Not-E3 2023 Day 4: Distilling the best of Future of Play, Wholesome Direct, and Future Games Show
A busy, wholesome day of showcases distilled into three deserving game spotlights (plus nine more in our video recap linked below)!
If Day 3 of Not-E3 brought us a nice, leisurely stroll through a batch of artistic games whose inclusive intentions and artistic potential were laid out for all of us to see... Day 4 was more like an onslaught for the senses that we not only signed up for, but gleefully consumed. Over the course of just five hours, we witnessed the Future of Play Direct, the Wholesome Direct, and the Future Games Show showcase. Together, they presented somewhere close to 200 games. And they all brought the heat. Wholesome Games' annual offerings are always among our favorites of the week, but the quality displayed by both of the "Future" showcases — Future of Play and Future Games Show — may be the best offering from either since we first started seeing them a couple of years ago.
But when we're talking about reveals in the hundreds, sometimes games get lost in the cracks. We honestly could give you a game-by-game breakdown of everything that was shown — because we're a little bit unhinged and there was so much we loved from all these games — but instead we're choosing to pull out one highlight game from each show. One game to give love and ensure they didn't get lost in the shuffle of a chaotically beautiful day.
Developer: Dallience Studios
Publisher: TBA Platform(s): PC
Release Date: TBA
I'll wait. I know you're still vibing out to the excellent tracks in Yasuke's trailer, so I'll wait before I get into what makes us so excited about this Devil May Cry-inspired action combat game that pulls inspiration from a fascinating moment in Black history.
Yasuke: A Lost Descendant is the upcoming debut release from Dallience Studios. The game's dedication to bringing diverse cultural backgrounds to a style and setting that's had issues with representation is just one of the many things that grabbed us and refused to let go.
With flowing combat that felt reminiscent of Metal Gear Revengeance and Devil May Cry, a dynamic visual style showcasing how great 3D anime art styles can be, and a soundtrack that's already stuck in our heads, Dallience Studios burst onto the scene with confidence, delivering an incredibly compelling trailer to open the Future of Play show with a bang. We loved its anime-influenced style and voice acting, fluid parkour movement, and flashy sword combat.
Yasuke: A Lost Descendant seems to pull from a variety of time periods, at least partially inspired by the real historical story of the first Black samurai, Yasuke, who served under Oda Nobunaga in the Sengoku period. Dallience mentions introducing characters from "past to present" and emphasizes a dedication to delivering characters from diverse cultural backgrounds. So consider us intrigued about the potential of this culture- and history- blending story whose real-world inspirations are already so fascinating.
Dallience has been grinding away at this project without any major funding for years now. And this Future of Play showcase was ostensibly the coming out party for a game that's being passionately worked on by some incredibly talented artists. We can't wait to see more, but in the meantime, it's time to bump that trailer again and let Dallience accept their roses for a minute. They deserve it.
Developer: Nautilus Games
Publisher: Ysbryd Games Platform(s): PC, Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 2024
I can't describe how or why Everdeep Aurora tunneled into my mind the minute I saw it. Its fascinating one-screen-fits-all experience? Its cat protagonist and Metroidvania vibes? I mean, yes, but there was something else. Something mysterious that scratched at my brain. Only after I saw Everdeep's press release did it all make sense. Among its inspirations, which they described as classic titles with dark touches, they listed the likes of Castlevania, Undertale, The Goonies and... Lost. LOST. This interesting drilling cat game was inspired by Lost, one of my all-time favorite shows.
It just makes sense.
Everdeep Aurora puts players in control of Shell, a cat separated from her mother after a constant series of meteor showers forces civilization underground. Shell has to explore the dangerous and mysterious depths of the Everdeep, the underground world full of spooky labs, ancient temples, and a cast of oddball characters. (See? Lost vibes.)
It promises to be an emotional, character-driven adventure, as the journey to reunite with her mother has Shell develop friendships and mull over memories of her mother during the course of Everdeep Aurora's non-violent adventure.
The debut trailer showcased Everdeep's unique one-screen design: where the core gameplay takes place in a 4:3 square in the center of the screen and things like your full inventory, extensive world map, and even nitty-gritty item description windows are spread across the margins of your screen. Being able to check on everything possible at a glance without breaking away from the core gameplay? Not since the Wii U have we had the chance, and it's a really fun idea.
Exploring the Everdeep is just as interesting, with procedurally generated rock tiles forming the majority of its caverns and a Mr. Driller-ish mining system that has Shell chipping away slowly at rock after rock to gather resources and chart a path toward her mother.
Everdeep Aurora's specific blend of influences makes for something that feels truly unique and something we can't wait to get our hands on.
Developer: Ironwood Studios
Publisher: Ironwood Studios Platform(s): PC, PS5
Release Date: 2023
Sometimes I think I should just get on my bike and go. These wise words from a famous Pacific Northwest biker echo throughout my mind whenever I see new footage from Ironwood Studios' driving survival game Pacific Drive.
Set in and inspired by the forests of the Pacific Northwest, Pacific Drive has gamers exploring Bigfoot's stomping grounds, dodging anomalies and creepy little aliens in a station wagon that is your home and your protection on the dangerous roads.
Ironwood Studios' upcoming game combines survival game elements with vehicle-based gameplay, asking you to slowly venture out further to gather resources and slowly upgrade your car's capabilities and your understanding of the "Olympic Exclusion Zone."
We loved the team's approach to creating a bond between player and car. They incorporate deliberate physical actions players must take when upgrading and modifying their cars, like taking tools to the specific spots you're working on — carrying a crystal to be taped to your headlights, for example. You'll have to crack open the hood to check on the battery, hand-pump gasoline to fuel up, and deliberately click on the key to start the engine or the shift to put the car in park. It's the kind of thing usually left for more involved sim games, and it does a lot to make you feel that deeper immersion with your car and the act of driving.
We're most curious about the story, about the source of the chaos in this world and your character's place in it all. The emergent gameplay moments will tell all kinds of stories, but we're hoping to have something to be even more invested in, something to cry about that isn't just your car getting stuck in a ditch. But if emotions aren't at the center, a government conspiracy will do too. I'm not picky.
Day 4 of Not-E3 has come and gone, with tons of new games that have shot to the top of our most-anticipated lists. We mean it when we say this day's shows had some of our favorites across the whole week. Need more proof? Catch our recap where VGG hosts Nate, Julie, and Oscar summarize the day's shows and sprinkle some extra love on games like:
Cavern Dreams, a N64-era inspired platformer
Manitas Kitchen, a T. rex pizza sim
En Garde!, a swashbuckling action game
Resistor, an anime-inspired combat racer
Reveil, a psychological horror experience
Ruffy and the Riverside, an adventure game where you control the world
Tiny Bookshop, an ambient management game where you cart around a bookshop
Fields of Mistria, one part Zelda-like, one part '90s farming sim
Venba, a narrative cooking game
To learn more about each of those games (and a few more sneaky shout outs), watch our recap below! If you're reading this in the month of June and want to see this kind of thing live, we're streaming ALL of the showcases during Not-E3 through Monday, June 12. So tune in!
Thanks for reading!