The best games of Gamescom 2022

Here’s the stuff you should be excited about after the huge gaming show in Cologne

Gamescom has returned to the Koelnmesse, marking the first time the monolithic games event has taken place in person since 2019. The Cologne-based show offered up a ton of great games for all tastes, and while we got to get our hands on several games behind the scenes, it’s hard to expect what will wow you.

Here’s a list of some of NME’s favourite games of the show, with the caveat that we didn’t get to play everything. Using our games staff and a few freelancers we did manage to get our hands on several of the best games you’ll be playing for the rest of 2022 and 2023, so these are the games you’ll want to be keeping an eye on.

Ninja or Die

Ninja Or Die
Ninja Or Die. Credit: Nao Games

An intense roguelike, Ninja or Die asks you to guide a ninja through a series of mazes with the help of a single button. Your character squats in position while all traps, enemies and other environmental hazards swirl around them. You line up your leap with an analogue stick before pressing the game’s singular button which will cause you to jump, attack and parry all at the same time.

If this sounds chaotic, it’s because it is. Any attempts at a methodical approach will be eroded by tide of spikes, traps enemies and fireballs until suddenly you’re mashing buttons and whooping in a desperate fight for survival.

There’s more: our preview had hints of meta-progression with a village that can be built and upgraded with villagers you find on your runs, but the real pull here is the core concept: you’ll ninja, or you’ll die.

Jake Tucker

Evil West

Evil West. Credit: Flying Wild Hog

A gothic western with intense combat, you’ll play as vampire hunter Jesse Rentier, protecting the American frontier from supernatural horrors.

Evil West’s inspirations are clear from the start. Mixing elements from God of War, Devil May Cry, and Doom Eternal, Gamescom 2022’s demo showcased the game’s second mission, presenting something familiar yet fresh from Flying Hog Games. Promising a 10-15 hour campaign in either solo play or two-player co-op, our goal is to wipe out the latest supernatural threat currently simmering underground.

Joined by his partner Edgar, Evil West’s biggest draw currently lies in its combat. When Jesse’s not gunslinging foes, we’re punching or kicking them so hard that they explode. This might’ve been a short demo but we found an intriguing narrative at play which never takes this absurd premise too seriously. Backed up by frequent light humour, this is shaping up to be a welcoming action adventure.

Henry Stockdale

Killer Klowns from Outer Space: The Game

Killer Klowns from Outer Space: The Game. Credit: Teravision Games
Killer Klowns from Outer Space: The Game. Credit: Teravision Games

Yes, Killer Klowns from Outer Space: The Game exists. It’s a 7v3 asymmetrical multiplayer spookfest that’ll pitch three clowns against seven humans in a desperate battle for survival.

KKfOS:TG, made by part of the creative team that developed Friday The 13th: The Game – which was pretty good, honest – seems to be equally faithful to the 1988 clown-’em-up and promises a fairly unique experience as humans try to escape being slaughtered by a team of clowns while exploring a semi-procedural map littered with a variety of references to the movie.

For fans, this is the first time anyone has revisited the world since 1988. To fans of the growing asymmetrical horror genre, the addition of a few more killers into the world should set it apart from Dead by Daylight or Evil Dead: The Game. Huh, lots of these games title themselves with The Game.

JT

Cassette Beasts 

Cassette Beasts. Credit: Nao Games.
Cassette Beasts. Credit: Nao Games.

If you chucked Persona, Zelda and Pokémon into a blender, you’d get a broken blender. You’d also get Cassette Beasts – an incredibly promising RPG from Brighton-based Bytten Studio. Despite drawing from some heavyweight influences, Cassette Beasts is far more than the sum of its parts.

In this lavishly colourful creature collector, players must use cassettes to transform into monsters and battle other creatures. Recording your battles with a tape player allows you to transform into any of your bested beasts in future fights, and by building a relationship with your battle partner, you can fuse any two of these beasts to create an entirely new monster.

That’s all without touching on Cassette Beasts’ gorgeous art style and banging soundtrack – one major fight in the preview is accompanied by a Persona 4-style dash of poppy brilliance. Our 30 minutes with Cassette Beasts recaptured the magic of playing Pokémon for the first time, and left us eager to see what the full game has in store when it launches on PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox and Game Pass.

Andy Brown

Pentiment 

Pentiment. Credit: Obsidian Entertainment.
Pentiment. Credit: Obsidian Entertainment.

