Mike sat at his computer with a cup of warm coffee in hand, a ritual he had repeated more times than he could remember. This day was supposed to be like any other. Check some emails, respond to some inquiries and then continue trudging along. He could barely believe his own eyes when the email popped up, “invited…event…team…oh god!” he mumbled as he read the contents. The day he was dreading was finally here.
He liked the people that worked under him. They were quirky and a bit frustrating at times but of a good stock nonetheless. He wished he didn’t; that would make what comes next so much easier. His eyes steeled as he prepared himself to open the office door, with determination but also underlined sorrow flashing through them. The weak had no place for the crucible that awaited them, in that, he could find some comfort.
“We’ve been invited.” He said to the people that, almost instantly, realised that something was off about him. “There are only three slots. By the time I open this door again, only the worthy will be able to attend!”. Those words had sealed the deal. Mike walked out while locking the door. The screams were deafening, filled with pain and agony, but he knew that for what came next, that unbecoming wouldn’t survive anyway. By the time the door opened again, only two were standing tall.
And so the three champions that would represent BGeek in Gamescom were chosen. Kostas, by the value of being an experienced, lanky, but nevertheless fierce warrior. George, by being a short, nimble and cunningly brutal fighter. And Jason, possessing the virtue of not being that day at the office in consequence of a not-so-wise alcohol bender the previous day.
These brave warriors that remained would need to brave the labour known as Gamescom 2023. It is a barbarous event where the warlords of gaming present the next masterpieces of a generation. An event that every game reviewer always dreams of attending. An event that’s only accessible, in its most secretive bowls, by the legendary keys known as “Press passes”.
In this testament, we’re gonna talk about the wonders and horrors we saw in the legendary convention. Equipped with our trusted press passes, we braved many adventures and came back to share our opinions on new and upcoming games. This was Gamescom 2023.
Table of Contents
Developer: Artefacts Studio
Do you enjoy being abused? Does doing all the work just so someone else can get the credit make your brain swell with endorphins? Do vague and unsubstantiated promises about your future employment fill you with joy and anticipation? If you said yes to any of these questions, first of all, I pity you, and second, congratulations! You must probably be an intern.
Naheulbeks Dungeon Master is a dungeon management game with an emphasis on, instead of combat, economic growth and viability. Your job as the new resident slav… I mean intern, is to turn your sorry excuse of a dungeon into a thriving money-making enterprise while enduring constant verbal abuse from the dungeon master.
I reached the booth with the game to have a playtest, only to have the person in charge very rudely inform me my time was up as soon as I started playing the game. But he wasn’t rude because I hadn’t JUST started to play the game. Two hours had passed, and I had no inkling as to where they had gone.
Unfortunately, or thankfully, Naheulbeks Dungeon Master is one of these games that consume your time with the avarice of an anime fan just finding a waifu merch booth in Gamescom. You start by simply wanting to make the dungeon tavern a bit more fancy with the addition of a few more candleholders, nice and innocent. By not even the middle of the game, if I may add, you’re making your financial projections for the next fiscal quarter while deciding if it’s cheaper to send your employees on an OSHA Violations seminar or simply let them die in an accident and just pay the fines.
Thick with fantasy parody troupes, severely addicting gameplay, and a decent cast of voice actors, Naheulbeks Dungeon Master is a game that I would strongly recommend to any hardcore management games fans. Buy this game so that you can abuse your intern, buy useless trinkets that make you go over budget, and realise that instead of a fantasy dungeon, a fantasy mall fills your treasury way faster.
Coverage: Jason Dimitratos
The truth is that I’m an addict. I’ve tried to battle my addiction for a long time, but my determination is not strong enough. I consume what Fatshark makes with an unhealthy appetite, an avaricious one even. The products that this company produces scratch an itch I didn’t even know I possessed. These games make my days brighter and reassure me that with a Bolter, a Chainsword, and a Warpfire all can be well in the world. I am an addict. And when an addict is invited by his own dealer to partake in the most uncut, pure, and potent of vices… well, can you blame him for his actions?
