I-Mockery At E3 2017 - The Electronics Entertainment Expo!
by: -Roger Barr and John Bower

I complained last year that E3, a convention presumably dedicated to showcasing the newest in electronic entertainment, was starting to come up a little short in the games department. Well this year the organizers heard my complaints loud and clear: "Not enough people on the floor," they said. "Don't worry, we've got you covered!" Now you, the humble reader, can come and experience the thrill of waiting in line to play a game that will be hyped for months, years even, before being released, played for a few days, and then discarded forever.

I'm just kidding... you won't actually be able to wait in line, because all the lines are now full, and no one else is allowed to wait in said lines since they've been capped off.

We didn't get a chance to lay our grubby mitts on many games this year, but that's okay because there weren't all that many to play anyway. As always, a big thanks to all the developers of smaller titles. It's thanks to your efforts that these articles on E3 are more than just a grizzled old corncob griping about how queuing up to play AAA pap isn't as great as it used to be.

Alright, let's dive in:

Sakuna of Rice and Ruin

I'll admit that from time to time I can be drawn in by an unusual gimmick in a game. So when I heard about a game called Sakuna of Rice and Ruin, where you fight off monsters and harvest rice, I was intrigued.

The farming aspect was conspicuously absent during the demo. Probably for the best, but I can't help wondering how it would've interacted with the rest of the game. What was on display was a 2D platformer where you assault anthropomorphic forest creatures (bears, rabbits, etc) with a hoe. The dead ones would discharge meat for you to collect, and something about that just seemed wrong. Not hunting animals for food, just... beating them to death with a gardening tool. I'm sure magic comes in there somehow, but it's still pretty brutal.

The final part of the demo was a fight against a giant oil-spewing toad. The secret to defeating that toad? Get behind him and cram your hoe up his oil pipe. After that, there's a sobering discussion where the player's guardian spirit talks about cooking the now dead oil toad. It might be too much to hope for, but I'd like to see the game show the animals slowly realize what you're doing and start fleeing in mortal terror because they don't want to end their lives in your mystical stew pot.

Ys 8: Lacrimosa of Dana

It's been relatively quiet for the Ys series. Back in 2013, we featured the Vita's Memories of Celceta, a remake of Ys IV: Mask of the Sun, but since then there hasn't been much else from the long-running series. Now, though, we have a proper installment, Ys 8: Lacrimosa of Dana, without any flashing back or reimagining or anything like that.

The demo didn't exactly give us a good jumping off point. I picked it up after the previous attendee got tired of wandering around an expansive cave network fighting off weak monsters and the occasional giant crab. Unfortunately for him he bailed just before running into an even larger turtle-like monster. Exciting, yes, but I think I was more grateful that he appeared, because I would have otherwise had no idea of whether or not I was making any progress since all those blue caves kind of run together.

So, you and your team beat the hell out of the giant turtle and steal a couple of his more valuable body parts for crafting. This seems like it happens a lot in games lately. An arbitrary crafting system, but more importantly, wasteful monster hunting: I killed a turtle monster the size of a small house and all I got was a bit of horn and a handful of scales? Granted it looked like one of the characters was hitting it with a boat anchor over and over again, but that's all they could salvage from its massive corpse? Somewhere, the anime version of Iron Eyes Cody is shedding a tear in disgust.

Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection

My complaints about the Ys 8 demo were compounded in the demo for Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection. Again, no idea of what I was supposed to be doing. Just walking around an isometric grid encountering monsters and turning them into coins with my violence. One of the characters, a female sorcerer, launched all sorts of elemental-themed spells at them while the other, whom I will refer to as "some guy", wielded some sort of hookshot on his arm.

Same problem as in Ys 8, in that I picked up after the guy ahead of me got bored and left. It wasn't clear where I was going or what I was supposed to be doing. I mean, I guess I'm supposed to beat the coinage out of monsters, kind of streamlining the hunting process by instantly transforming valuable materials into monies, but what to spend them on? The closest thing I found to a shop in those caves was a barrel. And not a very nice-looking barrel, either.

The breaking point came when I took a peek at the player standing next to me to see if he was any further along. He either was or wasn't; I couldn't tell because it looked like the same map only with a mansion interior in place of cave walls. I followed the example of the guy before me, got bored, and left.

Yakuza Kiwami

I could get used to seeing a new Yakuza title every E3. Unfortunately, Yakuza 6 was well within the "no waiting in line" zone, but thank goodness they had a backup: Yakuza Kiwami.

There was no line to speak of for Yakuza Kiwami, a remake of the original Yakuza, so we headed over to the kind booth attendant who was practically begging people to come try it. And good on the developers for remaking the original, so people who missed out on that release don't have to go back and play a game that borrowed the awful fixed camera issues from the original Resident Evil along with equally bad dubbing.

It builds off the framework of the last two titles, holding over the multiple types of stances introduced back in 5. I'm a little behind on the series as a whole, but what I can say for sure is that the demo delivered on the series' tradition of brutal street violence interspersed with odd mini-games and side quests. Plus, it's only gonna be $30 on launch! Can you really afford NOT to purchase it?


