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Digital Blend: The best of E3 2012

Make sure to check out our Best of E3 2012 Awards.

Greetings, Digital Blenders! I’m on the ground in Los Angeles right now, here to bring you a special edition of our weekly Digital Blend column. The gaming world tends to explode with news the week of E3, and the 2012 edition of the annual trade show was no exception. So I’m here to bring you some news and notes from the show floor in the final remaining hours before a plane carries me away from this crazy place. I’m going to drop the usual format this week in favor of something a bit more informal. So let’s get this post-show on the road!

J.S. Joust

Much has been said already about Johann Sebastian Joust. It’s technically not even a video game, though it does require the use of game hardware. JS Joust is a party game in which 2-7 players each carry a single motion controller; early demos have used and continued to use a PlayStation Move wand.

The gathered players participate in a bizarre Tag-like game in which the goal is to jostle competing players — or, really, their controllers — enough to make them flash red and deactivate, effectively knocking them out of the game. The last person standing is the winner. If you dart around too quickly, you risk jostling your own controller too much, and so JS Joust becomes a game of careful movement and evasion. The twist is that music plays in the background during a given round; whenever the music speeds up, players are allowed to move more quickly. There are no other rules beyond that and nothing, for example, to stop a player from carefully placing his or her wand on the ground and then leaping at another player.

I finally got to try out Joust at E3 2012’s IndieCade, and it’s a blast to play. You can’t actually buy this for yourself yet, but check out the source link above to keep an eye out for the latest news and announcements. It’s maybe not as convenient and easy to set up as sitting down in front of your TV, monitor, tablet, or smartphone, but it’s a unique not-video game that is great fun among friends.


Nearly everyone who played Chair Entertainment’s Shadow Complex loved it. The visually spectacular Metroidvania adventure delivered gameplay that we don’t see enough of anymore, and it was wrapped in a package that felt AAA to the core. Chair is busy now with Infinity Blade, but Deadlight is looking like a nice alternative. It’s no Metroidvania, but the 2D survival horror adventure has the same sort of visual appeal, albeit with a much darker feel and more of a low-tech environment, owing to the game’s 1980s setting.

Deadlight is the work of the Spain-based developer Tequila Works. It’s traditional survival horror in a lot of ways, with players being forced to manage resources and opt more often for flight than fight in a zombie-filled post-apocalypse. There’s no backtracking or map management like there was in Shadow Complex, but there are all manner of collectibles, pickups, and the like to look out for as you make your way through the game’s ruined, rotting world.

Deadlight is coming to Xbox Live Arcade sometime in Q3 2012 as part of Microsoft’s annual Summer of Arcade promotion. It was looking all sorts of awesome in playable demo form at the MS E3 booth, so get psyched for this one.


Easily one of the sexiest games at this year’s E3, Hawken is a free-to-play PC-only mech combat game. Meteor Entertainment is taking a gamble that the relative absence of this genre from the gaming world in recent years is more a coincidence than it is an indication of waning interest in the genre. For those who look at games like Armored Core and feel the latter, get over it. Adhesive Games’ Hawken is the real deal.

Before you can join in on a match in the multiplayer mech combat game you need to choose your loadout, which includes you mech chassis, weapons, and a utility item. The options available in the E3 demo were limited to just a handful, but Adhesive promises more to come by the time the beta kicks off in December. And of course, this being a free-to-play game, players will always have the option of buying content as well.

By all appearances, Hawken is a pretty traditional team-based multiplayer mech game. You’ve got unlimited supplies of ammo, but the tradeoff is that you risk overheating and waiting for a cooldown if you fire too much, too quickly. Visually, Hawken is a standout. No matter that it’s free-to-play; this is a good-looking game, regardless of the price point. Definitely keep an eye out for more news as the December beta draws closer.

Papo & Yo

It’s hard not to take a look at Minority’s upcoming PlayStation Network release Papo & Yo and not fall hard for it. Hearing the story behind the game’s development makes it even tougher to turn away. Papo & Yo springs from the mind of Vander Caballero, a former member of EA’s FIFA team who struck out on his own to tell a very personal story about his troubled childhood growing up with an alcoholic father.

Papo & Yo puts a fantastical twist on the story, following a young boy named Quico who lives in the Favelas of South America. Quico’s best friend is Monster, a large beast that loves his companion dearly but who transforms into a fearsome creature whenever he succumbs to his addiction to eating frogs. The puzzle-platformer is built around guiding Monster to a place where he can be cured.

This basic concept gives way to some clever gameplay ideas, all of which are realized in a beautifully crafted world. Caballero enlisted a team of top-quality AAA development talents with experience from all around the inudstry, and that experience bleeds through in every pore of Papo & Yo‘s design. The game is coming sometime later this year; stay tuned for more info soon.

Humble Indie Bundle V

It wouldn’t be a Digital Blend without at least one recommended buy for this week, and I can’t think of any better purchase out there than the latest Humble Indie Bundle. This is perhaps the most serious collection yet for the pay-what-you-like charity effort. The core lineup for the package included PC versions of Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP, Bastion, Psychonauts, Limbo, and Amnesia: The Dark Descent. As if that wasn’t enough, Braid, Super Meat Boy, and Lone Survivor were added to the collection earlier this week.

That amounts to eight absolutely outstanding games for whatever price you deem to be fair. You’ll need to pay a minimum of the average purchase process to receive all eight, but that amounts to just $8.19 at the time of this writing. How can you possibly say no to an offer like that? Spend some money, do a good deed, and get some truly amazing games in the process. Seriously… what are you waiting for? Why are you still reading this?

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