The Wonder Twins are back with new content and exciting prospects looming on the horizon. Let’s start with Vermintide 2. Our fantasy firstborn has been getting a lot of love for almost five years now, and Fatshark shows no signs of stopping with updates and additional content. On October 4, players are going to experience a first for the game, an actually canonically “evil” subclass. Our resident psychopathic mage, Siena, gets the highly anticipated choice of turning the dead into her tools of destruction. That’s right, boys and girls of the End Times! We finally get a necromancer.
With the use of the undead, Siena gets to have a more varied role in her party involvement. Focus elites behind the cover, hold the line while your dead weight of a party is catching a breath, or even decide that the Skelly Boys are all the company you need to solo the hardest maps. Everything is possible with the power of the bone zone. This bold design choice is very rarely seen for games with more than three years of content support and has been received with overwhelming enthusiasm by the community. It really projects the message that Fatshark is not nearly done with innovation inside the Vermintide 2 project, and by extension, gives us hope that more surprising and unconventional updates are on the way.
Now, of course, we have to talk about the charismatic problem child, Darktide. Truth is, I’m a big fan of the game. I had already sunk around a hundred and fifty hours on my Psycker main alone before even having finished writing the game review back in the day. I really can’t get enough of it, but because of my long playtime, I can also see some of its flaws more clearly.
Darktide has the most important element that a game needs to be perfected at… the gameplay. The combat feels amazing. Gunplay, melee, and magic all together provide you with a feeling of homicidal euphoria, no matter what tool you choose to use as your killing instrument. The visuals are also absolutely breathtaking, with vistas that look something out of a glorious gothic nightmare and character models that make you wonder if the art department actually sleeps between working days.
If it’s not already blatantly apparent, I love this game. Which brings me to my next point. As of right now, Darktide on Steam has a rating of about 6/10. There are many valid reasons for that rating, of which I can also give a couple of examples. A difficult, buggy launch and a scarce variety of missions are among them.
But, what is extremely noteworthy is the hours played by the people giving the negative reviews. People who have played three hundred hours, a thousand hours, fifteen hundred hours, complaining about very specific issues that, in my eyes, Fatshark is really eager to fix. My point is that most of the negative publicity doesn’t come from people who hate Darktide, but from people who desperately want it to fulfil its full potential but have no other way of showing their frustration.
On October 4 a new Darktide patch is coming out. It will completely overhaul the talent and class systems and provide much-needed build variety on all four classes within the game. An objectively very positive design choice from a studio that, time and time again, has learned from its mistakes.
This Gamescom, I had the chance to sit down with a few members of the Darktide team, including the game director himself, Anders de Geer and ask them some questions about their project and the way they interact with the community. What I saw and heard there was wonderful. The team had full knowledge of the issues plaguing the game.
It’s not that they didn’t have any creative ideas about the future of Darktide; exactly the opposite, in fact. Their passion for the game has led them to an incredible amount of designing rabbit holes in the vast Warhammer 40k universe, but from what they told me, the most important aspect of their progress is longevity. They want Darktide to have solid foundations that can support whatever crazy concept they can come up with in the future. This is, after all, where the class overhaul is coming from.
When I talked with these people, I didn’t see employees talking about a current project. Who I saw were true fans of WH40k wanting to put Orcs in their horde shooter, even though god knows how much work that would take. They talked about how much they incorporate community suggestions into their design progress and even how the current class overhaul was designed with the help of players who put more effort into playing Darktide than they put into their tax returns.
The Fatshark team loves their project. They want you to play it and have fun with it. If, for any reason at all, you have some money to spare and want to have an insanely good time, then for the love of the Emperor, buy it! The game is good. And from what I know about the team… It’s just gonna get even better.
Developer: Chimera Entertainment
Publisher: Chimera Entertainment
Coverage: Jason Dimitratos
I have to be honest with this project. Songs of Silence, for me, came out of nowhere. I knew of Chimera Entertainment since they are a Munich-based studio, and I also happen to live in Germany, but the games I knew them from tended to be mostly low-scale. When I saw that they were releasing a new project during Gamescom, I was, truthfully, intrigued. From my experience, they were, and still are an extremely competent studio that, no matter the game they released, always put quality as a first priority.
They weren’t known for making new IPs on such a scale, which made me very curious about what I was in for. Apparently, like a cheated spouse with photographic evidence, they were biding their time before, quietly, almost gingerly, they exploded with their designing fury showing all its might. Songs of Silence is just that, the labour of a studio that decided it was time to show what almost seventeen years of experience and hard work can do when it’s time to flex its creative muscles and let loose.
