Many people spent their time at PAX East last weekend waiting for hours in line for the opportunity to play or watch demos Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Final Fantasy VII Remake, is Baldur’s Gate 3. Fortunately, for those who tried to avoid the jokes to play those hits, there was also a plethora of indie titles on the show floor.
Since the inauguration of PAX East in 2010, the convention has become a great place to play the latest indies and this year in particular seemed to have an overabundance to try. Wherever you went to the showroom, there were small developers who offered not only demos for their games, but unique opportunities to speak directly with designers, artists and writers.
I managed to play around 30 different games over the four days of the event, but nevertheless it seemed to me that I was scratching the surface only on what was on display. Of these games, 10 have distinguished themselves. These are the ones I can’t wait to play more when they finally come out next year.
The great swindler
The great swindler it’s like a mix of the 90s Nickelodeon comic aesthetic with the comic gameplay of a LucasArts adventure game, with a variety of ways to reach your goal. The stage demo showed players going to a mall to get enough money for a train ticket. You could get that money in several ways: by plundering everyone at the mall, stealing the new hot toy from one parent to sell it to another, winning a promotional contest for a ham in a transparent box or finding some beach themes hard to find knick knacks to sell to the guy who runs the pawnshop. In the demo, the game – especially the script – managed to strike a good balance between not being too nostalgic for the 90s or deriding it.
Developed by Mighty Yell; coming soon on PC and console not specified
This is an action role-playing dungeon crawler where the weapons you use are also people you can hang out with and have relationships with. This means that you need to find a weapon that not only fits your playing style, but also your personality. Improving that relationship allows you to access new skills that the weapon can use when you go to the dungeon. And the social events that help build that bond occur not only in the city outside the prison, but in the prison itself. This increases the desire to explore the underground more deeply to get better equipment and improve the relationship with your partner / weapon.
Developed by Kitfox; will be released in 2020 for Nintendo Switch, PC and Mac
Set in a city that seems to have gone out Blade Runner or The fifth element, Cloudpunk makes you deliver parcels to a city of sky-high skyscrapers in a flying car. You play as a driver on their first night of work for the Cloudpunk delivery service. The story of the game unfolds as you make deliveries and start making choices about whether you should deliver what you have collected or maybe you can find someone else who will take it for a bigger payday. Your choices can change the way successive deliveries take place and how the characters react to you. Or you can simply wander around the city after customizing your flying machine.
Developed by Ion Labs; coming out in 2020 for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch
Bullet Hell partly, partly deadly trap, Disc Room comes from the same developers as Minit. The game makes you try to survive as long as possible in rooms full of various combinations of deadly saws; some move slowly around the room, others quickly snap towards you and others explode into smaller saws. Surviving is difficult enough, but most rooms also have closed doors, which can only be opened by completing some challenges. These could survive 20 seconds in a number of rooms or could require death through a number of unique types of saws. There was also an all-gold room with what looked like an abstract model of a solar system deep in the demo, which seemed to indicate that there would be some less kinetic puzzle-oriented rooms, although the developers had refused to comment that room.
Developed by Kitty Calis, Jan Willem Nijman, Terri Vellmann and Doseone; releasing in 2020 for PC
Playing pathless seems to move The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild but with the kineticism of the movement in Spider-Man from Marvel. You play as a woman who tries to bring light back to the plateau she lives on after she is infected with darkness. As you move around the world, constantly shoot these floating eye cubes that give you the power to increase your speed. It is immensely satisfying to put together power ups as you look down your eyes and as you run, jump and slide all over the place to search for the items needed to restore parts of the forest.
Developed by Giant Squid; out in 2020 for PlayStation 4, PC and Apple Arcade
I was surprised to learn that the narrative aspects of rogue survival Red lantern they concerned less the woman you play who drives the sled and more the dogs. Each dog has its own story through which you work when you have them as the leader of your sled dog team. The dogs you choose for your team can affect not only the development of a dog’s story, but the type of events that occur. But you can only reveal that story if you manage the food and supplies for your driver and his dogs as they make their way through the Alaskan desert.
Developed by Timberline Studio; releasing in 2020 for PC and Nintendo Switch
While it will draw comparisons to Undertale thanks to its appearance, She dreams elsewhere seems to take more inspiration from character series. In the game’s turn-based combat system, enemies have specific elemental weaknesses that you need to understand and then use to deal more damage to them and influence the order of turns. There is also a surreal, almost psychedelic feeling in the aesthetics of the game, which makes things seem familiar and unnerving in a sort of dream.
Developed by Studio Zevere; 2020 release for PC, Mac, Linux and Xbox One
A space for Unbound
Set in the late 1990s in a rural area of Indonesia, A space for Unbound it’s kind of like a Makoto Shinkai movie (Your name is Weathering with You) was a side scrolling adventure game. The demo followed a guy named Atma who has the ability to get into people’s minds to help them overcome the problems they are having. Initially he uses it to help a close friend who is anxious about his writing, but later on in the demo, it is also used to help someone sleep a little bit necessary so that he can take an object he needs. Like in a Shinkai movie, it looks like there will be some magical realism, teenage romance and an impending disaster that is altering the world.
Developed by Mojiken Studio; releasing in 2020 for PC
This is an absolutely wonderful game which is an amazing mix of resource management and helping spirits solve their problems to move on to the afterlife. Recruit the spirits to join your boat by building a place for them on it, which requires resources that you collect from the different islands you travel to and then transform into structures (such as a lumber mill or a frame) on your boat. It seems that it will be a cooperative game on the ideal sofa; one person can control Stella the novice ferrymaster while the other controls his cat, allowing you to collect or process multiple resources at the same time.
Developed by Thunder Lotus Games; coming out in 2020 for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch
A role-playing part and a fighting game part, Young Souls makes you play as teenage twins Jenn and Tristan as they try to prevent a magical army from the other world from invading Earth. As a character game, spend your days as a normal teenager going to school or around the city to develop some of your skills, before spending the nights traveling through the portal to fight the various threats to their world. The game also has a great style that mixes 2D characters in 3D environments, which looks particularly impressive during cut scenes.
Developed by 1P2P; There is currently no announced release date or platforms on which it will be activated