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Games of EGX 2016

We came, we played, we deliberated. Here are our picks of the show.

Hello again from Birmingham's NEC, where we're wrapping up day three of EGX 2016. And what a day - a Sunless Sea sequel announced, a hugely-promising look at new Planet Coaster features, and a chance to watch Ian and Bratt making themselves look very silly trying out the ridiculous Pac-Man VR.

Treadmills aside, EGX is full of gems to try - and if you're here tomorrow, or are simply looking for our opinions of what was great here this year, look no further. Below, we've each picked a particular favourite to recommend to you. And so, without any further do:

Yooka-Laylee

Generating some of the biggest buzz on the showfloor and attention any AAA-sized game would go green as a lizard in envy for, Yooka-Laylee lit up EGX this year. It's kind of appropriate, really, for a game whose team seem to be punching above their collective weight in every way. Sure, as a group of a dozen or so veterans they have a hundred years worth of experience in the industry (mostly at British legend Rare). But Yooka-Laylee is also a type of game we don't see much anymore - a retro-feeling 3D platformer, heavy on nostalgia and collectibles - from a small team with their heads down, hard at work in a room in the Midlands.

It feels right, then, that the world's first hands on for Yooka-Laylee is taking place here - not a million miles away from Playtonic's home. And while the first area in Yooka-Laylee's world may now be fairly familiar for those following the project (especially for anyone who may have contributed to its funding), EGX has given players who maybe aren't so familiar a chance to play it and see that yes, Playtonic really is making the game it promised.

I'm reminded of something Playtonic told me earlier this year, that despite Yooka-Laylee and Playtonic's crowdfunding success the studio cannot afford to get complacent. It has, in effect, already received the sales from its loyal fanbase who backed the game anyway. Playtonic now must convince everyone else of little Yooka and Laylee, and their funny deliberately retro escapades. From the looks of things here at EGX, Playtonic is doing a good job. - Tom

Political Animals

I don't want to be down on 2016 or anything, but politically it's been an utter palaver from start to finish. Given the current climate, I really didn't anticipate that I would enjoy playing Political Animals - a political anything right now simply isn't an attractive prospect.

Happily, however, I was pleasantly surprised. Political Animals puts you in charge of a small staff that must be skillfully deployed to help get you elected. You can try and keep your hands clean if you want, or you can delve into the murky world of bribes and fabricated scandals; naturally, this appealed to the darker side of my nature. It's colourful and silly and the art style is lovely, all of which belies its depth as a strategy game.

While I was gleefully romping from district to district, digging up dirt on my opponent, I slowly came to realise how important worker placement and management really is in Political Animals - if you don't use your staff to full effect every turn, the election will run away with you. Which is a strange thing to say about a game where you can play as an elephant with a strong focus on improving healthcare, but there you go. - Johnny

Tokyo 42

The Tokyo 42 demo starts with your character finding out he's been framed for an assassination, whilst watching the telly in his flat. Obviously, his next move is to then just become a real assassin and run around seeking contracts and murdering people in this minimalist, future version of Japan. I'm not entirely convinced by his thought process there, but thankfully it doesn't really matter. This game is lots of fun.

After learning the ropes (jumping, shooting, rotating the camera around like in Fez), you're given some room to play around in. Find some fun weapons, use them to kill people (often indiscriminately), eventually get taken out by the police: all the classic video game staples. Unsurprisingly, this game has been heavily inspired by some of the older Grand Theft Autos.

We're expecting this to release at the start of next year and although the demo I played left me with a few questions about how Tokyo 42 keeps this idea feeling fresh and silly after a few more hours play, I enjoyed what I saw. Check out the reveal trailer, if you haven't already. It's very pretty. - Chris Bratt

Dishonored 2

Having spent a lot of time and effort obtaining both the Clean Hands and Ghost trophies in the original Dishonored, I decided a while back to try and continue that tricky combination of not being seen and doing no harm through its sequel. But, after getting a first hands-on with Dishonored 2 this weekend, I realise that may have been a touch optimistic.

My sneaking skills are rusty, that much is true, but it's a feat made more difficult this time around by the fact that the demo level on offer at EGX, The Clockwork Mansion, is intimidatingly beautiful. Or maybe just intimidating. Despite being loaded down with grenades, explosive bullets and other extras made available specifically for this demo, the towering, bird-like Clockwork Soldiers have a unique way of reducing you to a deer caught in headlights when they catch you unawares.

Keen to stay off their radar, I was second-guessing myself, making mistakes, and leading them all on a merry chase through mahogany-lined hallways, right up until I discovered a crawlspace that allowed me to move through the walls of the gleaming mechanical mansion undetected. If the rest of Dishonored 2 is as interesting and oppressive, multiple playthroughs will be a must. - Aoife

PikuNiku

I spent a good deal of this Saturday at EGX hanging round with my friend and his 7-year-old son. We had a lot of fun, but obviously that put paid to me trying out Gears of War 4 in the over 18's section - otherwise I'd have probably chosen that for game of the show. Bloody kids, ruining my fun.

Instead we spent a couple of hours sampling the weird and wonderful indie games in the Leftfield Collection where all three of us fell in love a with charming little platformer named PikuNiku.

It's a bright, colourful game that - visually at least - reminded me a lot of LocoRoco from Sony's Japan Studio. It stars a little red blob with wobbly legs who has a penchant for kicking other little blobby characters in their wobbly legs, and their wide-eyed expressions had us all giggling as we put the boot in. If you need a game that'll put a smile on your face after queuing up to play the bigger games, do swing by and give it a try. It's ace. - Ian

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