Tokyo Game Show 2023 Embraces VR: Best Indie Experiences Revealed
The Tokyo Game Show (TGS) is one of the gaming industry’s biggest events, and this year, it embraced the world of virtual reality (VR) in a major way. The Japanese gaming expo utilized VR as a tool to offer a hybrid experience, allowing fans to explore a gamified look at featured titles within bespoke booths built inside fantasy landscapes. In addition, companies had the opportunity to showcase their VR innovations in a dedicated area, providing attendees with a glimpse into the future of the medium.
Several major studios made their presence known at TGS, including Capcom, which offered a public demo of Resident Evil 4 on the highly anticipated PSVR 2. Thirdverse also impressed with their newest story-driven post-apocalyptic sci-fi action game, Soul Covenant, while PICO showcased their hardware through demos of titles like Magic Stone Guardians and DYSCHRONIA: Chronos Alternative.
However, what stood out the most at TGS was the focus on bringing newer voices into the conversation. The event featured schools dedicated to VR development in both the VR and the Game Academy sections, giving solo developers and smaller studios an equal opportunity to shine alongside the more established names in the industry. This allowed lesser-known titles to thrive and added joy and excitement for anyone willing to venture beyond the mainstream experiences and try something new.
With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at some of the best indie VR experiences that we tried at TGS 2023:
1. Guruguru Crazy Hill
Although still in the conceptual stage of development, Guruguru Crazy Hill impressed us with its unconventional approach to racing. The game’s visuals are reminiscent of SNES Super FX racing games with a Game Boy filter, creating a unique and nostalgic atmosphere. Players control their bike by rolling their arms to accelerate, leaning side-to-side like the monkey in Super Monkey Ball to dodge obstacles and collect speed-boosting pellets. The addictive gameplay and catchy chiptune soundtrack leave players craving for more. Keep an eye out for the planned release of a public free demo in the near future.
2. Tiny Candy Guardian
This charming and frantic defensive shooting game by Moka Games caught our attention. Armed with a candy wand in each hand, players take on the role of a wizard tasked with protecting Candy Island from enemies. Defeating monsters rewards players with bonus weapons that increase their power and modify their attacks. Aim for high scores and maintain full awareness of your surroundings to succeed. If you’re intrigued, a free demo will be available on Steam later this month.
3. Umami Grove
Umami Grove, developed by Pomshine Games, offers an immersive and physics-based VR adventure loosely based around cooking. The game focuses on exploration and freedom, providing players with a whimsical island to navigate and numerous activities to enjoy. From platforming sequences to cooking for fantastical creatures, Umami Grove’s low-stakes gameplay delivers a calming and entertaining experience. The game is set to be released next year through publisher Dangen Entertainment.
4. Cards of Destiny
Originally started as a game jam project, Cards of Destiny by United Games has blossomed into an intriguing deck-based twist on a God game. Players assume the role of a child with the power to shape the fate of sentient aliens and humans in a board game town. As the overseer, you’ll face various challenges and puzzles, strategically using cards drawn from the deck to manipulate outcomes. The gameplay offers a lively and imaginative experience, making players feel like power-hungry children playing with toys. While the project is still in development, a demo is currently available on itch.io.
The Tokyo Game Show 2023 was more than just a showcase of mainstream titles and big-name publishers; it also highlighted the incredible talent and innovation present within the world of indie VR gaming. These four experiences, along with many others, captivated attendees and demonstrated the growing significance of VR in the gaming industry.
As the gaming landscape continues to evolve, it’s evident that smaller studios and indie developers have a vital role to play in shaping the future of VR. Their fresh ideas, unique gameplay mechanics, and dedication to pushing boundaries provide gamers with unforgettable experiences that defy conventional norms.
So, if you’re ready to step beyond the headline experiences and explore the world of indie VR gaming, these titles showcased at TGS 2023 are definitely worth keeping an eye on. Get ready for a thrilling ride filled with rolling bikes, candy-filled battles, whimsical adventures, and the power to shape destinies.