So PAX East 2019 has come and gone, and this year I went on the bookend days (Thursday and Sunday), playing as many games as I possibly could. I’m not exaggerating when I say I played almost 50 games within those 2 days, and wow are there plenty of awesome projects on the horizon for developers big and small for 2019 and beyond. This is going to be an article (or maybe 2) filled with my personal experience at PAX East on the days I went, with brief glimpses of as many games as I can remember playing and later-to-come spotlight articles jumping into more depth.
So let’s get started with Thursday!
Sweet Jesus, why did I not go on Thursday last year when they introduced the fourth day? Thursday was an absolute delight for playing games, as though there were lines (duh, it’s still PAX), they were much shorter than I had ever experienced before, leading to arguably the best PAX I’ve ever been to (this was year 5 for me). I played VR games, I met some awesome dudes form You Tube channels I watch frequently, and I got to hang out with my brother (sappy, so what?). This was the day I tried more of the AAA or more well known game company titles (although there were still plenty of indies on the list).
What a great way to start the day. We all were walking to get to our actual destination when a friendly voice beckoned us to the booth. The line was not long, and there were about 8 screens playing 1v1 matches, so I decided what the heck, let’s play. Now, I’ve played Samurai Showdown before, mostly as an SNK arcade cabinet game (as it’s a classic) but also as a miniature version for the Neo Geo Pocket (which I played when I was in my weird handhelds phase, don’t ask). This game is the updated version of this classic 2D fighter, and it is a blast to play. I’m no expert, but I can hold my own in a fighting game, and this one plays as you would expect. I got to play on an arcade pad, the way the game feels when you’ve just dropped a quarter into a machine and toggled your joystick to the character you want. Definitely recommend if you’re into fighting games.
THQ Nordic is a powerhouse of Action Adventure titles. Darksiders should be an indication of this, and while 3 may leave something to be desired from some, 2 is where they hit their stride. I mention this because they have a new foray into the action-adventure field, this time as a modular anthropomorphized character called the biomutant (hence the title). Now, I say modular because, at character build, which in the demo was at the beginning, but I’m guessing may also be able to happen during the game? (don’t quote me). Best part was probably the fact that the people running the booth didn’t have the demo mode timer activated, so myself and others were able to play it unhindered by a clock (which was pretty awesome). Definitely a game to look forward to.
Bandai Namco’s first foray into the “large monster beat-em-up” genre of games, there was definitely heavy influence from Monster Hunter seen here. The game seemed to fit a more fantasy normal theme however, fighting ogres, giants, and cyclopes (plural of cyclops) instead of Rathalos and Nergigante. Gameplay was based on button input combos, akin to a Dynasty Warriors or 3D fighting game, which made for more interesting battles than just mashing away. Bless is definitely similar to MH with a dramatic spike in difficulty when playing the final boss of the demo, but was otherwise straightforward and enjoyable. The game has different classes to choose from (unlike MH, where you can just swap weapons), meaning there’s more pigeonholing for what you as a character can do (unless there’s some kind of job/class changing system yet to be announced). The game is a massive MMO, so I’m thinking there will be players with multiple characters, again something yet to be determined. The real surprise here is that the game is totally free to play (probably add some kind of as-a-service aspect that hopefully doesn’t hinder gameplay) and is coming out pretty soon. The booth here gave out pretty sweet swag when you played (though you couldn’t pick your character class, which made for an awkward moment playing one I knew would definitely not be frontlining a battle). Looks like I’m going to have to crack open the wallet to buy Xbox Live again.
A PS4 Exclusive, this was the game with the most presence on the floor of PAX East 2019. There was a huge fenced in area looking like a zombie apocalypse fort, complete with actors dressed and performing like zombies in a cage. They lashed out at passers by, growled and moaned, and really added a nice, creepy ambiance for the game. Days Gone itself is a nice take on a tried genre. I’m all for apocalypses, but zombies seem so played to me sometimes that I haven’t really and truly enjoyed shooting a zombie in the face since Left 4 Dead.
This is not like that game.
