We’re at a point now where each month has a gaming, comic, or tabletop convention to be excited about. PAX South is now in its second year and has a much bigger focus on indie gaming. Few big publishers have much to show in January. Hopeful indie devs were there to fill the gap. Below is a list of some of the most notable games I saw at PAX South 2016.
Developer: Trouble Impact
Release: Early 2017
In a world of black and white, one chameleon discovers a hidden temple full of color. Our hero can absorb color from any object in the world and apply it anywhere else. Painting water creates a solid surface, while matching colors on a door opens it. Puzzles are forgiving and the non-violent world is kid-friendly.
Developer: Armature Studios
Release: Early 2016
Armature Studios had a neat booth capable of 5v5 matches in their top-down space shooter. The developers described Dead Star as a League of Legends-style MOBA in space. Players can choose between multiple classes and ship designs. Teams will need to work together to secure outposts on the map. The arcade-like gameplay was immediately fast and intuitive. The full game will allow 10v10 matches, leading to some deliciously chaotic space battles.
Developer: Yager Development
Publisher Grey Box took full advantage of its large booth at PAX South to show off Dreadnought. Dreadnought is designed as a Free to Play shooter – with spaceships. Even in its early state it played smoothly with a wide variety of tactics. Ships ranged from speedy Corvettes that flew around opponents to long-range Artillery Cruisers that picked off enemies from afar.
Epistory: Typing Chronicles
Developer: Fishing Cactus
Release: Early 2016
Typing games are often derided as cheesy “edutainment.” Epistory eschews all that by providing an immersive story in a unique origami world that literally unfolds around you. You play as the Muse, exploring a Zelda-like world astride a giant fox. Each enemy and obstacle comes with word prompts that must be typed to be defeated. The entire game is operated with the keyboard – and only the keyboard.
The Final Station
Developer: Do My Best Games
Release: Summer 2016
Beloved indie publisher TinyBuild had a number of new titles to show off at PAX South. The Final Station caught my eye with its moody pixel art and focus on survival. You’re a post-apocalyptic train conductor. A small train-load of survivors depend on you. Stopping at stations reveals the zombie-like figures that now infest the world. You have to scavenge for supplies, rescue survivors, and protect your people.
Heroes Must Die
Developer: Heroic Games
Release: March 2016
Playwright Rick Stemm has a unique idea: combine an old-school role-playing game with a live action stage play. Heroes Must Die is a light and fun retro RPG in the vein of your 90s favorites. A stage play is also in development as a direct sequel to the game. The play includes the same characters, costumes and even monsters. Stemm hopes to drive more interest in theatre by crafting fun, action-packed scenarios inspired directly from his own RPG.
Developer: Codex Worlds
Release: Q2 2016
Infinium Strike brings classic tower defense into space. You control a giant spaceship with multiple gunports. Space is pretty big, and you must defend four separate quadrants on each side of your ship. The hectic fun comes from balancing the needs of each side. Build guns, missiles, lasers, and launch your own mini-fleet of spaceships.
Developer: PolyKnight Games
Release: Summer 2016
It doesn’t get much more indie than a group of college developers launching a Kickstarter. InnerSpace is a flying exploration game that’s set inside a series of inverted planets. Each planet contains a giant creature you can explore around. Combat can occur but isn’t encouraged. Your goal is to find relics hidden around the worlds. The art and music convey a mystical, relaxing mood.
Developer: Lightning Rock
Marble Mountain continues the tradition of guiding a ball through a series of hazards. Lightning Rock is offering full Virtual Reality support in the HTC Vive. Wearing the headset gives you full view of the ramps, platforms, rails, and other objects that make up each level. When the ball picks up speed you really feel the motion, despite hovering a safe distance away from the action.
Road to Ballhalla
Developer: Torched Hill
Ballhalla is a top-down, Tron-like version of Marble Mountain, but it’s also something of a rhythm game. All the puzzles and traps groove to a thumping beat. Proper timing is critical to guiding your little ball through the deathtrap mazes. Of particular delight are the snarky messages. They pop up on the floor, teasing your progress and often distracting you from your goals. The Road to Ballhalla is paved with insidious messages.
Developer: Black Forest Games
Release: March 24, 2016
Rogue Stormers is an intriguing mix of Gauntlet and Contra with modern online (and local) multiplayer. The cooperative run ‘n gun gameplay is infused with RPG elements like unique characters and abilities. Levels are randomly generated and the large maps are fun to traverse. Death is permanent, but your buddies can revive you as long as one person survives. The art and characters are steeped in “dieselpunk” – a cool 1940s retro version of cyberpunk.
Stories: The Path of Destinies
Developer: Spearhead Games
Release: Early 2016
Though saddled with a hopelessly generic name, Stories: The Path of Destinies has a striking art style. The fast-paced combat was fluid and cinematic. The main character could chain impressive combos, level up new abilities, and equip different swords for multiple effects. The story was structured like a Choose Your Own Adventure novel. Each choice decides which level you play – and only one path will lead to the proper ending. If you enjoyed Bastion’s combat and story, prepare to fall in love with Stories.