Unless you have been living under a rock, I went to PAX AUS. That, or you don’t follow me on any form of social media. Anyhow, I went to PAX AUS and I played so many games. These are the voyages of the reviewer Toby, his mission: to seek out new games and genres, to talk to game devs, to boldly review games no-one* has reviewed before!
City of Brass
City of Brass is a first-person roguelike hack-and-slasher wherein you must fight your way through a mystical Arabian city, collecting gold and killing all manner of strange creatures inside. While I wasn’t very good at City of Brass, it seemed fun and engaging, with a promising future. While I will not be writing a full article on it, you can check it out on Steam here.
In fact, our writer Jorge did a review on City of Brass — you can read it here.
A first-person text adventure. When I first heard those words I was beyond confused. But it only took a few seconds to understand how Winter’s Wake works. While you have full mouse control to look around at your environment, you do not see anything, rather a text description of what you before you is given, and the background changes to reflect what colour the scene would mostly be. While it does take a little time to get used to the mechanics, Winter’s Wake is an excellent game and one which I will be eagerly following. You can check out their site here.
I will hopefully be doing a review on Winter’s Wake, so keep your eyes peeled.
I first checked out Drone Legion because, to be honest, they had a cool looking drone at their booth and a VR headset. After playing it, though, I get why the crowd was there. Drone Legion is an enjoyable and fast drone simulator, letting you fly your very own racing drone in a well-simulated virtual reality. While it’s very accurate from what I can tell, there’s a steep learning curve; it’s very hard to keep the drone up in the air, especially when trying to fly around the course at high speeds. Although it’s not out yet, you can check out the dev’s site here.
Remember the olden days when a ‘stealth’ mission didn’t just mean killing everyone silently? Atomizer Games does, and that’s why they created Heist, a top-down stealth-them-up focused on hiding in the shadows and sneaking around enemies. Though the main focus is staying hidden, you do have other tools at your disposal: everything from rocks to distract enemies, to cherry bombs and trip wires. While the release date is currently ‘soon’, Heist looks like a good, fun stealth-them-up, and if you like the sound of it, check it out here.
You know those wavey, balloon sorta’ things which you see outside car yards and such? The ones that look like they’re always hitting each other? Well in Inflatality, that’s literally what happens. A co-op game, each player controls one wavey balloon thing, then tries to hit the other until one deflates. Using an Xbox controller, one stick waves your body around, the other waves an arm around and a button is used to block. Do enough damage, and you’ll charge up your special power, of which there are several, such as a big blow-up hammer, or lightning that hurts the enemy when they hit you. With a nice, full suite of customisation options, Inflatality is a fun little party game which you can grab on Steam here.
I like co-op games. Even in the age of the internet and online groups, there’s nothing like sitting down with a friend to play a game together. Here enters Putty Pals, a fun and enjoyable two-player game available on Steam and the Switch. Playing as a little, coloured ball of goo, you and your friend must work together to navigate the various worlds and collect points. Bounce, swing and hop through the bright levels to get to the end. You can find their website here.
Welcome to Paperville, a town made entirely of paper! A beautiful town — that is until the fire. As the town’s fireman, you journey through the delightful and imaginative town, fighting fire and saving citizens. As VR games go, the immersion was pretty good and the controls enjoyable. Making the town paper means breaking objects can be both easy and simple whilst making sense in-universe. Paperville Panic is coming to Steam VR early next year, and you can look at it here.
Platformers have become slightly rote over the past few decades, which thankfully means that modern platformers are on the whole becoming much more interesting and inventive. Chroma Shift’s interesting twist is revealed in the title, Chroma Shift. Playing as one of two robots with a co-op partner, you travel through various factories, changing colour to interact differently with the environment. For example, only orange characters can walk through an orange door, or a player may switch to green to pass through a green laser. With a planned release sometime in 2018 and an already pretty good system, Chroma Shift will hopefully be seeing a much larger audience in the future, and you can check out their IndieDB site here.
I will hopefully be doing a review on Chroma Shift, so keep your eyes peeled.
You all remember the gravity gun from Half Life 2, right? How at one point it got so overcharged that it was able to kill people by launching things at them? Well that’s the basis for Grabity, a 2D, local multiplayer throw-them-up where you fight by picking up and shooting objects at each other with your not-gravity-guns™. The grabbing mechanics work very fluidly, which can make for some fun moments grabbing a friend’s barrel out of the air then throwing it back at them. A fun and fast paced little game, Grabity is slated to release in Q1 of 2018 and you can find its Steam page here.
Projection is a game all about, well, projection. A 2D platformer, you control both your player — a young child — and a mysterious floating light source you free from a chandelier. Travelling through the world, you have the ability to walk on the shadows cast by your floating light. As you progress through the game, you complete puzzles through the use of this light. (If you run toward a box with your light a little above it and an equal distance away and time it right, it will lift you up and give you a kick forward — kinda’ cool trick). The story is a little confusing: two Greek-pottery-looking groups seem to be fighting each other, and you’re trapped in the middle, but it looks very nice and works well, so that’s good. A very fun little indie game, Projection does not currently have a release date, but you can check their site out here.