So, I got the chance to see some early footage of the game and, most importantly, talk with one of the studio’s co-founders, Alexander Kehr. But first things first. What exactly is Songs of Silence?
Songs of Silence is a turn-based strategy RPG with real-time action elements. Now, you must be asking yourselves how turn-based and real-time coexist in the same game. The answer is simple: overworld and battlefield separation. In the overworld, your armies, just like a lot of 4X games, move and commit actions on their turn. On your own turn, you can move to a city, trigger an event, engage an enemy army, and, in general, interact with the map. Of course, the same goes for the enemy on their turn. When the time to fight comes, the game transfers you to a battlefield where your heroes automatically battle it out against the enemies, allowing you to influence the outcome by choosing the position of the troupes and activating special abilities.
So, we have a complex style of strategic gameplay that’s enjoyable and allows variation. What about the visuals? Well, for lack of a better word, they are absolutely unique. The first time I saw the game… Songs of Silence sold me on the art style alone. A religious vitro flare with almost photorealistic levels of detail illustrates the world, the characters, and even all the actions you can take. There is no other way to describe the game except as a feast for the eyes.
The fact that the unique factions differentiate from one another by using almost opposite colour pallets also gives an insight into how much thought the art team put into the concept. Even the action cards corresponding to your decisions are a wonderful design choice compared to a simple UI menu that offers no artistic immersion. This game looks gorgeous, and it’d be a shame not to have a poster or two on your walls from it.
Let’s get to the second element of that game that surprised me: sound. At this moment, there hasn’t been a lot of information on the general soundscape except the music. I have no idea what kind of dark sorcery was used by Chimera Entertainment for them to have Hitoshi Sakimoto make the music of the game. The man is a legend, composing the soundtrack for clasics such as multiple Final Fantasy games and the proclaimed Valkyria Chronicles. His involvement makes this project a top contender for the next game soundtrack being added to my playlist.
Songs of Silence looks like a game that can instantly enthral you with its charming personality. Aesthetically, it is wonderful, and the gameplay offers a fair amount of satisfaction, including a lot of elements of replayability. The multiplayer will also allow the players to enjoy a more challenging experience. If you are looking for a game to give you a unique experience, then you need to look no further. Add it to your wishlist and get lost in its wonderful world.
Developer: One More Level
Publisher: 505 Games
Coverage: Jason Dimitratos
Ghostrunner 2 is fun. Now the question is, ” Is Ghostrunner 2 more fun than Ghostrunner 1?”. Yeah… or at least I think so. I had a conversation with some of the developers of One More Level. One of the points that instantly came up was a question they had asked themselves way before I had. What differences should Ghostrunner 2 have to excuse for calling it a full new game? They had thought about that a lot, and in the end, I believe that they have succeeded in creating a new title that will satisfy old fans and definitely attract new ones.
In the upcoming sequel, you continue to play as Jack, the 74th Ghostrunner and also the last one thought active… emphasis on thought. After dealing with the Architect in the previous game, humanity now has the ability to traverse the wasteland outside the arcology. The dangers lurking on the outside but also old monsters awakening after the Architect’s death and what effect they will have on Jacks’s journey is the focus of the story in the second game.
Ghostrunner 2 takes all the concepts the first game offered and turns them up a notch. The added interaction with the environment and progressively more elaborate ways of killing your enemies were a welcome addition to the new game for me. Everything you loved from the prequel is still here. Speed still being of the utmost importance as a virtue of the game, and a steady rhythm of gameplay makes sure that the sequences flow from one to another smoothly.
With all of that come more varied environments, including the grand outdoors and the enemies that forbade humanity from going outside in the first place. The main point of the game still remains unchanged… run! Lose yourself in the synthwave while riding your cyberbike and experience what it means to be a cyber-augmented demigod with anger management issues and a need for speed. Ghostrunner 2 will be out on the 26 of October, and I can’t recommend checking it out enough if you’re a fan of the series or also someone looking for adrenaline-filled gameplay.
