LOS ANGELES — Hundreds of video games are headed toward TVs, console systems, computer displays and mobile devices in the coming months.
Of course, that means impending releases from longtime favorite franchises such as “The Legend of Zelda,”“Star Wars” and “Call of Duty” and new takes on beloved characters including “Marvel’s Avengers.”
But the breadth of games in development includes many creations that will offer players an alternative from the typical wave of action-adventures and online battles. Here’s a quartet of quirky, offbeat treats uncovered from the array on display at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, which wrapped up here earlier this week.
Explorable open-world games are not new, but a world you explore only through video is a unique twist. Game designer Sam Barlow has expanded his interactive palate beyond the 2015 game “Her Story,” which many described as an interactive movie. Players watched video clips of a woman being interviewed by police about the death of her husband in that game, which was critically acclaimed.
“Telling Lies,” due later this year for Windows and Mac computers, presents the player with a database of secretly-recorded video conversations between four characters over two years. “This is essentially an open-world game except, instead of a 3D world that you are exploring, it’s video,” Barlow said. “Scrubbing through these videos is kind of the equivalent of wandering down a pathway in an open-world game.”
In the first video you see, a woman arrives at her Brooklyn apartment late at night and is briskly moving about the place. “Your initial action here is ‘What the hell is going on.’ But pretty early on you are going to figure out who these people are and why they are all talking to each other,” he said. “Once you hit that point, then you have far more interesting questions about why are they doing what they are doing and what their motivations are.”
Revelations about a real-world British intelligence program that collected Yahoo video chats served as an impetus for Barlow. “A lot of the themes in this involve government and law enforcement and the erosion of privacy,” Barlow said. “We’re talking about what does it mean to live your lives digitally on these devices.”
The Outer Worlds
This new single-player sci-fi role-playing game from the studio that includes some of the original creators of “Fallout” brings some surprises to the genre. You play as a traveler to the far reaches of the galaxy, who has woken up decades later in the colony of Halcyon amidst a power struggle. You must juggle the factions to survive.
But you aren’t a traditional protagonist, you instead are a flawed hero with some weaknesses. For instance, even though your character is a leader, he or she can be, shall we say, intellectually challenged.
Say you’re playing with “a below-average intelligence character,” said David Williams, a senior systems designer at Obsidian Entertainment, which is making the game. That means, “in some conversations, you are going to see these ‘dumb’ options” or responses you can give to other characters in the game, he says.
“There will some conversation points that, if you are a dumb character, the dumb option is the only option you will be given,” Williams said.
That means you will want to smartly select companion characters because their skills will boost yours. So if you want to play as a not-so-smart leader when the game hits Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PCs on Oct. 25, you will want to savvy and at least recruit some quick-witted followers.
“Fortnite” not your cup of tea, but you want to enjoy some “battle royale” fun? “Fall Guys” is a unique and extremely approachable alternative.
The game, due in 2020 for PlayStation 4 and PCs, will pit 100 online competitors – they look a bit like the Weebles toys of the ’70s – in a series of obstacle courses and competitions to be crowned king.
“A lot of the other battle royale games are about surviving and being the last one standing,” said Luke Borrett, producer of the game for U.K. studio Mediatonic. “This one is more inspired by game shows like (the Japanese TV series Takeshi’s Castle) and all of those wild, colorful obstacle course-driven things. You are one of 100 in the greatest show on earth and we whittle it down round by round.”
The game will have about 30 different obstacle courses to traverse and each episode will use four or five to narrow down the field.
Don’t worry, you can get creative with the look of your character. “We want a lot of personality in how you customize your Fall Guy,” Borrett said.
Sayonara Wild Hearts
“Sayonara Wild Hearts” (coming later this year to Nintendo Switch) is a visual and auditory mind trip. The game recalls classics such as “Tempest” and “Wipeout,” with stylistic characters and original poppy music amid a neon cel animated world.
Described by Swedish developers Simogo as a “pop album video game,” the dreamlike sequences begin when a young woman’s heart is broken. She sets out on an adventure involving skateboards, motorcycles, lasers, and beat matching – and the promise of different gameplay styles.
“Sayonara Wild Hearts” is a psychedelic spree for the eyes and ears.
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Follow USA TODAY reporter Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider.
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