W.A.S.D. Video Game Event – London 2022
After two years of being stuck inside and only being able to cover games from afar we were ecstatic to be invited to the debut W.A.S.D. event in London! It was great being able to get some actual face time with developers and publishing staff and get to grips with some of the impressive games that they’re working on.
Hosted at the impressive Tobacco Dock in central London and spanning three full days, the event had a tonne of already released and upcoming games to try out, a host of interesting careers talks and places to buy swag. The layout and organisation was great, with each publisher having a sizable area to show off their games; this meant it was rare you had to wait more than a few minutes to get to a free station (at least on the Thursday and Friday when we attended) and you could bounce from one game to the next to your hearts content.
We played a tonne of games over the weekend at W.A.S.D. and we’ve scribbled a brief run down of our favourites below. We’d love to go into more detail about each one, but with playing so many we’d be at it forever! If something catches your eye then we’d encourage you to click on the links and read more about the game – there really are some impressive titles coming in 2022!
Click on any of the links below to jump straight to the relevant game, or keep scrolling to check out all of our coverage:
|Platforms||PC, Xbox, Playstation|
|Release Date||Out Now (21 July 2021)|
The Ascent has been around a little while, but with the cyberpunk RPG popping up on Playstation in March of 2022, we wanted to give a go for ourselves. Set in a dystopian future where the shady Ascent Group rules the sprawling metropolis, you’re left battling your way through your district when the corporation suddenly shuts down and chaos reigns.
Let us tell you that the gritty sci-fi setting looks really impressive on the PS5 – the NPC design and animations particularly stood out, as did the level of detail in the environments and the contrast between the grimy factory floors and bright neon lighting looks wonderful. There’s some enjoyable gameplay on offer too, with mazy maps to explore and tonnes of gribbly creatures to blast through in true twin-stick style – why not grab a buddy and blast your way through the underbelly of the future in a co-op bullet fest?
Card Shark caught our attention by quite simply being something entirely out of the ordinary. You play as a rather downtrodden servant in 18th-century France who is befriended by an unscrupulous nobleman; he wants you to help him cheat at cards in exchange for a slice of the winnings. As a lowly table-servant (and therefore almost invisible to the pompous upper class around the tables), you’re in the perfect position to peek at cards and pass signals without arousing suspicion, but you’ll have to be careful to stay discreet, lest you and your partner be rumbled!
Armed with a charming, hand drawn period-painted look, some excellent narrative and some truly fun cheating mechanics, Card Shark will pull you into the seedy underbelly of French gambling houses. Perception, memory and quick wits will be required to master the game, but there’s a definite thrill at coming away with a big pot after some crafty sleight-of-hand wins you a game or two. Sadly, the demo available at W.A.S.D. was agonisingly short, but we came away with a wonderful first impression; we’ll be keeping our suspicious eyes on this one, for sure.
Cult of the Lamb
|Game||Cult of the Lamb|
|Platforms||PC, Playstation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch|
|Release Date||Summer 2022|
Undoubtedly one of Drew’s games of the expo, Cult of the Lamb is a cross between Binding of Isaac and Animal Crossing, and he loved every moment that he spent with it. Part resource manager and part dungeon crawler, you control an adorable lamb, once executed but now reborn, who must build a cult in the honour of your dark saviour to repay the debt. You battle ungodly creatures, develop unholy powers and use your charms to convert other forest animals to your cause as you smite the non-believers!
Equal parts dark and adorable, we couldn’t stop smiling the entire time we played Cult of the Lamb, and think it’s going to be an absolute smash hit. The hand drawn visuals are downright stunning and the animations and character sounds are hilarious. Releasing this summer on all major platforms, we cannot wait to enthral the creatures of the woods and topple the blasphemers! Praise be!
Honey, I Joined A Cult
|Game||Honey, I Joined A Cult|
|Developer||Sole Survivor Games|
|Release Date||Out Now (Early Access) / Full Release 2022|
The great thing about going to events like W.A.S.D. is getting to see what trends will be coming in the next couple of years. This year seems to be the management sim genre, where you build and manage your own little world. One of our favourites is Honey, I Joined A Cult from Sole Survivor Games. The aim of the game is simple: build a cult and
get rich off the poor suckers grow your following.
From the get-go the humour is on point, the chubby followers give off Cyanide and Happiness vibes and the music was a thumping 70s disco track that made us want to stay and play the full game. Unfortunately we did have to play more games but this is one cult we’d be happy to join!
