moo Lander feels undeniably weird compared to other metroidvanias that carry themselves more seriously, even though the gameplay and abilities on display aren’t actually unusual within the genre. I’m still trying to make hooves or tails of it but for now Mars is pleasantly lush, operating your ship looks smooth, and I expect much effort has gone into making the cows as janky as possible.

The Legend of TianDing
Developer: CGCG      Publisher: Neon Doctrine
Genre: Action Adventure
Platforms: PC 
Release date: TBA

Colonial Taiwan isn’t a setting you see everyday and in The Legend of TianDing you take on the waist sash of a Taiwanese folk hero kicking his way through oppressive officials in a corrupt city. The art direction looks neat. The backgrounds sport this colourful comic style while the side-scrolling action sequences are reminiscent of frenzied fighting games. I particularly like the cut-in panels drawn in a retro Chinese manga style. Anime-esque games usually look towards Japan for inspiration so it’s a refreshing change. Combat looks interesting with plenty of combos and tools at your disposal to battle enemies and traverse environments. This looks to be a heroic romp across Taipei that while lighthearted (see the portly boss fighting atop a rickshaw with a gargantuan golden statue behind him) will hopefully do justice to a relatively untrodden period of Taiwanese history. 

Vokabulantis 
Developer: Kong Orange, Wired Fly Animation and Morten Søndergaard 
Genre: Co-op platformer
Platforms: PC 
Release date: TBA

Game design is an art in of itself but Vokabulantis goes a step further as a game made completely out of miniature sets and stop motion animation. To really appreciate the painstaking artistry and technical skill behind this quaint tale of two kids trying to communicate love in a speechless world, I recommend watching some of the videos in the link above and the E3 trailer, which details the photogrammetry magic that Wired Fly perform to create realistic lighting and movement. The results are quite uncanny to watch as the line between game and film blurs. The emotional set-up about love and communication sounds like a great idea for a co-op platformer and makes this labour of love all the more sweeter. Vokabulantis is still in the early stages of development and the developers have recently started an Indiegogo after their Kickstarter, so have a look at that if you’re keen. 

I almost regret writing these posts for how long it’s taken me but there you go 😂… I personally enjoyed the majority of announcements and thought there was a lot of entertaining stuff that deserves a little shout out but what did you think? Did any particular games catch your eye? Thanks for reading and let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Published by nonplayergirl

Long-time lurker turned blogging newb. Lover of all things otaku but especially JRPGs, anime and manga. Always adding something to the backlog. Probably descending into K-Pop hell right now.

4 thoughts on “2021 Summer Games Fest and E3 roundup: Action Adventures and Platformers

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