PAX East 2014 Indie Round Up
Somehow three days isn’t enough to play over 100 games. PAX East always has the coolest games to play and I furiously tried to play them all. While there were huge triple AAA games like Evolve and Wolfenstien that gathered the largest crowds, the real action came in the form of the Indie Mega Booth supplied.
With over a 100 tabletop and videogames combined, there was plenty to see and play. I decided to highlight some of the most impressive and ridiculous games I could find on the show floor. I was able to really sink my teeth into some demos while others were short bursts of awesome. Now that that PAX is over, let’s talk about some of the cool games I got to play.
Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number
The first booth I bee-lined for was Devolver Digital’s in order to get some quality time with Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number and and Broforce. Hotline Miami 2’s violence is somehow even more over the top and graphic than before. The demo at PAX had you taking weapons out of the trunk of your car into the sinful den of dudes you need to shoot in the face. At this point it plays a lot like the first Hotline Miami, as in it still feels like a puzzle game made for sociopaths.
You have to figure the best approach to through enemies. My favorite is still knocking down guys with a door slam, shooting whoever is still standing and then finishing off the down foe by caving his head in. Yeah, it’s rated M. I also had a mask that let me dual wield Uzis — great for clearing hallways. The music is still hypnotically good and the combat has this great trial and error loop to it.
Broforce is to be a great couch co-op game that has main characters named Brobo Cop and Snake Broskin. This gives you a general idea of what to expect from a game called Broforce. I got a chance to see fully destructible maps effect gameplay first hand. When playing with Rambro and my partner Indiana Brones, we came to a troop transport full of terrorists we had to get passed that were just over a small gap.
I tried to toss over a grenade that landed a bit short and missed its mark… or so I thought. The resulting explosion split open the earth and the godless terrorist fell to their doom. America! If you dig run-and gun platformers like Metal Slug, you’re really going to enjoy the action and sheer bro-dacity of Broforce. Ok, I’ll stop.
Cosmic DJ lets you create and mix your own fresh beats in this rhythm game on your mobile device. Users can create and share their jams with friends to compete for high scores. I really loved the background visuals of neon flashes and real-life dog photos. There aren’t that many rhythm games on mobile platforms so Cosmic DJ may do well with its simple controls and neat style.
So on the show floor there were a handful of games that really stopped me dead in my tracks. Here’s some you really need to put on your radar like ASAP:
God Will Be Watching
Gods Will be Watching had a different playable scenario demo for each of the shows. Gods Will be Watching is a point and click sci-fi morality game that has you making the most stressful decisions ever. The first day has you managing a hostage situation while your boss hacks some computers. Your job to make sure the hostages stay compliant and docile. Let’s just say the situation breaks down which may force the execution of some folks in order to establish who is in charge. The second day featured survival with a group of survivors trying to um, survive on a harsh planet until rescue comes.
You have limited resources, you’re hungry and chances are one of your survivors is a crazy person. Fix the radio or have someone forage for food. Too many choices and not enough time. Things won’t end well. The last day was the torture scene, which ensues because you and a buddy are caught after fumbling a mission in space. You have to endure 20 days of torture before the cavalry shows up. You need to outwit your captors and keep them from beating you to death with blunt instruments.
The playthrough I did only lasted a few days when I lost a game of Russian-roulette after telling a not so convincing lie. Gods Will Be Watching has well-written characters, stressful situations and some really awful choices to make. I love it.
Hyper Light Drifter
Hyper Light Drifter is a gorgeous Zelda-style action adventure game by developer Heart Machine. Aside from the art, what really stuck out to me was the fluidity of the combat. You have this dash move that you can use to avoid enemy attacks and for traversing the stunning environment. My demo was cut short because I had to run off to an appointment which made sad because Hyper Light Drifter is so damn cool.
Below is another game I’ve dying to get my hands on for the Xbox One. Below is a cross between Legend of Zelda and Dark Souls in which you have to navigate randomly generated dungeons. Getting hit will cause a bleed effect that could kill if you don’t cauterize the wound at a campfire in time. If you do die, you pick up the game as your character’s child. Take into account that the passing of time does happen in game so you have to be mindful that some of loot may deteriorate and become useless if and when your progeny finds your corpse. It has a very minimalist art style that’s fits the mood so damn well.
Galak-Z: The Dimensional
Inspired by our 1980s sci-fi anime tv shows (probably Robotech), this fast paced space shooter comes in with insanely tight controls. All the stages are randomly generated and all connect to each other. 17-bit Studios is bringing roguelike elements to this ridiculously fun shooters. I’m usually pretty god-awful at these types of games but the way your ships twists and turns on a dime really impressed me. PS4 owners should put this on their watch list.
Hardcore dungeon RPGers need apply. Darkest Dungeon take an interesting approach to the dungeon crawler RPG. On top of managing your party’s physically well being, their mental state plays a HUGE role in their performance. Characters can lose their minds and lose their will to fight if you keep them in a dungeon too long.
How do you improve their levels? Back in town you can build structures that help your party relax when they are not bopping skeletons on the head. Your knight may just need a drink to unwind. Leaving him in the bar too long though will turn him into a drunk who can’t function without having booze in his system. Team chemistry also plays a role on stress levels. Pairing the Grave Robber and the Crusader may result in some group tension, throwing off the Crusaders focus.
The hand drawn art style and the way the characters pop on to the fore ground makes the game look like a gothic diorama. The development studio Red Hook just announced that the game was successfully kickstarted and is expecting a 2015 release.
The beauty of PAX is being exposed to completely off the wall games you can’t find anywhere else.
Soda Drinker Pro
Soda Drinker Pro is proof that you make a game out of any inane daily activity. Touted as the premier soda drinking simulator, Soda Drinker Pro has you ingesting your favorite carbonated beverages in a variety of unique and exotic locales. People were also cosplaying as low-texture cups of soda. It was amazing. The beauty of SDP is how serious the developer is taking this game. So much so that they just announced that Soda Drinker Pro will be coming to Xbox One and PS4. There’s also a secret game within Soda Drinker Pro called Vivian Clark.
Catlateral Damage reminds that cats are just jerks. You played a bored kitty who has only a couple of minutes to make as big a mess as possible. How will you do this? Most cat owners know that our feline companions mainly target bookshelves and whatever is on our desks. Catlateral is no different, you get points by knocking over DVD cases, desk plants and nick-nacks.
It’s a game where men in fancy hats stack even more hats on top their head. It’s goofy but a ton of fun. Also they were giving out body pillows of a handsome gentleman wearing a top hat and nothing else to those who beat the hi-score. I did not win.
PAX East was an amazing show that I wish was another day in order to play more games. What I enjoyed was the the general love of gaming over at the indie mega booth. I met some great people and even greater games. Anyone here go to PAX and see anything interesting that make the list? Shoot me a note in the comments and give your favorite indie game at the show some love.
Friend of DualShockers, Shawn Alexander had a playable version of Treachery in Beatdown City on the show floor. It was neat watching people realize that his game is way deeper than its appearance. They have a kickstarter you should donate to.
Perhaps my greatest shame is I couldn’t play Transitor. Supergiant’s Games latest project had a playable demo on the show with a wait time of around two hours all weekend. Even though I didn’t get to play, my trusty colleagues managed to grab some facetime with the devs, so keep an eye out for that interview in the near future. We also napped an interview with the awesome brothers who made Totem. Enjoy!