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Trailer Blazer E3 2021 (Part Three)

Even more trailer reviews! I know, it's crazy. Pathological, you might even say. This block of fifty starts with the Square Enix E3 Disappointment Zone and proceeds to encompass a whole bunch of Indies and VR games from Day of the Devs and other low-key events; the "meat" of the expo between all the big conferences. Shout outs to @marino once again for all his hard work uploading every trailer ever made to Giant Bomb in the span of a week. Before the end of June, we'll come back one last time for Part Four and all the Nintendo goodies from their E3-adjacent Direct.

If you're just joining us, consult the table below for the previous lists for E3 2021 including a rundown of everything I chose to leave out this year (mostly for the sake of my own sanity). We have other Trailer Blazers going as far back as 2016 too; I haven't checked in a while, but I wonder if there's anything in that list that still hasn't come out...?

Trailer Blazers
E3 2016 E3 2017 E3 2018 (Part One) E3 2018 (Part Two)
E3 2019 (Part One) E3 2019 (Part Two) E3 2019 (Part Three) E3 2019 (Part Four)
E3 2021 (Part One) E3 2021 (Part Two) E3 2021 (Part Three) E3 2021 (Part Four)

List items

  • The... Fridge: It's the Xbox Series X/S Fridge, the one console guaranteed not to overheat.

    The Trailer(s): What's important is that Microsoft's having fun in the midst of this console component shortage, eagerly anticipating the number of kids who'll receive a familiar looking rectangular prism for Christmas only for dad to come along and open it up for a quick Coors Lite before dinner. "Really cool, eh?" he'll dadjoke to the unresponsive child, whom has suddenly been forced to countenance the harsh truths of reality versus expectation. A new Xbox is not forthcoming. Perhaps they can find succor in their father's alcohol instead?

    The Response: Maybe. It's a pretty neat mini-fridge. Think I'd rather have a Series X though.

  • The Game: A single-player action-RPG that only looks like a four-player co-operative shooter from Eidos Montreal (Thief).

    The Trailer(s): It would've taken longer to watch all of Guardians of the Galaxy's videos than to complete some of the Indie games shown off this E3, such was Square Enix's lack of anything else to show. As a somehow douchier Peter Quill, the player guides the rest of the Guardians through one misadventure to the next, growing closer or more distant with each of them determinant on Telltale-style binary choices in the story.

    The Response: Maybe. I like the Guardians movies, but with everything I'd heard about the Avengers game - which also uses the same team seen in the MCU, but completely different character models like we don't know what's going on - there's reason to be skeptical about it. It'll be a wait and see for sure.

  • The Game: A stealth FPS from Square Enix Montreal (Hitman Go).

    The Trailer(s): I guess we're doing the sniper thing because that's like the most straightforward and expected way to kill someone in the core Hitman series, but from all the Giant Bomb Hitman streams I've watched I think the actual most common cause of death is that duck grenade. I suppose you can't have a game called Hitman Duck Grenadiers: A Quack Team of Assassins but at least it would be a little more honest.

    The Response: Maybe. I like that Agent 47's "disappeared" rather than "no longer available because we don't own that studio any more" but I'm not so attached to this universe to care too much about a smaller spin-off. If I can watch Dan Ryckert shoot an evil rich jerk in the balls though, that's good enough for me.

  • The Game: A four-player live service co-operative action RPG from PlatinumGames (Star Fox Zero).

    The Trailer(s): Much like the Tower of Babel itself, my hopes for Babylon's Fall continued to build up to the heavens only to be dashed to the ground by an act of God. God, in this case, is this new trailer for Babylon's Fall which makes it clear that this will be some odious live service thing built for multiplayer rather than Platinum getting their Dark Souls gothic fantasy on with NieR Automata's combat system. At least the character voices are funny.

    The Response: Maybe. Big maybe. They could still pivot again before this thing's out.

  • The Game: An adventure game from Deck Nine Games (Life is Strange: Before the Storm).

    The Trailer(s): Something a little on the nose about a Life is Strange sequel where weaponizing emotions is now part of the core gameplay as well as the franchise mission statement. As empath Alex Chen, the player investigates her brother's sudden demise by reading people's auras and digging into their psychological trauma. Sounds like a hoot. There was a True Colors reveal trailer a few months back, so for a bit of fun they brought in a contributing musician to introduce this refresher.

