So the latest edition of Summer Geoff Fest… sorry, Game Fest aired last night and was the usual mix of trailers, reveals, industry back-patting and endorsements. Now, I know Geoff Keighley has his critics, but I do at least think his desire to celebrate video games for a couple of weeks in June every year is a genuine one, despite the fact that - a couple of big reveals over the years aside - Game Fest has never come close to matching E3 at its best. There was a good amount of actual gameplay in this one for a change, which was nice. But it was all very grim. Definitely one for the dark, shiny, sci-fi corridor crowd.
Indeed, watching Summer Game Fest with someone who doesn’t play video games did little to back up my constant claims that the medium is home to clever, unique, inventive, and often poignant works of art. Of course, not every game has to be Journey, but this was very much a case of shooty-shooty stabby-stabby with little in between to cleanse the palette.
The show did end with the long-rumoured and leaked-just-hours-before Last of Us Remake. Very shooty-shooty stabby-stabby itself I know, but also one of the greatest narrative experiences of modern times. The sequel wasn’t quite as good in my opinion (although it’s still a phenomenal game), but it did boast better visuals, combat and enemy encounters. All of which have been rolled back into this remake. It’ll be fascinating to see how much this (hopefully) improves an already near-perfect game.
Sadly, Game Fest was a pretty drab games showcase overall. Thankfully then, it was followed by something a little bit special.
Day of the Devs aired immediately after and proved just how wildly inventive and brilliantly, well, brilliant games can be. It was a relentless barrage of quality indie games and clips of the the devs making them that surely warmed the hearts of even the most jaded of gamers.
It showed that you don’t need WORLD PREMIERS and name-drops to make a good showcase. Just a consistent stream of interesting, excellent games. As shiny and impressive as those rain-soaked Modern Warfare oil rigs were, they didn’t raise anywhere near the kind of smile that show-opener Time Flies did. A game made by just a couple of people that looks as if it would probably run on a Game Boy. The same goes for the majority of the 15 games that followed. It was a lovely showcase presented by Double Fine’s Tim Schafer that hopefully brought a bit of joy to everybody who had stuck around long enough to see it.
So, if there was one good thing to come out of a dull Game Fest, it was that the Indies which followed were allowed to shine all the brighter, and made the 10th anniversary of the Day of the Devs a truly brilliant day for the devs.