Despite being under the same banner and produced by the same company, EGX and EGX Rezzed couldn’t feel more different from one another. After attending my first EGX last year, I was completely overwhelmed by the sights and sounds and had absolutely no chance of taking everything in. Rezzed, luckily, is a more “downbeat” affair that should appeal to any first-time gaming convention attendee. It could be the perfection introduction to what these things are all about.
There’s just a much more relaxed atmosphere once you arrive at Tobacco Dock, from the gamers patiently milling in and the distinct lack of dubstep assaulting the ears once you step inside. It would be incredibly pretentious to suggest that it’s more sophisticated than its big brother, but Rezzed is angling for a different audience, one that can appreciate the smaller titles as opposed to the bombastic AAA efforts. There was no giant model of a rideable dragon at Rezzed, for one.
Architecturally, Tobacco Dock takes some getting used to. It’s a unique and definitely beautiful location, but you should really refer to your map if you’re visiting it for the first time — I was there for a few hours until I realised that there was an entire section that I had somehow missed. Conversely, I wish I had just missed the food there entirely.
I don’t know whether the team at the Dock were simply unprepared for the demand, but the food –the only option available at the entire venue– was just…not good. For £3, I was served ice cold chips that tasted exactly like the cardboard they were served in and garnished really lazily with some kind of mildly offensive spice. As a burger enthusiast (read: fat little man), the chicken burger, which set me back £7, was just nothingness inside a bun. I think the staff may have been overworked, so maybe things would have been better with more numbers behind the counter.
You probably didn’t come to this review expecting a rant about disappointing chips, so you will be glad to know that the rest of the event was more or less excellent. As mentioned, the games at Rezzed aren’t all big-hitters, but almost everything I played was worthy of attention. There were a few that weren’t ready for the public spotlight, but a rough, promising idea is better than no idea at all.
To make games easier to discover, they are all split into different zones. Games running on Unreal, games that are a bit off-the-wall in the Leftfield Collection, and so on. The main room, simply called the Indie Room, was the hub at the event and basically where everyone congregated. Flanked by merchandise at the back, the room was always buzzing with gamers trying out something new and not the norm. I tried a few games there when the lines would allow, including Disco Elysium, which was my highlight of the whole event.
It was downstairs in the Indie Room Basement where I spent most of my time, though. It was more subdued and intimate than upstairs, which allowed you to really dig into games and their developers. I talked at length and played with the developer of Hack Tag: a neat little co-op game where one player controls the hacker and another the agent. I also had a chance to try out Stay: a game where you just simply have to wait as long as you can while talking to someone trapped in a room through instant messaging.
All three of the big console publishers had a presence, though on a much smaller scale than usual. Nintendo had a decent selection of indies, including Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes, Dead Cells, and Pode. Xbox arguably made the biggest effort of all three, offering the most amount of games from the AA to the rung just below that. PlayStation, however, really didn’t feel all that involved at all, showcasing a handful of 2D games on one side of the room and then effectively advertising PlayStation Now on the other. The Adventure Pals was a fun co-op game with gorgeous visuals and Guacamelee 2 certainly looked like a step up from its predecessor, but Sony may be kicking themselves for not going in harder. Their zone was easily the least busy of the three.
While everything on the top floor was spacious enough, some of the zones on the lower floor were almost impenetrably cramped. The Leftfield Collection had a host of truly innovative looking games, but I barely had the chance to play any or even watch others play as everything was just so tightly packed. I left it until way late in the day to check out efforts from Wired Productions as their zone also was just bursting to the brim, but I completely enjoyed Grip and Shaq-Fu 2 (despite myself) when I got the chance.
All in all, EGX Rezzed 2018 certainly delivered what it promised: amazing “low-key” games with plenty of opportunities to get up close and personal with their developers. The slower pace meant that I could more easily get around at my own speed and take it all in. While I would have preferred more maneuverability in some rooms, Tobacco Dock has so many other rooms they could potentially open for next year.
If you’re looking for something to play off the beaten path or just want to meet up with like-minded gamers, EGX Rezzed could be the perfect place to do just that.