    The Response: Sure. I've been meaning to try Life is Strange 2 now that it's fully released, so maybe once that's done I'll find my way to Haven Springs to find out if amber really is the color of her energy.

  • The Game: An action-RPG from Team Ninja (Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball).

    The Trailer(s): You know what? When the blond guy from Crazy Town says he's going to kill Chaos I believe it. Not just because he says it about five times in this trailer, but because of the sheer determination in his voice. Since this is a Final Fantasy 1 prequel it seems unlikely he'll actually do so, but he'll get closer than most I'm sure. We all love the "killing Chaos" line but my favorite part is right at the end when Garland!Chaos leaps right at the heroes and lands a little early, with a slightly irritated grunt suggesting that he overestimated how far he could jump in solid plate armor.

    The Response: Sure. I love Nioh and early reports from those who played the FFO demo suggest that while the story is some rough edgelord shit right now they have most of the gameplay fundamentals in place and... well, it's Final Fantasy Nioh. I'm down for that.

  • The Game: A four-player co-operative shooter (but VR!) from Vertigo Games (Adam's Venture).

    The Trailer(s): I'm not sure what's more inconceivable - that we have our twenty-seventh co-op shooter trailer this E3 or that these devs expect anyone who owns a VR headset to have three friends that also own a VR headset. Generally, if you have VR you are known in your circle of friends as "the one of us that has VR" or alternatively "the one of us that maybe should be more careful with their money". I dunno, this is more zombie shooting, who could possibly care at this point with all the options available.

    The Response: Nah. I mean, of course, first day purchase. (And I wish the devs the best, no VR game can be all that easy to make.)

  • The Game: A rhythm action game from Joy Way (Stride).

    The Trailer(s): Looking at the vast library of VR games and seeing only shooting galleries and Beat Saber, a bold voice rang out: "What if we did both of those at the same time?" And so that has led, inextricably, to this point. A point we are all fortunate to be alive to see. The advent of That Thing I Just Said. (D'aww, it's a cute idea for a VR game, I'm just cranky because it's super humid today.)

    The Response: Nah. I have a million things I'd spend money on before a VR headset. Like any of the new consoles, for instance.

  • The Game: A VRMMORPG from Alta (new studio).

    The Trailer(s): Now this is a little more intriguing - it's like a Fantasy Life (or any MMO that has crafting professions) but all in VR. I love how all the villagers are disembodied VR avatars, that way no-one has to feel self-conscious about being some hovering wraith, though I do a little feel bad for anyone who wastes their character building points on becoming a cobbler. The graphics could use some work, though I recognize there are limitations in a VR game where the framerate has to stay super high. Hell, didn't hurt Minecraft any.

    The Response: Nah. But only because of the VR snag discussed above. And also that I don't care for MMOs. Otherwise, sign me up.

  • The Game: A skeet-skiing game from nDreams (The Assembly).

    The Trailer(s): I wasn't sure about this one until the protagonist said "we've got company" at which point I was 100% on board. We need more innovative dialogue in our shooter games and I was happy to see this one step up to the plate and knock it out of the park. Now if only they told someone that they could do this the hard way or the easy way, and then inform them that "you just don't get it, do you" if they answered wrong. Cover me, I'm going in for The Response.

    The Response: Nah. I'm just having some fun with yet another VR game I shall never play. Seems more ambitious than that VR zombie stuff earlier at least.

  • The Game: A side-scrolling brawler from ????? (?????).

    The Trailer(s): This might be the most obtuse trailer yet. It's clearly a couple of bros fighting rats in a subway tunnel and probably set in the '80s what with all the VHS effects, but there's no gameplay footage and no real idea of who the developer or publisher is (besides a mysterious "PG" logo) or a release date. It's not listed on Steam so I have no further details about the game. Muy misterioso.

    The Response: Nah. Brawlers, and particularly parodic throwback '80s brawlers, have been done to death lately.

  • The Game: A VR action game from Schell Games (Gumtrix).

