E3 2018: The best new games that nobody talked about

With nine different press conferences plus everything available on the show floor, E3 2018 was busier than ever. If a few titles slipped between the cracks, well, that's no surprise. After all, during E3 week, literally hundreds of new games make their public debut. It's practically impossible to keep track of everything, especially if it's not a sequel, an existing intellectual property, or a big tentpole release.

But don't forget about the little guys. Everyone might be gushing about Fallout 76, Halo Infinite, Battlefield V, The Last of Us Part II, Assassin's Creed Odyssey, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, but if those don't tickle your fancy, don't worry. The following games may not be tomorrow's big blockbusters, but they're still worth your attention, especially if you're craving something off of the beaten path. At E3, there's something for everyone — you just might have to dig a little deeper to find it.

Sailing the Sea of Solitude

From sports to a galaxy far, far away, all of of the usual suspects showed up at Electronic Arts' E3 2018 press conference, but this year's press conference was more than just a smattering of blazing guns and bro-tastic heroes. Sea of Solitude, developer Jo-Mei Games' adventure title, might not command attention like EA's big big-budget offerings. It doesn't matter. The small, stylish little game has an intriguing premise and gorgeous art direction. For those of us looking for something a little different, Sea of Solitude practically stole the show.

In part, you've got the presentation to thank. While many E3 demos are full of marketing jargon and scripted banter, creative director Cornelia Gepper took the stage and delivered a heartfelt description of the upcoming game. Her enthusiasm was infectious. Gepper didn't talk much about how Sea of Solitude plays, but its premise — in a world where loneliness transforms people into literal monsters, a young woman must delve into her past in order to restore her original form — is compelling enough to warrant attention all its own.

Besides, as part of Electronic Arts' EA Originals program, Sea of Solitude is in great company. The indie-friendly publishing program is already home to innovative titles like Fe and the co-op prison break adventure A Way Out. If Sea of Solitude follows in their footsteps, it's going to be just fine. Keep an eye on this one.

Dungeon diving with Tunic is like wrapping yourself in an old, familiar blanket

You want to capture the hearts of video game players around the world? Do what Microsoft did. Drop a video of a polygonal fox hacking and slashing its way through Zelda-like adventures and watch the kudos roll in. Seriously. Listen to the audience gasp with delight when Tunic shows up in Microsoft's E3 2018 press conference. From the very beginning, Microsoft's got everyone in the palm of its hand.

Okay, technically, Tunic isn't brand new (although it's got a brand new title), but E3 2018 is the first time that most of us have ever gotten a good look at it. It won't be the last. With it's isometric camera and sword-based combat, Tunic looks like it's basically a cuter, furrier version of Nintendo's popular dungeon crawler — Tunic's hero even dresses in green, just like The Legend of Zelda's Link. There's nothing wrong with that. You could do worse than build a game on Zelda's rock-solid foundation and, besides, Tunic's bouncy and colorful world should be an excellent palate cleanser between gritty gore-fests like Gears of War 5 and Dying Light 2.

Most impressive, though? Tunic is the product of a one-man development team. In 2015, Canadian developer Andrew Shouldice quit his job to work on what was then known as Secret Legend, a game heavily inspired by "certain classic triangle-seeking games." We're eager to learn much, much more.

We've got Captain Spirit, yes we do!

Dontnod Entertainment might've just released the undead RPG Vampyr, but that's not all that the French developer has planned for 2018. On June 26, 2018, Dontnod will drop The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit, a spin-off of the studio's award-winning magical teen adventure game, Life is Strange.

The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit stars Chris, a 10-year-old boy with a very, very active imagination. Chris either thinks that he's a superhero, or he secretly is one — without playing the full game, it's kind of hard to tell. Either way, we're getting a serious Calvin & Hobbes vibe from this one. During Captain Spirit's E3 demo, Chris used his toys and his surroundings to embark on all kinds of crazy, "pretend" adventures, while there's something strange going on in Chris' home life, too (his mother, for example, is conspicuously absent). Life is Strange proved that Dontnod can successfully tell grounded dramatic stories with genre trappings. When Captain Spirit hits, expect more of the same.

