Sunday, March 31

PAX East 2019 Day 3 Impressions


Though my final day at PAX East was a bit shorter than the rest there were plenty of great games to discover and enjoy along the way. Here’s a look at this last batch of indies that will all hopefully make their way to the Switch at some point.

Summoner’s Fate - While it currently isn’t slated for the Switch this smart and pretty funny turn-based strategy RPG would be right at home. The deck-based combat mechanics look like they’ll offer quite a lot of choice and variety as you’ll need to choose which new cards you take carefully to keep everything in balance. The squirrel and killer rabbit-based attacks, among other things, are what really gives is personality.


Rez Plz - While I’m not positive it is quite official that this clever and funny co-op platformer is coming to Switch it would certainly be right at home. You’ll control two wizards in training who simply aren’t very good at their jobs, but who will be able to cooperate and make smart use of resurrection stones to get through a wide variety of lethal traps and challenges. Part of the fun is in watching the many gruesome ways they can meet their ends, and sometimes this is absolutely necessary, with one sacrificing themselves for the other to advance. Smart and silly this looks to be a terrific game to enjoy with a friend… just don’t take it too personally if it is you that gets sacrificed.


El Hijo - Playing as a small boy who will need to use his cunning and the shadows to his advantage, El Hijo has a terrific art style and was very easy to understand. You’ll need to exercise some patience and do some experimenting to solve its puzzles but it just has a unique sort of flavor that helped it make a positive impression.


Through the Darkest of Times - Games that take place against a historic backdrop can be interesting and instructive, and Through the Darkest of Times looks to fit that bill by throwing you into Germany during the rise of Hitler and the Third Reich. Working with some friends to form a resistance movement you’ll need to try to enlist help and funding while trying not to get caught. Interspersed with events where you’ll need to make decisions that will test your moral compass and survival instincts this looks to be a very different kind of experience.


Buildings Have Feelings Too - Taking the city management sim in a very different sort of direction, Buildings Have Feelings Too has you controlling and managing buildings as if they were people. You’ll need to balance the demand for housing, industry, and commercial needs while also being sure to be mindful of inter-building preferences and squabbles to keep them all happy and thriving. As you advance into new eras the needs of your city will continue to change, the challenge will be in repurposing and changing your buildings to keep pace.


Deponia - The first part of a “trilogy of four titles”, this revered point-and-click adventure is finally coming to Switch. Mechanically it’s what you’d expect, with plenty of inventory-based puzzles to work through as you explore, search, and combine items to solve problems. The terrific animation and humorous dialogue then helps bring it all together.


The Long Journey Home - A roguelike space exploration game, The Long Journey home has you managing a crew of 4 who embark on a journey to the stars but then, after an accident, find themselves far away from Earth. Your initial choices for your crew and ship will play a large role in your success, though you won’t be able to predict what specific challenges you’ll face. You’ll need to carefully explore different planets and galaxies in search of raw materials, care for your ships and crew, and work through challenges as you meet alien races to survive.


Silence - Set in some pretty grim real-world circumstances, the game has you playing the part of a young boy named Noah who must work to find his sister in the fantasy world of Silence. Using adventure gaming mechanics that aren’t as complex as the traditional point-and-click variety, you’re able to more easily work through puzzles and enjoy the game’s amazing graphical style that blends 3D with hand-drawn art pretty effortlessly.


Felix The Reaper - Featuring possibly one of the cutest reapers you could ever imagine, Felix is in love and he’s not afraid to show it as he dances around solving puzzles. You’ll need to work only in the shadows, so manipulating the angle of the stage you’re on in relation to the sun will dictate your movement. You’ll then need to be clever and move things around in order to clear yourself a path to work with and progress towards his beloved Betty the Maiden of Light.


One Finger Death Punch 2 - It takes some real talent to make games with a limited number of inputs work, and One Finger Death Punch 2 absolutely wrecks the budget brawler space with its 2-button insanity. Limited inputs in no way equate to limited variation and action, and once you’ve up to speed with all of the game’s core elements it starts throwing it all at you. Extremely well-suited to quick and bloody play sessions, this game had a smile on my face within the first minute that never went away.


Skull Girls Second Encore - Obviously made my a team of people who are absolutely passionate about classic 2D fighters, Skull Girls Second Encore is dripping with style but also extremely sound technically. For the most part the impressive set of moves each fighter possesses will immediately click with Street Fighter vets, and the absolutely ridiculous number of single and multiplayer modes, extensive tutorials, and online support will make this a must-own for fighting fans once it arrives on Switch later this year.


