Another year, another E3 in the books. Nearly all of the big studios and publishers were present on the the floor of the Los Angeles Convention Center to show off their latest and upcoming projects, often with flashy booths and massive lines.
Tucked into various edges of the floor, you could find smaller publishers and indie studios presenting their upcoming games. Some managed to get themselves some floor space and booths, including the “IndieCade” booth showcasing a collection of smaller indie titles. Others, though, did not have any kind of booth presence at all, instead opting for direct meetings with attendees to show off their work.
This is how I met Simon Gerdesmann and Roman Duda of Phantom 8 Studios. A small studio out of Germany, this team started work on their first game in early 2016. Now, a year-and-a-half later, these two members of the team came to Los Angeles to present the beta build of the game, going by the name Past Cure.
According to Gerdesmann, Past Cure is a stealth-heavy action game with some elements of survival horror. The game is heavily inspired by film, especially Inception, Fight Club, and John Wick, with the target market being fans of game series such as Metal Gear Solid and Silent Hill.
The team showed off two portions of the game, one of which I got to go hands-on with. For the first part, though, Duda took control. This part was showing off the stealth gameplay, along with some of the supernatural elements the game’s plot and mechanics include. The main character moved through what appeared to be a warehouse or parking structure, using some kind of psychic skill to disable cameras along the way. We eventually came across a set of enemy NPCs that Duda tried to sneak around, but he was spotted and taken down quickly.
There is gunplay and melee combat, but Duda emphasized to me that stealth is very much the focus, since enemies can take you down easily. My main takeaways while watching this portion were that the environment was drab and enemy models were repetitive. I also noted that the facial design of the enemies was…rough. It could come down to the fact that this is a beta build, but I wasn’t incredibly impressed with this portion.
The team then passed me the controller and loaded up another scenario, which they told me was nearer the beginning of the game and more narrative driven. This portion involved exploring a dark maze-like building, where doors would become colorful portals that spawned glowing-white creatures. Gunplay was the focus here, and while it was simple, the controls were responsive and snappy. I was able to line up shots with ease, even in close quarters with these relatively speedy enemies.
This portion was short, and when I wrapped up the demos, I was left with mixed feelings about the game. Past Cure’s initial trailer (linked at the bottom of this article) was rather impressive, even more so when Gerdesmann mentioned that this was the studio’s first game, and nobody on the team has worked in games in the past. The art style of the trailer stood out in particular, but it wasn’t present in the E3 demo. The game controls solidly and has some interesting mechanics, but nothing really stood out in the demo portions.
Overall, I’d say that this is a title to keep a hesitant eye on. There seems to be a ton of potential here, even if the portions Phantom 8 brought to E3 weren’t all that exciting. Gerdesmann mentioned that the studio is aiming for a retail release of the game on PS4 and XBox One, with a PC release planned via Steam as well. I just hope that the next time this game is demoed, it’ll be more eye-catching – perhaps showing off the art style of the trailer more.