This weekend I was away at PAX East, getting a chance to check out some of the things that are just around the corner for gamers. This year there were plenty of the big companies there: Square Enix, Nintendo, Microsoft, Capcom, Twitch, Blizzard to name a few.
The highlight of PAX East this year, at least for someone like me who was sorely disappointed in Riot Games not making an appearance, was the Indie Megabooth where Indie Devs battled to grab the attention of the thousands of guests attending the convention. I got a chance to talk to a few devs who were incredibly eager to spill everything their games had to offer.
“We took inspiration from Moon., The Martian, and the Curiosity Rover data” A dev told me, as I finished up the demo where players get a chance to look at the first 15 minutes of gameplay. Immediately the sense of loneliness is thrust upon you as you start the game in an escape pod from your ship for reasons unknown. Separated from your crew and from mission control, you have to immediately go on the hunt for the pre-existing base on the moon. Oxygen is on short supply and any physical activity, running and jumping especially, help you burn through what little air you have.
The story is that you are the second team of astronauts to reach Mars and are in search of the first team which mysteriously disappeared. You’ll be exploring the barren landscape of Mars which the devs said was made based on Rover data and will be searching for what remains of the first crew as well as your own, finding hints along the way. Lacuna Passage is a narrative driven survival game which in its current build caters to casual players, with the devs looking to provide a hardcore mode after numerous requests they received at the convention.
Lacuna Passage has been greenlit on Steam and is a game well worth the attention of exploration/survival/mystery fans.
Easily the most accurate cat simulator to be made thus far. Catlateral Damage is a game where you play a cat with one simple goal: Create as much chaos as you possibly can. It’s a sandbox game where you can navigate an apartment, jumping and running around, while using your paws to knock over or open objects. Every object you knock onto the floor gets you points and it becomes oddly satisfying to see the world through a cat’s eyes.
When the game is available players should expect a procedurally generated house to destroy, collectables, new cats to unlock, and power ups to wreak more havoc. It’s an incredibly simple and delightfully fun game.
The RTS of card games. It’s what happens when Heartstone and Starcraft collide, with a little bit of Magic the Gather sprinkled over it. It’s an incredibly in-depth card game with 100+ different units you can play and it does an interesting job blending the RTS genre with a card game. The game starts off with resource units and you can build your army quickly, having incredibly diverse and complex battles with the large variety of cards available to you. The gameplay itself entirely suits the players, with turns being either a slow burn or near instantaneous so if you don’t have the patience to take things slow, that’s no problem..
Currently there’s a ladder system implemented in the game which is currently in its alpha build. One of the developers said that in the coming months they’re looking to add a single player campaign, which should be around 40 levels.
Titan Souls is a gorgeous pixel art game with a simple gameplay and a classic premise. You play as a lone man looking to take down the titans guarding ancient ruins with nothing more than a bow and a single arrow. Death is incredibly easy to come by and requires you to nimbly dodge attacks and charging titans. Once you fire your arrow, you can summon it back to you, causing damage on the arrows journey back.
It was one of games that was incredibly pleasing to the eyes even with its retro graphics and the simplicity of the game made it a real charmer. Of the bosses that were shown at Pax, we got to see a giant goo monster with a heart that broke up into small piles of living goo. If the player wasn’t careful, they’d become over run by the goo without ever getting the heart free of the goo and destroying it. The second boss unveiled was a brain in a block of ice that would slide after the player, hitting buttons along the floor that would activate a flame pit in the center of the room. The player would have to shoot their arrow through the fire to melt the ice and then destroy the brain.
Titan Souls is an incredibly unforgiving though largely satisfying game that you just want to play more of. Keep an eye out for it in the coming months.
From Two Tribes, the developers of puzzle games like the Toki Tori series, Edge, and Rush, comes Rive. Runing off of their previous puzzle game’s engine in Toki Tori 2, Rive brings an exciting fast paced shooter with a captivating art style and all of the satisfying vehicle mechanics of the Metal Slug series.
In Rive you operate a robot that changes from a spaceship, a submarine, and a spiderbot that navigates challenging bullet hell and platformer-esque levels using hacking tools, jumps, items, and its rotating cannon. Whether you’re navigating sewers gunning down drones, winding around asteroids in space, or avoiding traps underwater, every second of this game is a total blast and left me wanting more and more.
Rive is Two Tribes first attempt at dipping their toes in the waters of genres outside of puzzle games and it’s one of the most fun sidescrollers I’ve had a chance to try out. Rive is one of the few games I look forward to buying on release.
There are so many positive things I want to say about Jotun, that it’s hard not to start gushing. Jotun is a beautifully done game in which you play a dead viking who has entered Valhalla and is looking to fight giant monsters to gain the favour of the gods. The demo begins with the camera close up your viking, giving you a moment to appreciate the character before you approach the first giant.
The camera then draws back as the giant rises from the ground, dwarfing the viking until they’re hardly taller than the giant’s big toe. Your only goal once the giant has arisen? Take it down. The moment of awe where you become a tiny speck next to the giant monster revoked all of the excitement, horror, and awe a lot of players had when they first encountered one of the colossi in Shadow of Colossus which Jotun looks to take a lot of inspiration from. The gameplay is designed around simplicity with a button for attacking and a button for diving for cover and it works tremendously well. As the boss battle goes on, the fight continues to evolve while you have to learn to adapt to the ever growing challenge, which makes for some really thrilling gameplay.