Over at Indiecade, we did a double take when we saw the pixel art style on this one. Riot is about riots. Infamous ones from around the globe mainly, with each player controlling either the rioters or law enforcement/military personnel. Owing to my love of martial law, I went with the law, while Rog stuck it out with some students who were about to get "served" and "protected" straight to the morgue.

Right away, we ran into trouble, as neither one of us could figure out how to play the game. Quintessential gamer that I am, I paused and checked on the instructions... which only listed the controls and not how/what to do. We sort of shuffled back and forth while the game instructed us to hold/push forward at varying times. At one point we even moved our respective groups of opposite sides of the map. We stuck with it for quite a while, but in the end there seemed to be no way to tell how well we were doing nor any metric by which our progress was judged.

In other words, I crushed Rog utterly. (editor's note: That's funny, I thought this game was called "RIOT", not "LIES".)

Tip for anybody showcasing a game at E3: If somebody's playing your game, be on-hand to show them how to do so.

Everything is Going to be OK!

The folks running the demo for Everything is Going to be OK! explained that their game was one centered on storytelling, with an emphasis on humor. And that's why I was super worried when I sat down to play it.

The main screen was a series of different pages, each representing a different scenario. The one I picked involved consoling a rabbit that had been impaled by a tentacle creature. The rabbit would ask existential questions like, "Can I really come back from something like this?" and your goal is to say reassuring things to keep the rabbit from giving up on life. I didn't exactly understand what was going on with that, but I did manage to keep the rabbit alive for a little over three minutes, so... woohoo? Grief counseling game of the year right there.


Borders does its best to depict the harrowing journey that awaits immigrants attempting to cross the US-Mexican border. You control one such immigrant as he attempts to cross while avoiding the attention of the immigration authority. While there's no time limit per se, you do need to collect jugs of water to keep from succumbing to exposure.

The most interesting feature of the game is that each failed attempt leaves a skeleton on the ground where you died/got caught, sort of like Super Meat Boy, only far more depressing. In no time at all, you'll be traversing a veritable bone yard as you try to make your way into America. Right away, though, I noticed a problem with all these corpses: they hide patrolling enemies. This adds an extra layer of difficulty, one that I have to assume is the result of a bug unless ICE has started to employ bone pits and tunneling agents in their bid to control the border. Ooh, how spooky!

Some "Hacktivist" ARG by @WeAreHors

Okay, time for a little peak behind the curtain: when we're at E3 we like to check out the indie games to see what kind of really unique stuff people have come up with. A lot of the time we find a few gems in the bunch, but sometimes we run into something so odd, so decidedly ungame-like that we wind up in a sort of real-life game of trying to play just enough of the game before excusing ourselves so as not to seem dismissive of what someone probably spent a fair amount of time to develop. This was one of those titles.

I don't remember what this one was even called other than the "hacktivist" designers go by the name "WeAreHors". What I do remember is that I was ushered to a laptop and told to look around. In it there was a hacking game where you type commands to hack into the government to look at various documents, photos, etc. And that was it. I want to say I was there for around half an hour, but it was probably more like ten minutes. At that point, enough is enough. Apparently they were doing hourly events where I have to assume actual gameplay was taking place, but they hid all that behind some curtains when it happened to make it seem like a super secret hacker meeting. A sound strategy when you're trying to get as many eyes on your title as possible. If nothing else, our hosts were very friendly and happy to talk to us, so it was nice to see them having fun with their setup.

Full Metal Furies

Buried deep within the Xbox pavilion was a little multiplayer game called Full Metal Furies. We were both excited to play it, mostly because we were allowed to do so without being turned away because a line had grown beyond capacity. But hey, it turned out to be fun anyway!

It's a squad-based game mostly about gunplay, but mechanically it's more similar to a brawler than a shooter. Each character has a handful of abilities to use against the encroaching hordes and different strengths to play to. I picked the sniper, because the two finest words in the English language are "glass cannon." Rog went with an engineer that deployed little drones and such. Interestingly, the four different characters were each given stars to indicate their difficulty of use, with our characters at the top, but none of the characters were ranked as only one star. Does that mean there's an incredibly simplistic hidden character somewhere in the game? If so, we didn't find her.

In fact, all we found were a couple dudes with swords, some drones, and one big minotaur guy at the end. Can it really be said that I "dominated" in a cooperative game where you pool your resources with your fellow characters and have to make sure to keep your buddies alive in the face of one enemy wave after another?

Yes. Yes it can. (editor's note: Many things can be said, but facts are far more important if you ask me.)

And that's about all we were able to lay our hands on at E3 this year. Nothing really captured our attention, especially since Cuphead was conspicuously absent the main floor, despite actually having an official release date after all these years. Of all the games we were able to try, Full Metal Furies has the most potential to be fun without being a sequel, remake, or otherwise known property, but lord knows it didn't have much competition there this year.

I'm not saying we need to ban the general public from coming in. I'm just suggesting that maybe press folk should get some kind of "E3 Fast Pass" or something. Aside from, y'know, the inevitable development of a paid version of that so fans can have another opportunity to spend money on the damn event. Here's hoping that doesn't happen, because they already had to fork over an extra $25 on top of their E3 ticket prices just to park their cars there.

And now, I turn it over to Rog for insight on some of the interesting sights padding out the fairly blah showings:

There's still much more to see from
I-Mockery's coverage of E3 2017!

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