Don't worry if you haven't played Life is Strange, either: while Captain Spirit contains some references to its elder sibling, its developers say that it'll stand alone. You won't need much time to play it, either. A Captain Spirit playthrough will only last a couple of hours, although you'll probably be able to run through it a few times making different decisions — and besides, when the game hits, it'll be totally free. Really, there's no excuse not to play it.

Don't blame me, the banana told me to do it

Sometimes, you don't want to bother with experience points, crafting, complex storylines, or other players. Sometimes, you just want to shoot things. For those times, Devolver Digital and DeadToast Entertainment are bringing you My Friend Pedro, a side-scroller shooter that's heavy on gunplay and light on everything else.

Judging by My Friend Pedro's E3 trailer, the game is designed to make gunplay a true spectacle. Vault through windows to take the bad guys by surprise. Pick off your foes in slow motion. Dual-wield handguns to become twice as deadly. Blow your enemies' skulls straight out of their heads. Throw pots and pans in the air, then use them to deflect bullets straight into unsuspecting foes. It's all gloriously insane, and My Friend Pedro knows it. The game will ship with a GIF maker so that you can share your craziest moments, while Pedro — y'know, the "friend" who's making you do all this — is a talking banana. Yeah, this is that kind of game.

My Friend Pedro's mix of surreal humor and ridiculously over-the-top violence gives us strong Deadpool vibes (the game's masked hero even looks like Marvel's Merc with a Mouth). While Pedro keeps the superpowers to a minimum, we're hoping that DeadToast's latest captures those movies' sense of subversive fun. Just don't expect My Friend Pedro to arrive too soon. DeadToast is a one-man operation, and the game will be finished when it's ready.

This is one Sable that won't bomb

Sable made a blink-and-you'll-miss-it debut during Microsoft's press conference, but even with just a few seconds of screen time, it made an impact. Thankfully, we got an even better look at the Sable at the PC Gaming Show the next day.

Obviously, it's the graphics that make Sable stand out. While Shedworks, the two-man team behind Sable, cites Studio Ghibli as a major influence, the bizarre open landscapes and the cell-shaded aesthetic also recall the work of various French and Belgian cartoonists (in particular, we get a major Moebius vibe from the whole thing). Shedworks says that it spent a lot of time on its rendering engine, and it seems that the effort was well-placed. Sable looks incredible.

Thankfully, it seems like Sable will have content to match. Sable stars a young woman (Sable, of course) who travels across the game's desolate and evocative environments, exploring ruins and learning more about "her place in the world." Sable's impeccable sense of style isn't limited to just the graphics, either. Michelle Zauner, better known as indie rocker Japanese Breakfast, is teaming up with Sable's developers to create an all-original soundtrack that's just as serene, beautiful, and haunting as the game itself.

Bravery Network Online brings the post-post-apocalypse home

E3 2018 might've been light on content for fans of Japanese role-playing games (although the Nintendo presser had its moments), but there's at least one game on the way that should keep players grinding away for a while. At first glance, Bravery Network Online, one of three new titles from freshly minted game company Untitled Publisher, may not resemble Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest, but look a little closer. Underneath those cartoon trappings, you'll find an turn-based RPG-like brawler that's just as crazy as any adventure that's made its way out of Japan.

The Bravery Network Online trailer is brief and filled with strange terminology, but at its core, it looks familiar: you'll choose actions from a menu, your opponent will do the same, and then you'll wail away on each other until one of you is out of hitpoints. Bravery Network Online seems to be some sort of tag-team mechanic — fights seem to be one-on-one affairs, while "Tag Out" is an option for both sides — and while we're not really sure what things like "Flicker Gloves" do, we're eager to find out.

The game's official website says that it takes place in a "post-post-apocalyptic world," which is certainly different, and Bravery Network Online's hand-drawn graphics are awfully attractive. All that, and it's got some kind of Pokémon-style game mechanics, too. No, Bravery Network Online isn't the long-awaited Final Fantasy VII Remake, but it should tide you over until that comes out — assuming that ever actually happens.

Watch out boy, Maneater will chew you up

Maneater is no joke. Oh, it sounds like one. An open-world action-RPG starring a shark isn't exactly normal. Its trailer is big on comedy, too, shifting effortlessly from a serene vacation video into a montage full of bloody aquatic horror. The main plot, which involves a shark looking for revenge on the human who killed its mother, borders on ridiculous. But don't lump Maneater in with elaborate digital pranks like Goat Simulator and I Am Bread. For better or worse, Maneater is a fully-fledged shark simulator.

