Guest blog: 12 amazing new video games being made in Bristol right now

Peter Willington, Producer at game studio Auroch Digital, gives us an early look at the some of the best work from independent developers in the region
18th April 2017
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As a Producer at Auroch Digital here in Bristol, as well as being the host of a podcast that covers games, I’m lucky enough to see a lot of work from the local games development scene.

There’s a tonne of great stuff in development right now in Bristol and the fine folks from TechSPARK have been kind enough to give me the opportunity to highlight a few of them for you.

Below you’ll find exclusive early screens from games in development, many of which are so new they haven’t had a chance to be covered elsewhere yet. So consider this the inside scoop on the very best the scene here in Bristol has in store…

Untitled First Person Shooter, from Ground Shatter Games (Platforms TBA)

A game so new and so awesome it hasn’t even got a name yet. Inspired by buddy cop movies such as Bad Boys and Lethal Weapon, you blast your way through randomly generated cases and environments, kicking down doors, using slow motion, looking bad-ass… the whole package, basically.

 

Check out the GIF above. Looks superb doesn’t it? And honestly that GIF right there should show you everything you need to know to start getting unbelievably hyped about this high-intensity first person shooter crossed with an action movie.

Before I Forget, from 3-Fold Games (Windows)

In this first-person narrative game you are Sunita, a woman with dementia, exploring her house and her possessions as she gradually pieces together memories from her life. You’re guided through the work via audio cues, inner monologue, and environmental storytelling, which is all accompanied by a visual aesthetic where colour can be drained from or refilled in the world around you.

Check out the video below for a sneaky preview of the game in play:

 

The team behind the project formed out of Bristol’s XX+ Games Jam, where ‘Before I Forget’ won the Audience Choice Award. This subtly told and intriguing work continues to show incredible promise as its development moves forward.

Kenshi, from Lo-Fi Games (Windows)

Kenshi is ridiculously ambitious. 10 years in the making, the game is a sandbox open world real-time strategy and role-playing game hybrid, that features combat, crafting, survival, town creation, and a whole bunch more. This all plays out on a world map the equivalent of 870 square km in size (by comparison, Bethesda’s Skyrim is a relatively titchy 15 square km).

Catch the Kenchi trailer in the video below:

 

It’s a game set in a world that simply does not care that you’re in it, treating you not as the hero at the centre of an epic saga, but a person trying to make their way in a cruel and unforgiving land. Kenshi is the only game on this list you can play right now, but it’s still very much in active development, as it continues its journey through Early Access.

Hover Cabby, from Out of Bounds Games (Platforms TBA) 

So imagine the near future of The Fifth Element or Blade Runner, then use that as a setting for the arcade-y risk-taking thrills of Crazy Taxi, plus the intense injections of speed you find in WipEout and F-Zero. That’s just the starting point for Hover Cabby, the next game from the mind of the person that brought the world the equally vibrant Laser Disco Defenders. And if you can’t quite picture any of that, the GIF below provides a speedy preview.

 

Created as an experiment to begin with – you can play that version on Itch.io right now – Hover Cabby is being fleshed out into a much more complete experience and has already received a tonne of attention on Twitter. No word yet on whether we can expect a Bad Religion and The Offspring soundtrack, but fingers crossed, obviously.

Corrupt Cup Contest, from Good Sport Games (Windows, Mac, Linux)

Inspired by the very real corruption scandals of professional sporting events the world over, Corrupt Cup Contest is a snarky and satirical management game about securing the rights to host a tournament in your country, using bribery, schmoozing, and other nefarious activities.

Take a look at the Corrupt Cup Contest trailer below:

 

It’s cheeky stuff, for sure, but behind this playful exterior is a robust management game that will take some time for players to learn the intricacies of and beat their opponents in the promised online multiplayer modes.

Princess to the Rescue, from A Little Red Panda (Windows, Mac)

Look how charmingly lovely this game is! Set in a cursed kingdom, your task is to journey through the world and bring peace to the land, surrounded by butterflies and moonbeams and pink castles and toadstools as animated in the GIF below. And did I mention you can play dress up with your customisable character? Delightful.

