In anticipation of PAX West 2016, I spent the last few weeks doing some homework to determine what games will be at the show that I wanted to check out and potentially feature. Once I had compiled the data and sorted through it all, I emailed the respective developers to see if they’d mind speaking with me - seems a lot of devs are washing their hair this weekend.
The side effect of my efforts is the pages and pages of notes and information (and unanswered emails). Since I’m a big fan of recycling, I decided to turn them into a post as the effort is effectively nil, comprising of primarily Ctrl+C followed by a Ctrl+V and a little bit of the ol’ spellchecker.
In order to further minimize my efforts, I’ve distilled it down to the 5 games that I think are “absolutely can’t miss” at PAX.
“Astroneer, an upcoming PC game from developer System Era Softworks, places players in a 25th century gold rush where they explore the frontiers of outer space, risking their lives and resources in harsh environments for the chance of striking it rich. Resources extracted from planets, asteroids, and moons can be traded with friends or crafted into new tools, vehicles, and modules. Environments are procedurally generated in a uniquely rendered voxel engine, featuring a textureless aesthetic that allows players to deform and shape the terrain as though it were made of Play-Doh.”
This may sound like a survival/resource management in space also-ran - and maybe it is - but from what I can tell, this game has a certain romanticism given to galactic exploration that hasn't’ been achieved before. I don’t know if it’s the look of the game, the animation, or the soundtrack to the trailer, but there is a certain mix of hopefulness and trepidation that the space genre hasn’t seen. I hope to get my hands on the demo, and then we will see if that feeling radiates as strongly while you play.
Battle Chef Brigade
“Battle Chef Brigade features fantasy chefs, including Orcs, Elves, and Humans, who need to hunt dangerous monsters for ingredients. With those ingredients, before the critical eye of the judges, the chefs create culinary masterpieces in an intense tournament. Battle Chef Brigade pairs one part combo-based action hunting and one part puzzle-based cooking, all as the round clock ticks down.”
I had a look at this game last year, and I’m super excited to give it another go. The game is almost two games in one - one phase is a platformer, where you face off against monsters to collect for your dish. The second phase is a match 3 style game that will determine how your dish is prepared.
Add in the hand drawn graphics, and the obvious Iron Chef reference, and I was sold on the spot. I’m hoping for more of the same from last year, just with additional polish and content.
“SECRET LEGEND is a VIDEO GAME about a tiny fox in a big world. Embark on an ⚔ ADVENTURESOME QUESTABOUT ⚔ set in that place just beyond the farthest you've ever been! Don't worry — you're not supposed to be there anyway. 💕
Explore lost lands, skewer baddies, find secrets, take naps.”
This game is giving me some seriously good vibes - the same kind I get from Zelda or Hyper Light Drifter. This game is in the neo-polygon graphical style with bright colors and cute animals from a isometric perspective. The tiny bits of game play that I’ve seen look really smooth and the world the game is set in is beautiful. I can’t wait to find out more and give the game a try.
“Wandersong takes you on a whimsical, musical journey across the globe. Eons ago, the goddess Eya put the universe into motion with her music--now, as she does every epoch or so, she's going to sing a new song and reset existence. You play as a lowly bard tasked with finding the pieces of a mysterious melody called the Earthsong, which is said to be able to preserve the planet. Use your singing to help characters, solve puzzles, and save the world!”
If Windwaker fell in love with the platforming parts of Paper Mario, and they had a baby, and that baby was raised by DDR, I think we’d get something like Wandersong. If that description didn't’ do it for you, then we probably can’t be friends.
I can’t wait to get my hands on this one.
We Are Chicago
“As if the stress of graduating next week wasn’t enough, one of my best friends is nowhere to be found.
A gangster threatened me at school, Robert’s disappeared, and the shootings on our block seem like the only constant. I need to discover what’s going on before it’s too late.
It’s becoming difficult to protect those I love from the turmoil facing my neighborhood. This block, my friends, and my family, we all stick together and do the best we can to keep each other safe and look out for one another. We are in this together.”
There aren’t many times where video games share the same subject matter that you might see in an indie documentary film.
We Are Chicago is working to provide us a glimpse into the real life experiences of those in Chicago's south and west side through a first person perspective. This will definitely be a unique experience framed in a way that’s never been done before, and I can’t wait to see the results.
At a more macro level, this is something I hope we can see happen more - the ability to experience and interact within the real lives of others in order to learn and better understand their story.