    The Trailer(s): A smart, funny trailer about the life of a spy whose main threat, going by what we see here, is sudden onset diabetes from all the cakes and booze stashed away in their spy gear. I didn't play the first but it seems like a series of comedic vignettes where you have to pull or twist the right combination of spy gizmo objects to complete the scene. That sounds like the kind of game you'd want to build for VR.

    The Response: Nah. Though again, if I had a VR headset handy my appraisal might be different.

  • The Game: A free throw VR simulator from Realcast (new studio).

    The Trailer(s): How do you make a free throw game exciting? That's what the makers of this trailer had to figure out in a hurry, subbing in a middle-aged white dude for the usual NBA second fiddle or, failing even that, an influencer no-one's heard of with a grandiose name like Hoopty Hoop the Spalding King. They certainly delivered the important info though: that you virtually throw basketballs into hoops, with or without the Oculus controllers.

    The Response: Nah. My ball game's already at its peak. Three pointers all day.

  • The Game: A six-on-six competitive VR shooter from Impulse Gear (Farpoint).

    The Trailer(s): Again, who are these big crowds of VR headset owners that this game anticipates is out there? If a single session needs twelve people to get going, it feels like you're going to be waiting in that lobby a long time. I may have chuckled rudely at the pace of the action: where most online shooters have people jumping around 360 no-scoping fools and racking up multikills, this trailer has people gingerly trying to turn around to see where anyone is and failing to notice a giant crab man before they get slowly punched to death.

    The Response: Nah. This one's a twofer: a genre I don't like in a format I don't have access to.

  • The Game: A cyberpunk visual novel from Perfect Garbage Games (new studio).

    The Trailer(s): This is not what I expected the game would be from that title. Love Shore follows two cyborgs in the titular city as they try to adjust to civilian life despite run-ins with the criminal underworld and respective jail sentences. Gonna be one of those "your decisions decide your fate" type of games, but then most VNs are. (I'm sure I've seen that "PG" developer logo somewhere before... but their site and Steam profile only mentions Love Shore.)

    The Response: Maybe. I am starting to get into VNs but I'd like some more experience with the original Japanese trendsetters before I get too much deeper into the western trends they've set, if that makes sense.

  • The Game: A VR adventure game from Happy Giant (Instakitty 3D).

    The Trailer(s): Oh hey, they're back. Oh, in VR. Well, I'm glad people are still making games with these two. Reminds me that I have three whole seasons of those Telltale episodic games yet to boot up. Wiseacre canine and psychotic lagomorph look to be commentating on the player's attempts to emancipate themselves from an escape room, which honestly sounds like the best use for the two if you can't control them directly.

    The Response: Nah. Though chalk this up as another front-runner if I ever win the lottery and can afford a headset and a big enough room to use it in.

  • The Game: A 3D action-adventure game from Analgesic Productions (Anodyne).

    The Trailer(s): This is about par for the course for the Anodyne people, since the "overworld" sections of Anodyne 2 looked pretty similar to this with some equally odd looking NPCs to talk to. It is graphically a whole lot more impressive, which is good for those of us who would enjoy the bizarre aesthetic of these games in higher resolution but maybe less so for the much smaller group of us with crappy PCs that might not be able to handle it.

    The Response: Sure. If I can get it to run. Otherwise I might wait for a PS4 port. Anodyne and Anodyne 2 were trippy as hell but also mature and thoughtful, so I'm happy to follow these devs to wherever they go next.

  • The Game: An FPS from Rebellion (Miami Vice: The Game).

    The Trailer(s): You won't get the full visceral thrill of watching a Nazi SS-Sturmbannführer's vas deferens explode in real-time unless it's through the magic of Virtual Reality. At least, that seems to be the mission statement of this game, which sees Rebellion's long-running WW2 sniper franchise come to VR devices in the near future. This trailer might be the shortest yet, but it also could be even shorter and you'd still get the idea. It's Sniper Elite, you're a sniper, you shoot assholes (figurative and literal). Simple.

    The Response: Nah. I know Dan Ryckert finds these games delightful but I'm not really a WW2 guy and I'd probably pick one of the non-VR games if I was.

  • The Game: A survival crafting game from 17-Bit (Skulls of the Shogun).

