PAX East 2013 – Indie Standouts
I’d like to start off by saying again; thank you all who had visited our booth at PAX East! It was an incredible experience to say the least, and the overwhelming reception was more than we could have expected. The feedback was excellent, and we have already started to implement some changes and new features based on it.
If you haven’t already seen, the Hamster Drop Facebook page has photos of our booth. Though, funny enough, only when things were slow. We realized after that we were so busy tending to the crowd at the booth most of the time that we didn’t even get any photos during those busy periods!
With that out of the way, I’d actually like to focus on more about what else I personally saw there that was of interest to me.
For the sake of time, and my sanity, I will limit this to the three titles that struck me the most and are either not out yet or have released very recently. That doesn’t mean there were not many other great games there! (Beans Quest for one was really neat, though has been out for a while as I understand.)
I will preface this with the fact that I had just under a few hours to actually walk away from the booth, and I focused on the indie scene almost exclusively because I felt that the big companies will be releasing trailers, demos, and other media in due time anyway. On top of that, I am personally more interested in what the indies and smaller companies had to offer. Oh, also, I didn’t get a chance to play Transistor, which really made me sad, so it’s excluded from this list. But you already know Transistor is going to be awesome, right?
MECHKNIGHT – Dinosaur Games
This one stood out to me the most. To describe it would be to say, it is the natural evolution of the brawler genre, taking it’s inspirations from many of the great brawlers and fighters out there. If you like brawlers, there is no excuse for you to miss this game. The gameplay is smooth, the graphics are nicely stylized, vibrant, and very readable when there are multiple enemies on screen.
If you especially like the Dungeons & Dragons brawler games by Capcom, Guardian Heroes, Guilty Gear, or Melty Blood, then you owe it to yourself to check this one out immediately. Hell, any brawler fan should anyway. This is a game you do not want to miss!!
You have the ability to dash forward, backstep, use light and heavy attacks in combos, and even special moves by utilizing a ‘spell’ system. The combat is pretty deep, and going to get even better as the game goes on.
My experience with the game, and discussion with the guys at the booth, solidified this game as a day one purchase for me. The effort is genuine, and it is backed by people who love the genre. It is clear that they want to produce a stellar game for a once thought dead genre, and they are succeeding! Here’s hoping for a Steam version. (I’ll buy it no matter what platforms it ends up on though!)
LORDS OF NEW YORK – Lunchtime Studios
This was a surprise for me to see, and the very reason I love the indie scene. You don’t see games like this made anymore. Just one look at Lords of New York tells you everything. It’s basically a visual novel, about the old days of New York. The music and visuals personally strike my love for 1920-1950’s America. I’ve always felt that setting was underutilized in games, and I’m glad to see these guys take the plunge. Hell, I’ve even thought about doing something like this myself.
I think the visual novel genre, especially with light gameplay mechanics, could do really well on tablets and phones. It is to me, the perfect medium to deliver primarily narrative driven experiences like this, and exactly the platform those people (who may not be ‘gamers’ already) would pick this up.
They have a Kickstarter going, and you should really check it out. At the time of this writing, they seem to be under, and with not too much time left. I really hope this turns around.
MAJOR MAGNET – PagodaWest Games
At first glance on the show floor, I had winced at the game being a platformer with touch controls. This was until I realized, there were no ‘on screen buttons’ or ‘fake controllers’ on screen (you and I both know those never work right!).
You don’t directly move the character at all actually. You move him by activating magnets in the level. This design was really solid, and came through very well. These guys certainly know how to work the platform of touch based games.
I really love momentum of objects in games, and it is fun just to see the cause and effect of such forces on objects. The whole game is about getting Major Magnet to the portal exit of each stage. Along the way you are encouraged (but not required to that I recall) to collect as many score giving objects as possible, often centered around magnets and sometimes with a time limit which was really neat. This makes the game challenging for those who seek it, and not quite as much for those uninterested in the score. I like this balance a lot.
Not much more to say than it is fun, and even interesting to watch it being played. It is already available so give it a shot if you have not already.
And that wraps up my top three from PAX East. Great games all around, and hopefully you give them a little attention. There was a lot to see, and I didn’t get to everything but the experience in a whole was off the scale.
For my next blog entry I think I will give my impressions as an exhibitor, and maybe a few tips for anyone thinking about exhibiting.