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AIPT - Summer Game Fest 2024

Gaming

AIPT’s favorite games from Summer Game Fest 2024

AIPT shares its favorite gaming reveals, trailers, and announcements from Summer Game Fest 2024.

Another year, another “Not E3” weekend full of game reveals, gameplay deep dives, demo releases, and release date announcements. With so many games featured during Summer Game Fest, Xbox Games Showcase, and other presentations, AIPT’s roster of gamers got together to nerd out over their favorite games from this past weekend.

Tenjutsu announced from Dead Cells developer

Colin: I don’t know that there was anyone in my peer group that didn’t put hundreds of hours into Dead Cells, a Metroidvania-adjacent roguelike from game designer Sébastien Benard. That game felt impossibly good to play – your character’s movements fluid, your hits impactful – and the jumps and rolls even employed a bit of Coyote Time-style fudging to make the player feel all the more skilled. Tenjutsu, Benard’s first game after leaving Dead Cells publisher Motion Twin, looks to bring that satisfying control to a top-down brawler, like an indie Double Dragon roguelike that’s made all the more exciting by the inclusion of what looks like a city-upgrade mechanic. I can only imagine how compulsively I’ll be pumping hours into this one. 

Life is Strange: Double Exposure launches this fall

Vish: As someone who avidly plays and loves the Life is Strange series, I was surprised to see another game announced, featuring the return of Max Caulfield, the original main character of the franchise. With Max now an adult and a photographer in the making, this new adventure of her journey will feature her solving a supernatural murder mystery after she finds her best friend, Safi, dead in the snow on a winter night. Max’s new powers are very much shrouded in mystery both for her and the players and this was when I realized this game will absolutely be a day one play for me.

Metaphor: ReFantazio grabs the JRPG spotlight

Justin: Metaphor: ReFantazio, in which the folks at Atlus (specifically the crew behind modern Persona [3, 4, and 5]) combine the mechanics of turn-based RPGs and real time action with a contest for royal power — the type of scheme-filled, kingdom-wide brawl that one of the jerks who inspired the classic board game Diplomacy would call “The Great Game.” Frustratingly blinkered as director Katsura Hashino’s storytelling can be sometimes, he and his collaborators are damn good at making beautiful, mechanically impeccable RPGs. And, hey, a new setting and new storytelling rules are a good way to push past hangups. Mark me down as curious.

Dragon Age is BACK

Daniel: Final Fantasy XVI, Baldur’s Gate III, Diablo IV, Avowed, Fable, Dragon’s Dogma II, Path of Exile II, Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree, the new edition of Dungeons & Dragons

There is no shortage of great fantasy RPGs deeply immerse yourself in. However, since 2014, a major player in the space has been missing, and its fans have been eagerly awaiting its return. I’m talking, of course, about Dragon Age, from BioWare and EA. 

The latest entry in the series, The Veilguard, was finally revealed via a cinematic trailer at the Xbox Games Showcase. On Tuesday, a massive 20-minute gameplay trailer dropped showing off an insane set piece that serves as the game’s prologue. The gameplay featured intense action and some impressive graphical upgrades over its predecessor. But it was the interactions between the player character and party members that sealed the deal for the RPG.

The game won’t be open world, but that could mean a more focused story experience for players while hopefully not impeding on role-playing freedom. What I’ve seen so far from Dragon Age: The Veilguard’s previews has a non-fan like me interested in the series for the very first time. And, crucially, the game could be a return to form for BioWare, one of the most storied studios of all time.

Clair Obscur: Expedition 33 intrigues

Austin: Indie games really took the spotlight over the weekend, and one that stood out to me was Clair Obscur: Expedition 33 (say that mouthful five times fast). Inspired by classic JRPGs, Clair Obscur is a breathtaking RPG that blends turn-based combat and immersive real-time commands and actions. It’s set in a bleak world where once a year an evil being called the Paintress decides everyone of a certain age will die – and tomorrow she’ll turn any 33-year-old to dust. You’ll join a band of expeditioners as they try to put an end to her wicked ways. Expedition 33 is still a ways away, and (based on the history of just about every video game ever) I’d be surprised if it actually launches during its launch window of 2025. But I’d love to be proven wrong.

New Neva trailer impresses

VishNeva is a game I have been excited for since its announcement and, even though Gris is one of my all time favorites, Neva’s gameplay trailer looks like it might top Nomada Studio’s previous hit. With such stunning visuals, an emotional story, and engaging gameplay, the game looks magical and I can’t wait to get lost in it. Neva is definitely at the top my list of most anticipated games of 2024.

