Everything Else I Played At Gamescom 2018

There's no shortage of things to play at Gamescom, but sometimes you get hands on with more games than others. So for all the demos that were quite short, or I didn't get an extended booking with for whatever reason, here's a quick recap of everything else from the show.

Dark Souls Remastered

Laura already spoke in depth about the Dark Souls Switch build, although I inadvertently had some hands-on time with it as well as part of a broader Nintendo booking.

I was mostly interested in the technical aspects of the build, since Dark Souls isn't the kind of low-poly, low-hardware game that would natively run like a dream on the Switch. But, at least for the very opening section of the game, Dark Souls Remastered ran just fine.

It's obviously locked at 30 FPS, and being restricted to the tutorial sequences makes the Switch's life a lot easier. You're never dealing with more than two enemies on screen at any one time, one at the most. The Asylum Demon is the most challenging thing displayed at any given moment, but it's in a tight area, there's not a lot of effects, and the demon's attacks don't clutter up the screen with much more than dust.

So it was still too early to say whether Dark Souls Remastered runs well or not. The opening section is smooth enough, but I don't think you can really give any plaudits for that.

Insurgency: Sandstorm

I've always had a bit of a soft spot for Insurgency. It's a great success story of another Source mod that found life as a standalone game, which always warms the heart. But it also fills a really neat role among military shooters.

While the game modes aren't compatible, it's got a pacing and style of gunplay that's very familiar to Counter-Strike and hardcore Call of Duty 4. Maps aren't gargantuan with millions of exposed angles, the time to kill is relatively low, but you've also got the ability to lean and an arsenal that would fit right at home in Battlefield.

Those interested in World War 3 will find a lot to like in Insurgency: Sandstorm, particularly if you just love the sound of gunfire.

I didn't get much hands on with Sandstorm on the show floor: a single round of Push, which is a wave-based mode where the attackers have a certain amount of time and waves to capture points in sequential order. Insurgency requires a heavy focus on teamplay, so it wasn't a surprise that my team (the attackers) got absolutely hosed.

Sandstorm is the kind of game that should be played with mates, or at least in a quiet setting where you can communicate and organise a little better. It doesn't demo as well as something like a World War 3 or a Battlefield in that sense, because there's a lot less space to hide and you're more reliant on your team being co-ordinated to progress.

It's looking real good, however, so keen to see the released version when it drops next month.

Pokemon! Let's Go Pikachu/Eevee

The Nintendo closed-doors session had a range of games available, including a quick session early on with Pokemon! Let's Go. There wasn't a whole lot to report here - only about 10 minutes of gameplay, really - but it was enough to jot down a few thoughts:

  • The Pokeball Plus is not only smaller than expected but comfier. There's a small analog stick in the centre - about the size of the joystick you find on the back of monitors these days - and you can push a button on the reverse of the ball as well. It's mainly useful for capturing Pokemon, which you do with an underarm or overarm motion. It's a bit tricky to get the timing and positioning down - some Pokemon move from side to side, and you'll have to adjust the throw for different sized Pokemon.
  • The menu system is pretty neat and slick, and it's nice seeing Let's Go! on the big screen. The major adjustment from the oldschool Red/Blue/Yellow games is that you'll deliberately run into wild Pokemon, rather than randomly encountering them all the time in grass. This means at least you can run towards a Pokemon of your desired choice. A Butterfree showed up during my play session - which was pretty rare, apparently - but I hadn't gotten the throwing motion down pat by then, so wasn't able to catch it.
  • I never got their name, but seated nearby was one of the Pokemon developers who was quietly having lunch. I didn't want to bother them, but just asked offhand whether Psyduck was available in the build. We weren't located anywhere near water, so it was a stupid question, but they laughed and mentioned that the cheeky duck was one of Pokemon creator Junichi Masuda's favourites. Which is the correct answer, obviously.
  • Transitions in Pokemon still suck, and should be turned off as fast as possible. The effects during battle, mind you, look good on the big screen.

Airheart: Tales of Broken Wings

Airheart launched on consoles and PC earlier this year, but the dieselpunk twin-stick shooter is getting a Switch re-release later this year. It's not gotten much buzz from what I could find, although there were enough neat elements that it caught my eye on the Gamescom floor.

In essence, it's a game about overfishing. You play as a young pilot called Amelia, who journeys through the clouds getting just enough fish to survive. If you overfish the current level, you have to traverse further into the stratosphere to get what you need. Naturally there's more obstacles and enemies there, but also more materials and goodies that you can use to upgrade your aircraft.

Once you fly a few levels up, you can hit a button to essentially fast-travel back to base. It kicks off a fantastic transition where the perspective shifts from top-down to behind the plane as it plunges the levels. It's a bit like that sequence from God of War 3 where you're falling down the chain of balance, dodging debris and rocks along the way.

A good fit for the Switch, it seemed.


A 3D adventure under THQ Nordic's wing, Scarf is the product of Spanish outfit Uprising Studios. In a closed-doors session, the creators explained that they wanted to bridge the gap between a walking simulator and platformers, although the early levels of the game lend more heavily towards the latter.

The players control a white ghost called Hyke, who is adorned with a polymorphic scarf that changes throughout the level. Sometimes it transforms into a ghastly hook that grabs onto objects and people; other times it transforms into wings, letting the player glide between islands.

It wasn't hugely clear where the scarf came from, or the connection between Hyke and the scarf. The developers were adamant that this was a story-driven game and a metaphorical allegory about diversity, sans the exposition.

What that means in practice is a bit odd, though. One instance shown was another rebel soul, a little child with a wooden-like mask who was playing at the base of the rock. It was explained that it's necessary to earn the soul's trust by playing hide and seek with it, which essentially just results in following the NPC around for a couple of minutes.

Once you do that enough times, the game lets you get close enough to the soul. The scarf then goes a bit Alien, morphs into a creepy hook and basically absorbs the rebel soul.

It's supposed to be some kind of grand moral quandry, a moment that makes the player question the hero's journey. I was never really sure why the scarf wants to absorb all of these souls though, and the developers struggled to explain what the souls were doing to the in-game world that gave the player a sense of purpose to begin with.

Laura from Kotaku UK, who had a Scarf briefing as well, had the same problem. Scarf's silent approach also makes it harder to give some sense of grounding. There's obviously a grander narrative that the game wants to tell, but after half an hour with the developers and watching one of the early levels, it passed me by completely.

Bee Simulator

Didn't have the chance to get hands on with Bee Simulator, but I did have enough time to stop by and grab some footage of someone else having a go. It looks cute enough, but never got a chance to see what kind of mechanics the developers have planned.

Ace Combat 7

I grew up on flight simulators and space sims - F117/A was my first video game - so it was heartwarming to see a relatively small, but passionate line for Ace Combat 7.

It's looking like a great nostalgic trip. I'm saying that as someone who's brother bought two copies of Hind so we could do missions on LAN, so I've got some odd prior history here. Ace Combat 7 drops for PS4 and PSVR next January, with a PC release the month after.

Torchlight Frontiers

Snapped this quickly on the Friday as I was en-route to another appointment. Would have loved to have given this a bit of a run earlier, but never got the opportunity to. It looks like a neat dungeon basher, although Frontiers is going for an MMO-esque element with shared areas between players.

The game itself, which launches on PC and consoles next year, will have procedurally generated dungeons for solo play as well. Not much of that is seen in the snippets above, although you've still got your pet companion who helps out in combat and ferries goods to and from merchants. There's plenty of time until Frontiers is due for launch, so we'll circle back to this game in due course.

For the rest of our coverage - including Laura from our British cousins - you'll find all the meaty stories below.

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