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With the likes of the stunning-looking Forza Horizon 5, the first proper look at Starfield, Arkane's new project Redfall, and Halo Infinite stacking up the column inches during Xbox and Bethesda's joint E3 2021 showcase, you can be forgiven for missing some of the smaller trailers. And you needn't fret, as we've got your back - at least when it comes to one of those smaller games, because this really isn't one to miss twice.
My eyes were turned by a few of Xbox's less-AAA offerings, notably Somerville (from an ex-Playdead dev, so its skin-crawling Limbo DNA is expected and welcome) and 12 Minutes (which stars James McAvoy, Daisy Ridley, and Willem Dafoe trapped in a top-down time-loop mystery). But it's the new side-on, beautifully brutal-looking Replaced that might just be my own Xbox x Bethesda show standout - and right up there when it comes to my personal best of E3 2021. Please, do check this thing out in motion, below, and drink in the sumptuous pixel-art stylings and scintillating synthwave soundtrack.
Here's the E3 2021 reveal trailer for Replaced
Now, that trailer doesn't tell us much about this one, does it - apart from the title, and that it's coming out in 2022 (for Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One and PC, with day-one Game Pass availability). But digging into the information over on Xbox Wire, a picture forms of a game that I, at least, can't wait to get my dirty mitts on.
Replaced is developed by Sad Cat Studios and published by Coatsink (PHOGS!, Transformers: Battlegrounds, Jurassic World Aftermath), and sets its action-platforming gameplay in an alternative 1980s where, 40 years earlier, a nuclear bomb exploded and devastated much of the United States. Replaced casts the player as an A.I. called R.E.A.C.H. that's trapped in a human host, which must navigate the ravaged environments of Phoenix-City to, well, find out what the hell is going on, really. It's gonna be messy, we can be sure of that.
Clearly drawing inspiration from cyberpunk fiction and promising to throw a load of augmentation into the mix as the richest residents of this very-different '80s can mix and match their body parts 'til they're achieved a perverse sense of perfection, what really shines in what we've seen of Replaced is its art style.
We're spoiled for amazing-looking pixel-art games these days, thanks to modern hardware making the primary aesthetic of '80s and '90s gaming move more fluidly and with more detail than it ever has. But this? Look at the shadows at a minute-twenty in, across the outside of the hotel. At the shattered, forgotten (presumably) outskirts of the city, and the decay that's rotted it from the inside, out. At the weight, the heave and thrust, of the combat and the platforming - it's like someone plugged Flashback into a Deus Ex game, and I'm absolutely here for it.
Going back to the official Xbox Wire blurb on this one, and its makers claim to have been influenced by the likes of Alien, Blade Runner 2049 (so, not the original, then?), and 2018's underrated Upgrade movie (it's on Netflix right now, so give it a go). Sad Cat is promising "free-flow action-inspired combat", which does come through in the trailer, and "unexpected twists in the storyline". Twists like, someone's head from their shoulders? Probably.
There's no release date on this one beyond 2022, for now - but 'til then, I know I'll be keeping this trailer on repeat, to be ready for the day that Replaced makes its presence felt in my Xbox. And hey, speaking of Xbox and its activity during E3 2021, there are demos (yes, demos!) of some really great indie games available to play right now, on your Xbox or PC, including Sable and Tunic. So go check those out.
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