    The Trailer(s): I can only imagine there's a lot of money in developing for VR. That's why you have Indie studios like 17-bit, who quickly carved out a niche with the Saturday morning cartoon stylings of Skulls of the Shogun and Galak-Z, jumping to yet another prehistoric realism-heavy survival crafting game but this time in virtual reality. This trailer actually gives a clearer idea of why VR development is taking off: developers are seeing the projects made in VR by their contemporaries and getting excited about the possibilities for immersion and worldbuilding, even if no-one's quite there in how best to take advantage of the limitations inherent to the format. There's still a race to the killer app before interest in VR dissipates completely.

    The Response: Nah. Nothing about this appeals, but I can't begrudge a studio for shooting their shot.

  • The Game: A rhythm game from Glee-Cheese Studio (new studio).

    The Trailer(s): A well-to-do Frenchman introduces us to the world of A Musical Story, a melodic cross-continental journey of a group of musicians in the 1970s told without dialogue. I wasn't sure what to make of the character designs from screenshots, but the trailer won me over and it's clear there's some historical precedence to the tale with a few heavy themes around addiction and loss. It'll also be the first video game to indirectly cover Jimi Hendrix's life that isn't Wolfenstein 2 or that Hendrix yaoi dating sim, Excuse Me While I Kiss This Guy, that I just made up.

    The Response: Maybe. Rhythm games can be a hard nut to crack from footage alone so I'd prefer some first-hand reports. It could also be far too bathetic with those themes also. Optimistic it's something cool though.

  • The Game: An explormer from Thomas Happ Games (Axiom Verge).

    The Trailer(s): We're back in the world of Axiom Verge, where you can hack and edit an enemy's very nature just as easily as you can destroy them with weapons. A little odd that Happ used this E3 opportunity to talk about the relatively minor accessibility feature that is not having to fight bosses the first time you meet them (or ever). It's not a bad idea for those that get stuck on tough fights, but I have to imagine Axiom Verge 2 will have more noteworthy features; maybe it's just because he's been talking about the game in regular developer logs for so long that's he run out of material.

    The Response: Heck Yeah. Love explormers, hope this one excels over the previous AV. Man, I hope Happ does something about those crunchy sound effects though, they're a little harsh.

  • The Game: A first-person soccer game from Julián Cordero and Sebastián Valbuena (new studio).

    The Trailer(s): The developer talks us through this Shitty Kid Simulator where you, hyped as hell that your country of Ecuador might qualify for the World Cup, kick a soccerball to your friends or at random bystanders while they shout abuse back to you. It is a surreal concept for a game, made more so by this grainy purple filter over everything.

    The Response: Maybe. Feels like this game will be steeped in Ecuadorian culture and offer something a little more low-key and chill than your FIFAs or Pro Evos, but with Euro 2021 dominating the news cycle I'm reminded more than ever how little I care for soccer.

  • The Game: An action-adventure-crafting game from Picogram (new studio).

    The Trailer(s): Well this is just adorable. Resembles a combination of Stardew Valley, Forager, Animal Crossing, and a Zelda-like with a grape (?) protagonist. The first part of the trailer comes off as a little busy - for its simple aesthetic, there looks to be many different systems at play - but a friendly, barbigerous member of the publisher team is here to explain the mechanics in depth.

    The Response: Sure. Crafting games are at their best when there's some direction involved, like the "favors" here, and it appears to contain many elements of games I like all mushed together. It's also cute as the dickens, which helps a little.

  • The Game: A fishing RPG from Bunnyhug (new studio).

    The Trailer(s): Welcome to the Cute Game block, I guess. I'm glad the (very wholesome) developers mentioned Legend of the River King because that's immediately what this game reminded me of (blocky voxels aside) as you go about angling up bigger and scarier fish for the sake of a town spooked by its own shadow. There's some landlubber activities too, including restocking an aquarium and cooking the fish you caught to raise the money for better fishing gear.

    The Response: Sure. Never one to turn down a fishing mini-game in an RPG, as long as there's plenty more to do besides.

  • The Game: A narrative adventure game from Digixart (Lost in Harmony).

    The Trailer(s): An adventure game where you hitchhike north across the border of an authoritarian state, taking chances on anyone offering a lift. The trailer focuses on the game's matrix of decisions that could lead you to join up with all sorts of unsavory characters, giving the game some degree of replay value, but it all looks a bit severe and tense. I think we're out of the Cute Game block.

