Great games are overlooked all throughout the year, but it is no more prevalent than during the week (weeks now?) of E3. Many people know E3 for the big press conferences from the big companies like Xbox, Ubisoft, and Nintendo, but there are a lot of other streams and announcements with amazing-looking games. If you missed the big ones, here's our recap for Summer Game Fest, Xbox + Bethesda, Ubisoft, Square Enix, PC Gaming Show, and of course Nintendo.
Before getting into the individual games, we have recaps of Day of the Devs stream and the Future Games Show as well. Another smaller stream you may have missed is the Wholesome Direct, which we highlighted some neat looking games for here (some that would have made this list if not for being on this one already!).
As cool as it is to see the next big Nintendo game or what have you, seeing and meeting the teams behind some of the amazing smaller projects at E3 ever year is always a highlight. These are just some that would have definitely caught my eye in person as well.
Developer: Slow Bros. | Release Date: TBA | Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
For me, Harold Halibut was the most visually impressive game this E3. The team at Slow Bros. has combined model making, motion capture, and computer animation to make something stunning. Every asset on the screen, including the characters themselves, is an actual handcrafted model made by the development team. Those models are then scanned to be put into the game, resulting in an amazingly detailed world.
Harold Halibut takes place on a city-sized spaceship that has crashed into the ocean on an alien world. That ship left Earth 250 years ago to find a new planet for humanity. Harold is a lab assistant for the ship's lead scientist, and he aids her in finding a way to get this ship off the planet to continue the search.
A narrative adventure, you'll run across a bunch of characters that distract Harold's main goal. From those resigned to living the rest of their days on a submerged spaceship, to some startling revelations, you'll have plenty of things to involve Harold in as he fiddles with various bits of the ship here and there.
Check out this video from the Tribeca Games Spotlight for more behind-the-scenes information on Harold Halibut.
Developer: Herobeat Studios | Release Date: 2021 | Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Who here hasn't dreamt of being a mother fox trying to survive a world being destroyed by humankind's industrialism? Liars, that's who.
Endling is entirely from the point of view of a mother fox caring for her pups in search for a new, permanent safe place for her pups to live. The game then becomes traversing a world full of dangers, ranging from the humans themselves to the toxic environments they've created.
Developer: Next Stage, Visual Dart | Release Date: TBA | Platforms: PlayStation 4
While people didn't seem to be too happy with the latest Babylon's Fall trailer, there's another game looking to deliver some classic Platinum Games action. Ultra Age is a fast-paced action game that's been in development for quite some time.
Ultra Age is all about chaining together combos by changing the blades on your sword. In addition to your sword, you'll have a wire that can drag smaller enemies around the battlefield and can be used to get you around, and on top of, there are big bosses you'll encounter throughout the game.
There's not a ton more information out there on Ultra Age, but the trailer certainly was eye-catching.
Developer: Happy Broccoli Games | Release Date: 2021 | Platforms: PC, Mac
Do you miss the days of high school? Sorry. You probably won't find much nostalgia here either, in a high school with a sentient broccoli person, cultists, crocodiles, ghosts, and a bunch of other weird stuff. Kraken Academy sees you saving the world from a traitorous mastermind, who also happens to go to your school.
Is the titular Kraken threatening the end of the world? Of course not, don't be so close-minded. You'll team up with the Kraken to root out the mastermind and save the world. Along the way you'll get involved in some of the typical high-school fare, like joining clubs, sports, and of course... socializing with other weird high schoolers.
You can check out Kraken Academy for yourself right now via a demo on Steam.
Developer: Andrew Shouldice | Release Date: TBA | Platforms: PC, Mac, Xbox One
Chances are, if you're someone interested in a game like Tunic or follow indie games at all, you have seen it before. This E3, we got a new look at the game from solo developer Andrew Shouldice. I wanted to highlight it here not just because it looks like a fantastic game inspired by classic Zelda games, but because you may have missed the news that Tunic is currently running a demo through the 21st exclusively on Xbox. So, now's your chance to give the game a shot.
