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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Polish games industry conference that would normally take place in Kraków has canceled their annual physical event, but have shifted to an online format for their Indie Celebration. It wouldn’t be safe or even possible to run the usual physical conference, which attracts thousands of games industry professionals from around the world. Instead, running from May 13 to 15, a collection of 50 games will be featured on the dedicated event page on Steam.
They’re going to be live-streaming gameplay demos of many of the games and hosting live interviews with some of the developers behind the games. A great opportunity to see a selection of interesting upcoming games from smaller teams, and hear directly from the creators of those games as they talk about their work.
The event will culminate in an awards ceremony, with a panel of games media and games industry experts picking out their Top 3 games, and the audience will be polled for a Community Vote Award.
The games are all smaller games, many the first commercial release the teams have worked on. There’s lots of games from Poland and Eastern Europe, but it is an international event with teams from all over Europe, Asia, and North America also representing.
Included in the lineup is Ghostrunner, a game that I’ve had my eye on for some time. It’s a fast past free-running action game, set in a grimy industrial future. It’s got wall-running, slowing down time to dodge incoming fire, and slicing baddies up into bits. It looks like a lot of fun. It’s due out sometime later this year.
There’s also Unto The End, a moody sidescroller, where you’re trying to traverse an isolated frozen wilderness, encountering a variety of hostile forces on your journey home. It’s got a simple but stylistic art direction, with some great use of color, and the animate and combat interactions look really polished. There’s not currently a release date for Unto The End, perhaps that’s something the developer might discuss during this event.
There is also Those Who Remain, a creepy first-person psychological horror exploring themes like loss and fragile sanity, through supernatural elements and immersive storytelling. There are lots of shifting between dark and light, and the lighting effects are really well implemented in the footage released so far.
Even though many of the games featured seem well made and polished, these are smaller games that can’t match the budgets of the big blockbuster releases. The circumstances surrounding their creation can, however, result in a more personal vision, realized without so many compromises towards marketability. As budgets and team sizes balloon on blockbuster games, it can be harder for any one person to put their stamp on it.
This digital event could be a great way to get some insight into some games that may suit your tastes on the horizon or to hear more about their creation from the people behind the scenes.
You can check out the full list of finalists here, or keep an eye on the Digital Dragons webpage for more details in the run-up to the event.