    The Response: Maybe. I'm into narrative adventure games with a bit of variation - visual novels especially are all about CYOA - but it looks like the game is a series of vignettes assembled in a player-determinant way and I want to know how it goes about its structure. Burly Men At Sea was a bit of a disappointment because it used this system but forced you to play the early chapters over and over to get to the individual branches that ensued - Route 15 and Route 16, for example, might involve 90% of the same content but for a different choice towards the end. I guess we'll find out once Road 96 is out

  • The Game: A cooking sim from Chikon Club (new studio).

    The Trailer(s): The Rocksmith of cooking soup, which I guess would make it Crockpotsmith, Soup Pot looks to be a breezy Cooking Mama type of sim that also aims to teach you how to cook for real, or at least gives you an idea of the process. The developer voiceover emphasized that this isn't a game with fail states or much in the way of progression; just pick a recipe from Instagrub or whatever and have at it. And have at it again if it all gets burned to shit.

    The Response: Nah. I barely have the tolerance or patience for real-life cooking, and at least you get food to eat at the end of that.

  • The Game: A town-building sim from Stray Fawn (Nimbatus: The Space Drone Constructor).

    The Trailer(s): This might be the first trailer I've seen to have design document notes in addition to footage, but then Indie developers especially are working to break down the barriers between creator and consumer so I guess it fits. Neat idea for a game: instead of expanding your territory, which is limited to whatever can fit on the back of this big turtle dude, new elements appear to deal with as the mobile village enters new biomes.

    The Response: Sure. I think this is a novel idea for a town-building game but I'm hoping it's not like They Are Billions stressful as you weather the worst these biomes have to offer.

  • The Game: A photography puzzle game from Something We Made (new studio).

    The Trailer(s): All right, so I'm fairly sold from the outset about a game where you take photos of things to solve side-quests and earn money. Like a more wholesome (though, again, curiously monochromatic given how important visuals are in photography) Umurangi Generation, or maybe an equally wholesome Pokemon Snap. Just a little concerned that a typo managed to make its way into the official trailer; that's never a good sign for what the gameplay they don't show will be like.

    The Response: Sure. I'll give it a little time after release to see what the consensus is like, but I'm into any and all photography games anyone wants to put out. Actually, I better wishlist it on Steam now because there's no damn way I'm going to remember that title.

  • The Game: A rhythm brawler from D-Cell Games (new studio).

    The Trailer(s): This is another game that has a strong anime-inspired look, though more contemporary anime in this case (vaguely Kill La Kill-ish perhaps? Can't say I ever saw it). Looks incredible either way, especially the rapid animations during the fight/music stages. A tad more apprehensive about the gameplay itself, whether if it's all going to be that rhythmic One Finger Death Punch stuff, but then if I wanted to find out I could always download that free prologue chapter they have available on Steam.

    The Response: Sure. Music's not bad and those graphics are doing a lot for me.

  • The Game: A puzzle-platformer from Kong Orange (Felix the Reaper).

    The Trailer(s): This trailer focuses on the stop-motion animation techniques the developers use to create 3D models out of physical objects, as opposed to 3D models that just look like physical objects which may or may not have been faster. At any rate, this game won't be out until 2024 and I'll long be dead by then (I mean probably; it sounds impossibly far off) so they need to pace themselves for future PAX/E3 trailers.

    The Response: Sure. Big puzzle-platformer fan even though the early '10s Indie era was full of the things, and obviously that animation is something that needs to be seen to be believed. If it's going to take Drew's Danish cousin three years to animate it all I figure I owe him that much.

  • The Game: An adventure game from Slow Bros. (new studio).

    The Trailer(s): Maybe it's the aquatic theme, or the dour if playful tone, or the '70s music, or because the titular character looks like Adrien Brody, but every time I see Harold Halibut I assume it's a new stop-motion feature from Wes Anderson until I see the dialogue trees and inventory puzzles and remember it's a regular adventure game with a whole lot of meticulous craft behind its presentation. To say it looks impressive is redundant, but I'm hoping the gameplay can match up.