How To Say Goodbye
|Game||How To Say Goodbye|
|Developer||Florian Veltman, Baptiste Portefaix|
While Drew was busy with To Hell With The Ugly, Joe spied an interesting game next to him that was open and boy was he glad he jumped on it. How To Say Goodbye is a puzzle game that’s about dealing with death. We played as a ghost who had recently passed and was looking for his brother in the afterlife. As we progressed, things started to get troublesome as dark spirits appeared in an effort to stop progression. The full story was being set up as the demo was ending (which is why I usually button mash through it so I don’t get pulled in!), but it left us wanting more. We need to know what happens to our little ghost pal.
The puzzles themselves are presented on one screen, with the floor broken into square pieces. You have to manipulate the floor in order to move the ghost and get them to a door. Along the way, locks and keys were introduced to make progression a little more tricky. We’re keen to play more of this just on the artstyle alone, as it’s inspired by old French illustrations that makes for a really unique look.
Ikonei Island: An Earthlock Adventure
|Game||Ikonei Island: An Earthlock Adventure|
|Platforms||PC, Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo Switch|
As a fan of the original Earthlock, Drew was excited to get to grips with Ikonei Island, a beautiful island-life simulator set in the same universe as the 2016 JRPG. Ikonei Island is a relaxed, explorative affair with a bright and playful aesthetic and a wonderfully chill soundtrack, where you’re encouraged to collect resources and combine them to make new items that allow you to make the island your own. Impressively put together in just 13 months while the team takes a break from crafting Earthlock 2, it’s a complete change of pace from the series’ RPG roots whilst maintaining the entertaining lore of the Earthlock universe.
Inspired by Snowcastle Games Director, Bendik Stang’s time spent playing Stardew Valley with his children, Ikonei Island will offer up to four-player cross-platform co-operative play, so you and your friends can build an idyllic home for yourselves amongst the mysteries of the island. After a tumultuous couple of years, this lovely sim might just be the sedate change of pace we all need in 2022.
Imp of the Sun
|Game||Imp of the Sun|
|Platforms||PC, Playstation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch|
|Release Date||Out Now (23 March 2022)|
We’re suckers for a metroidvania, and Imp of the Sun seems to be a wonderful entry to the genre. Playing as Nin, an imp sent down to earth, you must use the waning power of the sun to stop the world being cast into an endless night. It’s an open, non-linear adventure that asks you to explore lush jungles and mountain caves to rediscover Nin’s strength and stave off the Eternal Eclipse.
The bright, Peruvian-inspired imagery is beautiful and the playful characters are delightfully animated. There’s a tonne of collectables that will keep you busy and plenty of fun puzzles and enemies to tussle with too. With Hollow Knight-like mechanics and Guacamelee–style visuals, it has all the pieces to be a superb game, and Drew could have happily spent the entire expo playing the game all the way through!
|Developer||Daniel Mullins Games|
|Release Date||Out Now (21 Oct 2021)|
We’ve heard nothing but glowing reports about Inscryption since its release in October last year, but haven’t had a chance to sample it for ourselves due to our busy schedule… until W.A.S.D. Needless to say the praise is entirely justified, and Inscryptions blend of clever deck building card play, sneaky escape room mechanics and macabre storytelling is a marvel.
On the surface the gameplay is simple enough, but like the unreliable narrators you’re introduced to, there’s a hidden depth that takes a keen eye to master. Every minute of gameplay is bursting with a creepy atmosphere and you’ll find yourself going to any lengths to win the game and escape. We’ve played plenty of games like Inscryption but nothing quite like it.
John Wick Hex
|Game||John Wick Hex|
|Publisher||Good Shepherd Entertainment|
|Platforms||PC, Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo Switch|
|Release Date||Out Now (10 December 2020)|
Yes, John Wick Hex has been out an age already, but we somehow almost entirely missed it and oh boy is it a stylish experience. Play as the titular hitman himself in an action packed turn-based strategy that’s packed with detailed mechanics and officially licensed images and voice actors. The gameplay is easy to pick up and rapidfire to play that gives an almost realtime feel to the turn-based affair.
There’s a real tabletop RPG feel to the action that emphasises Wick’s absolute mastery of his craft and allows you to flex your gun fu skills to take down goons in style. The cel-shaded visuals, wonderful lighting and graphic novel-style storytelling are eye popping, and the action doesn’t disappoint either – check it out if you haven’t already.
