Highlights: Not-E3 2023

Fifteen of the best games from the last week.

11 mins read
A screenshot from Été. It looks as though it is painted with watercolours. A white picket fence surrounds a big tree with a bistro table and single chair underneath.

Not-E3 is over for another year – I wonder if it will ever become a single event again. I’d like this week to have a better name than Not-E3, that’s for sure. I’ve compiled fifteen of my most anticipated games from all the showcases I’ve already covered, one game each. The header image is from perhaps my most anticipated game show, Été. I’ve spent time in its locale, Montreal, during the summertime, and at times it feels downright magical. It was shown off during Day of the Devs.

Leximan (Guerrilla Collective Showcase)

If you’ve ever wanted to be a part of a whimsical, wordy wizardry world, now’s your chance! Set in a modern fantasy world, Leximan is driven by bizarre characters, mystical word puzzles, and hilarious mini-games. In this world, magic is a bit embarrassing, but you enrol in magic school anyway. After you cause something bad to happen, you’re banished to the school’s basement alongside the other failures. When the academy is attacked, it’s time to become the outcast that can save the school.

The Bookwalker: Thief of Tales (Guerrilla Collective Publisher Spotlight)

The Bookwalker: Thief of Tales combines two things I love: books and video games. Players take on the roll of a writer-turned-thief who has the ability to dive into books and steal legendary items like Excalibur. The goal is to restore your ability to write.

Été (Day of the Devs)

I love a solidly Canadian game, and that’s what Été is. Play a painter with a watercolour brush and Montreal during summertime at his fingertips. Explore at your own pace, following your curiosity and discovering secrets along the way. Use watercolour to pain the world, and befriend fellow artists to help them out. Create artworks with total freedoms using the items you touched in the real world, which can be rotate and resized at will. The game is fully voiced in (Quebec) French.

Baby Steps (Devolver Direct)

Okay, I admit, Baby Steps isn’t normally the type of game I’d be highlighting. But it’s just so stupid that it swings back around to brilliant. It’s about an unemployed 35-year-old man, still living at home with his parents. One day, he’s transported to a new world where he discovers that he’s actually very capable of putting one foot in front of the other and walking. He’ll explore one step at a time, players controlling each leg individually, and try to find meaning in his wasted life. I’m not going to lie, watching him walk (and fall) is half the reason I’m obsessed with Baby Steps.

Mythwrecked: Ambrosia Island (Access-Ability Summer Showcase)

I’ve written about Mythwrecked: Ambrosia Island a few times before, and I was super excited when it started off the Access-Ability Summer Showcase. Set on a gorgeous island, players will befriend Greek Gods who don’t remember who they really are. Accessibility-wise, the text is readable and text bubbles are customizable. The text can scroll or show all at once. There are captions for ambient an environmental sound effects. The AmbrosiDex features a high-contrast journal and inventory system. A radar function uses sound effects, visuals, and haptics to hint at nearby hidden treasure. Full button remapping is available.

Stray Gods: The Role-Playing Musical (Tribeca Games Spotlight)

Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Music is another title I’ve written about in the past that I’m excited for the opportunity to showcase again. Players take on the role of Grace, a college dropout. She’s a woman in the modern world, but she encounters the last of the Greek muses who dies in her arms and passes on her powers. Grace soon learns that the Greek Gods are alive and well, hidden in the world. Music is an integral part (it’s a musical, after all). Key decisions are made during musical numbers. The songs have branching parts that all link to each other.

Psychroma (Future of Play Direct)

Psychroma is a narrative-driven side-scroller that follows a digital medium with the ability to experience non-linear time. Confront the past by piecing together broken memories of a cybernetic house and exorcize ghosts in the machine, all to uncover the events of a harrowing psychological experiment gone wrong.

Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge (Wholesome Direct)

Games that promote a healthy environment are becoming quite popular, and Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge falls into that category. Set in the wetlands of Kamaeru, players foster a sanctuary for frogs to restore the land’s biodiversity. It’s a cozy farming sim where you raise frogs via mini-games and decorating the habitat. Photography and breed frogs, and plant native crops. There are over 1000 frogs to discover.

Ruffy and the Riverside (Future Games Show)

Ruffy and the Riverside has a really unique “SWAP” feature, making it stand out amongst the crowd. It’s basically copy and pasting. The game is an open-world adventure where players take on the role as Ruffy, the Chosen One, and they try to save Riverside from a lunatic villain. There’s loads to do and explore, from main quests to side quests.

Fable (Xbox Games Showcase)

Fable is going that thing where developers reboot a franchise and give the game the same name as another game in the series. It drives me nuts. This is basically Fable 4. Anyway, the open-world actions RPG is set in a world filled with stories of legendary heroes and treacherous villains, fantastical creatures and wonder outs place. It’s where nature and magic live in perfect harmony.

Bloomtown (PC Gaming Show)

Bloomtown may seen adorable, but as it happens, things quickly fell apart. The game is a narrative JRPG that mixes turn-based combat with monster taming and social aspects. It begins as a pleasant 1960s Americana world… well, maybe not so pleasant. Emily and her friends will have to save their town from demonic creatures living in the hearts of its residents.

Assassin’s Creed Nexus VR (Ubisoft Forward)

The Ubisoft Forward was pretty bland. It’s saying some that an Assassin’s Creed game is the most interesting thing there. Assassin’s Creed Nexus VR is what it sounds like. Play as one of three iconic characters: Assassin’s Creed II’s Ezio Auditore da Firenze, Assassin’s Creed III’s Connor, and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s Kassandra. The story spans centuries. It certainly feels like an Assassin’s Creed game, and the parkour looks like it would be pretty fun in VR.

Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy (Capcom Showcase)

Yes, my choice game of the Capcom showcase is actually three previously-release games. I have no regret in choosing this. The original Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney trilogy was a great compilation of the first three games in the series, and Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney trilogy contains games four, five, and six. It will be released with full HD graphics, and with seven languages: Japanese, English, French, German, Korean, and Traditional and Simplified Chinese.

Dead Pets Unleashed (Dames 4 Games)

It seems that musical narrative games are becoming a trend, and it’s one I can approve of. Dead Pets Unleashed is about a struggling punk band, still looking for their breakthrough song after ten years together. Gordy has had big plans for the group, but learned that once you’re in your 30s life can start to get in the way of past goals. This feminist narrative slice-of-life (also trendy) also classifies as management-lite. Players decide Gordy’s priorities and shape the future of the band. There are multiple endings, based on the player’s choices.

Rollergirl (Black Voices in Gaming)

Honestly, half the reason I chose Rollergirl is because of its setting: it’s inspired by the developer’s hometown of Belleville, Ontario. I live without a couple hours of the town, and have spent some time there (I have extended family that lives there), and see the familiarities. Rollergirl follows Naomi, who just spend all her cash on a car that doesn’t even run. So she rollerblades everywhere, doing odd jobs for cash and listening to music that actually visually changes how she sees the world. New music can be unlocked in-game. It is currently all free music, but the developer is reaching out to Ontario indie bands to see if they can collaborate.


Lindsay picked up an NES controller for the first time at the age of 6 and instantly fell in love. She began reviewing GBA games 20 years ago and quickly branched out from her Nintendo comfort zone. She has has developed a great love of life sims and FMV titles. For her, accessibility is one of the most important parts of any game (but she also really appreciates good UI).

  • Oh man… I was just in Montreal for my grandma’s funeral. What a throwback watching the Été trailer. The cast-iron spiral staircases extending out the back of the apartments, and the giant ferris wheel from La Ronde bring back memories from my summers spent there with grandma.

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