Last night was IGDA Demo Night at the SAT, an annual gathering where local game studios show off their latest unfinished projects to cheering and chattering colleagues. Each team (or in at least one case, just a person) had five minutes to present their game in playable form and explain the gist of it.
Originally, Papo & Yo and Spirits of Spring makers Minority Media were scheduled to premiere a new time machine game for the Oculus Rift VR headset, but their appearance was ultimately cancelled. In its place, Eidos Montreal surprised the room with brand new shots of Deus Ex Universe, the massive world they’re building for a spate of future Deus Ex titles.
In all, 20 games were shown. Here are five to keep an eye on:
Ultimate Chicken Horse by Clever Endeavour Games (PC):
Whether it’s on the basketball court, the skate park or simply tossing crumpled papers into a bin, the game of H.O.R.S.E. is a time-honoured way to turn any game between two people into a vicious grudge match. Ultimate Chicken Horse takes the classic back-and-forth shootout challenge to the death trap-filled Super Meat Boy platforming arena. In this battle between chicken and horse, the first animal places the traps, then goes from one end of the stage to the other without dying. Then the next animal has to repeat it. First to three wins. Other barnyard animals are slated to appear.
KatanaZer0 by Askiisoft (PC/Mac):
A straightforward, “adrenaline-fuelled” side-scroller inspired by the rapid-fire one-hit-death antics and Drive-noir neon look of Hotline Miami. Although the game promises to be tough, our blade-wielding, uppercutting hero comes armed with such tricks as the ability to slow down time — perfect for deflecting bullets. There are also some interesting dialogue tree scenes that force players to respond quickly.
Moon Hunters by Kitfox Games (PC/PS4):
Something of a traditional real-time action role-playing game set in subtle, elegant pixel art Mesopotamia. The moon has vanished and it’s up to your gang of four to retrieve it. The world is procedurally generated (not unlike Kitfox’s first game, Shattered Planet, albeit on a much larger scale here), with jungles, swamps and deserts to explore. When the team camps for the night, that’s when the studying and skill-building begins. Even in small sample form, Moon Hunters promises a vast, unpredictable world that will be easy to get lost in.
Gardenarium by Paloma Dawkins with KO-OP Mode (PC/Mac):
Local collective KO-OP Mode have turned heads at Demo Night in the past, and while we still await the release of those ambitious games, Gardenarium is actually almost ready to drop. Paloma Dawkins has created a trippy, first-person cloud-hopping romp through psychedelic flower beds and “fractal cabbage patches,” built around a singular mission inspired by Kafka’s The Castle. The vibrant, dancing wildlife that surrounds you and the 2D characters that dot the environment look inviting, and slightly resemble Yellow Submarine’s bubbly hills. The game’s soundtrack was done by Jeunesse Cosmique member YlangYlang.
Jotun by Thunder Lotus Games (PC/Mac/Linux):
This adventure game looked especially green, but I liked the basic elements in place: the hand-drawn style of animation, the characters plucked from Norse Mythology, and the David vs. Goliath boss battles. If it all comes together as intended, Jotun could emerge as a cold weather Shadow of the Colossus set in a winter limbo. ■
This is just a taste of what was shown last night. For the complete list, visit the IGDA Montreal website.