Developer: Donkey Crew
Publisher: Donkey Crew
Coverage: Jason Dimitratos
I actually didn’t know Bellwright existed. You see, I’m not much of a fan when it comes to historically realistic settings. Some of the other games I’ve played before were fine, but truth be told, I find the setting a bit uninspiring. Here is where my brother comes in; he is a historically accurate media fanatic.
When he heard that Bellwright was also an option for the appointments I had for Gamescom, he told me that if I didn’t have a conversation about the game with Donkey Crew, he would teach me the true meaning of drawn and quartered. So, intimidated by a man who shares half of my DNA, I decided to have a look and talk about a very interesting conglomeration of genres in the form of Bellwright.
Donkey Crew is bringing us a single-player, third-person, sandbox, open-world RPG that prides itself in its historically accurate setting. There is no magic or underlying evil occult adversaries, just the greed of man and your unfortunate part in a plot that’s treating you as a disposable piece. It will be your job to rise from obscurity, gather allies and resources, and assert that your place in this world is not that of a pawn but of a player.
Being realistic in its setting, Bellwright doesn’t expect you to do it all by yourself, though. Crafting will be a big part of the gameplay experience, at least in the beginning. Your character is, at the end of the day, a single man. By extension, the gears of your purpose will need a workforce and bases to operate, and here is where Bellwright finds me intrigued.
By “liberating” and repurposing settlements, your character acquires followers and, for lack of a better phrase, the means of production. You will manage your workforce by deciding what the villagers will be doing and what suits their proficiency better. More importantly, you will have to organise the defences of your settlements in case of bandit attacks or even more nefarious plots by your rivals.
You may start small in Bellwright, but by managing your territory, by the end of the game, you have a kingdom. Fight cunningly, organise adaptably, and make sure that although heavy is the head that wears the crown, your’s will get used to it.
Developer: Airship Syndicate
Publisher: Digital Extremes
Coverage: Jason Dimitratos
Before I start expressing my opinion on Wayfinder, I have to give you some context about my relationship with Vigil Games and, by extension, with Airship Syndicate. You see, I was a huge fan of the two projects that Vigil Games created. Such a big fan that I actually have a Darksiders tattoo on my back. I’ve played both games dozens of times each and enjoyed them immensely. They really hold a special place in my heart as I still remember myself as a teenager, trying to sneakily ditch cram school so I could play Darksiders 2.
When Vigil Games closed down, I felt extremely sad; I just could not comprehend how a studio making products this good could just end. But then, after a while, Airship Syndicate appeared. Made by ex-Vigil developers and the same co-founders, I was ecstatic about what kind of projects loomed on the horizon, and truth be told, they didn’t disappoint.
I considered Airship Syndicate to be one of the last bastions of studios with consumer-friendly practices. Battle Chasers was amazing, Darksiders Genesis scratched my Darksiders itch in a very unconventional way, and even though I’m not a big fan of the LoL universe, I found Ruined King: A League of Legends Story to be very engaging. They were a studio that released complete linear experience games that were as handcrafted, detailed, and cared for as a miniature ship in a bottle. But now things have changed… and I’m not sure it is for the better.
Here, we have Wayfinder. This is the first attempt of the studio on an MMO project, and the first time I heard about it, the word “hyped” couldn’t even begin to describe my feelings. An action MMORPG with the distinct visuals of Airship Syndicate and their signature crisp hack-and-slash combat? Sign me up! I felt like someone heard my wishes and made them come true. Unfortunately, though, this is more of a monkey’s paw than a genie situation.
The game was being published by Digital Extremes. The famous Warframe creators, but also recently purchased by Tencent, publishers. And here is where the first red flag appears. Wayfinders would be free to play. Syndicate had never made a FTP product before, so that came as a shock. But what made me really apprehensive about the project was the paid early access.
As of now, the game is in an early access state. Although it will be free to play on release, for you to access the game at this point, you are forced to buy a cosmetic pack that costs 18 euros. But that’s just one of the things to come. Let us talk about the game first.
Wayfinder looks amazing. The blocky, sharp, comic-like aesthetic Airship Syndicate is so well known for fits perfectly in the setting that the game provides. All of the characters look distinct and, more importantly, make you, as a player, interested in trying them out. Each and every one of the weapons provides a different rule of cool and thematically fits with the vibrant pallet of the game. Wayfinder takes visual influence from the Darksiders series and is fearless in experimenting with a formula that we already know works.
