March 28, 2016 Amanda Hudgins

Our GDC 2016 Picks

Hello everyone! We got everyone at the studio to put together a list of their favorite games from GDC.


(Plus Kevin and Kameron too!)


Eve: Valkyrie was cool. I only got a little VR sick but it was fun enough that I kept playing. Great visuals and I enjoyed using head tracking to aim missiles. Makes me want to try VR roller coasters to see how it would feel. Lines were too long for Vive demos, but I saw several people freaking out so I’m excited for that too.




I’m going to cop-out on favorites and pick two. First, Chambara by team ok. ( This game demonstrates the importance of visuals in a game by making the visuals and the gameplay one and the same. Just by making everything in the game consist of perfectly flat unlit colors, what would be a bland first person action game turns into a cerebral game of hide-and-seek where players blend into their environment seamlessly. Figure out your opponents location, make sure you are in front of a surface that is the same color from their point of view, and you are invisible to them. Approach incorrectly, and you stick out like a sore thumb. Chambara is a twist on a classic genre, clever in its simplicity.

Second is Dreams by Media Molecule, creators of Little Big Planet ( This game isn’t even a proper game yet, honestly more of a set of tools, but the power and ease of use of those tools is impressive. Using simple and intuitive motion controls, players can create complex 3D environment and models faster than anything else out there. This isn’t even mentioning the crazy tech they’re using. I’m not going to go into detail on this, but in Dreams, traditional polygons are a thing of the past. This is what allows the flexibility and painterly style that makes Dreams so distinct. The gameplay sections may still be taking a back seat to the creation tools and engine, but Dreams is one of those specials games that when they tell you that you can do anything, you can’t help but believe it.




My favorite game to play this year at GDC was in the Day of the Dev’s section: Arena Gods. There were whispers at GDC that this was the next Towerfall — but this ignores both the things that make Towerfall great, as well as the things that make Arena Gods great. Arena Gods is an oddly beautiful, destructive top down fighter featuring an array of brightly colored characters battling to the death in a sleek coliseum. The colors are alternatively bright and muted — the characters and their blood are rich tones, but the design is overwhelmingly simple. It’s a measured study in design. What makes the game fascinating is that it is still fun even when you’re being annihilated. Comebacks are easily made and the fates do not always shine down on the fortunate.

Early on Friday I ran down to Day of the Dev’s to be one of the first people to play Arena Gods for that day. While it was difficult to get people to initially sit down — the game is unassuming and relatively unknown–once we got started people crowded around to watch. It’s difficult to fully quantify what is great about Arena Gods — but it’s the game I wish I had walked away from GDC with a code for.




Nominated for the IGF’s “Best Student Game” award, Ape Out lets you take control of a large, violently orange gorilla who is intent on breaking out of their maximum security prison cell. You have two options when controlling this beast: punch your enemies or grab them to use them as a shield. Using these techniques (and a bit of strategy) you must navigate your way through a convoluted series of corridors filled with armed guards who are hell-bent on preventing your escape.

Ape Out really stood out to me because of how well it married each aspect of gameplay together into a single experience that conveys a somewhat jovial tension as you maneuver your way to the exit of each stage. The movement controls (left stick to move, right stick to face a direction) make it feel as though you’re actually controlling a gorilla. You are fast, but not particularly agile. Similarly, the music, a kind of frenzied jazz sound, melds perfectly with the sounds of an enemy dying (indicated by the clash of cymbals). I was glad to discover this game at GDC and only stopped playing because there was an extensive line of people behind me waiting for their turn to play.


And also a word from our honorary #NotGDC intern, Kameron:

My favorite #NotGDC was Pokémon Soul Silver. The only game I had time for this month.

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