The enormous Gamescom show in Germany has always been a great place to play games that are due over the next few months or beyond, and this year's event has been no exception.
Attending for T3, I've managed to get closer to Starfield, Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty and even the a new version of the 70s / 80s classic console, the Atari 2600+. However, I was also treated to gameplay and demo sessions of games you might not be as familiar with. And a few of them really impressed.
Here then are my six favourite games of the show that aren't quite as obvious or hyped.
Dungeons of Hinterberg
I've always been partial to cell-shaded graphics, as used in the likes of Jet Set Radio and the Borderlands series, and so I was drawn to Dungeons of Hinterberg like a moth to a flame.
It's an action RPG set in the alps and I got to play 20 minutes of it in a behind-closed-doors session on the Xbox booth. Boy was I glad I did.
Even at this early stage (it's not out until 2024) the game feels great to play, with smooth, responsive combat, great dungeons to explore and puzzles to solve. But, what strikes it apart from others in its genre is the combination of classic role-playing elements with social simulation features, where you can interact with locals in the town of Hinterberg to both relieve stress and build relationships to further the story.
I'm very much keeping an eye on this one as it gets closer to release.
Just as Mario is returning to his 2D roots in Super Mario Bros. Wonder, so too is Sonic the Hedgehog and, as I found out in my playthrough of a couple of levels, it's smart move.
Sonic Superstars takes everything that was (and continues to be great) about the classic platformers in the series' past and ramps it up a notch. The speed is back, along with fiendish boss battles and different routes to discover, but it's all been given a decent paint job, with higher-resolution graphics and, seemingly, superfast frame rates.
Multiplayer is now available too. I didn't get to try it out, but did take control of a couple of different characters from those on offer - Sonic himself and Tails. By giving you the option, it changes your strategy a touch for each type of level.
I couldn't quite figure out what difference the selectable special moves made, but am sure that will become apparent when the game is fully released in October.
Arashi: Castles of Sin – Final Cut
Coming for PlayStation VR2 and Meta Quest 2 and 3 soon, Arashi: Castles of Sin was fully playable in my demo session at Gamescom and it instantly won me over with its clever combat and stealth mechanics.
I played using a PSVR2 was impressed by both the fidelity of the graphics inside the headset and the motion mechanics. Some games I've tried of late have frankly made me feel queasy, especially if they combine thumbstick movement with head pans. Not so Arashi: Castles of Sin. It felt natural to both move around the outside world and sneak into the eponymous castle itself.
Perhaps the best element of our demo though was the combat. Although you play as an assassin and can stealthily move around the corridors, facing enemies head-on is actually great fun. You can block their sword blows and then strike your own, with a weapon in each hand. You also get a bow and arrow to take out foes from afar, which is hugely satisfying, albeit short-lived as you only get a small amount of ammo at a time.
It'll be interesting to see how the rest of the game plays when it arrives in full. And when we're not in a warm convention centre.
Train Sim World 4
Real-world simulation games are huge on PC and rapidly rising in popularity on console, too. Train Sim World 4 is a good example why – its depth and scope for locomotive enthusiasts is second to none.
Out on 26 September, so not long now, the game has a few upgrades over the last outing, with a bigger focus on accessibility for new players and a plethora of customisation options. Not only will you be able to redesign routes, timetables and the liveries of your trains, you'll also be able to upload them to a central server for others to try out.
That also means, of course, that you can download their designs and custom amendments to enhance your own gameplay.
Making the game more accessible is perhaps my favourite enhancement, though. New tutorials and suggestions to aid your driving time will better ease you into the gameplay and let you spend more time looking out at the wonderful rendered scenery than at the myriad of buttons to press.
Still Wakes the Deep
Developer The Chinese Room certainly knows how to tell a story, with the superb Dear Esther and Everybody's Gone to the Rapture under its belt, so we have high hopes for Still Wakes the Deep.
It also looks to be the most playable of its adventures, with survival horror aspects and possible jump scares to discover alongside the studio's trademark character development.
I got to see three brief sections during a hands-off demo session, but the game is looking very good indeed. Set on a North Sea oil rig off the coast of Scotland, it evokes a sense of isolation from the off. And that only increases once a threat appears.
We won't say much more for now, but get a Scottish slang phrase book and a spare pair of pants ready for when the game arrives next year.
Assassin's Creed Jade
Last but not least, Assassin's Creed Jade is the only mobile game on my list but it fully deserves its slot. It's the first full-fledged, 3D, open-world Assassin's Creed game to appear on phones and offers a completely original story, to boot.
Its ancient China setting seems well suited for the franchise, but it's the technical aspects that impressed me most. While some things are naturally trimmed back in comparison with a console or PC Assassin's Creed, everything I played in my brief demo session just feels right.
I'm not really a fan of touchscreen controls for action games, but found movement and combat easy to pick up on the latest Android demo build. I was also told that there are plans to add controller support somewhere down the line, but there will be several closed beta releases beforehand.
The game also looks right and its new characters – with the option to play as a male or female lead – fit right into the mythos. This is very much one to keep an eye on over the coming months.