pax unplugged

PAX Unplugged Officially Returns With a New Date

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When PAX Unplugged was announced last year, some where skeptical that it was a one-off event. Put those fears to rest, as Penny Arcade and ReedPOP have officially announced PAX Unplugged 2018. Badges will go on sale May 17.

“I know we’re biased, but we really did have a blast at Unplugged last year and we’re really excited to come back,” states the official announcement. “Not just come back, but we’re growing the scope of the show considerably. Don’t worry, it’ll still be focused on tabletop gaming, but parts of the building will be opening up to us this year and we should have a bit more room to stretch our legs and smooth out some of the wrinkles.

PAX Unplugged 2018 will take place at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, PA. Last year it took place the weekend before Thanksgiving, but this year the dates have been shifted two weeks later, taking place Nov 30 – Dec 2. That should hopefully ease the chaos of traveling around the holidays. Not to mention another big board gaming convention, BGG Con, that took place at the same time last year.

Like other PAX shows, PAX Unplugged features an exhibit hall stuffed with vendors, develoeprs, and publishers, discussion panels, musical performances, and tournaments. All other PAX events focus on video games and the gaming industry, with a light sprinkling of tabletop. Unplugged focuses exclusively on tabletop games, board games, and RPGs, from a massive freeplay area with lending library to a dedicated area for painting minatures.

PAX Unplugged also includes a special family room area with kid-friendly games. The final day of the expo, Sunday, is designated Kids Day. Kids Day will provide an extra emphasis on family-friendly games, as well as offering reduced single-day Kids Day Badges for the Under 12 crowd. The Kids Day Badge still provides full access to the event.

PAX Unplugged 2018 badges will go on sale at 12 pm Pacific/3 pm Eastern on May 17. You can sign up for Twitter notifications when registration opens.

chain chronicle

Chain Chronicle Review

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Platforms: Android and iOS
We played on: Android

Chain Chronicle is a pretty straightforward mobile RPG from Gumi Entertainment. It’s entertaining, though it has a slow start. The story is almost interesting, and the character designs and animations are pretty. I can’t say it’s one of my favorite games ever, but for a free mobile game I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. The gameplay is fun, though repetitive; all battles pit you against the same enemies, with the same structure, but there’s room for strategy. Unfortunately, the plot and dialogue are contrived and stale, but the character designs are lovely.

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masquerada

Masquerada: Songs and Shadows Has Great Combat, Intriguing Story

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Masquerada: Songs and Shadows, from Witching Hour Studios (and published by Ysbryd), is a really fun game with a lot of potential. “Set in the Venetian-inspired fantasy city of Ombre where rare masks are the key to casting magic, Masquerada is dressed in the colours and style of French comic books and vivid games like Bastion,” reads the description. “Players follow the Inspettore, Cicero Gavar as he returns from exile to solve a kidnapping that will shake up the foundations of the city.” Cicero seems like an interesting, perhaps unusual lead. He’s a coward who’s only just returned from being banished for his past crimes.

The Masquerada: Songs and Shadows demo I played gave me three characters to work with, one of them being Cicero. You’re actually controlling all three—it plays like an isometric Diablo-style RPG, but you can switch among your characters at will. And as in Dragon Age, hitting the spacebar will pause the combat in mid-air and allow you to set up your next attack with all three characters. I truly enjoyed the combat in Masquerada. I’m a fan of the pause-and-strategize tactic (though I recognize that it takes some players out of the immersion). It allows me to feel like I’m really bringing something of my own to the game, instead of simply hoping my characters are powerful enough to beat the bad guys.

The characters each had different skills that I could unleash. While it took me a bit to figure out what exactly I was doing, the combat animations were satisfying and each character felt like they brought something different and valuable to the fight. Apparently their magical skills are given to them via the masks they wear. I’m interested in finding out how this dynamic might switch up the gameplay later, or if it’s simply a world-building decision. Will different masks give them different skills? If they lose their mask, will they still be able to fight?

Voices are provided by Jennifer Hale (Mass Effect), Matthew Mercer (Fire Emblem: Awakening), Dave Fennoy (The Walking Dead) and more. The acting is definitely exciting; you can listen in the trailer below.

My main complaint about Masquerada—at least the demo I played—was that it felt kind of sparse. The characters and their designs are super intriguing, and I was deeply interested in what was happening in the story, but the setting felt empty. I wandered through giant halls of bookshelves, with maybe a table in a corner and a few doors that I couldn’t open. The place didn’t feel lived in, and there wasn’t much of anything to interact with. All the hallways looked roughly the same. There wasn’t much that told me what kind of world this was or what kind of people lived there. My hope is that the future will offer more in terms of world-building and exploration, even if that exploration is as simple as looking around at the things in the background.

In short, I definitely enjoyed the combat-based gameplay, but I hope the rest of the in-game world feels more populated, and that the characters, story, and world-building live up to their potential. I’ll definitely be picking this one up when it comes out in spring 2016 for PC, Mac, and consoles (TBD).