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Gamescom Previews: Marauders, Moving Out 2, Age Of Darkness, Dredge, Gord

Team17, the publisher behind Hell Let Loose, Overcooked, Yooka-Laylee, and a whole lot of other indie games had a packed schedule at Gamescom this year. I spent my first day on the show floor trying out all it had to offer.

So, from murderous pirates to small-town fishermen, here’s my take on Team17’s Gamescom offerings.

Marauders

PvP space pirate game Marauders has already generated some buzz, but it hasn't quite come up on my radar. And now I feel duty-bound to spread the good word about this online heist game, because who knew being an asshole was this much fun.

In Marauders, you are a pirate in every sense. You fight for everything, from your weapons to your armour, and of course, your ship. But that means all other players are fighting for their own place in this world too, and everything you have is only yours for as long as you can defend it. When you go on a heist, the main objective is to scavenge an abandoned freighter. But that’s only the start of what you can do. If you’re jealous of another player’s ship, you can steal it for yourself while they’re distracted. Even if you’re playing in a team, piloting the ship together, there’s nothing stopping you from stabbing each other in the back. I can’t wait to see how many friendships Marauders can destroy when it fully launches this October.

Moving Out 2

Moving Out 2 is good, chaotic, family-friendly fun. It follows two players buddying up to help a homeowner move out of their house, but nothing says you have to do a good job of it. Your only goal is to get the designated furniture into a moving van, and it doesn’t matter at all how it gets there. Break windows, trash the living room, hell, even tear the toilet out of the plumbing and lob it into the garden – there’s little limit on what you can do in each stage.

This basic premise is built upon in the sequel, adding more physics to play around with as you wreck the place, and even more modes. My favourite was actually the “moving in” minigame, where you have to work as a team to get all of the furniture in the house as fast as you can. The puzzles each stage throws at you may not be incredibly tricky, but that’s because the challenge is meant to take a backseat – you’re just here to have a laugh and make a right mess of things.

Age of Darkness

I suck at RTS games, but Age of Darkness was an absolute delight to suck at. Losing is the point, it’s how you learn. Picking from one of three factions, you’re tasked with defending your settlement from the Darkness, which envelopes the land and brings with it horrific monsters, destroying everything in sight. Like other tower defence games, you have to prepare your strongholds for invasion, but now you have the added bonus of making sure everything you want to protect is lit up with torches, as anything in the dark is doomed. When the day ends, monsters will come from the shadows in the hundreds, allowing Age of Darkness to boast how many units it can crab on screen at once.

Age of Darkness doesn’t just want to teach you strategy however, it wants players to think on their feet. At the start of each night, you’re given a random debuff. This means a type of unit you’ve been relying on might suddenly be your weakest, and you have to find a way to counter this. If you survive, this turns into a buff, but it means you can never become too comfortable. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in a genre that often drives you into finding one of the few optimal ways to play, rather than having to learn all it has to offer.

Dredge

This unassuming fishing/mystery/RPG was another highlight of the show. In Dredge, you take on the role of a fisherman in a quiet village. In true small-town fashion, something unsavoury clearly happened to the last fisherman, but none of the locals will talk to you about it.

This story might feel a little overdone at first, but the way it’s told absolutely isn’t. As soon as you’re given the basic premise, you’re let loose on the sea, left to catch fish and explore other islands however you please. This immediate sense of freedom brought me back to playing Outer Wilds for the first time, albeit with much more direction as to what you should do next – and a much slower ship when you start out.

But it keeps that charm of not quite knowing what you’re going to find next. And also like Outer Wilds, it’s up to you to decide what order to approach everything in. You can spend your in-game nine-to-five fishing, and exploring the town in the evening. Or you can stay out at sea all night, putting yourself at risk of encountering otherworldly horrors. Dredge has the makings of the next mainstream indie hit, and I can’t wait to see how we all tackle its intrigue differently.

Gord

Gord is far from playable right now, but what I got to see in a hands-off preview was a real treat. This low fantasy survival adventure game wears its Slavic mythology inspiration on its sleeve, through everything from its lore to its music. Full of gloomy fantasy grime, Gord is also casting a wide net in terms of its desired audience, allowing players to customize exactly how many survival and adventure mechanics they want as part of their playthrough.

If you want, you can just focus on building up your settlement, deciding what villagers should focus on certain tasks, setting them up to survive the horrors that lurk outside of their homes. Or if that’s too tedious, you can solely play through Gord’s adventure gameplay, taking the role of a party sent out to kill monsters that prey on the settlement. But in its main campaign, you get a mix of both, seeing all that it has to offer.

From what I saw, it’s this mix of gameplay styles that will help Gord stand out from the crowd. I can’t speak to their quality since I didn’t get to play myself, but Gord certainly has its work cut out for it. Both the survival and adventure game genres are pretty crowded right now.

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