EGX 2021 Meeting The Future From The NFTS

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Jordan Smith

Publish Date:

12 Oct 2021

EGX 2021 was filled with so many great opportunities to try out new games. Many of them are out now or even very soon. But not all games at EGX were, in fact, commercially available …yet. This is because these games are the final projects by students of The National Film and Television School. Each playable game by the students was just as original as the last, with each student opting for a different game style, from the fast-paced action-adventure title Octo-Ninja Hachimaru to the purely explorative Harp Song. Before we go into each of the games, here is a bit of the back story. The Students of the NFTS started these games 8 months ago. In this time, they have gone from concept to playable experience, with some showcasing a complete experience with the plan to expand on it, whilst others chose to keep it to a demo to take the game much further after launch.

The game design students were each supported by a marketing student who was also present at EGX, helping them promote their game, and share information about the games concept, idea, future and much more. This fantastic opportunity was an excellent experience for students, as it gave them the strong exposure they needed not just with the likes of reporters and publishers, but with the public too, who gave these guys critical feedback, and most importantly, served as playtesters to their creations before they submitted their final projects.

I was fortunate enough to play each of these games during the event (which proved difficult due to how popular the stands were), and personally, I loved how unique each of them was, along with how much detail had gone into the narrative and background for each game. I have a good feeling that each of these excellent designers will be doing some great things within the gaming industry after they graduate. I hope we get to see some if not all of these projects become commercially when they are finished!

The Games of the future

Octo Ninja Hachimaru– Aisosa Ugiabe brings to life an original anime-inspired story where we pay as Hacimaru, a teenage ninja who has trouble making friends, mainly due to his lack of abilities. Hachimaru is sent on a mission to save a billionaire tycoons Daughter. Until one fateful day, he meets the octopus god Takuro who bestows upon him his powers. The demo takes us into this hilarious and fully voice-acted world just after Hachimaru acquires his abilities. I loved the classic adventure game feel that Octo-Ninja Hachimaru gave with its fast-paced combat, hidden secrets and easy to control abilities that make you feel like a true ninja.

Lughnasadh- Irish Folk Lore Fantastic art styles come together in Lughnasadh (Do not ask me to pronounce it), a narrative-driven game that showcases its rather unique combat system. Lughnasadh isn't all about destroying your enemies with violent attacks, but instead demoralising them and building up your own teams morale. The demo on display was couch co-op, and it was fair to say that I was absolutely thrashed by the game's developer Paul Mariotti, but even in defeat, the game was a lot of fun and the momentum build up in how you play was insane, and I hope that I will get a rematch in the future! This is definitely one of those titles that is easy to play but difficult to master.

Zellige:The Tile maker of Granada- Moving into something a bit more peaceful, we have Zellige by Louis Torres Tailfer. This story-driven game puts us into the shoes of a tile maker as he decorates homes. In the demo, we are decorating a merchant's home in any way we feel fit with a range of tile shapes, sizes and colours available to us. Even amid the chaos within the Excell Centre, this was an incredibly chilled out experience set in an environment filled with inspiration from lush gardens to vast hallways. Even for somebody with zero artistic talent like myself, you still could feel good with your designs.

Harp Song- Harp Song is another fantastic experience from the NFTS that focused on Irish Folklore, but this time focused on exploration. In Harp Song, we play as Clár, who is exploring a beautiful Irish landscape. Clár is unwillingly dragged into a war between the gods when she touches the Daga's Harp during her exploration. Harp song is shaping up to be a beautiful game filled with history and lore, and I hope that developers Stephen Glenister and Ástráður "Ace" Lárusson will continue this story in the future as I was hooked!

Frame Of Mind- Museum tours as a teenager, can be such a drag at times, but not when the audio tour is written by Harriet Galilee. In Frame of Mind, our audio tour is hijacked by the spirit of the gallery's former owner, whose masterpiece has been locked away and overshadowed by other artists. As a somewhat unwilling volunteer, we agree to help said owner and must explore the paintings of Monet, Lowery and Dhali for the keys to unlock the masterpiece. I was honestly blown away when entering each painting as the worlds were all styled the same way as the original painting, all whilst getting a brief lesson about the artist and other artists of their period in a rather comical fashion!