But at the end of the day, we are still talking about a video game. So, what is the gameplay like? For an early-access game, I’d say it is pretty amazing. Most of the weapons feel impactful and give you the sense of slashing/shooting enemies with something that is comically powerful.
There is weight behind every attack, and as a player, that makes the act of dishing damage very satisfying. Furthermore, even the characters themselves enjoy sharp ability kits that centre around their themes. Not even once did I feel like an ability didn’t fit a hero or didn’t have a use. When it comes to combat, the game has almost everything figured out.
Here, though, is where we start to see a lot of the negatives Wayfinder has. As a new player, the experience the game has to offer is very hands-off and not in a good way. Confusing upgrade systems are piling one on top of the other, and item-level blockades stop the character from continuing with the story by creating the need for some extremely lengthy grinding sessions.
I had to ask another, more experienced player to explain the echo system to me, and he started his sentence with, “It’s a bit complicated”. Ironically enough, Wayfinder seems to suffer from the Warframe problem of not being able to help its own players set their goals and follow some comprehensive steps to be able to achieve them.
A series of problems also appear when it comes to the “online” part of MMO. The game is not in a good condition as far as connectivity and latency are concerned. Late hit registration, lag, and seemingly random disconnects still plague it. Although it, thankfully, is not as bad as the launch. And here we arrive at maybe one of the most controversial parts of the game: monetisation.
Wayfinder is an early-access game with a lot of problems that require a lot of manpower and time to fix. So, why is there a lot of paid content like emotes, a battle pass that, except cosmetics, also includes items to make the game less grindy, and the ability to buy almost everything with real money in a game that hasn’t even been completed yet? To a new player, this situation gives the impression that there was a lot more work put into the mechanics of the monetisation of this “free-to-play” game instead of essential issues that affect gameplay.
I really like what Wayfinder could become without the aggressive monetisation. The bones of the game could support an awesome experience in the future. But as of now, every time I open it, my progression feels complicated and grind-inducing.
The game keeps reminding me how easier everything would be if I spent more money on top of the 18 Euros I already paid for the early access, and the amount of paid content gives me the feeling that the saying “There is nothing more expensive than something free.” perfectly describes the situation. I really want this project to succeed, and hopefully, in the future, less effort will be put into the monetisation of the game and more on optimising the already great gameplay.
Developer: Drop Bear Bytes
Publisher: Versus Evil
Coverage: Kostas Nikolaou
Broken Roads is an interesting RPG from the indie Drop Bear Bytes. The whole atmosphere is dominated by the classic Wild West shooting style, only it takes place in Australia. Apart from the wasteland image it creates, the design team put in real locations from Australia giving an extra reality to the game’s image. From the beginning, you pick a character and progress by seeing what is troubling the area by reading several dialogues, which depending on the choices you make will obviously alter the flow of the game.
As for gameplay, the main feature beyond point and click is the moral compass that gives options and new skills as the game progresses. Whatever choice the player makes affects the moral compass giving possibilities for new choices, both in combat and in dialogue.
It’s very interesting how morality is followed in this way and it contributes to the escalation of the game. For now, the game is expected to be released in 2023. It’s good and simple for those who want something chill and relatively slow in gameplay with a lot of dialogue and story to follow.
Developer: Fallen Leaf
Publisher: Dear Villagers
Coverage – Kostas Nikolaou
Fort Solis from Fallen Leaf and Black Drakhar is in turn a cinematic game that gets you in the eerie mystery that is created from the very beginning. The story begins with Fort Solis, an isolated fort, calling for help and Jack the main character of the story responds to this. Upon arriving there Jack tries to figure out what happened at the dark fort by searching for survivors. The night grows longer though and the further you progress in the game the more “peculiar” it becomes. Set in a spacey atmosphere of horror and suspense you will live the experience to the fullest as it is indeed a beautiful cinematic masterpiece.
Primarily it’s a walking simulator so you don’t have any running or incredible actions, but you have to be ready to press some buttons in time for the actions to happen and not miss them. The game may go at a relatively slow pace but the atmosphere makes up for it extremely well. You have a lot of research to do and a map to explore. For those who like atmospheric games with pizza on a rainy night, I highly recommend it.
