# Beyond the Gamepad: A Treasure Hunt Through the Best Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror Exhibitions at Summer Game Fest 2024

Hordes of nerds descended for this year’s Summer Game Fest – a trade show run by gamer journalist Geoff Keighley, which has taken over E3’s crown as the largest digital entertainment event in the world. (For those who have not been fortunate enough to attend a video game awards show, the concept is pretty great: they’re three hours of nerds and gamers screaming, crying, and shaking with ecstasy as they see the upcoming games that will define their happiness for the next 12 to 18 months.) This year’s fest of nerdy delight served up stills from the untamed depths of Dune: Awakening; and Lego Horizon, where BLUMHOUSE – the people behind some of the best horror movies of the past decade, such as Get Out (2017) and M3GAN (2022) – builds incredibly creepy Lego models of Disney characters. With E3 having dissolved like a vinegar-soaked cookie in the fan bake sale that is the internet, the Summer Game Awards is it. For one night a year, we attendees learn about a blend of genre hybrids that will take storytelling to the next level.

## The Return of the Power Rangers: Rita's Rewind

Power Rangers: Rita’s Rewind is a 2D brawler twist on the franchise, pitting up to two players against a robotic villain. In a homage to the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers as well as to the annals of play, the game is structured around episodes and events, allowing players to live out epic moments, too, including controlling the Megazord. Rita’s Rewind’s popularity is a testament to the franchise and to the chance the studio took on it. It is also just part of their output this year.

## A Glimpse Into the Future with Mecha Break

MARV: Have you heard of Mecha Break? It’s coming from AMAZING SEASUN – I think it will be a huge hit. BOT: What the hell is that? MARV: It’s a multiplayer attack and defence game, like but, set in the future of mecha combat. It’s coming from the Gundam legends – RX-78-2 in his cream, Zeta and RM. BOT: What does that mean? MARV: Forget about it. You’ll never understand this kind of stuff. What do you know about these things anyway? BOT: Not much. MARV: Do you know how many types of battle mechs you can choose from? BOT: Not really. MARV: There are, like, different kinds of attack, air and ground, plus city and computerised – just buy the game, mannaar, I’m telling you, you’ll be hooked. BOT: What’s the release date? MARV: Uhm. Like the future. BOT: You mean next season? MARV: Well, it might be 2000 years or something. BOT: What? You mean like, in the future? Like, you know – let’s do it! Missed the deadline for our Gondwanaland-inspired mashup of the ‘do the robot’ dance? Fear not. Bladerunner: Mecha Break (comedy, 2013) has now made its glittery debut on YouTube.

### BLUMHOUSE's Leap into Gaming

The announcement of BLUMHOUSE’s new gaming department is a sign that the studio is aspiring to expand its horror universe. With half a dozen indie games in the works – including the creepy-looking Crisol Theater of Dolls and The Simulation – the company will soon have six more ways to scare you out of your wits. Each game hints at a potential new avenue for horror – with BLUMHOUSE’s name, presumably, to its credit.

### Project C: A Barlow-Cronenberg Collaboration

Perhaps the most anticipated is Project C, from the British game director Sam Barlow (Her Story) and the son of David Cronenberg, the cult filmmaker Brandon Cronenberg, who’s been making provocative art-house films since the late 2000s. Barlow and Cronenberg’s tag-team effort is designed to deliver a gaming experience that, in the words of studio co-founder Sean Krankel, ‘defies categorisation … draping cinema in the guise of interactive storytelling, and interactive storytelling in the veil of cinema’. A pedigree like that ought to indicate an accomplishment of Wadjet Eye proportions.

### The Curious Case of Killer Bean

Now you can dunk this. Killer Bean stands out for mixing action movie spectacle with game prowess. This cinematic sense comes from Jeff Lew, who has worked on Matrix Reloaded and Transformeres. Snapping between first and third-person, it "kicks ass" across varied and dynamic environments. Currently readying itself for an Early Access release, Killer Bean is just one of the latest reminders of the increasingly porous lines between film and game.

### ATLUS Introduces Metaphor: ReFantazio

RPG aficionados rejoiced when ATLUS announced Metaphor: ReFantazio for next October. Metaphor: ReFantazio is the next evolution of the Persona series, and the game’s fantastic setting leaves a wealth of worlds to discover, archetypes to unlock, and cliques to subvert. Metaphor: ReFantazio’s immersive anachronisms, modified mechanics and perverse proverbs will be next-gen gold mines of RPGs-to-come.

### Animated Adventures: Among Us Series Premiere

Meanwhile, the digital world of Among Us is extending its universe to an animated series that’s almost as buzzed-about as the game on which it’s based. Produced by Owen Dennis, creator of Infinity Train, the series promises to deliver more storytelling and humour to the game universe. Until the official premiere is released (this year seems to be jam-packed with anticipated updates!), there’s only one thing to do: wait to see what the next wave of entertainment will bring to the gaming and animation world.

## Exploring the Studio Behind the Scenes

At the center of these trends is the storied studio: a word that describes the creative engines behind today’s games and entertainment. Companies like BLUMHOUSE and ATLUS don’t just fund and market games and other entertainment; they also set design and directive agendas for titles, providing development and creative resources for games to take shape and come to life. Studios are spaces for innovation and experimentation where creative minds come together in order to shape the direction of the medium and the games that emerge from it. Whether it’s a big-budget fantasy role-playing game (RPG) or a low-budget indie horror game, the studio occupies the origins of an experience – whether that experience is a console video game, an interactive app, a speed-dating event, or a novel.

And as another Summer Game Fest draws to a close, the studios and their projects – their vision of the future – help to highlight an industry in constant motion, transformed, always changing, and always entertaining. And with every title announced, it is reminded that we’re in for more adventures on the digital frontier, thanks to the vast creative power that gaming has at its disposal.

Jun 09, 2024
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