Spirit Guardian- Do dogs go to heaven? It doesn't seem that way. Instead, they are still our best friends even after they pass, it would seem. In Natalie Bonds Supernatural title Spirit Guardian we are the ghost of a once-loyal dog whose owner is stricken by grief at the loss of her dog and has become haunted by grief demons. As the goodest Boy/Girl of the afterlife, we must save her from the demons as we guide her through the 5 stages of grief from the afterlife. The gameplay of Spirit Guardian is relatively simple to grasp, we just have to target a demon and start typing, but as the grief mounts on our former owner, the demons start arriving in larger numbers. They can easily overwhelm you if you don't type fast enough!

Gravity Commando- Representing the FPS genre for the NFTS, we had Gravity Commando, where developer Alexis Martineau took the classic FPS formula and flipped it on its head … literally. Gravity Commando allows players to change the direction of gravity instantly, turning the enemies world upside down as to fight from the ceiling. This new angle to shooting allows for new strategies in your battles, and will have you tackling a range of gravity-based puzzles to get through different stages within each fast-paced level! Gravity Commando was such a blast to play and is perfect for fans of the original DOOM and Unreal titles as it really brings that classic feel to the modern age.

Hook Up- Taking a more adult direction Sophie Artemigi's Hook Up puts us into the life of a young woman who is very open about herself and looking for some fun with an online dating app… that is until she matches with her old high school bully on there. Upon matching with him, we are thrown into a fully voice-acted story that details the history between the two, and we are given a choice then to either flirt and hook up or torment him and punish him for what he did to us back in school. The deep narrative and the text-based conversations explore our protagonists past, how it affected her life right up until the day they match, and at many points, I found myself gripped by the trauma and detail. This fantastic little demo also plans to branch out with other potential partners and much more story! Hook Up is definitely one to watch out for if you are after something a little bit more spicy within your gaming library.

Hymble Ventures- Moving back into the more family-friendly territory, Hymble Ventures is a 3D platform adventure that takes inspiration from absolute classic titles such as Crash Bandicoot. Hymble has been created by JJ Fox, who has channelled personal experiences as an autistic person into the main protagonist Hymble. Hymble has a range of abilities based on the hypersensitivities that Autistic people can experience and can use them to protect herself from the dangers that surrounded her in this colourful world full of puzzles and "metalhead characters". Hymble Ventures is a fun game for all ages, and the unique representation of the protagonist is a welcome entry into the gaming world.

Dragon's Breath- Representing the RPG side of things was Dragon's Breath by Sarah Lanway. This low poly adventure puts us into the shoes of 2 siblings Rae and Lucian, as they hunt for clues toward a missing relic. As they work closer to the clue, Rae begins to experience a new power within her, and the life of the 2 adventurers starts to change. But is it for the better or the worse? For now, we will not know, but hopefully, in the future, we will, as the story of Dragons Breath was one that had me interested from the get-go and now that I have started it, I need to finish it!

Pest Whisperer- Finishing this article is possibly the most wholesome experience within the NFTS part of EGX, and that is Pest Whisperer by Casey Lodge. Pest Whisperer takes us to a world of surreal characters as our protagonist Peasy returns to his home village after failing in the big city as pest control. When he returns home, he notices that the villagers are all having pest problems of their own, so using his rather unique snout helps each of the villagers out, expecting nothing in return. The overall experience was incredibly wholesome, and a lot of fun for all ages, and I hope that Peasy manages to get his job back as a result in the future!

Here at 3Bit, we want to wish all the students at the NFTS that were at EGX good luck with their final projects and hope that we will be seeing more from them after they graduate with full releases of what they had on display at EGX or from new projects from wherever the future will take them!

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