If you're unfamiliar with Tunic, it's a beautiful action-adventure game about a fox with a sword exploring a fantastical world. If you're a fan of something like The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, Tunic is certainly something you should keep an eye on.
Developer: Digixart | Release Date: Summer 2021 | Platforms: PC, Nintendo Switch
Road 96 might be the most fantasy-filled game on this list. Traveling across the country hitchhiking along the way and not being murdered? Well, I guess we don't know if we'll be murdered yet or not.
Set in the summer of 1996, you're on a road trip to the border in a fictional authoritarian country. Along the way, you'll hitch rides and encounter all kinds of weird characters with interesting stories and personalities. You'll be learning from them, helping them, and just having conversation. Throughout the game, you'll be making decisions affecting your character, those you meet, and the world around you.
Inspired by the films of the Coen Brothers, Tarantino, and Bong Joon-Ho, Road 96 is certainly going to irreverent at times and certainly off the wall plenty of others. Paired with a commitment to faithfully recreating the feeling of the mid '90s through music and the aesthetic, Road 96 should be a wild, nostalgic ride.
Developer: Bulwark Studios | Release Date: 2022 | Platform: PC
Another game about finding a new home for humanity, IXION is part city builder, survival game, and exploration game all wrapped in one. You take on the role of the administrator of the space station, who must juggle all kinds of problems from hull integrity to resource gathering to sudden unforeseen emergencies.
Not everyone out there is all gung-ho about your space station or the mission you're on either. Some of the population will be born there and not bought into the idea, some coming out of cryostasis who maybe aren't too keen on working as crewmembers, and there are other bits of humanity in their own stations/crafts, trying to survive (maybe at your expense). Ultimately, you'll navigate all of that with the final goal of finding a new home for humanity.
Developer: Variable State | Release Date: July 22nd, 2021 | Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4/5, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Set in modern-day London, Last Stop is a third-person adventure game from the point of view of three different characters whose stories collide. Of course, it's about more than just three strangers coming together, as the supernatural becomes real for our three protagonists.
The three main characters are vastly different, too. Donna is a bored high schooler tired of the mundane, John's a middle-aged dad with worrying debt and the stress of being a single parent, and Meena's ambitious and work obsessed, currently fighting for a promotion.
Developed by Variable State, the makers of Virginia, and published by Annapurna Interactive, Last Stop releases next month.
Developer: Kong Orange | Release Date: TBA | Platforms: TBA
Another handcrafted stop-motion adventure, Vokabulantis is a puzzle platformer than can be played solo or co-op. It's really early in development, but if developer Kong Orange can continue to make Vokabulantis look just as evocative as their recent trailer, everyone should keep an eye on its development.
Kong Orange has smartly partnered with some great people to help craft Vokabulantis. Acclaimed poet Morten Søndergaard is onboard to help with building the world and story, and WIREDFLY is an animation studio that's helping with the puppetry and stop-motion in Vokabulantis.
Don't expect to see Vokabulantis anytime soon, but everything so far has made the game look fascinating.
Source of Madness
Developer: Carry Castle | Release Date: 2021 | Platforms: PC
Going back to the seemingly endless well that just about every developer taps into at some point, Source of Madness is a Lovecraft-inspired side-scrolling roguelite. Obviously, what first catches the eye is the stunning style, which looks much better in motion in the trailer.
One of the most interesting parts of Source of Madness is that not only is the game procedurally generated, but so are the monsters. Using a neural network AI, like horror-filled deep-learning images, each monster will have a unique look to it as well.
You're an acolyte exploring this hellish world and combating terrifying monsters with a catalogue of arcane abilities at your disposal. With skill trees, loot, skills, classes, and more, Source of Madness has a lot to offer in its gameplay on top of its amazing look.
Be sure to check out the rest of our E3 2021 Coverage here.