By that, I don’t mean Rezzed is the best kind of games show. I mean it’s my kind of games show.
It’s not too busy, which is good because I hate people. It’s got lots of interesting indie games, which is good because I’m bored of climbing Ubi-towers in open worlds. It’s also about 30 minutes away from where I live on the underground, which is good because I resemble a partially-cooked sack of sausage meat poured into a man costume.
It might be my favourite games show but it’s not perfect. So here, in list form with pictures because no-one likes a long wall of text and I don’t have the skill to write one, is what I liked and didn’t like about Rezzed this year.
BEST THINGS ABOUT REZZED
Tetra, Elemental Awakening
The playable demo for Tetra, Elemental Awakening at Rezzed was put together by four second-year game design students in four months. It was put together by FOUR second-year UNI STUDENTS in FOUR MONTHS. Four second-year uni students in four months!
I’m going to repeat it over and over again because it might be the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen or heard.
It was made by four second-year uni students in four months. One of them was talking about another games show in Aberdeen but wasn’t sure if she could go because she needed time off her job at Morrison’s to go. Studying and working and making games! In four months!
Christ, you could give me four months to write a long-form version of this article and I’d emerge from self-imposed exile three days before deadline and ask what I was supposed to do again before disappearing again to play Overwatch for another four months.
And here they are, these four fresh-faced, smart, ambitious, lively students from the University of Huddersfield, making a game that has more polish and spark than the most of its showfloor competition.
How? How have these young magicians done it? What sort of voodoo do they practice up in Huddersfield? Can anyone from Huddersfield let us know? Is it legal in this country? Aren’t we supposed to throw accused witches in the lake to see if they float? Is that still a thing? Because outside of black magic I don’t understand how this is possible.
Their legacy to the world is going to be a third-person tower defense game with RPG elements woven through it. My legacy to the world after my second uni was a dorm room that stunk of chicken and mushroom Pot Noodles and shame.
I still don’t quite believe that Tetra is a Real Thing and thought maybe I dreamt it. But here it is, Kickstarter still ongoing, proving it is very much something that exists.
What a time to be alive.
You don’t have to queue to play games
This is the best thing about Rezzed.
Go on a Thursday or a Friday, when school/college/uni/work stops people with real responsibility in life from attending, and you have a free run to play whatever you want. At most, there’s one person playing a game, so you politely wait for them to be done before having a go yourself.
It’s the British queue system at its best. You don’t have to politely cough to remind people that their time is up or furiously frown at anyone who attempts to queue-jump. There’s none of that. How very British! Maybe we really are Making Britain Great Again or whatever it is that’s happening in real-life.
There are loads of multiplayer games at Rezzed as well, which has that perfect balance between not being too busy that you have to wait for games and not being so quiet that you need to wait ages for multiplayer opponents to turn up.
Basically, the tl;dr version is you don’t have to wait to play games.
Obviously this changes for Saturday, so don’t go on a Saturday unless you like standing around in big crowds watching people who are terrible at games trying to climb a tree on Snake Pass.
This guy who dressed up as a squid
No idea why but power to him. Makes a refreshing change from Generic Final Fantasy cosplay #968.
Oh my Godheads
There were a lot of fun multiplayer games – Brawlout, Minesheeper, At Sundown, Deckbound Spears, Which-Queue-Is-The-Actual-Queue-For-The-Burger-Stand – but Oh My Godheads was the best one of them all.
It’s a four-player team game where the best modes are Capture The Head and King Of The Head, variants on Capture The Flag and King of the Hill involving a giant head. You have to find the right balance between scoring points, attacking your opponents, and carrying the head which slows you down. It’s fast-paced fun that’s surprisingly strategic, particularly when you start using items and realise you can block opponent’s dash attacks with dash attacks of your own.
It’s only confirmed for PC at the moment but Oh My Godheads is screaming out for a console release. It the same way that Overcooked was a surprise multiplayer hit, this ticks those same boxes. It’s easy to play, it’s playable in quick blasts, it’s a lot of fun.
Developers are actual human beings and you can talk to them
It’s easy to forget that developers are actual human beings, especially if you listen to one too many interviews with EAbots or Ubidroids about building the game from the ground up, listening to feedback from the community, or whatever pre-rehearsed lines they’ve learned.