If Pentiment’s premise – a 16th century murder-mystery that plays out across a tapestry-style world – isn’t enough to get you on board, perhaps knowing that RPG master Obsidian Entertainment (Fallout New Vegas) is at the helm will do the trick.

In a hands-on preview, we moulded Pentiment‘s playable character – their education, lifestyle and worldly experiences – and set them loose investigating a violent murder at Kiersau Abbey. It feels like every decision made in character creation carries weight in how the plot plays out, and in a mystery game where every clue adds up, that’s vital. The hands-on also suggests that Pentiment isn’t a game that you can work your way through neatly: certain decisions are time-limited – do you attend the victim’s autopsy while you have access, or crack on with chatting to suspects?

Though the opening half-hour of Pentiment didn’t show its hand too early, a successful line of investigation hinted at a game that will let players unspool intrigue, plots and conspiracy aplenty. Pentiment seems like a gripping drama that swaps out big-screen revelations for tapestry twists, and is worth keeping an eye on ahead of its November release.

AB

Hyenas

Hyenas. Credit: Creative Assembly, Sega.
Hyenas. Credit: Creative Assembly, Sega.

Developer: Creative Assembly
Publisher: Sega
Platforms: PC

Hyenas could be something very special indeed. Pitting several teams of players against each other and a space station full of AI guards in a bid to steal as much pop culture detritus is a unique concept by itself, but Hyenas seems to have a top-notch world, courtesy of the same branch of Creative Assembly that brought us Alien Isolation.

Chuck into that kinetic combat that brings unique heroes with their own classes and weapons and drops them into gunfights that prioritise agility and high-skill cap movement and you could have a game that, well, a game that I’ll be terrible at but Apex Legends players might find irresistible. Unfortunately, we haven’t yet had a chance to go hands-on with Hyenas, and the game is going to hinge on how good those claustrophobic space station shootouts actually feel.

That and whether you can tolerate the sheer amount of 80s and 90s references. Creative Assembly has gone deeply self-referential with this one and there will be plenty of Sega merch to pick up, in addition to the fact you use a Sega Mega Drive as a breaching device. If that makes you grin, Hyenas is your bag.

JT

Company Of Heroes 3 

Company Of Heroes 3. Credit: Relic Entertainment

It’s been nine years since Company Of Heroes 2 launched, and the strategy genre’s changed a fair bit since then. Sega sibling Total War went fantasy, XCOM got scrappy, and Paradox sailed to the stars with Stellaris. Luckily, Company Of Heroes 3 has kept up with the times, and looks set to return with all the momentum of a charging Sherman tank. The biggest change is a new turn-based campaign map, which allows players to build defences, organise assaults, and fight over territory on a whole new scale.

This innovation sits at home with everything that strategy fans already know and love from the series. In our preview, we, subjected a town on the campaign map to a brutal bombing run, which meant that when it was time to take to the field in a real-time battle, there was one less capture point to bleed for.

Within these battles, Company Of Heroes 3 delivers on making them bigger, bolder, and bloodier than ever before – there’s a savage joy to be found in landing the perfect shot to a vehicle’s exposed flank, or foiling an enemy counterattack with a well-placed machine gun nest. Company Of Heroes 3 is trying something new and looks good doing it – and our time with the gritty war game left us very excited for November to roll around.

AB

Gord

Gord. Credit: Covenant.
Gord. Credit: Covenant.

  • Developer: Covenant
  • Publisher: Team17
  • Platforms: PlayStation, Xbox, PC

A dark fantasy strategy game, Gord fills your quota for pus, blood and boils before you’ve even pressed start – it’s not for the faint of heart, to say the least. Developer Covenant was founded by developers from CD Projekt Red and 11 Bit Studios, and Gord is everything you’d expect from that marriage: the studio describes the game as a mix of Witcher 3 and Rimworld, which translates to keeping a village alive in a world filled with bloodthirsty horrors from Slavic folklore.

Gord is particularly interesting because there’s so many elements being juggled at once. Players will need to send parties of villagers out to fight off threats and gather base-building resources, but they will also need to contend with sanity, sickness and worse. If you can manage all that, your villagers will thrive – and even earn a helping hand from the gods. In one case, a party of villagers uses an incantation to have an overgrown frog raised into the air, subdued for a moment before every bone in its body snapped in unflinching detail.

We started our hands-off preview sceptical that one game could juggle this many mechanics, but left feeling safe in Gord’s capable, disgusting hands.

AB

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