    The Response: Sure. Barring any unexpected "none of the puzzles make sense" or "it can barely run right" 11th hour revelation this might be the sort of thing to elevate the adventure genre, if only by drawing in a larger than average crowd for a point and click throwback.

  • The Game: A battle royale multiplayer action game from 24 Entertainment (new studio).

    The Trailer(s): Going by all the boasting about early access player numbers in this trailer, I'm guessing Naraka Bladepoint is a known quantity with the battle royale crowd even if it's still a couple months away from the full game launch. Making a battle royale with Sekiro gameplay is inspired though I'd imagine it'd be hard to win, or even place in the top twenty, if it has anything like the learning curve.

    The Response: Nah. I'd love to see this in action though, maybe if GB's back with a full complement closer to the autumn.

  • The Game: A dodgeball RPG from Pocket Trap (Ninjin: Clash of Carrots).

    The Trailer(s): All right, so this is Technos's Super Dodgeball with an OK K.O. sort of aesthetic. Not bad so far, and I'm curious about those RPG mechanics: is it turn-based until you've released the dodgeball, and then real-time when you're avoiding them? The trailer is a decent cross section of what to expect, so I guess any questions I have are more borne from excitement.

    The Response: Sure. I think this looks neat, and might have something a silly sports shounen anime framing story to contain its battles. I'll be keeping my eye on the ball for sure.

  • The Game: A horror survival FPS from Techland (Pet Soccer).

    The Trailer(s): I'll admit to getting a little tired of hearing about Dying Light 2, even if I'm glad this cursed game will finally see the dying light of day for the sake of all those that worked on it, let alone the many fans of the first (like Brad) anticipating DL2's vaunted new features and branching story. I believe it's the only game in this year's E3 Trailer Blazer that was also on the 2018 and 2019 lists, though not the one that's been in production the longest (that might be Psychonauts 2, but I'd have to check). At any rate, it's that zombie parkour game. Still.

    The Response: Maybe. This is another series where there's a now much cheaper predecessor I could buy if I'm ever curious about the sequel.

  • The Game: A 2D platformer-brawler from Alawar (Rune Lord).

    The Trailer(s): This seems kinda cool, and looks to play like a non-roguelike Dead Cells with its acrobatics and parries and whatnot so that's a big plus. I figured it'd all be chasing dudes, but it seems like that's only an occasional thing with larger exploration sections in-between. What's perplexing is that this three-armed cyberpunk bounty hunter guy from an alien world is also called Aidan, just like the guy in Dying Light 2 and a thousand other games. Why are they all called Aidan? What's with the Aidans, guys?

    The Response: Sure. Four Aidans out of five for this trailer. It's certainly "aidin'" my desire to purchase it.

  • The Game: A hybrid turn-based/real-time RPG from Pixelated Milk (Regalia: Of Men and Monarchs)

    The Trailer(s): Well obviously there's a lot to like here, from another appearance of 2D sprites running around 3D worlds to Sakuraba's contributions to the soundtrack (though that dude is like Hitoshi Sakimoto: he does so many OSTs a year I'm not sure he even sleeps). Unless I haven't been paying attention, I think this is the first E3 trailer this year for a game with an active Kickstarter? Either way, it's already met its goal so paying whatever was needed to include it turned out to be a wise choice, even if it sounds like it's a ways off.

    The Response: Sure. I've been trying to fit in more Indie JRPG homages of late, since there's been more good ones (Ara Fell, Earthlock, anything Zeboyd) than I first thought.

  • The Game: An adventure game from Big Bad Wolf (The Council).

    The Trailer(s): I didn't hear great things about The Council, mostly due to the ending, but the developers figured out an interesting way to combine a RPG and investigative adventure game by emphasizing skills that lead to different dialogue choices and scene resolutions. It's for that reason I think they might be a good fit for a Vampire: The Masquerade game. I'll have to find out more about Swansong once it's closer to release. Oh, was anyone out there tallying how many vampire games there were at E3 this year? Here's another one for you.

    The Response: Maybe. I like the universe but there are a lot of V:tM games showing up in the Steam store, if not quite to the same degree as Warhammer, so I'll have to do more research to figure out where to start. I was planning to wait for Bloodlines 2 but who even knows how that's going to turn out after all its troubles.

