Conventions are on the mend, and PAX West is no exception. The first mask-optional PAX West took place this past Labor Day weekend, and it was a feast for the eyes and ears. In one hall, Nintendo jammed to their Nintendo Live event while thousands of indie game developers celebrated their games in the other. PAX West expanded greatly, including a new expo building called Summit. There, PAX Rising booth recipients, like Against the Storm, rallied around CRYMACHINA publisher NIS America and Lost Eidelons publisher Ocean Drive Studio to show their games and celebrate gaming.
The below list are personal favorites that I got to play at PAX West. They are by no means an indication if one is better than the other. There were hundreds of games at the event, and many dozens I personally played. Each of them were great and offered something new to the table. Here are my top 5 picks from PAX West 2023.
Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader
There isn't only war in the grim darkness of the far future. There is adventure and trade to be had in the far reaches of the Imperium. In a universe of constant battle, there are forged to be made and dark secrets to unfurl.
Warhammer 40,000 Rogue Trader had its first gameplay debut, and it is shaping up to be a true space adventure in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Players can make or break deals with any faction, but missions can consist of rag-tag teams that work together.
My time with the game had a soldier, an Adeptus Mechanicus, and even a Drukhari working together to slay Necromons in tight turn-based combat. With so many systems, Warhammer 40,000 Rogue Trader is shaping up to be a grand CRPG worthy of The Emperor.
What it means to be human is a question that has been asked time and time again. But what happens when all the humans are gone? It's a stark question that is being asked in CRYMACHINA.
The last human is brought back to life in a fully synthetic body a full 1,000 years after humans are gone. On a space station orbiting high above the earth, a young woman stands to fight for humanity and teach the artificial machines there what it is to be human.
The gameplay is a lightning-fast action game that is sublime in color and control. Playing the game is sharp and exciting, with each battle feeling grand and epic. CRYMACHINA comes from the same team that made the JRPG Crystar, and there is a lot of anticipation for the gameplay and story. CRYMACHINA is shaping up to be an incredible action adventure for the last part of 2023.
The mind is a complex place, but if you could figure it out, would you? The brain is a complex system of neurons. We remember our past, ponder the present, and think about the future. Our hopes, dreams, fears, and nightmares all reside within our minds. The journey for answers can be challenging.
The Gap is one such game. Through advanced technologies, players step into the roles of Joshua, a scientist at the cusp of discovering the cure for a crippling illness. With his family in despair, Joshua wanders through alternate realities to discover the answers, no matter how painful they may seem.
In a game that feels greatly inspired by the likes of Inception and Source Code, The Gap challenges players to bridge memories and unlock a mystery that could not only save Joshua and his family but the rest of the world. The Gap Arrives October 2023.
Chicken Police: Into the Hive
The Animal Kingdom is about balance, and in Chicken Police, that is no exception. Chicken Police: Into the Hive is shaping up to be an excellent story. Being a gumshoe has its perks and its dangers.
Chicken Police delivers a poignant and immersive story of a gumshoe working his way to dismantle injustice. As a chicken detective, players go through another point-and-click adventure in this world of prey and predators. Chicken Police: Into The Hive has players enter a forbidden city, one that is rife with insects and invertebrates.
This fully-voiced adventure impressed me with its humor and game gameplay. The sequel promises a bigger story, more gameplay, and even a full-color mode for those who prefer color as opposed to black and white.
Ebenezer and the Invisible World
If I told you Ebenezer Scrooge is the hero of a brand new Metroidvania, you wouldn't believe it. However, it's a real game, and it's coming this November 2023. Ebenezer Scrooge, the very same Ebenezer Scrooge from Charles Dicken's A Christmas Carol, is out in his own game. He fights monsters with his cane the way Belmont whips vampires.
Ebenezer Scrooge is a changed man. He experienced the Christmas Miracle and is a believer in humanity. However, there are many other humans that have become spirits, wandering aimlessly. Some seek redemption from the way they live their lives. For many others, redemption is not an option. They seek revenge and darkness. In the process, they lost their humanity, becoming grotesque, ghastly creatures. As a changed man, Ebenezer hopes to redeem others and bring about hope.
Ebenezer Scrooge and the Invisible World is certainly the most surprising announcement to come out of PAX West. Out of all the settings and characters that could be imagined for a video game, I did not ever think that Ebenezer Scrooge would be selected for such a genre.