PAX East has slowly grown in to one of the biggest shows one
of the biggest gaming shows in the industry, rivaling even its progenitor PAX
West in terms of attendance and notoriety. This gives indie developers the
opportunity to come to the public-facing show and let players get direct
hands-on with titles and even receive feedback on their games.
This year, we got to try some known and unknown indie games
across the show floor and picked out some of our favorites below.
Games are listed
Described as a hybrid mix of Contra and Metal Slug, Blazing
Chrome definitely hews closer to frustrated memories of Hard Corps than anything else else. Players can co-op with a partner or go it alone in the
demo we played, fighting against hordes of alien menaces through a ruined city.
In typical Contra fashion, a single stray bullet means death and the loss of
whatever special weapon you’re using. Alien bugs pick you up and carry you off
screen, foot soldiers shoot at you from elevated positions, and a multi-form
boss waits at the end of the level with mouth-lasers at the ready. It’s a
pitch-perfect Contra homage, feeling almost identical in look and feel to the
16-bit incarnations of the series, and I am excited to play through the full
game when it releases later in 2018.
Developer: Range Plus One
The developer of Fatal Velocity explained the game in simple
terms, saying he had always wondered why no one had ever made a first-person
webslinging game. At the heart of its competitive multiplayer gameplay is that
core design philosophy of the thrill of swinging around at high speeds. Players
grab each other with grapple hooks and try to throw them off the stage or force
them into walls at a high enough speed. The aesthetic tries to channel Mirror’s
Edge and the gameplay tries to channel Smash Bros. and it all somehow works
together into a fun experience. The game is still fairly early, but it shows a
lot of potential from concept alone.
Developer: Grip Digital
Mothergunship is a game being designed by Tower of Guns’
sole developer Joe Mirabello and continues a lot of the same ideas with some
new mechanics and a hell of a lot more polish. Mirabello and the team at Grip
Digital are focusing on crafting to your gun with ton of permutations as you
travel through procedurally-connected pre-built rooms blasting enemies away. In
these rooms, players can find shops to buy parts and attach them to left and
right guns, modifying them to include things like shotguns hanging off the side
or add properties like ricocheting bullets. Mirabello used an example of
stacking recoil mods on a rifle until it functioned as a makeshift jetpack. I
was surprised how much fun I had playing Mothergunship and can’t wait to try
out different mod combinations.
Developer: Gamepires, Croteam
SCUM is a departure for indie publisher Devolver Digital, as
the open-world multiplayer survival game looks like a dime a dozen at first
glance, but there are layers of details below the surface that actually might
be overwhelming. The game positions players as prisoners pitted against each
other as part of a TV show where they survive and compete to get off their
prison island. The survival aspects are deep, down to counting your character’s
caloric intake if you want to take it that far. A smattering of charts and
graphs can cover your screen as prepare an egg breakfast ahead of your
objective-based multiplayer match. Players can choose to engage in survival and
try to escape the island or try to win their way off through battle or do both,
but the developers insisted that you only have to go as deep as you want to
regardless of which path you choose. It was astounding to see how deep you can
go, even though I can’t imagine most players will dive all the way down.
The Swords of Ditto
Platform: PlayStation 4, PC
Release: April 24
The Swords of Ditto looks and feels like a retread of A Link
to the Past at first, but deeper exploration of the game reveals it to be a
culmination of lots of ideas from the Zelda series married to modern rogue-lite
ideas. The developers previously worked with Nintendo on other projects and
made it their mission statement to bring that company’s quality to their own
games, creating The Swords of Ditto. Players take the role of a legendary sword
that makes adventurers heroes for five days every hundred years. The heroes try
to get as powerful as possible before taking on the ancient demon on the island
and then doing it all again a hundred years later. Winning creates a stronger,
happier island for the next run, while losing depresses and oppresses the island.
Or, Breath of the Wild-style, players can just head straight for the demon’s
castle and try and beat it without any dungeon power-ups. The Cartoon
Network-like graphics and fun premise make Swords of Ditto seem like a real blast.