Is it weird that I always look forward to Devolver Digital’s E3 show each and every year? Even if the official E3 was cancelled this year, it’s good to see that Devolver Digital opted to push through with their yearly show. However, I will say that, even though this year’s Devolver Digital’s Marketing Countdown to Marketing was still a blast to watch, I do think it didn’t live up to the previous shows they’ve done.
For me, the biggest problem is this year’s setup. I was okay when the folks at Devolver Digital moved away from their “cinematic universe” concept where there was a continuing storyline as they moved to a more “realistic” setting of Devolver Digital’s corporate headquarters. I think the switch was brilliant as it allowed them to poke fun at the more contemporary foibles of today’s gaming industry such as getting into the NFT business and focusing on lootboxes. This year, the setup was at poking fun at how a lot of the gaming sites would have their own countdown to the actual show and how these countdown shows were getting bigger than the actual E3 presentation as well as how they would get celebrities to make a big splash during the show.
But while the setup wasn’t all that creative, the overarching story for this year’s show was. Because of all of the engagement they were getting while releasing the trailers, they were reaching a “video game singularity” with Devolver Digital slowly becoming the nexus of all gaming, absorbing all other video game companies and folding it into itself. This, by the way, is another solid parody of how Microsoft and other companies have the tendency to outright purchase other game developers and publishers, which was the main topical subject they made fun of. This might fly over the heads of some viewers because it just sort of comes out of nowhere. I really didn’t figure it out until they reached the halfway mark of the show.
I’m a little bit torn on the “celebrity” they got to participate for the show, Suda51. Now, the man is a well-known game developer by his own right. And I’m glad he was super game as appeared in a mecha suit and called him Mecha Suda51. Honestly, it was nice of them to actually feature a game developer instead of an “actual” celebrity. However, the biggest problem I have is Suda51 didn’t actually have a game to promote during the show! It just felt weird for him to be there.
Devolver Digital also got a little too referential this year as they not only parodied a lot of video games, such as the people in the show dressing up as various video game characters but also movies as well. I’m not sure how many of today’s gamers would know Mecha Suda51 was a parody of both Max Headroom and the Robocop 2 suit and the entire ending sequence with Suda51 talking with a goddess-like version of Devolver Digital’s Nina Struthers (played once again by Mahria Zook) in order to fix the video game singularity is obviously a parody of the Childlike Empress talking to Bastian from the original Neverending Story film… from 1984. How topical of you, Devolver Digital!
It does feel weird that I’m mainly focused on the “story” of Devolver Digital’s presentation because, well, they’re still a gaming publisher albeit a fairly small one. Even in their previous shows, their games have always taken a backseat because most of them never piqued my interest. This year, however, there were a couple which I actually might want to play in the future. But before I talk about the games I liked, I like to focus on the ones I didn’t. It won’t take long since there were just around five games in total.
The game I’m the least interested in is definitely Skate Story. Maybe I’m not a cool dude or anything like that but the game just isn’t for me. You’re basically a demon made out of crystal but you have no choice but to skateboard all over Hell while emo music blares in the background. Hard pass. Cult of the Lamb is another game I will have to say no to. While I definitely like the cartoony aesthetic, I’m just not a huge fan of this kind of strategy game. It looks like it could be fun but I feel I just have bigger fish to fry. The same can be said for the first-person shooter Anger Foot. It looks like it could be an enjoyable shooter but there has to be a lot more than just unique graphics to entice me to play it.
Now, Card Shark, which is a game that’s actually been out for a few days already, looks like it could be right up my alley. On the surface and by its title, Card Shark may look like a simple poker simulator but it’s actually not as, based on the trailer, you have to utilize underhanded tricks like marking cards and palming high cards to cheat your way to winning a hand. Couple that with an old-timey art style and an actual quest mode, it just seems like Card Shark may just be worth getting on either the Nintendo Switch or Steam.
But the game I’m intrigued with the most is the upcoming The Plucky Squire. I do love the really cheerful art direction and how magical it feels like. The Plucky Squire is also one of those games that doesn’t fall into one particular gameplay genre as it does draw from different games like Punch-Out!, the Legend of Zelda and Forgotten Worlds, to name a few. It does look like a ton of fun and, if they can nail down each of these minigames right, The Plucky Squire looks like it could be an sleeper hit for Devolver Digital.
Overall, despite it not being as good as a lot of the other shows they’ve put together in the past, this year’s Devolver Digital showcase was still a whole lot of fun. I like the references to older movies but I’m not sure how many others will get them and not be in on the joke. I also am rather interested in some of the games they have in store in the future so that’s always a plus. I do say it’s definitely worth a watch especially if you enjoy really messed up, wacky humor… and some indie games as well.
Have you watched this year’s Devolver Digital showcase? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below!