The Last Hero of Nostalgia
|Game||The Last Hero of Nostalgia|
|Developer||Over The Moon Games|
The Last Hero of Nostalgia is billed as a hard-but-fair (read: Soulsbourne) game with deep and rich combat and full character customisation, if you can say full customisation about a stickfigure! After struggling with a menu set up that required the use of the D-Pad and only the D-Pad, the game is literally Dark Souls but your character is a stick figure. As you run about the dungeon, everything from blood spatters to taking your health potion is brilliantly pixelated to comic effect and we rather enjoyed the look and presentation of this game.
The dungeon was surprisingly large and included enemies that took us down in two to three hits. Once we’d remembered our Elden Ring training however, this became a lot easier and things are much more forgiving than it lets on, although it’s still harder than other games we played over the weekend. The tough action mixed with a hilarious premise means that The Last Hero of Nostalgia is one to watch, so long as there’s a story deeper than “Dark Souls but your character was a stick figure lololol”.
|Platforms||PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox, PlayStation|
|Release Date||Out Now on PC / 22nd April 2022 for Consoles|
Lumote is a beautiful puzzle game set in the depths of the ocean. You play as a Lumote, or as we will forever call it, Squishy, who’s a little bioform that needs help getting to a mysterious red light at the bottom of the ocean. The idea is to turn the path from red to blue by solving compact environmental puzzles. It’s a mix of Captain Toad’s pocket-sized puzzles but with Mario Odyssey’s control mechanics as you ‘possess’ marine life to help you make your way down. This is played in a sprawling world that is all present on screen. We played the opening ten minutes of the game so Squishy wasn’t really challenged, but the Wired team were on hand to assure us that the calm nature of the game can get a little tougher as you progress.
What also stood out for us, apart from the cutest protagonist since Sackboy, is that the soundtrack was incredible. It was hard to hear in a convention setting, even with headphones firmly on but from what we heard, it was a mix of electronic lo-fi with elements of oceanic waves gently caressing our ears. Lumote seems like a calming game to play after a long day at work.
|Platforms||PC (and more to come)|
There’s no other way to describe McPixel 3 than “utterly bonkers”. Third in the series that debuted in 2012, McPixel 3 sees you take on the role of the titular hero as he attempts to save the day in a series of rapid-fire emergency situations. Akin to a point-and-click WarioWare, you’ll be disarming bombs, stopping speeding trains and righting crashing aeroplanes in minute long skits with bizarre solutions.
The rough around the edges pixel art and truly strange scenarios won’t appeal to everybody, but if you have a wacky sense of humour and enjoy quick-fire mini games with a point-and-click slant, then McPixel 3 is one for you. I found myself laughing out loud through the sheer oddness of it all, and there’s undoubtedly fun to be had in stealing race cars, disarming explosive diarrhoea and kicking quite literally everyone in the nuts.
|Publisher||Good Shepherd Entertainment|
|Platforms||PC, Xbox, Nintendo Switch|
|Release Date||Out Now (21 May 2020)|
While it’s been out a good while already, we wanted to give Monster Train a look because we have a soft spot for a deck-builder and it’s definitely different to a lot of other games in the genre. With some Slay the Spire mixed with some Hearthstone and a splash of tower defence, Monster Train offers you some fun mechanics and the opportunity to choose your own route through the world that’s forever changing.
Select new cards for your deck as your train rumbles across the map, upgrade them as you choose and use them to ward off ambushes as swathes of monsters set upon your train with the intention of derailing your adventure. It’s a fun premise that offers some variation from the norm, especially for fans of the genre.
|Platforms||PC, Nintendo Switch|
|Release Date||21 Apr 2022|
Yes, we played another pixel art platformer because we just can’t help ourselves, but we promise you that Revita was well worth our time! Revita is a twin-stick-shooter X roguelike that is overflowing with charm from the minute you press ‘START’. Take charge of an unnamed protagonist and battle your way through floor after floor of procedurally generated challenges as you look to ascend a mysterious clocktower to regain your memories.
Trade off your health for new weapons and abilities, but be sure not to get overly confident – there’s a real bite to the gameplay that won’t make things easy on you. The sprites and environments are cute without being saccharine sweet and the soundtrack is next level impressive. There’s some really well considered accessibility options available too that makes Revita looks like the real deal – thankfully there’s only a couple of weeks to wait to find out!
Shadows of Doubt
Easily the most ambitious game we encountered at W.A.S.D., Shadows of Doubt is a stealth sleuth title that asks you to capture a serial killer in a fully simulated and living sci-fi-noir cityscape. Beneath the facade of its low fidelity visuals is an impressively open adventure; everything you see can be interacted with, every door you encounter can be explored and every person you pass in the street has an entire life that they will lead – with or without your involvement.
