Devolver Digital Summer Game Fest 2024 preview round-up

We went hands-on with Skate Story, Neva, and The Plucky Squire as part of Devolver Digital's SGF offerings.
Devolver Digital Neva

Ever ones to remain overly-committed to the bit, Devolver Digital invited us to celebrate their, actually only one year old, mascot Volvy’s 15th birthday at a party held at Summer Game Fest. There were custom-printed hats, there was a themed cocktail, and there were hands-on sessions with a trio of the publisher’s upcoming titles.

Read: Devolver Direct 2024: All the major news and announcements

Everything we saw as part of Devolver Digital’s SGF offerings

Skate Story

Skate Story Devolver Digital
Image: Sam Eng

My first Devolver appointment off the block was for Skate Story, from New York developer Sam Eng. The very first thing I wrote in my notes about it is that it is ‘the most Devolver-ass game’, which is indeed true and intended fully as a compliment.

Skate Story is a third-person skateboarding game. The skating featured in it operates more on the sim-ish skate. end then it does the arcadey Tony Hawk one, but the gameplay isn’t really centred around busting out smooth lines of tricks. It’s somewhat more of an action-adventure experience, where successfully skating and performing tricks is the situationally presented challenge.

If it sounds as if I’m struggling to describe it, that’s because I am. Eng casually doodled on a card as they sat next to me during the session, but for most of my 45 minute block I was genuinely too dazzled and enthralled by the game to even think to ask that many questions of them.

“There’s a lot of New York influence. It’s such a big city with so many different viewpoints,” Eng told me. “The lens of this game is not focused on skate culture. It takes a lot of inspiration from that but it’s mostly a journey through the underworld.”

During the session I performed many tricks poorly, solved a few environmental puzzles, died countless times, (you respawn instantly), and battled the flying stone bust of an ancient-world philosopher – damaging it by busting tricks as a clock ticked down toward my doom. All of this was accompanied by a soundtrack and score from New Jersey chillwave electropop collective Blood Cultures. The vibes throughout were immaculate.

After a short while playing, I was delightfully unsurprised when Eng revealed that they had attended university on an art scholarship, but had never ended up finishing it. It was at that moment that Skate Story as a personal work of Eng fully made sense to me.

When the session ended, they revealed what they’d been doodling the whole time, a wholly unique double-sided business card just for me. Skate Story then made even more sense.


Neva Devolver Digital
Image: Nomada Studio

Straight off the bat, I have to both commend and call-out the team at Nomada Studio for managing to commit outright emotional terrorism upon me within 90 seconds of meeting them and beginning play of their new game.

Next on the Devolver lineup came Neva. I’m not going to spoil what happens in the opening moments of Neva, the follow up to their smash-hit Gris, but the fact that it genuinely brought me close to crying in front of two people who I’d only just met? Well, that should tell you how powerfully executed a scene it is.

Those who played Gris won’t be shocked to find that the team’s new game is also an absolute stunner. Those who know me personally won’t be shocked to learn that I purchased Gris on Switch five years ago and still haven’t gotten around to playing it (because I’m a monster), so it was with both little direct reference and a state of mild emotional distress that I began my hands-on session with Neva.

As a 2D platformer with action and puzzle elements, Neva shines. Where it really grabbed hold of me though, is how the team at Nomada have implemented the dog-like companion. It’s brimming with personality, and at any time you can press a button to call its name, which is just such a fun and relatable feature.

As someone who frequently walks a small dog themselves, I really connected with the details in its behaviour. Sometimes it will get overly excited and run on ahead, sometimes it will cower from scary noises. Sometimes it will worry that it can’t make a jump and you’ll have to call to it from the other side to encourage it. Every little thing works intensely well in making you care for the creature, so much so that I actually got genuinely concerned at a couple of points when it ran away off-screen.

As my time drew to a close, I thanked the pair of developers who hosted me and told them that if they sell plushies of the dog they’ll make a billion dollars. I still believe that this is true.

The Plucky Squire

plucky squire game preview devolver digital
Image: All Possible Futures

My final Devolver appointment was spent having hands-on time with The Plucky Squire. The scope of the game is incredibly impressive, given that it’s the work of just two people living on opposite sides of the planet – one in the U.K. and one in Brisbane, Australia. James Turner, the Britain-based half of the duo, was on-hand to speak about the game with me as I played.

The Plucky Squire is a cartoony 2D, top-down classic Zelda-like set inside a children’s picture book. That is, except for all of the time you spend outside of the book in a 3D representation of a child’s messy bedroom desk. From here you can then even walk your character across the open pages of the book and affect it with your powers and pick-ups.

Returning to the book in order to progress to the next chapter is ultimately the goal, of course, with ventures outside of it being required to earn new powers and collect items to further your quest.

During my time with The Plucky Squire I also leapt into other scenes depicted upon objects on the desk, letting me play both a 2D platformer and a 2D shooter. The fact that all of these featured distinct art styles and unique enemies, while feeling like fully complete little experiences in their own right, speaks to the impressive scope I spoke of earlier.

If I were forced to describe it in the most awkwardly concise way possible, I’d say that The Plucky Squire is like if Media Molecule and Double Fine spent four straight years collaborating on an after-hours game jam. It’s wildly cute, remarkably creative, and intensely clever. 

All three games that Devolver had on show blew me away in completely different ways, and I cannot wait to play more of each of them. Happy birthday, Volvy!

Skate Story will be released some time in the future on platforms yet to be determined. Neva is scheduled to release on PC, Switch, Xbox Series X/S, and PlayStation 5 later this year. The Plucky Squire is scheduled to release on PC, Switch, Xbox Series X/S, and PlayStation 5 later this year also.

Jam Walker is a games and entertainment journalist from Melbourne, Australia. They hold a bachelor's degree in game design from RMIT but probably should have gotten a journalism one instead. You can find them talking entirely too much about wrestling on Twitter @Jamwa