Out of Space - While at a quick glance this looks a bit like Overcooked in space, Out of Space changes things up a bit and plays quite differently. Working solo or with up to 4 players, your goal is to outfit your spaceship with furniture and niceties to make it a home. The challenge comes in the form of needing to manage your exhaustion, hunger, and steadily-encroaching alien goo before it ends up taking over. Teamwork and communication are absolutely essential as you try to keep each other alive and deal with the problems that arise pretty quickly. Keep an eye out for it if you like local multiplayer and have been wanting a new sort of challenge.


Collapsus - While visually it may just look like another sort of brick-breaking variant, Collapsus allows you to shake things up, quite literally. The game-changer here is the ability to rotate the playfield, which will make blocks slide in different directions as you break them. It’s a very tactile experience that may not translate so well onto video, but if you give it a try you’ll find it’s a pretty cerebral puzzle experience and it has a ridiculous number of modes and variations to keep it interesting as well.


SteamWorld Quest - There’s no doubt the pressure is on (Hah!) for the folks at Image and Form (well, now I suppose Thunderful) as they roll out another new entry in the SteamWorld series and yet again have chosen a new genre to change things up. Though this RPG experience be quite different it’s easy to feel elements of the terrific SteamWorld Quest’s strategic turn-based play have carried over. Beautiful, charming, and smart, the gameplay I got to enjoy seemed very consistent with the series’ strong track record of care and quality.


The Takeover - While I didn’t get the chance to give it a spin, there’s no doubt that The Takeover is absolutely an eye-catching brawler that demands your attention. Channeling classics like Final Fight and many others this is a core old-school brawler but aside from its appearance it also has a pace and some other enhancements to give it more modern flair.


Helvetti - While likely still pretty far from release this roguelike side-scrolling slasher has a terrific look and visually distinctive enemies. The emphasis is on combo action, and the challenge will be in figuring out how to take down specific enemies using a combination of evasion and techniques .


Batbarian - This 2D pixel art Metroidvania will take you exploring through an underground cave system in search of loot and power-ups. You’ll need to take on a variety of enemies along the way as well as solve some tricky puzzles to progress and get new gear, and then work your way back to spaces you couldn’t get to before in search of additional secrets.


Super Slime Arena - Yet another multiplayer game with a reasonably cute graphical style, Super Slime Arena may look easy to dismiss at first, but just a few minutes of play will likely help change your mind. The trick is that every time you die you’ll come back as a different random slime, and though each of them have only a jump and an attack button to work with they’re all completely different. With attacks ranging from straight up punches to all manner of strange weapons this makes the action quite unpredictable. Likely supporting more than 4 players locally, and even more online, the bonkers nature of battles may not have the same degree of technique as something like Smash but that doesn’t mean it won’t be chaotic fun.


Renaine - Taking the classic 8-bit platforming adventure and infusing it with all sorts of colors and charm, Renaine has you taking control of Aine, the Phoenix Knight. While you may have your primary quest in mind there are an abundance of quests to engage in along the way as well to help people out and then earn emblems that will allow you to upgrade your skills. Paired with the instantly-cute Chompy, a companion who’ll eagerly attack anything put in front of him, the game has a definite sense of personality and should feel right at home on the Switch for gamers of almost any age.


Minoria - Created by the same team who made the challenging and yet very stylish Momodora, Minoria has many similarities to that title but pushes forward with a great distinctive look and more refined gameplay. You’ll need to make quick and effective use of your dodge, parry, and slashing skills to work through opponents and bosses to find success, but the reward can be pretty satisfying.


Astalon: Tears of the Earth - With a very classic 8-bit art style and elements that feel reminiscent of the Monster Boy titles, Astalon does a great job of channeling that retro experience. With 3 distinct characters that you can choose from to take on the game’s evil tower, you’re able to take on the game’s enemies in a variety of ways as you explore the tower’s many rooms and seek out its secrets with elements of modern sensibilities throughout.


Super Cane Magic Zero - Boasting quirky hand-drawn art, an odd assortment of weapons and power-ups, and a fair amount of silliness, Super Cane Magic Zero immediately looks inviting if you enjoy some weirdness in your games. While I didn't get a chance to play it I'm eager to see more of it and am looking forward to getting to know if it offers as much goofy fun as it appears it will.


A final thanks here to all of the indie devs and PR folks who made this PAX such a great experience!