You could ask the Executive Producer at a huge studio what he’s having for dinner and then listen as he monotonously drones “so I’m not ready to talk about that just yet but be assured, I have exciting plans for dinner that will be revealed at a later date.”
Being an indie games show, Rezzed is brilliant because the developers are often there, hovering nervously around their booth, hoping people like their games. They haven’t been force-fed through The Great Media Training Machine so they’re happy to talk about their experiences, the ups and the downs, anecdotes about their games. They laugh, they smile, they ask you what you think, they share their concerns. They’re actual people and they’re accessible to people playing their games.
I know it doesn’t sound like a huge thing but it really, really is.
It’s great if you want a job in the games industry
There’s a whole room dedicated to jobs in the games industry, with studios who are hiring, developers doing talks (with practical, useful advice) and universities promoting their games-related courses.
If you have your heart set on a career in the games industry, Rezzed is a great place to go so you can chat to people who give you useful advice.
There’s a surfing game!
It’s called Surf World Series and it looks… not great but as someone who has fond memories of Kelly Slater’s Pro Surfer, I’m looking forward to this more than I should.
It’s really, really good.
I saw one man in his late thirties sit down to play it while his wife sat down next to him.
He looked beaten down by life. He was probably wondering if it was worth a day off work to come to Rezzed, when he should be pushing for a promotion to help with the mortgage payments. And what does his wife think of all this nonsense anyway. He remembers when she said “stop playing those kids games” when he didn’t come to bed straight away a few weeks ago and it’s still there, stuck in his head, even though she’s since said that she doesn’t really mind him playing them.
And now here he is, feigning a mild disinterest in the whole gaming thing to keep her onboard, letting the mask slip just for a second because this Sonic Mania game is a bit like those old ones he used to play back when he was happy, carefree, and optimistic about life.
And less than a minute after sitting down, he was smiling.
He was laughing.
He even punched the air, something I didn’t think people really did outside of Eighties metal videos.
“Haha! Wow” he shouted when Sonic was catapulted skywards on one level that looked like a movie set. “Look at that!”
“Yeah,” his wife replied, not even looking up from her bored browse through Facebook.
There’s still joy to be found in this man’s life, and maybe there will be in ours too.
Thank you, Sonic.
WORST THINGS ABOUT REZZED
It’s literally the most SEGA thing imaginable.
SEGA had a Sonic game that had people playing, smiling, buzzing, laughing, and they wouldn’t allow any filming or photography of it to take place. Of course, there weren’t any restrictions on the game it was sharing a stand with, Motorsport Manager, so you could at least dazzle your Twitter followers with exciting videos of the many menus in that.
You really don’t make this easy for yourself do you.
The developer sessions
If I’m being honest – come on, let’s be honest, it’s just me and you here, no-one else is paying attention to us here, we can whisper if you’re worried – no-one reeeeeally likes the developer sessions that much do they?
You’ll have one or two star names (Ken Levine this year) and then you’ll have an empty room that needs to be filled with other talks throughout the day. That’s the scenario that leads to sessions where you have the character animator on some indie game called Why Did Clive Eat All The Cheese talk about what it’s like developing games in Hull.
I get the idea. It’s nice to have a variety in a gaming exhibition.
But for god’s sake at least try and make these vaguely interesting. You’d get a lot more people turn up to these things if it was ‘Nintendo Presents… Extreme Arm Wrestling’ or ‘How To Complete Rime With A Potato’ or ‘Peter Molyneux vs CliffyB: The Street Fighter 5 Showdown’.
It would be a more interesting if it was literally ANYTHING else bar two people in gaming t-shirts talking to each other for an hour about why the trees were so green in level 4.
Rezzed is an indie games show. What even is indie gaming? Ask 10 different people and you’ll get 10 different answers. If we can’t even agree on what indie gaming is, how do you then split them up across a multitiered, multiroomed venue like Tobacco Dock?
The answer is you can’t.
Rezzed is a huge drunken sprawl of indie games with no real rhyme or reason to it, including wishy-washy categorisations like ‘Leftfield’. Some rooms were massive and had six games in. Other rooms were tiny and had 12 crammed in. Snake Pass seemed to be in every single room. Exciting indie game Overwatch was there, as was famous indie underdog Nintendo.
Nothing really made sense.