  • The Game: A multiplayer kaiju brawler from PassionRepublic Games (new studio).

    The Trailer(s): Hmm. Not sure about this one. I do think King of the Monsters is due for a return given how much better the tech must be for stomping the shit out of living cities without a huge amount of slowdown, but the actual brawler gameplay here looks a bit mashy and rudimentary. I appreciate the variation for the stages though, like the one where the lava is spreading across downtown (how unlucky is that city?).

    The Response: Nah. Mostly because it looks to be multiplayer only. Dunno if it'd keep my interest even if it wasn't.

  • The Game: from Ratloop Games Canada (new studio).

    The Trailer(s): Oh, huh, someone's turning Frozen Synapse into an arena FPS. I like games where you kind of have to anticipate your opponent because it's pretty satisfying when all your predictions turn out to be correct, but they're not easy games to get right and I'm wondering if something as rapid and chaotic as an arena shooter is necessarily the best venue. I guess if this thing spawns a time-travelling eSports enterprise I'll eat my words. Or will have eaten my words. In the future?

    The Response: Nah. For me, the king of this idea will always be Vandal Hearts 2.

  • The Game: A spaceship construction game from Studio Floris Kaayk (new studio).

    The Trailer(s): Ah, Kerbal Space Program on a budget. That's not to intimate that the game itself looks cheap (it does, but no more so than KSP) just that you're using all sorts of junk found in a garage to make space-faring rockets. I shudder to think what kind of technological marvels you can make from the crap in Jeff's garage. I'm sure you could make at least one of those murder slingshots he likes so much.

    The Response: Maybe. It needs something like the ludicrous pathos of Kerbal as an X factor, but the DIY space junk process seems like a promising tangent. Dunno if it's the right message to send garbage into low orbit given how much of a real-life issue that's become.

  • The Game: A strategy RPG from Shiro Games (Evoland).

    The Trailer(s): Before the gameplay popped up I figured this was another take on Mount & Blade, but I think it might be closer to that old LucasArts Gladius game - there's a certain open-world, "do whatever" aspect to the idea of just being a band of mercenaries carving your own path and legacy. It might be that is has a more linear story structure they're not ready to show just yet, but a cursory look at the Steam page suggests otherwise.

    The Response: Sure. Still don't know why anyone would want to drink something called Wart Ales though.

  • The Game: An ark ship management sim from Bulwark Studios (Warhammer 40k: Mechanicus).

    The Trailer(s): You have been invited to listen to this rich dude's TED talk whether you wanted to or not, which comprises the whole trailer with nothing left for how Ixion plays or what the goal is (though that big ol' chunk out of the moon suggests not all is well). This might be the lousiest trailer of E3 2021 yet, but the game itself seems promising if perhaps a little stressful.

    The Response: Maybe. I like exploring space, but if I'm making hard choices about what or who to jettison every five minutes for the station's survival like a space version of The Banner Saga (a star-spangled Banner Saga?) that might be too much.

  • The Game: A vehicle action-adventure game from Okomotive (Far: Lone Sails).

    The Trailer(s): I never did play Lone Sails, the predecessor to this game, but I watched the QL and I remember two things - stopping to feed your boat whatever you could find, since it's always hungry for fuel, and Vinny saying something about how short the game was and why the QL had to stop at a specific point before it accidentally revealed more than half the content. I suspect the former will still be true for this game, though I wonder if this'll be a much longer sequel now that they have the first game's revenue buffer to work with. I'd also love more reasons to explore besides fuel; like maybe you could fill your boat with souvenirs and stuff.

    The Response: Maybe. Because of the way my brain works, I don't think I could play Changing Tides before Lone Sails so perhaps I'll see about picking that up first.

  • The Game: A medieval social sim from Ishtar Games (The Last Spell).

    The Trailer(s): Hey, that's cute, it's like they isolated the matchmaking aspect of a grand strategy sim like Crusader Kings and made it the whole game, letting you organize the romantic lives of multiple medieval serfs and lords. The trailer made the subtle point that you can pair up same-sex couples so I'm guessing they're not going to push the genetic legacies thing too hard. This game seems too wholesome to make eugenics a factor anyway.