In Maneater, you might be a fish, but the game still has the kind of in-depth progression and customization system that RPG fans crave. Chomp down on whales and tourists to make your shark's teeth longer, to strengthen its fins so that it can swim faster, or to unlock longer and more brutal "feeding frenzies." As Maneater's official website says, "everything is on the menu," as long as you can manage to kill it first.

Before turning his attention to a single-player adventure, Maneater's lead developer, Alex Quick, created the multiplayer action game Depth, in which two teams of players — one controlling sharks, and the other controlling divers — fight it out for undersea supremacy. In other words, he's done this kind of thing before. With any luck, that experience will help Maneater transcend its initially silly premise. There's a lot of promise here. We're just hoping that we can stop laughing long enough to find it.

Load up on Szechuan sauce and help Trover save the universe

Y'know, this whole Rick and Morty thing is kind of a big deal. Just ask McDonalds. As such, we're a little surprised that Trover Saves the Universe isn't getting more attention. Trover may not be an official Rick and Morty spin-off (Pocket Mortys and Virtual Rick-Ality already have that covered), but it's written and voiced by Justin Roiland, one half of Rick and Morty's team of co-creators. Watching Trover's reveal trailer, you can tell, too. Not only does one character sound an awful lot like Morty, but the highlight of the video features the same twisted sense of humor as Roiland's show. Heck, even Trover Saves the Universe's press release is bizarre: it's a comic strip, and not a particularly informative one, either.

Maybe the lack of enthusiasm is due to Trover Saves the Universe's PSVR roots. Maybe it's because, as memorable as the trailer is, the video doesn't do much to explain how the game actually plays. Maybe there's just too much else happening at E3. Whatever the case, if you like Rick and Morty — and we know that many, many of you do — and if you like video games, Trover Saves the Universe should hit you right in the funny bone.

So, about From Software's other big debut ...

You'd think a new PlayStation 4 title by From Software, the company that turned the whole gaming industry on its head with Dark Souls, would warrant some attention. Not only has From Software been cranking out excellent games for years, but with Bloodborne, the developer proved that it's got the chops to deliver a PlayStation 4-exclusive that hits all of the right buttons.

Well, you'd be wrong. Sure, From was all over E3 2018. The company's upcoming samurai action game, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, turned a bunch of heads at Microsoft's press conference, while a remastered edition of From's 2004 shooter Metal Wolf Chaos was the centerpiece of Devolver Digital's bizarre presentation. Déraciné, From's upcoming PlayStation VR game, however, didn't make it into Sony's E3 show at all. The company saved the big reveal for the post-show stream, unveiling Déraciné while the press filed out of the auditorium and after the at-home viewers were switching the channel.

And, okay, virtual reality wasn't a major part of Sony's presentation like it has been in years past, and Déraciné doesn't have the same hardcore vibe as Dark Souls. Heck, it has something to do with fairies. It's not even clear how far along Déraciné's development is. The reveal trailer is notably sparse. Still, the company makes interesting games, and quite frankly, there's no reason to think that Déraciné won't be just as compelling as the rest.

Killer Queen Black is guaranteed to blow your mind

You're not supposed to play Killer Queen at home. The 10-player strategy title started as a real-life field game — you know, the kind of thing that you play outside, without a controller — and later became a limited-edition arcade cabinet that emphasized playing together. Socializing while playing on Killer Queen's unique hardware is the entire point.

That's why Killer Queen Black is a much, much bigger deal than you would guess if you only know it from its brief appearance during Nintendo's E3 presentation. This is the very first time that the arcade game has gotten a home release — kind of, anyway. Killer Queen Black isn't the exact same game that arcade-goers have been enjoying for the past few years. Killer Queen Black has been "redesigned from the ground up" to make living room-based play a little more feasible. Instead of ten players, you'll only need eight. You'll be crowding around a monitor or TV set instead of a long cocktail cabinet.

Still, Nintendo's Reggie Fils-Aimé promises that Killer Queen Black will deliver the same type of frantic, convoluted fun as its arcade predecessor. It still might not be as fun as taking on both friends and strangers at your local watering hole, but sometimes you just don't want to leave the house. For those times, Killer Queen Black should have you covered.