Even only playing Shadows of Doubt for just thirty minutes, the level of detail on show is staggering. The graphical style will inevitably turn some players off, but for those wanting a deep and thorough crime-solving experience, it wouldn’t seem to get much better than what ColePowered Games is currently working on.
Ship of Fools
Pulled in by the smooth and playful art style, we stuck around for the fun roguelike gameplay and the laughs when we played Ship of Fools. Sail your ship across dangerous seas and explore the Archipelago, and battle your way through a myriad of wacky sea monsters as you go. You’ll have to patch up your battered ship and manhandle your moveable cannons around in order to keep yourself safe, but with a host of fun weapons to do battle with, you’re sure to get to the loot if you persevere.
Ship of Fools, if you pardon the pun, is a blast. Peppering the baddies with cannon fire was huge amounts of fun, and we can only imagine how much more entertaining it will be when played in co-op mode, which is a big selling point of the title. We truly hoped that a game with those crisp, storybook-like visuals would be great fun, and so far, Ship of Fools proved us to be right!
For us, the game that undoubtedly excited us the most at W.A.S.D. was Silt, the debut title from UK-based developers Spiral Circus. Silt is a bleak underwater puzzler with an absolutely stunning visual style that’s incredibly engaging. As a lonely diver, you must use a mysterious power to possess the weird and wonderful marine life to solve puzzles, explore the deep sea and outrun some frightening predators. Joe got some The Swapper vibes, which can’t be a bad thing.
Drew was lucky enough to speak with the lead artist for the game, Tom Mead, and his enthusiasm for the project simply oozes through every inch of the visuals. The HR Giger inspired environments and creatures are genuinely unsettling, and the dystopian environment leaps off the screen – especially if you’re experiencing the sound through a headset. It’s surreal and atmospheric, and the sheer scale of the visuals make you feel like a very small and vulnerable fish in a huge and terrifying pond. We’ll be keeping a very close eye on Silt and we urge you to do the same.
|Platforms||PC, Nintendo Switch|
|Release Date||19 May 2022|
We’re unashamed lovers of pixel art visuals here at VGamingNews and Retro Forge have put on an absolute CLINIC when it comes to their action platformer, Souldiers. We were completely blown away by the characterful sprites, detailed environments and impactful animations. And that’s not to mention the incredibly nostalgic soundtrack which cast us straight back to the arcade cabinet and the loss of so much pocket money.
Build your perfect warrior and battle your way out of Terragaya, a land that exists somewhere between the realms of life and death. With some puzzle platforming and metroidvania elements mixed in with the action, this is a cross of some awesome games and both looks and plays wonderfully. The combat is tough and there’s a sprawling world to explore, so you’ll have to stay sharp out there, soldier! Releasing in just over a month – this is one we’ll be snapping up without a doubt!
A city-builder in reverse, Terra Nil asks you to terraform dead and uninhabited worlds into thriving ecosystems. By building turbines, solar panels and other ground-repairing gadgets, you can regenerate deserted wasteland into lush wetlands or forests teeming with wildlife before packing up all of your gear and moving on to the next struggling area.You’re charged with meeting certain temperature and humidity prerequisites and even with setting controlled fires to stimulate growth in an interesting simulation of realistic ecosystems.
With bright and attractive visuals, relaxed music and rich environmental sounds, Terra Nil is a wonderfully chill experience with a fantastic message about looking after the planet. The demo risks getting a little repetitive, but as a full game I have no doubt that Free Lives has a myriad of other challenges to bulk out the experience and give simulation fans a new twist on the classic genre.
|Platforms||PC, Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo Switch|
Described to us as a Lemmings-style puzzler where you have to get all of the wind up toy soldiers to the exit, Tin Hearts has a charming Victorian aesthetic that immediately gives you a big dose of the warm and fuzzies. Originally built as a VR exclusive and still in the early stages of adjusting to console format, the controls in the demo were clearly a work-in-progress, but looking beyond those niggles Tin Hearts was really enjoyable to play.
Room by room, you explore the inventors house and unlock new toys that help you guide your toy soldiers around, from simple angled blocks to cannons, balloons and even toy trains! While sweet to look at, there’s a certain Victorian melancholy to proceedings, and the plot that unfolds takes you on an emotional journey through the story of the inventor’s family life. As big fans of Matrio vs. Donkey Kong and Krusty’s Super Fun House (yes, we know we’re showing our age with this reference!),Tin Hearts is a title we’re looking forward to unwrapping when the time comes.
