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9 show-stealing games we played at Summer Game Fest

This year’ Summer Game Fest has been a bit of an odd one. As usual, it began with a long kickoff livestream packed with world-premiere game reveals. Though it featured massive AAA titles like The Last of Us Part I and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II, it was a touch underwhelming considering that it had the difficult task of filling E3’s shoes. But luckily, Summer Game Fest is more than its kickoff stream. This year’s festival contains multiple digital streams and even had an in-person component loaded with demos, which Digital Trends attended.

Independent games stole both the digital and physical shows this year thanks to Day of the Devs. The indie-focused livestream was the highlight of a busy weekend, offering a look at a diverse range of titles, from Choo-Choo Charles to Time Flies. Nine of the games from that stream were playable at Summer Game Fest and each one was a highlight of the show. Based on our hands-on time with the titles, all of those games should be on your wish list.

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Animal Well

A creature sits in a blue room in Animal Well.

Animal Well is a Metroidvania-style game created by a solo developer. That’s an impressive feat, as this is a 2D game loaded with secrets and stunning visual flair. During my short time with it, I took control of a blob-like hero exploring an unsettling world drenched in haunting dark blues. After solving a few puzzles and doing some clever platforming challenges, I snagged a firecracker and used it to blow a spectral animal sky-high in a gorgeous pixelated explosion.

I’m immediately intrigued by Animal Well, which looks to be a real love letter to games like Metroid while still being its own thing entirely. The trailer at Day of the Devs showed off a host of special abilities that look entirely unique for the genre, so I’m looking forward to seeing how much deeper the well goes in the full game. For now, though, the slice I played at Summer Game Fest is a promising start.

A Little to the Left

Fruits sit in a line in A Little to the Left.

If you like relaxing puzzle games, A Little to the Left is a title to watch. The organization game has players completing simple tasks, from peeling stickers off of fruit to straightening picture frames. It’s all as satisfying as it sounds. During my demo, I got to complete a few different puzzles, all of which were soothing. In one, a pile of bread tags became a small jigsaw puzzle as I had to line them up so they’d all interlock. Each puzzle took anywhere from a few seconds to a minute, making each perfectly short and sweet.

With a daily puzzle mode planned, I’m excited to get my hands on the full release when it launches. It looks like the kind of game I’ll log into every morning to start the day on a calming note.

Bear and Breakfast

A bear wearing a blue hat stands outside his bed and breakfast in Bear and Breakfast.

Bear and Breakfast was definitely the most adorable game at Summer Game Fest Play Days. As its eye-catching title suggests, this is an indie game about a Bear who decides to run a bed and breakfast. During Digital Trends’ brief demo of the game, it fully delivered on that premise. It’s a management game like Two Point Hospital, as players must build and run the bed and breakfast. It’s also a top-down like Stardew Valley, as players will explore some beautifully drawn environments around the bed and breakfast and meet an eclectic cast of characters trying to help this bear achieve its unusual dream.

While our time with the game was brief, we can’t wait to go back to build and explore more when it launches on July 28. Bear and Breakfast is exactly what it looks like at face value. But when you’ve got a premise as ingenious as this, that definitely isn’t a problem.


A dead rabbit sits in a goblet in Birth.

Birth may have been the strangest game at Summer Game Fest, but also one of the best. Its essentially a point-and-click adventure game where players explore a city while looking for bones and organs. They’ll eventually use those to construct a friend. That may sound kind of creepy, but it’s actually quite endearing — sweet, even. My quick demo mostly had me clicking around the city and solving small tactile puzzles to find new bones. In one building, I had to get rocks into an empty vase via a Pachinko-like mechanism. In another, I had to cut banana slices and properly arrange them on a sandwich by counting the number of seeds on each.

Every puzzle I encountered was a delightful little surprise, which is ideally what you want from a good point-and-click game. Combine that with its oddball energy and you’ve got something truly unique. Birth seems like a short, lovely puzzle game that I already want to return to — and I will when it launches this fall.

Desta: The Memories Between

A player prepares to throw a ball in Desta: The Memories Between.

Desta: The Memories Between was a bit hard to understand before I played as it mixes an emotional story about a girl returning home after her father dies and reconnecting with old friends with turn-based combat centered around throwing a ball. After going hands-on, though, it became clear that this is a really fun tactics game where players throw and ricochet a ball throughout small but visually vibrant dreamlike levels. Unique enemy and party member powers look like they’ll spice each stage up too, adding more depth to what may initially seem like a simple strategy game.

The brief demo of Desta: The Memories Between didn’t really give a sense of how emotionally poignant and impactful the narrative would be. Still, it is clear that fans of tactics games will enjoy this dreamlike sports-strategy game from the developers of Monument Valley when it launches on PC and the Netflix mobile app later this year.

Escape Academy

A row of computers show a puzzle in Escape Academy.

