While the annual gaming festival is filled with some shit-hot footage of games like STALKER, real-time ray tracing and just some super clever indies, there’s also a lot of other games that are better seen than described.
A lot of these games don’t end up in the official E3 schedule. For the literal hundreds of games that got airtime between early Friday morning Australian time to now, there’s also hundreds more than get announced through other means. Many of these aren’t the types of games you’d ordinarily throw into an E3 press conference, either because they lack the polish, sparkle or a fundamentally good pitch to warrant the expense of an official E3 slot.
And then there are other games which made me go, “Wait, what, I need to see that again.”
So this list is for those games, the ones you share with your mates in Messenger or Discord, the games with trailers so batshit wild that you have to watch them again.
Please enjoy the other side of E3.
What The Duck (2021)
What The Duck is a great example of the “other” side of E3. There’s not quite enough polish in anything here to really warrant a slot in even the indie-focused showcases.
But also, this game has so much going on that it’s hard to not want to know more. Is the General addressing the duck? Why can the duck pull out Magikarp from a pond? Why would you put a rhythm game into crafting? Why does every weapon seem to only do one damage per hit? How did the duck get all the way up there to do a Duck Move? What is a duck move, exactly?
Also, you just have to appreciate this from the game’s official feature list:
- Show the world that is nothing wrong begin a Duck
Nothing wrong begin a Duck at all. You can find more info about duck dashing and watching tutorials on Duck Tube here.
Super Drink Bro’s
I don’t even know what this game is after seeing the trailer. Is it a Fight Crab type situation, is it more of a PvP focused game, or more of an open-world affair?
The official Steam page notes that the game’s been out since November, apparently. The actual game looks like it’s centred on 1v1 battles. It’s not as interesting, sadly, but at least we can thank the developers for the small joy that the above trailer brought into the world.
Try to watch this without laughing or at least cracking a smile. I know the Xbox conference was packed, but man it would have been so much better if this was a part of it.
Mario Party Superstars (October 29)
After literally selling over 10 million copies and then ignoring fans’ cries for more content — the game only got online play this April, a full year after COVID hit — Nintendo have decided to release more Super Mario Party content.
As a whole separate game. For $68.
Can you get enough gritty Russian/Ukranian/CIS games about surviving in an irradiated wasteland? No friends, you cannot. What makes Pioner wild — apart from the lack of localisation which makes it hard to get more of a grasp about what’s going on — is the fact that Pioner has a ton of MMO and multiplayer elements.
“There are goals in the world that you can achieve alone: but I don’t think that an ordinary person can fight back the most dangerous bosses in solo,” the developers told PC Gamer.
With that in mind, go back and rewatch the Pioner trailer. Now think about just how nutty the experience can be.
Atomic Heart (TBA)
If you’ve followed any ray-tracing stuff, chances are you’ve seen footage from Atomic Heart for years. And most of those trailers are cool: it looks like Russian Fallout, to put it simply.
But most of the trailers that Mundfish has released in English have been, while cool, pretty straightforward. The stuff released in Russian? That’s the good stuff. And their E3 2021 trailer was the absolute highlight of this bonkers batshit approach. It’s like S.T.A.L.K.E.R. crossed with Eurovision.
In case the trailer with two naked, somewhat-alien women making out didn’t make it clear, GRIME is a 2D action-adventure/platformer style game.
Oh wait, no you’re right, the trailer didn’t make any of that clear. Or even try to.
Just to be clear, weird doesn’t always mean bad. REPLACED is the perfect example of that. It’s got that vibe that I immediately want to know more about, and yet, it’s also one of those games that checks notes we won’t get for at least a year, provided nothing goes wrong.
I’d missed this game completely until Leah pointed it out to me, at which point I openly said in the office (much too loudly), “Fuckkkkkkkk that looks good.”
To put it in context: imagine Nuclear Throne but it’s a giant multiplayer, arena shooter.
AK-xolotl has a free demo available now, and it’ll be out later this year.
Death Trash (August 6)
This reminds me of when I saw the first trailer for Carrion, except the in-game world of Death Trash seems infinitely more fucked up. Hugely, hugely keen to see this one drop.
Again, this is another scenario of something being weird or cooked isn’t a bad thing. In Death Trash‘s case, it’s perfect. This might actually be one of the low-key best trailers of the entire show: it’s well structured, it gives off exactly the vibe you need to know, it’s got plenty of mechanics and gameplay shown, and the ambient music is a perfect fit.
August 6 can’t come soon enough.
Daniel Mullins, the maker of Pony Island has made something even weirder and creepier.
What more do you need to know? Head to the official Steam page here for more details.
Happy’s Humble Burger Farm (TBA)
It’s Five Nights at Freddy’s crossed with a first-person Maccas simulator.
Um … yes? The studio is the same one that published the Dread X horror anthologies on Steam, which are collections of short horror games that all land differently. Both anthologies are very hit and miss, but I imagine a lot of those experiences from smaller projects will feed into Happy’s Humble Burger Farm quite well.
Whitewater Wipeout (Playdate Game)
Maybe it’s just been a really long week, but I really don’t think this one stuck the landing. The Playdate and games for the Playdate are super cool. This makes it seem .. not that.
Definitely watch this one with sound. The atmosphere and whole Dead Space / Silent Hill vibe it’s got going on just gives me the chills. Then there’s all the disappearing text, PS1-style textures without anti-aliasing, the piano that kicks in towards the end and the constant “Achtung” in the background.
Weird as fuck and I love it.
El Paso, Elsewhere (2022)
John Woo on acid. Sold.
A New Ecco The Dolphin spiritual successor (2021?)
The Ecco the Dolphin devs are back … with an exclusive game for the Intellivision Amico. Skip to 7:30 above to get a look at it.
What were the weirdest and strangest games from E3 2021 that stuck out to you?