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Home / News / These are the best games I played at Summer Game Fest 2024

These are the best games I played at Summer Game Fest 2024

From RPGs to retro revivals and weird indies

Metaphor: ReFantazio

Summer Game Fest 2024 wasn’t just all wall-to-wall streams of games to get hyped about that you then don’t hear from for months or years. It may not be the same size as E3, but I was nonetheless invited to Play Days. That is the show’s LA-based media event where I had the opportunity to get hands-on with some exciting new console games. Better yet, many of these are coming out later this year or even more imminently.

Running the gamut of big releases from veteran developers as well as indie upstarts, there was a lot to try over a long weekend. As a smaller venue, the majority of games were by appointment only with some held behind closed doors so that you couldn’t just take a peek from the floor.

While I wasn’t invited to everything, I’m going to share the 10 best games I got to play during my time at Summer Game Fest 2024.

Metaphor: ReFantazio

Eight years in the making, this fantasy RPG comes from the creatives behind the brilliantly hip Japan and high-school set Persona series. Given these games typically last 100 hours, it’s usually difficult to demo the scope and depth on a showfloor. Fortunately, Metaphor actually came with three different demos. The first established its familiar yet unusual fantasy setting, where characters fight by transforming into Archetypes while the monsters you fight are known as ‘humans’. The second demo had me on a quest located in a dungeon that introduced how it has a mix of both real-time and turn-based command elements, although the former is mostly used for quickly taking care of weak enemies or gaining an opening advantage.

The final demo meanwhile took place on board the Gauntlet Runner, a mobile base that’s quite key to how you journey through the world, before being interrupted by a challenging boss fight, requiring me to not just know how to identify and exploit its weaknesses but also change party members’ Archetypes and formation accordingly. It’s a game that is as strategic as it is absolutely stylish.

Release: 11 October


By far the weirdest games of the show, Slitterhead comes from the creator of Silent Hill. But this is less a survival horror to make you vulnerable and defenceless. You play as a mysterious spirit who’s able to possess other living things, taking over their body, first to figure out who you are and running away from the titular monstrous things that are also taking over people. But soon enough you’ll come to form bonds with key characters on a mission to exterminate these Slitterheads, not only through the use of blood weapons formed from your host’s hands but by also possessing other nearby folks to help join the fight. A bit like an extremely cursed Pikmin. As creepy as it is darkly comical.

Release: 8 November

Fatal Fury: City of the Wolves

It’s been over a quarter of a century since the last Fatal Fury game (also known as Garou: Mark of the Wolves) but it’s arriving at a time just as a new generation of fighting games are hitting their stride. From my time spent throwing down, City of the Wolves deserves to be a contender, with its stylish comic book art style and crunchy animations and sound effects that feels like you’re right in the arcade. Similar to Street Fightyer 6, you also have the option between classic arcade or simplified ‘smart’ controls. Adding strategy to offensive or defensive play is the Rev system where you can make use of more powerful moves. Just be careful that these moves also increase the Rev gauge and if you overheat you’ll lose access to them until you’ve cooled down.

Release: Early 2025

Phantom Blade Zero

This beautiful game may look like another hardcore action game in the vein of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, so it’s a pleasant surprise to learn that in the 15-20 minutes I had with the demo, it’s a lot more approachable while also taking inspiration from fast-paced action games like Devil May Cry rather than the more methodical and unforgiving likes of Dark Souls. You’ll still need to observe enemy patterns, such as knowing when to parry or dodge an unblockable attack but in a demo that had me facing three different bosses, the windows felt forgiving while the ways you can unleash powerful counters and special attacks feel both cinematic and satisfying to execute.

Release: TBA

UFO 50

From Spleunky developer Mossmouth, UFO 50 might seem like WarioWare for PC, except this isn’t just a collection of parody micro-games. There are genuinely 50 individual games (including a good chunk that include two-player mode) spanning multiple genres and styles, wrapped around the fictional history of a once prolific now defunct game developer from the 80s. While faithful to the 8-bit aesthetic of the time, these games also aren’t afraid to thow in modern ideas. In the short time I had, I could only briefly dip into what was on offer but what a trip simply getting to have a taste of how this fictional company has evolved, especially as there are several here that also have sequels.

Release: 18 September

Arranger: A Role-Puzzling Adventure

A charming indie puzzler about finding your way in the world, you play as Jemma, a young woman who can’t help but move the tiled-based world around her whenever she moves. This becomes the basis for a story-driven puzzle adventure where what feels like a curse becomes an inventive way to reaching new areas, while the ability to move a sword around in a similar fashion becomes a way to engage in combat. Just playing through its prologue reveals a game that’s constantly throwing in new challenges with objects and environments to test you, while also culminating in a boss fight that really taxed the grey matter.

Release: 25 July

Lushfoil Photography Sim

Doing what it says on the tin, this photography sim is truly lush. All you do is walk around gorgeous Unreal 5-rendered environments based on real places (this demo includes Lago di Braies in Italy, Castle Rock Beach in Australia, and Fushimi Inari Taisha in Japan) while taking pictures of the scenery to your heart’s content without any specific goals. You can get very involved in the camera settings, adjusting ISO, aperture, white balance and so forth to get that perfect shot. But there’s joy simply in wandering around these exquisite locations. Naturally, I was very partial to the zen vibes of walking under those endless Torii gates in Kyoto, and also pleasantly surprised you can even find a real QR code that you can use your phone to scan.

Release: TBA

Bounty Star

To add its full subtitle, ‘The Morose Tale of Graveyeard Clem’, this mech-based action game has quite the backstory, as ex-soldier Clem laments her failure to prevent a tragedy and begins a redemption arc to be a force for good, starting off in a post-post-apocalyptic version of the American Southwest. The opening chapters establish the basics of base-building and farming in an abandoned mining town you’re trying to knock back into shape. But the highlight here is getting into her customisable Raptor mech for pursuing bounties in the desert, revealing some fun mech action as you balance between melee and ranged-based combat and fighting enemies smartly, whether it’s dodging their homing missiles or destroying their shields before laying on the damage.

Release: 2025

SteamWorld Heist II

While SteamWorld Dig 2 remains my favourite of this continuously growing indie franchise, it’s welcoming that SteamWorld Heist is also due a sequel. If you haven’t played the original, first made for the 3DS before being ported to more platforms, it’s a side-scrolling turn-based tactical shooter, as you control a ragtag team of robot pirates looting and shooting their way through levels. That core remains here, including the very satisfying sniper ability of being able to angle shots to ricochet off surfaces to find their mark. You can however expect more weapon customisation within each of your characters, while you’ll also be able to choose your battles while travelling on the Great Sea, which also includes real-time naval combat.

Release: 8 Augustg,a

Yars Rising

The Atari revival continues, but instead of just solely relying on retro releases, its collaboration with WayForward is a modern reinvention of Yars’ Revenge, the best-selling game on Atari’s 2600 console back in 1982. Not so much a remake, Yars Rising is instead a Metroidvania-lite where you play as young hacker Emi Kimura hired to infiltrate the shadowy QoTech corporation. While hacking takes you mini-games directly referencing the original Yars’ Revenge gameplay, you’ll also unlock insect-like powers in-game too, such as Yars’ wings for air-dashing or an ability to eat through enemy shields. Not only that but you can expect lots of other references to Atari’s history, such as a boss going by the name Missile Commander.

Of the games played at Summer Game Fest 2024, it’s also the one you can try yourself as a demo is now live on Steam.

Release: Late 2024

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