Escape Academy captures the joy of escape rooms in video game form. While I was already impressed by the clever puzzle title when I played it earlier this year, the co-op slice I played at Summer Game Fest had me even more sold. My teammate and I were thrown into a four-story room that was slowly filling up with water. As a timer ticked down, we worked quickly to solve puzzles and crack codes by talking through each step like we would at a physical escape room. My favorite touch came when I picked up a piece of paper with hints for cracking a cipher. I left it pinned on my half of the screen as my teammate used it to solve a word puzzle. That attention to co-op play makes it a particularly strong couch co-op experience.

Set to launch later this summer, Escape Academy seems destined to be one of 2022’s true hidden gems. Its a quietly ingenious puzzle game that really understands the thrill that comes with solving an escape room. Plus, its theme song is a certified bop and that’s always a plus.

Roots of Pacha

A Roots of Pacha character pets a mammoth.

One of the most satisfying parts of a game like Stardew Valley is discovering new plants, animals, and minerals, then creating lots of new equipment with them. Meanwhile, games like Civilization VI are a lot of fun as you bring a civilization out of the Stone Age and slowly modernize it. Roots of Pacha is a farming life simulation game almost entirely centered around those concepts. As I explored the game’s Atone Age world, I was able to discover ideas that can be used to craft new tools and machines, yield resources from new animals, and more. It seems like players will always be unlocking something in Roots of Pacha. As Nobody Saves the World shows, it’s not a bad thing to overwhelm players with progression, and that’s even more true for a game that’s all about getting new ideas and building up a civilization.

Roots of Pacha even features seamless co-op, so players can explore, ideate, and create with their friends. Like Bear and Breakfast, this is a game that Stardew Valley fans should keep on their radar when it launches later this year.


A small black Schim jumps between a person and a sign's shadows.

Schim is a platformer, but instead of hopping from one concrete object to another, players jump between shadows. Its utterly simple to pick up and play but also really satisfying to discover a new shadow to move to in hopes of getting a little bit closer to the human the playable schim was separated from. Sometimes, all a game needs is a simple but immediately understandable gimmick and premise to be a lot of fun, and Schim delivers that in spades with a distinct visual style to boot.

Even though it doesn’t look like a traditional platformer, fans of the genre will likely be impressed by this cute game about shadows whenever it finally releases.

Time Flies

A fly sits on a record player in Time Flies.

If nothing else, Time Flies certainly had the best elevator pitch at the show. Players control a normal house fly who has to live out its short life as a clock counts down. Lives are short — mine were no more than two minutes — so players have to move fast to check items off their insect bucket list. During my few runs, I managed to get drunk by sipping a drop of wine, spin around on a record player, and read a book. Each discovery was a new comedic delight.

Time Flies seems to be more of a quick art piece than a video game, but that was alright by me. I appreciate its creative charm, as it meditates on how brief life is through its insectoid hero. It’s a clever concept, one that’s unlike anything I’ve really seen in a game before, so I already have a soft spot for it.

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Don’t miss these eye-catching indies from Day of the Devs’ anniversary stream
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Day of the Devs, a showcase dedicated to highlighting indie games, held a 10th-anniversary showcase today. The hourlong stream shined a spotlight on several anticipated indie games, including Mina the Hollower, Sea of Stars, and more.

Day of the Devs 10th Anniversary Indie Game Showcase 2022

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Tokyo Game Show 2022 Capcom showcase: how to watch and what to expect
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Tokyo Game Show returns this year with a Japanese-developer-filled showcase. One of the guests of honor is Capcom, the publisher of popular series like Street Fighter and Resident Evil. Some fans are eager to find out more about their favorite franchises, but those in the West might worry they won't be able to watch the publisher's showcase because of the time difference between the U.S. and Japan. Thankfully, the TGS schedule aligns just enough for those with room in their morning schedules, depending on what coast you're on. Here's how to watch the Tokyo Game Show 2022 Capcom Online Program and what games will be present.
When is the TGS 2022 Capcom Online Program?

The Capcom Tokyo Game Show Showcase airs at 10 a.m. ET September 15. It streams live from the Capcom USA YouTube channel and from each of the featured games' dedicated Twitch channels. The whole Tokyo Game Show itself starts much earlier because of the time zone difference, but westerners should still be able to catch the showcase at this mid-morning time.
What to expect from the TGS 2022 Capcom Online Program
The Capcom Tokyo Game Show Showcase features deep dives into these upcoming titles:

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Everything announced at the September 2022 Nintendo Direct
Link overlooks Hyrule in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom key art.

