See, I understand that. You all saw Elden Ring and immediately lost your shit so hard that you accidentally turned off the power and missed the whole ass presentation that took place afterwards. But the most amazing part about Summer Game Fest happened right after Geoff Keighley dropped the microphone Elden Ringreveals, during the indie game show Day of the Devs.
What is Devs Day?
Devs Day was a showcase of indie games hosted by iam8bit and Psychonauts develops Double Fine. Instead of being a shotgun of game ads, two-second teasers and interviews with your best friend, Day of the Devs was a much cooler showcase. The slower presentation allowed the devs to show their game in more detail than a sizzle reel would allow. As such, viewers had more time to marvel at absolutely phenomenal games like stop-motion animated Vocabulary.
Holy shit, just look at this! I was fascinated by stop motion animator Johan Oettinger, who demonstrated how he carefully posed, shot and moved the models and got the same position from different angles to faithfully recreate how the light hits the characters. More than just showing a cool and unique art style, actually seeing the level of technical detail that went into making Vocabulary got me hyped to play it when moments before I had not even heard of it.
The sudden swell of “holy shit I want it now” happened to me a lot more during Devs Day than it did during Summer Game Fest. Honestly, the kind of game marketed during Summer Game Fest is not something for me. Sure I can get excited about what Kojima is cooking, because at least the memes will be impeccable. But the games Geoff showed were not my speed. It felt like things that didn’t interest me when I saw it, and things I never intended to play. Do not make me wrong, my closeness to everyone’s excitement on social media about Far Cry 6 or Little Tina’s Wonderlands in turn excited me and I am always willing to try new experiences outside of my typical gaming comfort zone, but nothing in the presentation moved my needle.
But Day Of The Devs had me in tears.
Another game shown on Day of Devs was Unsurpassed, an anime-style rhythm game where you use the music to fight enemies. I love rhythm games, especially if it’s a new spin on the rhythm game format, and I’m excited about the reason for the full release of Unsurpassed. I downloaded the demo within seconds of hearing it was on Steam.
Soup Pot is another game I almost love. Cooking games are my jam. To be able to make some realistic food from different cultures in a respectful and educational way? Double my jam.
I’m ready to be completely devastated by Moonglow Bay, a fishing RPG that gets you to use your angling talents to save your dying city. Same with immigration roguelike Road 96, where the different choices you make affect how you reach or do not reach security at the border.
I just love all the Day of the Dev games. They look so unique, different from the AAA development fixation on hyperrealism, and they felt more human and personal than the flashy, splashier titles in the Game Fest presser. I know AAA development is not devoid of heartfelt personal stories and I have had just as much of an emotional reaction to bigger budget games as I have to these indies. But there is something emotionally compelling about half of a two-dev team talking about how he modeled his football game Flashing from his lived experience growing up in Ecuador.
The conversations you hear in the trailer are improvised from ordinary people, and the buildings in the background are real photos taken of Ecuador’s capital Quito. These are the kind of stories you don’t often get in big budget game presentations. And it is these personal stories with blood-on-pixels that remind me why I so passionately love video games as a medium.
I suppose we’ll see more of this kind of game on Saturday Healthy directly. Hopefully this time people will not still be distracted by Elden Ring.