To Hell with the Ugly
|Game||To Hell with the Ugly|
|Developer||La Poule Noire, ARTE France|
|Release Date||End of 2022|
Some of our earliest gaming experiences were point-and-click adventures and, always keen to give new entries to the genre a try, we jumped at the chance to play To Hell with the Ugly, an intriguing project that’s been adapted from the Boris Vian novel of the same name. Take on the role of Rock Bailey as he awakens after a raucous night out with a spotty memory and a mean black eye, and help him unpick a series of mysteries in 1950s Los Angeles. Bolstering the standard puzzle mechanics is some fun turn-based combat that puts a great new spin on the classic formula..
The game has a striking visual style that replicates the ultra-cool block colour nightclub posters of ‘40s and ‘50s, with disproportionate characters that are both expressive and highly memorable. The soundtrack is a classy jazz affair that fits the period perfectly and there’s a witty and well-written script that draws you into the story from the get-go. Like any good mystery, To Hell with the Ugly feels like a book that you don’t want to put down; you can’t help but be dragged along by the strength of the characters and the intrigue in the plot.
Trek to Yomi
|Game||Trek to Yomi|
|Developer||Leonard Menchiari & Flying Wild Hog|
|Platforms||PC, Playstation, Xbox|
|Release Date||05 May 2022|
Perhaps one of the most stylish games we’ve seen in years, Trek to Yomi is a stunning action adventure in the style of a 1970s samurai movie. Presented exclusively in monochrome and showing off a wonderful use of lighting, Trek to Yomi is dripping with cinematic cool, and cleverly switches between 3D roaming and 2D combat to emphasise the classic one-on-one fight scenes.
The combat is suitably tactical and you’ll need to keep your wits about you if you want to progress because it doesn’t take much for you to be struck down. Flying Wild Hog have integrated plenty of difficulty options though, with their Kabuki Mode offering a more story-centric play through, while skilled players can look forward to unlocking the brutal ‘one hit kills’ mode upon completion of the main story. Joe especially fell in love with Trek to Yomi, and cannot wait to get his hands on the full experience – look for this one to make a big splash when it’s released on most platforms in early May.
|Release Date||Out Now (Early Access) / Q2 2022 (Full Game)|
What do you get when you gather a group of talented artists to make their own debut title? An absolutely stunning pixel art action roguelite apparently, as The Unliving from RocketBrush Studio will attest! Play as a Necromancer hell bent on bringing down the corrupt land of the living and rebuilding a world of the dead in your own image by slaying your human enemies and raising them as your undead minions.
The developers backgrounds in art are on full display with The Unliving, and the environments and animations are drop dead gorgeous from start to finish. The unit sprites are wonderful as well, with some added fun of seeing both alive and undead versions of each creature, and some great tactical elements to go alongside the characterful visuals. While Drew absolutely sucked at the game, he enjoyed his time clicking away and turning the human populace; it’s clear that The Unliving is a solid experience with a lot going for it beyond just the visuals – it will have a horde of fans upon its release.
We Were Here Forever
|Game||We Were Here Forever|
|Developer||Total Mayhem Games|
|Publisher||Total Mayhem Games|
|Platforms||PC, Xbox, Playstation|
|Release Date||10 May 2022|
After wading through a fair amount of strategy and pixel art offerings, we decided to try our hand at something different, and exclusively co-op puzzler We Were Here Forever was a wonderful change of pace. You play as a pair of adventurers trapped in the bowels of a mysterious castle and armed only with a walkie-talkie and your own wits, you must communicate with one another to solve puzzles in the face of certain danger.
As long time tabletop RPG players, we found We Were Here Forever incredibly nostalgic – acting as each other’s eyes and ears and trying to accurately describe our surroundings and what we wanted the other player to do brought back great memories of D&D campaigns from days gone by. The demo showed off a really well crafted puzzle that looked great and offered a tricky challenge that was well balanced. We left feeling sure that We Were Here Forever will have an enthusiastic fanbase, especially among the escape room and tabletop dungeon crawler crowd.
The VGamingNews team were invited along to WASD as press and while the cost of entry was covered by the event promoters, all additional costs was our own and we certainly haven’t been paid off by anyone. We’d like to say thank you to all of the developers, publishers, PR staff and players that we met at the event – it was a real blast and we can’t wait to be back next year!