Days Gone is a zombie-survival game, where resources are scarce and the impending threat of getting attacked is ever-growing. Even on your trusty motorcycle, there is always a sense that you can never truly outrun the zombies, a creepy but thematic reminder that your not some lone wolf survivor. Overall the game was fun and story/mission driven, so it will probably be something I pick up, eventually.
This was an experience I got to have both as a normal game and in VR. Justin Roiland’s humor abounds in this comedy adventure, a first for his new game dev team, Squanch Games. Trover is funny as hell and definitely worth playing in VR (the game is fun normally, but I think it’s really meant to be a VR experience). It probably exists in other games, but for me, what drew me in was the responsive AI, that always had a comment about he surroundings without the clunkiness of a button press or gesture.
I’m going to lump all the games I played at this booth under this one header and give a brief shoutout to each. These games were all published by Daedalic but developed by different companies.
The Great Perhaps – Interesting sidescrolling adventure-puzzle game with a great atmosphere and a dev who was extra-eager to explain his creation. You’re a spaceman who has landed on another planet, armed only with a lantern that allows you to see and transport between the past and present. Lots of pop culture and other media references (my favorite being ” Can you hear me Major Tom” scrawled on the wall of the subway underground).
Witch It! – A fun little multiplayer game with two teams playing a sort of advanced hide and seek. There are trickster witches in the village that can transform themselves into inanimate objects. As the villagers, you must find and catch the witches (transforming them into villagers). As the witches, you must escape the clutches of the villagers. Worth checking out, would definitely be fun to stream, as spectating is highly enjoyable.
Felix the Reaper – Asymmetric puzzle game with a great humor and a wonderful main character. Felix is a reaper in training, and this is his final test to full fledged reaperdom. Manipulate time to dodge the suns harmful rays as you dance your way to set up different targets to be killed. It’s definitely something to give a play.
Iratus Lord of the Dead – Have you ever though Darkest Dungeon would be way cooler if you could be the enemies? Iratus is that game. Command your army of minions against adventurers, which can grow and change from the parts and materials of each questing party you defeat, and try to escape the underworld. A great take on a fun game style.
Looking like art and style from a Shantae game, this is a sidescroller on the surface, but more like Super Mario RPG on the interior. Battling enemies takes place in a separate setup, where (like in Mario RPG) each controlled character both attacks and reacts to the enemy with the push of one button. This was one of my favorite games played at PAX, as the characters were fun, the world was beautiful, and the gameplay hearkened back to playing Mario and Luigi Superstar Saga on the GBA. A vibrant game I am excited to play in full when it is released.
Ever wonder what it would be like to play a Goomba-like minion enemy redemption game? In this game, you play as the Wunderling, a minion that was granted the ability to jump. This is an auto-run game, meaning the only input is to time jumps perfectly. The pixel art style is gorgeous, and the game definitely ramps up in both difficulty and satisfaction in completion.
Jirard Khalil, known on YouTube as the Completionist (check out his channel if you haven’t yet, he’s an awesome guy) is one of the minds behind this game, and he was there to promote it! Shoutout to him!
After a long day of playing a bunch of different games, I ended the floor time with a couple buddies, just chatting about games andwhat have you. Right before it closed, one of these friends led us to another booth, someone he knew and wanted to introduce us to. His (and the rest of Jelly Team) game is called Super Slime Arena, and it is a beautiful minimalist party fighting game. There are about 30 different slime’s to fight as, all with one HP and one attack. Think if everyone was Kirby who had just absorbed an enemy, but all you can do is neutral B attacks. Aside from lovely pixel art, the game is fast paced fun for everyone, definitely a game to play at parties.
The other awesome part of the game is that controls can be mapped to any controller that you have plugged into the source of the game. You are limited only by the amount of USB ports on the source and the level of masochism you want to be subjected to. Play on a normal, current day controller, a retro NES controller, the RockBand guitar, or even the fishing rod used for like one fishing game for the Sega Dreamcast. The possibilities are endless, which I think lends to this being a great wacky game to pick up and play with friends. (Story mode coming soon, stay tuned!)
Day One of PAX East 2019 was an awesome one, so awesome in fact that I had to go back and get more gaming in! Stay tuned for my follow up: “PAX East Day 2 (Sunday, 3/31)” for more game info and reminiscent stories!
Tagged as: Pax East 2019.