Posted on 15 May 2019 by Jay Shaw

Play Expo Manchester 2019 Indie Showcase

Last weekend we took a trip to the ever excellent Play Expo 2019 to explore what indie games were on show and meet their developers. We got the chance to play eight games ranging from racing to robot wars so keep reading to see what cool new digital toys we got hands-on with. Before we go on to the games, we’d like to give a shout-out to Stan PC who interviewed us and Chronik Spartan who we met up with at the show.


The first game we tried out was Zerocar by developer Jack Bognar of Evil Video Games. This slick looking racer drops players behind the wheel of a speedy futuristic car in an effort to set the best lap times around a variety of courses. The demo build we played only had a single car and a single desert course but the handling model, though seemingly basic from behind the controller, had a pretty decent learning curve and throwing your shiny speed machine around a corner at 100 miles an hour barely missing a best-lap destroying rock feels good. Zerocar is already available on Steam Early Access for £9.29 and promises more in the future.


Our second game comes from Mancunian developer Prospect Games (best known for Unbox) and is actually already out in full release. Terrawurm, by the developers own words is inspired by the movie Tremors. Players are dropped into a square arena in a small six wheeled buggy with a very large and very hungry worm in hot pursuit. Your goal is simple, just try not to die for as long as possible, a task complicated by the arena slowly filling with randomly placed rocks which limit your options for outrunning the worm. Power-ups such as rock destroying drills will allow you to clear new paths and keep your all important straights to a maximum. While we can’t claim the game has a huge amount of depth it does have a huge amount of old-school arcade fun and is hard as nails.

Robot Champions

Prospect Games second game at the show; Robot Champions needs no explanation if you ever watched Robot Wars on TV. If you didn’t: Robot Champions is an arena fighter where you remote control a robot fighting machine with weapons like flippers and hammers. Controls are simple, you’ve got turning, forwards, reverse, attack, and boost. Thanks to this no robot ever felt overwhelming to control and we could focus on the battle. Part of our play time was with a father and his two young sons and we’re pleased to report that neither the adults nor children got the upper hand and everyone was having fun even when losing. With a range of robots and arenas, each with unique hazards, there’s plenty to do and learn but it never feels overwhelming because battles typically revolve around a single major hazard like a pit or break in the arena wall with fierce fighting centred on pushing or flipping targets of opportunity into a vulnerable position. When released in 2020 Robot Champions will feature a single player campaign as well as local and online multiplayer.

Jarheads has plenty of that old-school Cannon Fodder chaos.


Gareth Williams, developer of Jarheads, drew our attention for two reasons; his love of Cannon Fodder and the Amiga 1200 sat on his table running Cannon Fodder. We didn’t play the latter but we did check out his modern voxel graphics take on the timeless formula of tiny army men brutally murdering things – after stroking that beautiful A1200 for longer than was probably appropriate. Ahem. Jarheads follows the Cannon Fodder mould pretty much one-to-one in terms of gameplay, the mouse both moves and aims your weapons and frantic clicking is a must if you want your squad to survive an encounter with the enemy. The ability to switch between grenades and missiles adds a little more tactical depth to proceedings as one may be more effective than the other in certain situations. The destructible buildings add an interesting layer to combat as breaking a fence or wall may lead to unexpected ambushes from aggressive enemies. Some of its spiritual predecessors wry humour still shows, such as over-the-top deaths and injured soldiers dramatically bleeding out but the anti-war satire has been dialled back into a more straight-laced action RTS.

Must Dash Amigos

This Mexican themed wacky racer caught our eye thanks to its similarity to Nippon Marathon. Developers miniBeast Games sat down with us for a lengthy 1v1 battle across several of the game’s maps where we got to experience plenty of the game’s crazy power-ups from an enemy bonking giant mallet to screen distorting tequila. While I can’t claim to have been any good at the game, it was an absolute blast to jockey for position against a giant gorilla man or luchadore with a huge handlebar moustache. Unfortunately, the game will be local multiplayer only when it releases on PC and Xbox One later this year.


Shinko was unfortunately at such an early alpha stage that gameplay consisted solely of wandering around the beautiful trees which are textured from actual photos and chopping them down. Speaking to some of Suspension Studios staff at the show we learned that the game, when more complete, will be an adventure RPG with crafting elements but won’t have as heavy a focus on crafting as other RPGs of this style. Sadly we can’t say much more at the moment but we can give a shout-out to the developer’s free iOS and Android called Penguin Peril.

Adventure In Aellion

Adventures In Aellion immediately grabbed my eye for looking remarkably like Wind Waker in gameplay. The chunky art style and bright colours compliment each other well and, as I saw in a guided tour of a small portion of the game’s open world, they work well to enable massive draw distances where towns and castles retain their character even when only two-dozen pixels on the horizon. Our hands-on time consisted of a dungeon environment with some minor platforming, a timed puzzle, and a block-shifting logic puzzle. While this early build felt a little floaty, the foundation for a solid game is definitely there and we’re definitely eager to see more. Our talk with the developers revealed that the game is planned to have several endings, multiple towns, and non-human NPC races with varying architecture styles to their areas including a minotaur style race. The GPC are aiming for an early access release later that will initially include the first two dungeons and a single ending.


The final game we had time to check out was Pacer. The thumping music and brain melting speed will be familiar to anyone who’s a fan of Wipeout or Redout but Pacer trumps both with a weighty handling model that really makes it feel like you’re throwing a rocket propelled anti-gravity dart around a chicane while the logical part of your brain dribbling out of your ears, still struggling to process what you’re seeing. Amazingly for a racer of this style and speed there’s both a sense of blowing through a track at twice the speed of sound and a remarkable clarity to the road ahead – we asked a developer if there was any graphical trickery being used to achieve this but were told there isn’t. A racer of this style lives or dies based on its track design and while we can’t speak for the final product, the single course we got our hands on was an excellent example of high speed shenanigans that you just can’t navigate with rational thought; several turns in and we were at full speed and feeling our eyes and fingers were linked directly, acting without thinking like taking on fourth dimensional spaghetti junction at Mach 3 is a natural human instinct.

Stay tuned in the future for more in-depth previews after we’ve had more private time with the demos we were so kindly provided with.

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