The local game industry is alive and well, as seen in the recently-held Electronic Sports and Gaming Summit 2018 (ESGS 2018). Filipino gamers have gathered in the SMX Convention Center to witness pro teams battle in various competitive games, to try out upcoming game releases like Resident Evil 2 Remake and Devil May Cry 5, and try out the local games developed either from indie developers and companies, or from students. Several UP AG members attended the event, including yours truly, to bear witness the best the event has to offer.
As a gaming enthusiast, I strive to promote games as an artistic medium. In a country where the game development industry doesn’t get much financial or social support, I strive to give as much support as I can give to our local indie developers through social media support (which I rarely do) and constructive criticisms & feedback. While there are some games that needs improvement, there are some games that I believe deserves some semblance of spotlight.
I am not saying these games are the best among the rest. A lot of these games (some of which I didn’t have time to try out) deserve our support for their refined player experience and innovative mechanics. This spotlight mainly focuses on games that truly caught my attention, which may be attributed to my personal biases.
Team: Brian Earnshaw, David Sison, Abram Tendido, Melvin Agad, Brian Serioza
Periculum is a thriller/horror game created by the students of De La Salle University-College of St. Benilde (DLSU-CSB), which if I’m not mistaken are now alumni. In this game, the player is pushed into an abandoned house, trying to find objects and solving the mystery of the house whilst trying to keep yourself sane. The game mechanics consists of the generic horror adventure game mixed with Amnesia’s sanity system. The player finds items to be used to escape, while also looking for medicine to gain sanity. If that’s the case, why is this game on the list?
The game is on my spotlight due to its refined look. The horror genre is littered with good and bad games (mostly bad) after the rise of notable indie games like Five Nights at Freddy’s and Amnesia, as well as the popularity of horror playthroughs (or as kids like to call it ‘Let’s Plays’). Periculum looks and feels like the diamond in the rough, a horror game that actually looks good among the sea of bad ones. The dark but unique lighting along with the dirty texture helped the game achieve the horror look. Although jumpscares do exist, the environment give the feeling of continual dread as you venture around the seemingly-abandoned house.
Genre: Puzzle Adventure
Team: Steven Jan Cadena, Enrico Miguel Hermanos, Ralph Christian Miraflor, Jhay Ulilang
Tulak, another DLSU-CSB game, tells the tale of Jed and his quest to be rid of his connections with a drug syndicate. Despite its relevance in today’s society, Tulak’s story is not what enamored me to it. When I first saw this game, it reminded me of This War of Mine. The animated environment combined with the dark comic-style art made me view the game as less of a generic point-and-click game and more of a dynamic graphic novel. The sketchy movement of the character and background further adds the grim look, fitting for a story like this. My only concern for this game is the HUD. The white buttons and inventory kind of ruins the gloomy look the game is seemingly trying to achieve. Overall, the game is an artistic marvel that showcases the skills of its developers and designers.
Genre: Stealth Roguelike
Team: Chryse Studio
Data Breach is an upcoming mobile game currently on alpha. It’s a ‘cyberpunk stealth roguelike game’ where the player must navigate through a corporate building and steal information. Currently, the game only consists of basic stealth and attack game mechanics, with detection as the only way to lose. The character animation looks awkward, especially the attack animation, while the enemy AI looks basic with its movement and low detection range. Despite the flaws of this alpha build, I can see so much potential in this mobile game if the right game mechanics and gameplay variations could be implemented.
Academia: School Simulator
Team: Squeaky Wheel
Academia: School Simulator is, to put it in the simplest of terms, a game where you build and run a school. It’s a PC game currently on Early Access on Steam. When I first saw this game, it immediately reminded me of Prison Architect. It turns out that the game’s art director, Ryan Sumo, previously worked on Prison Architect, which was awesome. The company, Squeaky Wheel, actually consists of three experienced members who worked on various indie titles. This may be a good sign that the game will at least be decent at the hands of experienced game makers. Judging from what I saw, the game might be on the right track. The game may cause some information overload, but the user interface is simple enough for most players to understand. The art may be similar to Prison Architect, but it still catches the lively tone the game is trying to show, a deep contrast to the gritty art-style in the prison simulator.
Genre: Online Competitive First-person Shooter
Team: Secret 6
At a time where Overwatch and Paladins dominated the online team-based FPS genre, it was a surprise that our local developers attempted to enter this genre with their own: Project Xandata. Secret 6, a veteran company in the gaming industry, developed Project Xandata with a cyber theme with inspirations from Filipino mythology and folklore. The game features a wide range of customization that makes the game fully adjustable to any play style. Whether you prefer generic or elemental skills, close quarters or long range, heavy damage or rapid fire-rate, stealth through or guns blazing, the game can provide it through skills, weapons, armors, and classes. At the right moves and timing, the game, if fully-released, could be an exciting addition to the current competitive FPS.
The game industry is obviously not in the radar of popular culture. A lot of people might not see game development and design as a viable career option, considering the culture we have in this country. With this in mind, it makes me glad that events like ESGS 2018 gives a wider platform for students and aspirants of the game industry to learn the tricks of the trade and to reach a wider audience. Even better, the convention also featured designers and players of tabletop and card games, showing the range of gaming culture the event is trying to reach. This has been a great day for me, to attend the event, play a few indie games, watch competitive gaming, and bond with fellow gamers (along with my brother). I hope that if I ever attend next year’s ESGS, I could play more new showcased games, and see last year’s developers showcase their games and its improvements.