I always enjoy my time scouring the new assortment of games displayed at Rezzed. It’s a more relaxed, less intrusive atmosphere than its errant, wholly boisterous partner EGX. But then it’s supposed to be an intimate accompaniment, that’s still lavished in its own contemporary charm. Because of the venues rather meager capacity- though I prefer “exclusive” – the public displays of commerce associated with this extravagant event are tempered, creating an immersive ambience that doesn’t feel as though you’re navigating through a herd of cows. Many of the games on demonstration have been developed by much smaller independent companies – with Sega now sadly categorised as such – that you can tell have been crafted with dedicated precision, as though they themselves have hued months of late nights and early mornings in preparation for today’s event. And it’s because of this fervour that allows Rezzed to exhibit the best in emerging talent without having to display the more illustrious contingency in the industry, that no doubt would attract the audiences these smaller companies endeavour to attract. This year has been no different.
It’s clear from the number of additional rooms that have been extended over this erroneously perceived “small” venue, that it has many hidden alcoves absent from recent years. Which can only be indicative of Rezzed growing popularity. Each room has been compartilised with absolute efficiency, giving a extravagant sense of a much larger exhibition in much more comfortable environment. Because there is only a partial roof covering the inner extremities of the Tobacco Dock, with bleached oakwood spires arching across and glass canopy over the rest, there’s none of that recirculated air stifling your lungs that ordinarily gives me a headache. This may seem like a trifling detail but you can never understate the importance of hydration and fresh circulatory system. For me it’s a much more congenial, almost outdoor environment that doesn’t feel confined nor exposed to the elements. Hell even the sun dared to impeach through and illuminate the venue. Which incidentally contained games to play. I should probably talk about those?
Due to an extended illness that continued unabated throughout the week, I didn’t get to play as many games as I’d like. Also I am not a patient man, averse to any lingering conga line that restricts my ability to play. I however forbade this social malady to indulge in some comforting nostalgia gravitating instinctively towards Sonic Mania. Curse you Sega you cruel temptress, you do know how to seduce my childhood nostalgia. Owing more to its more illustrious 2D era of cultural hysteria than its more recent, shall we say misguided iterations, Sonic Mania looks and plays like the exultant Megadrive days of yore. It illustrates everything that is great and annoying about Sonics formative years; the deceptive encouragement the game permits to run at a frenetic velocity, only for the game to punish you for such impudent displays of speed by impeding your momentum with spikes, walls, slow moving crustaceans – that still catch me out somehow?! – and other robotic aberrations. Sega have made a concerted effort to ensure Sonic Mania retains all of its nostalgic credentials that made this anarchic rival to Mario back in the 90’s so enduring and does so with aplomb. Even if it did make me move left! “What new devilry is this?!”
“Gang Beasts”, evidently a mainstay of Rezzed was as fun and irreverent as it was 2 years ago when I sampled it last. Gang Beasts centers around a group of gelatinous blobs that punch grapple and fight until only one remains. It’s an incredibly simple party game that will have you in fits of hysterics throughout the retinue of interactive enviroments, that it won’t even matter that the malformed blob you controlled falls off the ledge without actually combating another opposition. Nintendo made is presence felt too, arranging it’s multiple Switch devices in a kind of circular edifice, similar to Stone Henge. Presumably this was to attract maximum exposure so you couldn’t miss it. And also to sacrifice the Wii U in the center. In either case the Switch featured many smaller companies, focusing primarily on family friendly initiatives and party games like Dangerous Kitchens “De Mambo”, which Nintendo continues to do well. There were of course many more games to test, endorsements to be observed and presentations to be admired but as my nose began to run like Paula Radcliffe I knew I’d have to bow out early, with a 2 hour journey poised to consume what little energy I had left. It’s a shame as I wanted to be a little more comprehensive as I realise that there will probably be a hidden gem concealed in some darkened alcove that I’d be raving about, because that’s always the case with Rezzed.
Every year the standard of quality displayed at Rezzed diversifies, aided by the individualism of independent companies and ideologies. Allowing us to experience the unique ideas of developers who themselves have been nurtured on gaming culture. The cynic in me is hushed when I’m here, sampling the various content avaliable to me. My heart rejoices seeing just how influential these smaller developers are and how their passion for games has generated a renewed vigour in my own gaming compulsions. They’ve dared to dream, creating material they wanted not because it was popular or consumer friendly but because it was what they wanted to make. And it’s encouraging to know that creative games are still being developed to inspire, not exploit. Personally I can’t wait to go back again next year and discover further inspiration, without being ill of course!