    The Response: Maybe. Curious what sort of longevity the game will have after you've spent thirty minutes hooking up random bards and blacksmiths. Is there an end goal to all this smoochin'?

  • The Game: A puzzle-action game from Spiral Circus (new studio).

    The Trailer(s): An undercurrent I've detected with some of these Indie trailers is how much the PlayDead games (Limbo, Inside) have inspired others to take a similar dour, monochromatic, almost Edward Gorey approach to their aesthetic. Silt's an underwater variant with a Geist/Space Station Silicon Valley mechanic that lets you control fish and use their abilities to solve puzzles, but it sure does have an oddly familiar way of going about its business.

    The Response: Maybe. I like these puzzle-platformers (even if it doesn't quite count as a platformer) but I'm also getting a little tired of this particular style.

  • The Game: A character action game from Reply Game Studios (Theseus).

    The Trailer(s): I almost thought this was a Glass Masquerade sequel with all the stained glass, but then the lady jumped through it with an enormous sword and I kinda figured what kind of game we were looking at. It's one of those Devil May Cry fast character action affairs, though it looks relatively threadbare from this presentation. The launch is a year off though, so maybe they'll have more systems in place to show off closer to release. I'm curious if your little spectral familiar won't have some presently unknown purpose.

    The Response: Maybe. It's evidently in an inchoate state, but the Steam page has some promising developments in store. Also the main character's voiced by Quiet from MGSV which I kinda like; it feels like the exact opposite way she was used in that game (face only, not voice).

  • The Game: A multiplayer FPS from GFA Games (new studio).

    The Trailer(s): Looks like the upcoming S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 has some company in the creepy Russian FPS niche, though Pioner (which I think is the name of a Russian town, not a typo of pioneer) has more of a multiplayer focus that this three and a half minute gameplay trailer sparingly gets into. I've seen the first Resident Evil movie enough times (technically, once was enough) to know that floating girls in red dresses are usually a bad sign.

    The Response: Nah. The appeal of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is that, even though there are fellow Stalkers around, it's almost always a solo affair and that makes the moments of horror and isolation hit that much harder. I don't think that atmosphere is served well by having dudebros on mics talking about their new vape rigs during the quieter moments.

  • The Game: A 3D platformer from Splashteam (Splasher).

    The Trailer(s): I've been meaning to play Splasher for this 2017 feature I've been working on, but from what I've gathered it was a fairly standard masocore platformer with some liquid physics business going on. Tinykin looks way more ambitious: a Pikmin type puzzle game with a stronger emphasis on platforming traversal, and yet another game this E3 that uses 2D sprites in a 3D world to striking effect.

    The Response: Heck Yeah. It's looking to combine three of my favorite things: Pikmin and its organizational puzzles; 3D platforming; and running around a regular house as a tiny creature. Also, something about the titular Tinykin reminds me of Elebits so that's another nostalgia plus.

  • The Game: A horror FPS RPG from The Farm 51 (Painkiller: Hell & Damnation).

    The Trailer(s): Another supernatural FPS set around the Chernobyl disaster, huh? They're really Chern-ing these out. This looks to have more of a psychological Silent Hill 2 vibe to it, playing a Wife Guy who keeps seeing his dead spouse around every corner of this hostile land. The trailer's nice and stylish too; one that combines live-action scenes with gameplay.

    The Response: Sure. The trailer doesn't reveal much of the game beyond shooting at ghoulies, but from the Steam page I can see it's also very S.T.A.L.K.E.R.-ish with a massive map and an open-world RPG approach. There's even screenshots of a Fallout 4-esque base-building system. There's potential there for sure.

  • The Game: A first-person survival crafting game from RocketWerkz (Stationeers).

    The Trailer(s): From what I've been able to tell from this trailer and elsewhere online, Icarus is like if you combined Rust with Starbound. Most of the game takes place on a hostile pre-civilized world where you have to build huts and primitive weapons to survive, but then you get to go back to your space station with any found exotic materials to build new tech to help with the next run. However, if you miss your scheduled trip back up to the station, that character - and all its tech and progress - is lost forever.

    The Response: Nah. I'm already on the fence with most survival crafting games and introducing permadeath seals the deal. It does make me think I should check out Starbound again to see what's new though.