PAX West is bearing down on us with all of its gaming goodness. In just a few weeks fans from all over will converge upon the Washington Convention Center in Seattle for a Labor Day weekend full of the latest and greatest from the gaming industry.
It is also a place where those in the indie scene can have a chance to get their project some time in the limelight. Spaces such as the Indie Mega Booth and PAX Rising are where smaller titles can shine right along their triple A brethren.
Also, each year 50 industry experts choose ten of these indie gems based on “gameplay and overall fun factor” to be showcased as the PAX Ten. This year’s selection is full of innovative and eclectic titles that exemplify the indie spirit.
“1979 Revolution: Black Friday is a choice driven, narrative game that brings players into the brooding world of a nation on the verge of collapse. Play as Reza, an aspiring photojournalist, and make life and death decisions as you survive the gritty streets of Iran in the late 1970’s.”
There is no doubt that the unique setting in 1979 Revolution is something that intrigues me. It is also of note that this game is available for iOS bringing this cinematic storytelling to the mobile scene. With sharp visuals and a presentation that evokes titles such as GTA, in spirit if not in gameplay, 1979 Revolution: Black Friday by developer iNK Stories looks to be something special.
“The illegitimate love child of Space Invaders and Tetris. Blockships is a game about building the biggest baddest ship by blasting your buddies’ to bits and stealing their blocks – a local multiplayer party-arena game that challenges you to strike the right balance between speed, power, maneuverability, and of course fun! Build, blast, and rebuild your ship – all in the heat of battle.”
Blockships jumps at out me for being very reminiscent of Pixel Galaxy but where that game puts an emphasis on co-op, Blockships, by DrDavient, is all about destroying your friends and taking their stuff. The PvP spin looks to make for an engaging night of battling with your buddies.
“Crashlands is a story-driven crafting ARPG set in an outlandish world of hidden magic and high technology. Fight and tame alien beasts, craft resources into menacing weaponry, befriend the locals, and go toe-to-chin with a world-domineering maniac.”
Who doesn’t love a good ARPG? Crashlands by developer Butterscotch Shenanigans looks to build upon the standard hack and slasher by adding a robust crafting and building system. The whole project has a look that just shouts fun and makes this title one to keep an eye on.
“Cryptark is a 2D roguelike shooter that challenges players with boarding and neutralizing procedurally generated alien starships to earn income for their Privateering enterprise. Purchase improved equipment and weapons to tackle more dangerous targets, but be cautious as failure will result in a loss of investment and profit. The decaying alien arks will defend themselves from intruders with a wide arsenal of cyborg monstrosities, robotics, and security systems, all obstacles that must be surpassed to achieve victory, the destruction of the ship’s central System Core.”
What would a group of indie games be without a roguelike? Cryptark looks to take some subtle cues from the Metroidvania genre and adds the roguelike elements with a dash of procedural generation to craft a unique title. The developers Alientrap certainly know their trade as the game already looks very sharp.
“Fossil Echo is a short and challenging story driven platformer with hand-drawn 2D graphics. Set in a fantastical world, it tells a wordless tale of adventure and mystery. Influenced by the Oddworld series, Ico & Shadow of the Colossus, as well as Studio Ghibli films, Fossil Echo tells the story of a young boy and his journey to climb a giant tower in the middle of the sea. How he got there, and, more importantly, Why? are questions that will be answered via playable flashbacks during his ascent. And for those willing to meet the challenge, eight temples offer some insight on the game’s lore and back-story.”
Watching the gameplay trailer for Fossil Echo, I am filled with a desire to play this game and find out more about the story. The music is hauntingly enjoyable, and the aesthetic is simply beautiful. The developers at Awaceb have carefully crafted a story that begs, at first glance, to be experienced.
“INVERSUS is a mind-bending action-strategy game for one to four friends. Player movement is constrained to opposite colors of a black and white grid. Each shot flips tile colors in an attempt to block, trap and close in on the enemy. Every round evolves into a unique battlefield.”
I was lucky enough to try out Inversus first hand earlier this year at PAX East, and it was a treat. Using simple graphics the developer, Hypersect, has managed to infuse some simple but amazingly strategic gameplay elements. The game only gets more enjoyable as you add friends to play with.
“Explore a 1 to 4 player co-operative personality test set in a rich, ancient world that’s different every time you play. You have five days before King Mardokh and the Sun Cultists declare war on Issaria’s tribes. Multiple playthroughs of this short story will let you see it from different angles and uncover new sides to characters, conflicts, and narratives. Try out all four player hometowns and six player character classes, each with their own abilities and randomly generated upgrades as you build your mythology. Every action and choice you make contributes to your legend, as a constellation in the night sky. How will you be remembered?”
The developers at Kitfox Games are looking to allow players to have some influence of the legends told of their character in Moon Hunters. Making choices and leaving your mark literally in the night sky is at the forefront of this indie title. The pixel art in the trailer looks amazing, and this is one I wish to see first hand at PAX.
“Night in the Woods is an adventure game focused on exploration, story, and character, featuring dozens of characters to meet and lots to do across a lush, vibrant world. College dropout Mae Borowski returns home to the crumbling former mining town of Possum Springs seeking to resume her aimless former life and reconnect with the friends she left behind. But things aren’t the same. Home seems different now, and her friends have grown and changed. Leaves are falling, and the wind is growing colder. Strange things are happening as the light fades.”
I am glad to see that the focus of so many of the PAX Ten titles is on the story. Night in the Woods by developer InfiniteFall is no exception. With striking visuals, this adventure game looks to leap off the screen full of animated joy. Things are not all bright and shiny as the story threatens something sinister when the lights go out.
“Dive into a serene, hand crafted and sun-kissed world and be swept away on an old man’s journey of reconciliation. Wander rolling hills and valleys to find your path in a rich, colorful environment full of light-hearted puzzle solving that encourages playful, inquisitive interaction. Uncover a touching story of life, loss and hope, and help to rediscover what was once so carelessly lost – the way back home.”
One of the great things about indie games is how they do not have to follow the constraints of mainstream development. Old Man’s Journey looks to be the type of game that simply needs to exist. The art and graphics of the game are a joy to behold, and the life journey the developers at Broken Rules are teasing is something I am looking forward to experiencing.
“Split and shift the world to get your critters home safe!”
Another great thing about indie titles is when they can explore out of the box thinking when it comes to gameplay design. Splitter Critters looks to do just that with its interesting mechanics of splitting and then moving the game world to help your critters get home. RAC7 Games have taken a very simple and fun mechanic and paired it with some truly cute and fun graphics for a puzzler that looks and plays like no other.
That is your PAX Ten folks! Make sure to stay tuned right here all this week, as I will be bringing you a more in-depth look at many of these titles leading up to PAX West on September 2nd through the 5th! Make sure to stand by as we will also be bringing you a hands-on look at most of these games in our post-PAX West coverage after the convention.
Do any of these indie titles strike your fancy? Let us know in the comment below! We would love to hear your thoughts and opinions.