While digital video game showcases are more frequent than ever, no one does it quite as well as Nintendo. As such, this September 2022 Nintendo Direct really excited Nintendo Switch fans. So far, 2022 has been a great year for Nintendo thanks tp games like Kirby and the Forgotten Land, Xenoblade Chronicles 3, and Splatoon 3. During this show, we received a clear idea of how Nintendo plans to close this year out and kick off 2023.
We hoped to see a mix of announced games, DLC, remasters, and Nintendo's early 2023 lineup. While not every leak was true, we were pleasantly surprised by the likes of Fire Emblem Engage and The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom (yes, Breath of the Wild's sequel finally has a name). If you weren't able to watch it live or just want a recap of what was shown, this is everything Nintendo announced during the September 2022 Nintendo Direct.
Nintendo Direct 9.13.2022
Breath of the Wild 2 is officially titled The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom – Coming May 12th, 2023 – Nintendo Switch
After more than three years of secrecy, Nintendo confirmed that the sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is titled The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. This trailer also served as our first good look at gameplay for the game, as we see Link skydive off a sky island, launch himself into the air, climb, and even fly around.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom will be released on May 12, 2023.
Fire Emblem Engage lets you fight with classic Fire Emblem characters
Fire Emblem Engage – Announcement Trailer - Nintendo Switch
To kick off the show, Nintendo announced a brand new traditional Fire Emblem game called Fire Emblem Engage. We saw both cinematics and tactics gameplay, and while it plays like the strategy game fans would expect, players can also equip rings to get help from classic Fire Emblem characters.
Fire Emblem Engage will be released on January 20, 2023. It will also get a Divine Edition with collectible items.
Pikmin 4 is finally launching in 2023
Pikmin 4 – Announcement Trailer – Nintendo Switch
Shigeru Miyamoto showed up for the Nintendo Direct. After giving updates on the Mario movie, Nintendo's theme park at Universal, and Pikmin Bloom, he announced Pikmin 4 with a trailer showing off its gorgeous-looking environments. It scheduled to launch sometime in 2023.
We didn't see gameplay, but he confirmed that you can view the game from the Pikmin's perspective on the ground. Pikmin 4 is a long time coming, considering that Miyamoto first teased the game in 2015. 
Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe announced
Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe – Nintendo Direct 9.13.22 – Nintendo Switch
To continue the Kirby 30th anniversary celebration this year, Nintendo announced that the Wii game Kirby's Return to Dream Land is coming to Nintendo Switch. Titled Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe, it adds a Mecha copy ability, a new subgame, and the ability for everyone to play as Kirby.
Kirby's Return to Dream Land Deluxe launches on February 24, 2023.
Octopath Traveler II is coming to Nintendo Switch
OCTOPATH TRAVELER II - Announcement Trailer - Nintendo Switch
Although it leaked just beforehand, this Nintendo Direct couldn't go without an HD-2D game as Square Enix announced Octopath Traveler II. Like the original, this is a turn-based RPG stylized like the SNES classics where players follow the journey of eight different characters in a fantasy world.
Octopath Traveller II will be released on February 24, 2023. It's also coming to PC, PS4, and PS5.
Everything else

It Takes Two is coming to Nintendo Switch on November 4.
Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse gets a remaster in early 2023.
Xenoblade Chronicles 3 expansion pass adds a new character called Ino, Challenge Battles on October 13.
SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake gameplay was shown off.
Fitness Boxing First of the North Star comes to Nintendo Switch in March 2023.
Ubisoft announced Oddballers, launching in early 2023.
Tunic is coming to Nintendo Switch on September 27.
Front Missions 1st: Remake launches in November, Front Mission 2: Remake launches in 2023, and Front Mission 3 is getting a remake. 
Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life is getting a remake in Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life in summer 2023.
Splatoon 3's first Splatfest is "What would you bring to a deserted island?" The choices are Gear, Grub, and Fun.
Fae Farm was announced by the developers of Dauntless. 
Theatrhythm Final Bar Line launches on February 16, 2023, and it will get DLC based on other Square Enix franchises.
Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope gameplay highlighted progression and Sparks.
Rune Factory 3 Special was announced with a 2023 release window, while a new game in the series was confirmed to be in development.
Pilotwings 64, Mario Party, Mario Party 2, Mario Party 3, Pokemon Stadium, Pokemon Stadium 2, 1080 Snowboarding, Excitebike 64, and Goldeneye 007 are all coming to Nintendo Switch Online. 
Apple Arcade game Various Daylife is coming to Nintendo Switch today. 
Factorio is coming to Nintendo Switch.
Indie game Ib was announced for Nintendo Switch. 
Mario Strikers: Battle League's second update adds Pauline and Diddy Kong alongside more gear and a new stadium later this month. 
Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & The Secret Key launches on February 24, 2023. 
Merry Mountain from Mario Kart Tour and DS Peach Gardens from Mario Kart DS are coming to the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe's Booster Course Pass Wave 3 this holiday
Nintendo Switch Sports is getting a golf mode with 21 courses and eight-player online support this holiday. 
Just Dance 2023 Edition got a new trailer. 
Harvestella is getting a demo today ahead of its November 4 launch.
Bayonetta 3's eclectic cast was highlighted during the Direct, with a new trailer being released on Nintendo's YouTube channel afterward. 
The creators of Danganronpa announced Master Detective Archive: Rain Code. 
Capcom is bringing Resident Evil Village, Resident Evil 7, Resident Evil 2, and Resident Evil 3 to Nintendo Switch, but they will be cloud versions of the games. 
Sifu comes to Nintendo Switch on November 8.
Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- Reunion launches on December 13.
Radiant Silvergun launches for Nintendo Switch today.
Endless Dungeon is coming to Nintendo Switch.
Tales of Symphonia Remastered was announced for Nintendo Switch and launches in early 2023. 
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