I will hopefully be doing a review on Projection, so keep your eyes peeled.
Sneak sneak sneak sneak stop. Sneak sneak RUN. That’s more or less how Light Source goes, a stealth game from indie developer Salty Studio. Due to a terrible accident on their way to PAX AUS, both of the demo computers for Light Source were put out of action, so the demo I played was an old version lacking in such content. Nevertheless, the demo was very fun, focusing on a small warehouse with several key pieces of information that I had to sneak in and steal. While it’s very early on in development and nowhere near any form of release, Light Source looks quite promising and I look forward to seeing it in the future. They don’t have a website yet, but you can check out their facebook page here.
An excellent way of bringing people to your booth is to have a massive tower of coloured cubes — a modern Colossus of Rhodes. A swish little game, Death Squared is a co-op puzzle game where 2/4 players control little cubes to complete challenges. Puzzles work on the basis of colour: the red player can push red buttons and walk on red floaty blocks, while the green player can walk through green lasers and fall through red floaty blocks. Out now on pretty much every modern platform, Death Squared is great and I highly recommend it.
I will hopefully be doing a review on Death Squared, so keep your eyes peeled.
Bargain Bash is a fun little game, one of several from the large booth inhabited by student games from Swinburne university. Suitable for 2–4 players, Bargain Bash is a fast-paced shopping game where players compete to get the best bargains within the time limit. Set in a tiny little store, you all run around grabbing items and sprinting back to the cashier to claim your savings. Each character has a smash ability to smash through walls or knock another player down, making for a incredibly hectic and chaotic game. Bargain Bash currently does not have a release date, but it’s kinda’ neat and you can look at their twitter here.
Regular Human Basketball
I already have an article done and ready to go for RHB, but in the interests of consistency it shall be included here! A large-scale (2–16 player) competitive co-op game, players control large robots to play basketball. These robots are controlled by pressing large buttons on the inside of the robot, and gameplay is incredibly messy and brilliant. With a free early version available online, and coming to Steam next year, RHB is amazing and probably gets my PAX AUS award for best game. Check out their site here because honestly, RHB is great.
Chromalocity is what happens if you take the goo things from Portal 2 and make a whole 3D platformer racing game from them. Running and jumping through the platforms, you have a gun which can paint the platforms different colours. Blue gives you super speed, red makes you bounce high in the air and yellow lets you wall run. Fast-paced and with lots of room for improvement on future runs, Chromalocity is a great little racing game with lots of room for clever fun. Check out their Steam page here.
The Gardens Between
Normally in video games you control a person or vehicle or something, moving it or making in interact with the world. Not so in The Gardens Between, a game where you control time. Looking after two small children, you move time forward and backward as they solve puzzles set on a series of islands in a very vague and metaphorical story about growing up. This is a fantastic mechanic with so many possibilities, executed brilliantly and I am really looking forward to what The Gardens Between has to offer. Check out their site here — it’s quite something.
I will hopefully be doing a review on The Gardens Between, so keep your eyes peeled.
At first, Framed just looked like any other video game, featuring a comic book style intro to introduce the story. Except the whole game is comic book panels. Framed is quite unique in that you complete puzzles and progress through the game by reordering the panels to help the player character survive. Gameplay is very simple: put the panels in an order, click play and watch as it goes along, although later on in the game you can change the position of panels mid way through, opening a door to go through next time round and so on. Presented in a lovely comic book style with contrasting black 3D characters, Framed does not have a release date but does have a website found here.
I will hopefully be doing a review on Framed, so keep your eyes peeled.
Honest question: what would a Roomba do if it found its owner dead? Would it just keep trying to clean their dead body or move on? Rumu is a game where you play as a sentient vacuum cleaner, sent out to clean your fancy modern home. As you move through the house, cleaning spills as you go, things get darker. Due to me somehow skipping to the end of the demo I didn’t get a detailed look at where Rumu is going, but the themes of love and your purpose in life seem really interesting and well thought out. Steam has Rumu’s release as ‘late 2017’, so expect it to come out soon.
Dumb Ways to Die VR
Dumb Ways to Die was a rail safety ad which came out in 2012. It went viral and has somehow managed to stick around to become a VR game. The game focuses on a cartoon character staying at a small campsite and it’s your job to stop them from dying to various dangerous objects nearby. It’s a fairly fun experience — the scale means that the game feels like a playset, picking up and tossing tiny little axes and bee nests around. There’s not much internet presence for DUMB VR, but you can check out the parent site here.
That is it for my PAX AUS summary. In the coming weeks I’ll be doing reviews of some of the games, so have a looksy around, keep reading and I will hope to see you at PAX AUS next year!