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Looks aren't everything, but they sure can't hurt!

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Looks aren't everything, but they sure can't hurt!

What games caught our eye at E3 and Summer Game Fest this year?

Arjan Terpstra

18 Jun 2021 ⋅ 5 min read

At E3, all games are equal, as every trailer or gameplay video shows the game in the best possible light. And yet some games are more equal than others. As we see more games, and more of games that were introduced before, some titles grab the attention simply by looking a little better than others.

In other words: we know a looker when we see one, and gladly share our observations with you here.

Kena - Bridge of Spirits

The staff at studio Ember Lab have a background in animation, and that shows in the upcoming PS4/PS5 title Kena - Bridge of Spirits. The game was announced last year (peeking our interest), got delayed, but today looks in very fine shape. The gameplay looks fresh and the game world and story established, but what endears us most is the quality of the in-game animation. Apparently there's 45 minutes adorable wood creatures in the cutscenes, and they look so cute we may want to skip gameplay for a change. No surprise this movie-within-a-game ended up in the "Tribeca Games" showcase at E3.




Sable

Also featured in the Tribeca Games showcase was an old favourite. Our readers will remember we visited Sable before in an article called Exploration Through Line-Art. Since our interview with designer Greg Kythreotis and developer Daniel Fienberg we've been keeping tabs on the game, which to us is looking better and better, and we can't wait to explore the Moebius-like world ourselves once the game is out, this September.




Trek to Yomi
Yomi

Trek to Yomi has all the right vibes for a samurai flick--err, videogame.

Ghost of Tsushima definitely put feudal Japan back on the gaming map, and we wrote earlier about the great tradition in samurai movies and manga that inspired the game. Tsushima fans will probably like Trek to Yomi as well. Various news outlets called it 'a Tsushima in 2D', but that only scratches the surface of what you see in the announcement trailer. Like every samurai game worth its salt, this new title pays homage to Kurosawa and Toei cinema--the game is rendered in beautiful, atmospheric black and white and takes camera cues from the old movie masters, so best sharpen your katana in anticipation of the game's release in 2022.




Redfall

While the reveal trailer for Redfall (Arkane Austin) showed no actual gameplay, it successfully introduced a ragged bunch of vampire hunters armed with customizable weapons borrowed from the Ratchet & Clank universe. What it also did is it showed a confidence about the style this story is set in, one that is firmly rooted in comics and animation, but otherwise belongs to the 'realistic' 3D cinematic trend associated with the current (new) console generation. On our side we can't wait to see more!




Replaced

It's always fascinating to see what place pixel art has in videogames. While it's an art style rooted in the medium's past, it also holds enormous sway over its future. If you doubt this statement, please check out the trailer for Replaced, a new title by Sad Cat Studios from Belarus. Here, pixel art is pushed to incredible new limits. Just check the depth-of-view in this 2,5D side-scrolling game, full of gorgeous detail, and you actually forget it's a bunch of pixels you're looking at. One to watch out for, as far as we're concerned!




Far: Changing Tides

If you like a "less is more" approach to game art, the Far games should be familiar to you. In 2018, Swiss indie studio Okomotive gave us Far: Lone Sails, a side scrolling adventure game about a lone hooded figure traversing the planes of an empty country. In the new game Far: Changing Tides, or at least in its first trailer, we see more of the same, but now with a figure traversing water. Boring? We found the first game to be rather beautiful, meditative, and too short, so expect us to take to the seas soon.




The Outer Worlds 2

A video game trailer poking fun at video game trailers ("there will be… LENS FLARE!") certainly has our attention, and when that trailer is also the official reveal trailer for The Outer Worlds 2, we are sold. The reason may well be the humor, both in the trailer and in the first game--one of the standout features of TOW1 was you could have a hearty laugh about what was said or going on. Judging from the trailer, the writers have not abandoned us after releasing the first game.




Atomic Heart

One pleasant surprise at this E3 was seeing more of the upcoming title Atomic Heart. This game, made by studio Mundfish in Moskou, Russia, was announced back in 2018. After that not a lot was heard from this game, which looks like a goofy combination of Gears of War and Far Cry, or Fallout with a pinch of Bioshock. And while it borrows much from those games, aesthetically and thematically, the fact this goofy game takes place in an alternate timeline for Soviet-era Russia in the 50s gives it enough originality to work for us.




Elden Ring
EldenRing

Screenshot from Elden Ring.

The combination of Game of Thrones writer George R.R. Martin and FromSoftware game director Hidetaka Miyazaki was always going to yield something interesting, and Elden Ring so far doesn't disappoint. Aesthetically speaking, the new trailer footage should look pretty familiar to Souls players, with bulky knights roaming gloomy landscapes and slaying gothic creatures, but there's ample evidence of new things on the horizon--we never saw a horse scale a wall vertically in Dark Souls, and the color palette of the new game is several hues brighter than that of the Souls games.