Developer: SGRA Studio
Coverage – Kostas Nikolaou
Dragonheir – Silent Gods is a multiplayer RPG from SGRA Studios. After a huge battle between dragon gods, you find yourself in a nearly destroyed world with no memories trying to find out what happened. Amidst the quest you try to save what’s left of the area you’re exploring, Arcadia, and meet powerful characters that enhance your party giving you more options and powers in battle.
On the gameplay side, it’s straight point and click, quite well designed. The quests are not all linear and there are many side quests to discover the world better. The animations are also nicely designed keeping your mind in the semi-real-time battle.
Starting the battle you won’t get into the classic pattern that the bigger strategy games have built about details and real-time character movements, rather you just need to set up your players correctly on the Grid that shows their position. From there it’s just a matter of properly timing their charging attacks and waiting for the cooldowns so you can use them again. You can also choose where the attacks will be made giving a little more taste of real-time strategy.
The game will be released on September 19th for iOS, Tablet and PC and I recommend it if you are looking for something fun and with a story to spend your time on mobile.
Developer: NetherRealm Studios, QLOC
Publisher: Warner Bros. Games
Coverage – Kostas Nikolaou
Mortal Kombat 1 needs no introduction. It’s one of the best-known and greatest fighting game titles in existence. This game is the 12th in the series but is also a reboot of the original first one, giving us a glimpse of the first characters and bringing a new fighting style and a new mode. It’s not an exact rework of the first one but an alteration of it. We see the characters as they were young and living an original storyline around them with the campaign starting with Raiden and Liu Kang.
The new features we see are fighting styles in which you can have 2 players to make your combos stronger. With the right buttons either will burst in to throw a punch or a kick, but the cool thing is the cameos of some more special attacks that pull out a lot of full combo amusement and obviously more damage. Some attacks and combos have been simplified a bit but that doesn’t stop the creativity in how to smash the other guy with a few buttons.
The other new feature of the game is Johnny Mansion in which you choose characters and go through a linear path fighting bosses. Your goal is to enter the mansion and every point you encounter is a battle, or a tutorial. From these, you either need to get a key or an item or just beat any enemy you encounter to get past the point. It’s quite enjoyable because it takes you out of the standard story that the game has and lets you do something different.
Developer: Sector D2
Coverage – Kostas Nikolaou
Project Wingman is a combat flight-simulator game. You will seriously fall in love with it if you let yourself, quite literally, fly with the VR Headset. Without hesitation, it feels like maybe the best flight simulator I have ever played especially after you get used to the controls.
Straight onto the gameplay, you are going to start with a simple yet informative tutorial that will explain the basics and make you feel comfortable with the flying mechanics. Starting with a proper take-off of course you will need to accelerate and raise the point of the fighter jet. Basically, you move around using the controllers and the most important thing is acceleration. This is what will help you move around and maneuver as you need to balance how fast and how slow the plane will go so you can avoid or catch up to enemies.
The feel is realistic, and I can still feel the turbulence of airplanes created by the VR Headset which gives an amazing effect when you are passing by an exploding enemy. To be successful in the game you need to time your attacks with the screen locking mechanism which will shoot rockets, as well as with the basic bullets which really gives this dogfight feeling we have watched in movies or played in other titles. The main purpose of the game? Destroy everyone. But you also need to be cautious. It’s not just you that is shooting so keep your defensive flares ready and don’t let the enemies catch up to you.
It felt really great doing everything I watched in movies like Top Gun. The game feels way too realistic and it tackles issues that other simulating games are not covering. Maneuvers felt really good and controls are not too sensitive, everything in terms of controls feels right. This is the first game in that everything felt natural and I was not struggling with the controllers or any VR Headset diziness.
Gamescom 2023 – Conclusion
And with this, ladies and gentlemen, we finish our Bgeek coverage for Gamescom 2023. As you read, we saw a lot of new and wonderful games as well as conversing with a lot of studios about their development progress. If you enjoyed this piece, please come back next year for our borderline-deranged gaming pinions. From everyone at Bgeek, have a good one.
We’d also like to thank all the people who organised our appointments and made sense of the mayhem that was Gamescom 2023!