We had the opportunity to visit PAX South last weekend and catch a glimpse of some upcoming games we are really excited about. Here’s our list of our favorite games of PAX South 2018.
Old School Titles
One of my favorite games from the show was Crossing Souls, a top down (well, 3/4s view) cartoony brawler that looks a lot like Zombies Ate My Neighbors. In the game, you play as a group of kids who discover a stone that lets them travel between worlds, but in the part we played they were just exploring their neighborhood on the way to meet up at their treehouse. You have five kids to pick from and you rotate between them just by pressing the bumper button. They have different attacks and abilities (and personalities). The whole thing felt like It crossed with Goonies but we really enjoyed the graphics and gameplay. The game is scheduled to launch in just a few weeks and we’ll be checking it out.
We also had a chance to see The Messenger which, despite its obtuse title, is aiming to hit all the right nostalgic notes. At first, the game presents itself as a capable NES-inspired Ninja Gaiden clone as you navigate the wildness climbing walls, attacking birds, and taking on demonic bosses. The game packs a surprise though in that by reaching the end of the map resets you to the start however it’s now 500 years in the future and the graphics have reportedly jumped on from 8-bit to 16-bit (“NES to SNES,” the devs promised). Unfortunately it’s hard to demo that change that occur midway through the game at a show like PAX so we just have to take their words for it. The game also drops the lives mechanic allowing to respawn at the latest checkpoint however you’ll have a friendly demon in tow collecting on your treasures until it decides you’ve repaid your debt for resurrection. The game looks competent with the old school roots and packed full of creative ideas so we look forward to playing it soon.
One of the games we liked the look of was Kung Fu: Shadow Fist in which you battled hand-to-hand against an array of villains in several environments. Our preview watched a fighter battle in the streets before entering a subway station and finally jumping on a train. Movement was transport-based (rather than free moving), which we sometimes prefer in hectic VR environments. The exhibitor told us that the game originally featured actually enemies but may, in the final build, use these creepy animated mannequins that you see here. Check it out below.
We also enjoyed Island Time, which places you on a small island for a relaxing vacation. And when we say small, we mean really really small. The island here is just large enough for you to reach around your immediate environment, but that’s okay! Fish come swimming up close enough to spear. Coconuts fall from nearby trees. You have a grill in front of you for those fish and, every now and then, a crate of supplies comes sailing in. It looks like a lot of fun, though you have to watch that fire. It can quickly get out of control!
We also enjoyed some of the brawlers we saw at the game (yes, Brawlhala was there and it was a favorite). A game we hadn’t seen before was Coffence, a game in which you battle while drinking coffee. There is a mechanic to the game that we did not master involving drinking your coffee before the other player finishes theirs (this either is how you win or helps you win, either way it’s fun to watch). Enjoy the battle we observed below. If you like what you see, pick it up on Steam!
Not all games at this indie showcase fit nicely into a defined genre. There were several quirky but notable games there and perhaps chief among them was the unexpectedly compelling Donut County. In it, players control an ever expanding hole you can move around the ground to try to suck up anything you can find. As you pick up objects, the size of the hole increases allowing you to grab the next item. It’s basically the opposite of Katamari Damacy and feels very similar to the cute weirdness of that experience. The game apparently starred a teenage girl who texts with a friendly raccoon which is producing these holes which quickly destroy the world but provide you with entertainment throughout. It should be out on Steam and consoles later this year.
We also had a chance to check out the subdued world of Haimrik. In its opening levels, the titular character moves left to right along a castle wall with narration written out on the ground beneath his feet describing his story. As you encounter obstacles, that written text can manifest to help or hurt you. If you see a door, go back and grab the word “key” on the ground to unlock the door. Run out of arrows while battling a dragon? Go over and grab the word “arrows” on the ground to replenish your supply. It’s a bit hard to describe but we recommend you check out some play through videos because it could be a blast when it finally comes out this year.
Pato Box stars a boxing duck running around a world that looks like the black and white Mad World. Controls were awkward to play as it switched from adventuring to Punch Out mechanics often but it could be a great one for the Switch which needs the help.
4 For the Money allows 4 players to perform a heist in a 2d world but limits your abilities to the color of your character. If you’re yellow, you can only pass through yellow beams, can only hurt yellow bad guys, etc. Also, each player has their own abilities which makes this seem like a really complicated Lost Vikings.
YIIK was back! No indication of a release date but still as quirky and fun as ever. We hope we don’t have to wait much longer to see this one.
The Swords of Ditto from Digital Devolver looks to be a cooperative Link to the Past. Seriously, check out the reveal trailer below. It could be fantastic.
PAX is a great opportunity to see some new and upcoming indie games. You won’t see the same AAA games you’d find at an E3 or a PSX event, but these smaller events are much better to actually try some games and talk to the devs. And while we’re stoked to finally get YIIK soon and see some awesome games from Digital Devolver on the way (Crossing Souls and Sword of Ditto), Donut County was the most surprising and inventive game we tried and we can’t wait to get sucked into that game as soon as it comes out.