 

But don’t be thinking that these soft textures and pastel colours are masking a game without substance, oh no! In Princess to the Rescue you’ll find a good level of challenge that’s perfect for younger minds, with spatial puzzles and platforming conundrums that weave light scientific themes into solid run and jump action.

The Adventures of Bertram Fiddle: Episode 2 – A Bleaker Predicklement, from Rumpus Animation (Windows, Mac)

Episode 1 of this point and click game, set in a pastiche of Victorian-era England was, without a doubt, one of the wittiest entries in the adventure genre, with hilarious line of dialogue after hilarious line of dialogue coming from a host of brilliantly realised and wonderfully animated characters. Take a look at some of them for yourself in the trailer below.

 

The latest instalment promises an even longer story arc while taking in a wider variety of locations, focusing on getting to the bottom of the core question in the series: just who is Geoff the Murderer? This one’s oh-so-close to being released, so make sure to add it to your Steam Wishlist.

Warborn, from Raredrop Games (Windows, Mac, Linux) 

As you’ll see from the images, Warborn is very early in development, but its premise is strong: this is essentially Gundam-esque robots battling for supremacy in turn-based combat inspired by Final Fantasy Tactics and Advance Wars. If that doesn’t sound like a recipe for strategic mech awesomeness, I don’t know what does.

 

The other thing you’ll notice from the GIF above is just how slick the game is when it’s moving from making decisions on a map, to the combat layer, and back again. It’s a really smart choice and attention to the small details like this from the start, plus the promise of customisable teams and commanders with game-changing special abilities that has me excited to see more.

Bushido: Legend of the Samurai, from Meteor Pixel (Windows, Unannounced Consoles)

A stunning looking samurai combat game, in which players travel through feudal Japan learning the ways of Katana-based combat. Players fight in a variety of jaw-droppingly beautiful settings inspired by real locations, equipping their character with new sets of armour and items, and performing a variety of attacks with beautifully smooth animations – all rendered using Unreal Engine 4.

 

Gameplay concentrates its focus on players improving their skills in combat and learning the systems of play, rather than mashing buttons and hoping for a victory. And once you think you’ve mastered your abilities, you can take the fight to online opponents.

Dark Future: Blood Red States, from Auroch Digital (Windows) 

Though I’m biased (I work at the studio making it), Dark Future: Blood Red States absolutely belongs on this list of exciting games in development in Bristol. In the game, you command a team of ruthless highway warriors on the gang-infested highways of North America’s wastelands in a RealTimeShift Vehicular Action Strategy reboot of the cult-classic Games Workshop car combat game.

You can get a good idea of the feel of the game in the GIF below:

 

Sporting a mysterious universe filled with danger, this unique strategy game has you exploring the sand-strewn wastes of a near-future USA, with gorgeous visuals and realistic physics powered by Unreal Engine 4.

Rogue Aces, from Infinite State Games (Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita)

Back in the arcades of the 80s and 90s you’d have found me playing games like Defender and Aero Fighters and daydreaming that maybe, just maybe, one day someone would make a game as good looking as the pixel-y planes of Rogue Aces. This is an old-skool side-scrolling shooter, filtered through the lens of a roguelike.

Old-skool: a nostalgic screenshot of the in-development Rogue Aces

 

But don’t think that this is simply trading off of rose-tinted nostalgia. Rogue Aces has plenty of modern game design sensibilities, including emergent AI behaviours, procedurally generated missions, and over-the-top power-ups, creating big impactful explosions while maintaining a ludicrously smooth frame rate.

LFDR (Live, Fly, Die, Repeat), from Lionheart (Mobile)

The core loop of this game can be found in its title: this loot-based endless action game has you live, fly, die, then repeat the process. It’s a straightforward idea, one that fans of auto-runners and other games in the genre will instantly appreciate. The twist that separates this title from the crowd though, is its commitment to its world building and its ambition as a multimedia project.


Mythical creatures
: LFDR gameplay in action
 

The story is influenced by eastern mythology and western metal music, with lots of original tunes being composed by the developer’s band. Then there’s the companion comic books that will dive deep into the narrative background for the game. It’s a bold undertaking, one you should definitely keep on the look out for.