Too many games is a good problem to have. Even so, it’s difficult not to feel sympathy for games like puzzle-adventure Milkmaid of the Milky Way, which was brilliant but was also buried away in the corner of one of Tobacco Dock’s basement rooms.
People are bad at games. Really bad at games
Here’s something you’ll realise when you go to a games exhibition. If you can a) read tutorials and b) press buttons, you’re automatically better than 90% of your fellow gamers.
Rezzed isn’t a busy show and you only had to wait for the person playing a game to finish before you can jump on. But good lord, it is absolutely agonising watching some halfwit stumble through a tutorial over and over again because they either can’t or won’t read simple instructions.
One example: Tokyo 42 opens with an introduction to the games controls. You spawn, then it tells you how to move. You reach a corridor and a hail of bullets appears behind you. “Press shift to run!” the game shouts. The person playing it walked down the corridor and died. The player respawned at the start of the corridor. “Press shift to run!” the game shouts. The person playing it walked down the corridor and died. The player respawned at the start of the corridor. “Press shift to run!” the game shouts. The person playing it walked down the corridor and…
This went on for at least five minutes. The same 10-second passage of play over and over and over and over again. The developer/publisher watching it became extremely nervous. You can almost see what was going through his head. “How do I tell him to read the tutorial without making him seem like a total simpleton,” he was thinking, a bead of sweat trickling down his face.
In the end, I thought I’ll come back later and found Tokyo 42 in another room and played it there.
Tutorial Guy could still be in Tobacco Dock now for all I know, ignoring instructions to run, doomed forever to live out this weird gaming Groundhog Day scenario in Tokyo 42’s tutorial.
Fear Effect Sedna
Not much to say about this. It feels mean to put any game in this category but the Fear Effect name recognition meant I was expecting something special, or at the very least, something intriguing.
The generic graphics and messy gameplay didn’t lend itself to a great first impression and in Rezzed, where you can’t move for dazzling indie games, a great first impression is often all a game gets.
I get this isn’t necessarily the organiser’s fault. Rezzed takes place in London, a city where it costs 30p to poo at Waterloo Station. A city where it’s easier to find quinoa than it is a sausage roll. A city aimed at high-end people on high-end wages who spunk their disposable income on ISA stocks, bottomless Prosecco brunches and front-row Ed Sheeran tickets. The prices reflect that.
And Rezzed itself only cost £15, which is really good value.
But on what planet can you use the words ‘meal deal’ to describe this travesty. Not on this planet, good ol’ Planet Earth, where Boots has successfully taught us that ‘meal deal’ means we can choose from an entire range of sandwiches and crisps and drinks and chocolates for less than three pounds, allowing us to stuff our mouths for a temporary sugar-high while watching the clock slowly count towards 14:00 to signify the end of lunch and a return to the soul-crushing desk job and maybe it would have been a good idea to save the Snickers for a late afternoon energy boost or even save it so there was a small bit of happiness or something to look forward to before home-time and the whole ritual of misery begins all over again tomorrow and oh god anything anything AT All to look forward to would be good right now ANYTHING why did I do this how much longer can I do this I really wish I had a Snickers right now.
Especially when burger and chips cost £5.00.
Although the burger itself qualifies as a burger in that it’s a cooked bit of meat between two bits of bread that been blasted with sesame seeds. It was just a disgusting, weird burger, I’m not even sure it was beef. It would have been horse, it could have been a chewy tree, it could have been a new lifeform that accidentally wondered onto the grill when no-one was looking. It’s hard to say.
“Ryan it’s just a burger what’s wrong with you,” you might be thinking. If you’ve forgotten already, I resemble a sack of partially-cooked sausage meat poured into a man costume and let me tell you, you don’t end up that way without having eaten a burger or two along the way.
Burgers are important, okay?
Still, bonus points for the fridge that was entirely stocked with Red Bull and Red Alert energy drinks. They certainly understood the Rezzed demographic, that’s for sure.
If I had to give Rezzed a score out of 10, it would get 8. But I don’t, so I won’t.
But next year, if it’s still at Tobacco Dock and it’s still £15, you should go. The wide range of games, the chance to talk to brilliant developers, the lack of queues, it all makes it more than worth it.
Just don’t go on Saturday.
Or eat the burger.