During E3, TechRaptor was invited to the Media Indie Exchange at E3 (the MIX), an event all about showcasing up and coming indie games. In that previous link you can see all the titles on showcase there, but I had the opportunity to have some hands-on time with five of them: Thimbleweed Park, Tooth and Tail, Numbo Jumbo, Mages of Mystralia, and Forest Song. I’ll talk about four here, as I am doing a separate article on Tooth and Tail, which I enjoyed immensely.
Thimbleweed Park is an adventure game that is interesting in that it gives you a set of nine actions that you can attempt to use on just about anything in the environment to either learn more about said item, interact with it, or explore the area you’re in. Often, you have to use a combination of these actions to progress, and it is those same actions you’ll use on the items in your inventory.
I quite enjoyed the look of the game and it more or less plays like most other adventure games out there, so those familiar there will be familiar here as well. For all adventure games, the hook comes in the narrative. Thimbleweed Park is an odd town that once was vibrant and rich, but now it is full of desperation. A body shows up in the river and two agents arrive to investigate, finding that not many int he town seem to care that much. You play as those two agents, an heiress, a clown, and the ghost of a pillow salesman as you learn more and explore Thimbleweed Park.
The controls felt fine when I was playing and the dialogue was fairly witty at some parts. I played a short fifteen or so minutes, but I got a good look at the characterizations of a few of the playable characters. The art style’s appeal will vary, but I found the pixely details to be quite enjoyable. Again, I didn’t spend a ton of time with Thimbleweed Park, but it appears to be something adventure fans will definitely enjoy.
You get the gist of Numbo Jumbo above, but let me spell it out for you. Basically you clear numbers off your screen by connecting them together, adding them all up along the way until you connect to the final number. All the numbers preceding it should add up to that final number, which will then clear all those numbers off. You can connect numbers going up, down, left, right, and diagonally, even crossing over lines connecting other dots. You have four different modes to play through, but all stick to this basic mechanic.
I don’t really play mobile games, ever, but I found myself enjoying Numbo Jumbo in the short time I played it. I’ve always personally been a numbers sort of person, so it appealed to me right away as you have to quickly do some mental math as you play. If something like that doesn’t appeal to you, I can’t imagine Numbo Jumbo being something you would find fun. I can’t say for certain whether I’d play a ton of this if I had it available to me right now, but the mechanic behind the game is interesting, and I could see some people really getting into it.
Mages of Mystralia is like the top-down Zelda games with a heavy emphasis on magic, and a little mix of Magicka thrown in as well. You play as Zia as she travels across the land to meet exiled mages and expand her craft. Her magic will help traverse environments, as well as take care of enemies. One of the game’s bigger selling points is that the story is being written by Ed Greenwood, creator of the Forgotten Realms setting for Dungeons & Dragons.
It’s hard not to mention Magicka as Mages of Mystralia is all about experimenting in creating new spells. You have a few different sorts of spells to manipulate in your melee spell, shield, projectile, and others I honestly can’t remember the specific name of. You can make homing fireballs, some that explode, multiply them, some you lob into the air like a mortar, and more. You can make it so you teleport, so you create bridges of ice, so you reflect things back at enemies, and a ton more. While I waited my turn, I heard the developer mention to someone ahead of me that he’d not seen the combination they tried before.
The fun you have with Mages of Mystralia seems as though it will vary largely on how much fun you find the experimenting. It seems as though you can do a ton of cool stuff that will provide some eye candy-like entertainment, but I just wonder if the gameplay outside of that in the challenge of the enemies will be compelling enough. Obviously, I played an easy demo of early in the game, but I’d hope that some interesting AI and enemy patters get thrown in to make Mages of Mystralia have some staying power.
Forest Song was probably the game I found most personally interesting at the MIX event. It’s an adventure and puzzle game telling the story of an old Ukranian folktale about a peasant who encounters a forest spirit, which then gives him access to the spirit world in some fashion. You explore the village and area around you, talking to characters as the story unfolds.
There’s a time restriction, like Majora’s Mask, that directly plays into the figuring out the various puzzles. For example, to progress through the story you need to fix a windmill. You have to fix it before the day is over. Through the spirit world you fly through the air to find all of these puzzle pieces that then go to a tapestry, that when complete will fix the windmill. Certain pieces only appear at certain times of day, so you have to wait until night to find them all, fix the windmill, and do your task. Too much time has passed now, so you need to reset time to that original day and redo the task now that the windmill is fixed. So, expect those sorts of things often in Forest Song.
What interested me even more is that the developers have shot a bunch of little documentaries you can view to learn more about the history of the area and to learn the cultural significance behind some of what you’re doing. For example, in the bit I played you fix the windmill so you can grind some flour so your mother can make some bread for the wedding. I then had the opportunity to watch a clip that explained the history and significance of the bread.
So, if you’re a history nerd and like adventure games, or are just interested in other cultures and their mythology, Forest Song may be something you want to keep an eye out for.
That’s what I had the opportunity to play at the MIX this year, with an article to come on Tooth and Tail, my personal favorite game of the event. Between talking to many game developers about their game and seeing their passion, attending the MIX may have been my favorite time of the whole E3 experience. Many more great games were shown off; you can see the list here.