Thursday, June 18, 2015

E3 2015: Meet Cuphead and Yarny, E3’s Unlikely Heroes

Everyone looks to E3 to see the latest and greatest big budget games, but more and more we’re starting to see lower budget games from smaller teams making a splash at the show. EA’s press conference talked about Star Wars at length. They talked about Madden and FIFA. They showed the beautiful Mirror’s Edge Catalyst. While these games were being talked about, and in the case of Star Wars Battlefront, it seemed like everyone was talking about it, there was one other game that stood out from others. That game is “Unravel”.

From a tiny team in northern Sweden, "Unravel" stars Yarny, a little red fellow made out of yarn. Yarn itself isn’t actually that alien to games, showing up as it does in the upcoming Yoshi game from Nintendo, and in the knitted characters we’ve seen in the Little Big Planet games. What makes Yarny different is that he isn’t knitted. He’s a bundle, and as you move forwards through the beautiful wooded environments he slowly comes undone. This unbroken line charts his journey and directly connects him to where he has come from.
As you run low on yarn, you’ll need to collect more. You’ll use yarn to make bridges, and as a kind of grappling hook. Focussing on 2D platforming and puzzle solving, Unravel’s subtle storytelling and beautiful slices of nature have made this little game big news, and will hopefully encourage EA to invest more in smaller artistic games.

In two player, player two gets to control Mugboy on the right.
The other little game that’s been making big waves is the visually striking “Cuphead” from Studio MDHR. Studio MDHR is basically just two brothers, and as kids their parents had a lot of thirties animation on VHS. It’s this unlikely visual style that they have recreated in their game. "Cuphead" is a run and gun game (think "Metal Slug", or perhaps more appropriately "Alien Soldier") with a heavy focus on boss fights. The attention to detail in recreating the visual style of the thirties is amazing, but just as much care has been taken with the game dynamics. People lucky enough to get hands-on time have been praising its tight and challenging gameplay.

It’s a game that instantly draws the eye amongst all the epic and realistic worlds and environments on display elsewhere. It takes a few seconds to register that what you’re seeing is actually a game, as Cuphead himself tries to escape from the consequences of losing a deal with the devil.
EA have yet to announce when and where to expect Unravel to launch, whereas Cuphead is confirmed as coming to PC and Xbox One sometime next year.

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