Wanderstop flips a genre on its head

Colin: I can think of very few games that hit me as metafictionally impressive as The Beginner’s Guide and The Stanley Parable. Both of those games, from developer Davey Wreden, interact with the function of medium and choice: The Beginner’s Guide walks the player through conceptual game fragments as a narrator examines the emotional intentionality of game development, and The Stanley Parable joyfully prods at the illusion of the player’s free will. If any of that compelling urge to yank the curtain away comes to Wanderstop, then we’ll be looking at something truly unique. Presenting itself as a sort of cozy management sim, the trailer nonetheless hints at something darker lurking beneath the surface. Could the game add worrisome insight into the lives of Animal Crossing and Stardew Valley-style protagonists? One can only hope. 

Fable resurfaces

Vish: With a brand new trailer and some gameplay footage, Fable looks like a fantasy-lover’s dream. I haven’t played the last three Fable games, so I know nothing about this franchise, but it does look like this could be the big hit Xbox needs. But given their past mistake with Starfield last year, I’m a bit anxious in wondering if Fable might receive the same fate. Sadly, not many details were given about the game, but I am just glad we got a release window of 2025 (unless it gets delayed, of course).

South of Midnight offers a peek at its gameplay

Vish: The Xbox Games Showcase was filled with surprises, and among them that caught my eye was Compulsion GamesSouth of Midnight for its stop motion animation and character designs. The game feels like a fresh take on fantastical- and folktale-filled world with magical creatures (including a giant alligator!) and fun combat that looks vaguely soulslike. The brilliant looking visuals and smooth traversal just made me want to know more about this world and story. I am so excited to play this game next year!

Battle Vision Network will grab your attention and not let go

Colin: Immediately upon downloading Grindstone I became incapable of doing anything but grind… stones. Hours went into the game on two different systems, so unwilling to be without the ability to play it. Battle Vision Network comes from Grindstone’s creators, and while I haven’t played the Might & Magic game that the game also proudly claims, I’ve always been more than a little curious about it. I’m not super crazy about an all-online PVP situation – I’m never dedicated to strategy games enough to become competitive (or maybe I’m just not particularly competitive in my gameplay, period), so I worry that I’ll find myself hitting that damnable wall as the player base vastly outpaces me in skill. Still, the game looks just as catchy and crunchy as Grindstone. There’s no way I can ignore that.

Cozy up with Tiny Bookshop

Vish: This year’s Wholesome Direct was stacked with some of the most exciting indie titles. Tiny Bookshop has been on my wishlist since its announcement and I was stoked to see there was a new demo released, which immediately exceeded my expectations. If you have, like me, ever dreamed of leaving everything behind, settling in a small town, and running your own bookshop, then this is the game for you. Tiny Bookshop’s cozy ambience and easy-on-the-eyes art style made me want to play it for hours and hours. I can’t wait for Tiny Bookshop because I just know this is going to be a special one.

We just can’t get enough of Tenjutsu

AIPT's favorite games from Summer Game Fest 2024

Justin: I haven’t played Dead Cells, but goodness gracious, the trailer for developer Sébastien Benard’s roguelike brawler Tenjutsu makes me want to go back and check out his earlier work. In terms of gameplay, a well-executed roguelike pushes its players to treat its challenges as learning opportunities: here is your challenge, here are your tools, go to it and put together how you will use those tools to clear that challenge. Every run is an opportunity to learn and put what you’ve learned to use. Step by step, piece by piece, punch by punch. Based on what publisher Devolver Digital’s shared so far, Tenjutsu is building its roguery on speed, relentlessness, and style. Oh, the style. I am a shameless sucker for modern action movie aesthetics, retro anime aesthetics, and pixel art. Tenjutsu is working with all three, and blending them in a way that seems to be singing. It has my attention.

Dragon Ball: Sparking! Zero goes Super Saiyan in October

Austin: I’ve been cautiously optimistic Dragon Ball: Sparking! Zero would launch in 2024, and that optimism was rewarded during Summer Game Fest when Bandai Namco revealed an October 11 release date for the fourth Budokai Tenchaichi. It promises explosive battles, impressive graphics (just look at all that destruction!), and creative “what if” scenarios, like an alternate battle where Krillin dies at the hand (paw?) of Great Ape Vegeta, causing Goku to achieve Super Saiyan. My excitement was unfortunately a wee soured at the end of the announcement when the extra editions were detailed, revealing the game will have a season pass (and maybe more than one). To play as all the characters – including Orange Piccolo and Beast Gohan – you’ll have to fork over more than a hundred bucks. I’m not one to typically drop three figures for a game and its DLC upfront, but Sparking! Zero might break that resolve.

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