The largest annual video game trade show in Germany, Gamescom 2012, kicked off recently with dozens of publishers and developers presenting what they have in store for the coming year. Sadly, since it's only been two scant months since E3, most game companies in attendance don't have many surprises to reveal aside from additional features for some already-known titles. Luckily, that just gives some developers a chance to show off their projects that don't fit into the usual shooter, RPG, racing and dance categories. Here are a few titles revealed at Gamescom 2012 that are poised to change the way games are played.
UPGRADE TO NEW ATLAS PLUS
More than 1,500 New Atlas Plus subscribers directly support our journalism, and get access to our premium ad-free site and email newsletter. Join them for just US$19 a year.UPGRADE
Sony Computer Entertainment's Japan Studio has developed some of the most distinct titles for Playstation—LocoRoco, Patapon, and Echochrome to name a few—and its newest game, rain, is no exception. The story centers on a young boy who follows the ghostly figure of a girl into a magical world where he is turned invisible. As such, players won't actually be able to see the character they're controlling unless he interacts with objects in the world and water in particular. His presence will mostly be shown as a silhouette in the rain, splashes in puddles, wet footsteps, and so on as he makes his way through a city caught in a downpour. Not much is known about the gameplay so far, but the announcement trailer indicates some puzzles will be involved along with enemies and other secrets that are revealed in the rain. With a premise that sounds like Lost in Shadow mixed with Limbo, and a design team with a history of creating brand new ways to play games, rain already looks certain to make an impression when it's eventually released for the PlayStation Network.
Media Molecule's next game carries with it some high expectations, which is to be expected for the developer behind the groundbreaking LittleBigPlanet. Tearaway looks ready to bring the same level of quirkiness and charm to the Vita with the story of an envelope-headed messenger traveling through a papercraft world to battle enemies and help the origami inhabitants. The whole game is built around the idea that the player is literally holding the game world in their hands and can use the Vita's features to interact with it. Shaking the handheld will rattle the characters, blowing on the microphone will cause a wind storm, and using the touch screen on the back will let you poke your fingers through the paper background of the game to knock around objects. As an added bonus, Media Molecule has stated that everything in the game can be recreated with folded paper and will release some of the designs for fans to make themselves.
Another intriguing title from Sony's Japan Studio, Puppeteer tells its story against the backdrop of a magical puppet theater. Players will take control of a young boy named Kutaro who is kidnapped by the evil Moon Bear King, who then transforms him into a puppet and bites off his head. Since he's now made of wood, Kutaro just shrugs off his injury and sets off to recover his missing noggin from the sinister king.
What makes this game stand out from other adventure platformers is that the entire game plays out as if it were being recreated on a real stage. Everything from the characters to the backgrounds look as if they were made from hand-carved wood and cloth, and an audience oohs and aahs at all the action in the background. Most importantly, the main character doesn't move through the world so much as the world moves around him with enemies and sets emerging to follow. Kutaro can even use the puppet world to his advantage by using a magic pair of scissors to cut his way through almost anything on the stage, including the sets themselves.
It's odd to think that there could be such as thing as "puppet-based gameplay" but that's what players can look forward to when the game is eventually released on the PS3.
Of all the games on this list, Remember Me seems the most conventional, with it's amnesiac protagonist and acrobatics pulled straight out of Assassin's Creed. But that doesn't mean this forthcoming title for the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC shies away from some intriguing new gameplay that adds a splash of the movie Memento into a Blade Runner-like backdrop.
Set in a futuristic Paris, the game revolves around Nilin, a young woman who has lost her memory but not her ability to scale neon-covered buildings or take out enemies in hand to hand combat. Her main tool though is her ability to steal and change people's memories without their knowledge. A demonstration during publisher Capcom's press conference showed her carrying out an assassination without a single weapon at her disposal. Instead, the main character entered her target's memories and subtly manipulated events to create a false memory, leading him to commit suicide.
Capcom has noted that this "memory remixing," won't just be limited to killing people, but will serve as a means to reshape the world and the characters Nilin comes in contact with. It will certainly be interesting to see just how far the developers push this idea in terms of gameplay.
That's about it, really
No, that's not a game title, that really is it as far as interesting title announcements go from Gamescom so far. Unfortunately, most publishers seem content to just highlight games that were already covered extensively at E3 in June, and at least one major player, Microsoft, has been noticeably absent from the proceedings. If there are any more noteworthy developments, we'll let you know. For now, you'll have to make do with a beautiful trailer for Japan Studio's rain: