PAX Prime showcases some of the greatest indie games out on the market or about to hit in the near future. Anyone with a hunger for creativity, originality, and those who hunger for something more from their gaming experience will not be turned away once they reach this gathering of indie games from around the world. Anyone and everyone who love indie games will get their fill this year with the PAX 10 and The Indie Megabooth as nearly a hundred titles await your eager hands.
Except me. I’m on home team this year.
I can’t say that missing one of the grand indie galas of the year isn’t a bit tough. With They Bleed Pixels and The Basement Collection coming out this week, I will be happy enough with a stale bag of chips and soggy hamburger to celebrate the extended weekend. For everyone else, I present to you the games you need to play when you hit the PAX floor. And for those left behind, I give you a small taste of some of the indie goodness so you won’t go hungry as your read about the amazing indie titles you’re not playing.
Sit back and relax as we take a look at the lineup for The Indie Megabooth.
The Indie Megabooth
Fire. Earth. Wind. Pudding. Duct Tape. Oh, I forget how the rest of it goes, but when you combine some of the greatest indie minds and force them into only a couple of feet of space, only amazing things can happen. The Indie Megabooth returns to PAX and this time it’s out for blood. And by blood, I mean people to come play their games. With over 30 games representing the spectrum of what indie has to offer, you’re bound to find something you like there. Forget standing in line for a game you’re going to buy in a couple of months anyway. It’s time to seize the future with your thumbs and be the gamer that paves the way for others instead of sitting in line.
And for all my stay at home friends who are going to be resting their feet by the AC, I picked out some games for you as well.
To Play While You’re There:
The game that plays with your mind is back at PAX to give your neurons a good tweaking. PAX East proved that this may be one of the greatest titles to watch on the surrounding HD screens as other gamers try desperately to escape hallways that bend back around and stairs that lead to nowhere. Make sure that you say “hi” to the game’s lone creator, Alexander Bruce, while you’re there. And if you’re really nice, he might just help you out of that never-ending hallway. You’ll want to get your hands on Antichamber before it comes out in the near future. Fingers crossed.
If you already do not love the title to this sequel, then our imaginary friendship is over. Octodad 2 puts you into the slightly damp business suit of an octopus trying to fool the rest of society that he’s a well-adjusted husband and father of two children. As before, you’ll need to work those rubbery appendages in order to convince your family and the rest of the world that you’re just another great dad. Easy enough, right? When you can only control an appendage at a time, taking on the easiest of tasks quickly becomes a test of patience and control. Check out the original Octodad for free. It’s not like you’re going to pack before the last minute.
Mix in a deep strategy with the run-and-gun gameplay of Contra along with some astounding pixel art and what you get will still not be half as cool at Super Time Force. Capybara Games, some of the good gents behind Swords & Sworcery, created a new game that makes you think as you keep pulling that tiny trigger. Every time you die in this shooter, you restart at the checkpoint but you’ll have your previous attempt joining you for the run. Die enough times and you’ll find yourself with an army of failed attempts to help push you through where they lost it. Everyone tells you that you’re a miserable failure. Shouldn’t you get a small army out of it?
I know you. Sure, I do. You’re the kind of person who loves music and video games. Am I right? What’s even better, you love to combine the two, but haven’t found that twitch-based, music-inspired gem to really wrap your thumbs around. Well, do I have a treat for you? The developers behind the Bit. Trip series finally make a sequel to their original Runner with pretty graphics, a snazzy beat, and all the twitch-muscle action you’ve come to expect from them. In the game, all you need to do it jump, slide, and avoid everything coming your way. It’s kind of like being in the middle of a batting cage while wearing flip-flops, just with more music and fewer concussions.
For those who ever wished that Golden Ax had more blood, heavy metal, tattoos, and deeper RPG elements; then Ska Studios has a game for you. Charlie Murder puts you into the worn out combat boots of band members just trying to survive the relentless assault of one they left behind. With some of the most insane special moves and some pretty awesome sections where you actually have to play as a band, Charlie Murder needs to be at the top of your hit list when it comes to indies to see at PAX this year.
To Play At Home:
One of the biggest hits on the floor at PAX, IndiCade, or just about anywhere else just hit the PSN stores. Retro/Grade gives you a chance to break out those little plastic guitars one more time and try to put the universe together again by working your way backwards through an intergalactic war. You suck up your shots, giant bosses reform in front of your eyes, and enemies return in a puff of smoke only to fly away. The game brilliantly takes the best parts of a side-scrolling shooter and a rhythm game to create something entirely new. Get the guitar ready. The universe needs your help.
Some games hit you massive explosions and enough visual stimulation to make your corneas cry out for mercy. Closure, on the other hand, makes you hunt and clamor for every shred of information just to stay alive. Light in this game means everything. What you see is real and everything else is a dark pit just waiting for you to fall through. By manipulating the light in this eerie Tim Burton (the one you claim to remember, not the one who made Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) world. There’s something beautiful about the world of Closure. I just hope you last long enough to survive it.
Strangeloop Games, the team behind Vessel, created a game that’s one part physics puzzle, one part artificial intelligence trainer, and with enough steampunk to put the curl in anyone’s hair. Your inventions have gotten out of hand and it’s up to you to put things right again. With a little liquid and couple of well-placed seeds, you manage to orchestrate these living machines into pulling switches, hitting levers, and solving countless puzzles as you try to put everything right yet again. Vessel makes you think about how these little liquid creatures will react before you set the loose on the world.
Some games really make you think. A Virus Named Tom won’t give you that chance in this high speed puzzler as you move from circuit to circuit trying to spread your horrible virus. What? You thought you were saving puppies in this game? Try again. As the brainchild of a mad scientist, your little goal is to wreak havoc in the processors and motherboards of all who oppose you. You’ll turn tiles to make connections while trying to avoid a swarm of nanobots coming to destroy you. Make them suffer- one map at a time.
The PAX 10
Welcome to the best of the best when it comes to indie games – or that’s what the PAX judges are telling us. True to their word, however, these fine judges seek out some of the best digital examples of indie games you may or may not be able to get your hands on. Many of the games you’ll see on the floor were once PAX 10 winners. So when you get to PAX, do yourself a favor and congratulate all the winners this year the best way you know how – by playing their games. If you’re stuck at home like me with a hotdog slowly spinning around the microwave, then you can simply purchase their games. Nothing says “we appreciate your hard work” like money. Trust me. Every one of these games is a sure winner.
To Play While You’re There:
I only talk about Johann Sebastian Joust only every other day. The fact of the matter is that it still continues to be an amazingly fun game that changes every time you play it. Each player gets a PS Move wand to hold. Tip or bump the wand and you’re out. The rest is up to you. I’ve seen guys hold it high over their head while others win just by keeping it close to their chest. The point is there is no clear winning strategy to this game. With every new person that enter, the game changes. The real world has just met the virtual one and it’s brilliant.
As the winners of Activision’s first indie competition, Cannon Brawl has come a long way from their humble roots when they were known as Dstroyd. Combine the strategy of Worms with a little RTS action and what you get is a very fast and kinetic battlefield. While controlling an airship, you’ll place cannons and other buildings on the ground to attack the incoming volley of shells heading your way. Set up a strong defense while attacking theirs and you might just make it out alive. This will be the first time anyone’s gotten their hands on this so play a game for me and tell me how it is.
I keep going back to that Christopher Nolan movie that I would completely spoil if I said which one – so let’s move on. The Swapper has something that’s both beautiful and eerie about it. When you play it – and you’re so going to play this game – take a close look at the graphics. Notice how the shadows move perfectly and even in the 2D there’s something textual about the environment. They use clay models for that effect. Of course, you’ll be entranced by the ability to shoot out versions of yourself in order to solve puzzles or just to survive this lonely and harsh world.
To Play At Home:
Splice reminds me a lot of their previous game, Auditorium. Both complex and simple, you really need to hit a zen moment where you let go of everything you know in order to solve the beautifully design puzzles in front of you. Like a cell, you split and move sections of the puzzle to fit the final product. It seems simple enough until you get into later puzzles. If it wasn’t for the soothing music, it would probably drive you mad. You’ll still be mad but you’ll have this half grin on your face as you give it just one more try. I can make it work this time.
I just found you a free game. You’re welcome. Diety puts you into the stealthy boots (is he wearing boots… or anything at all?) of a demon as you stay out of the light and on the giving end of some well-deserved backstabs. Chain together actions to move from point to point and attack without anyone knowing you were there. As a game made by a group of students, the big boys couple learn a thing or two from them.
Sure there are words games on the iPhone and color matching games as well, but how many combine the two? Puzzlejuice will get your brain juices flowing as try to juggle both falling boxes and a growing list of letters to create words from. There are power ups to unlock and massive explosions that will shake your mobile device to its very core, if you are quick enough with your fingers and your thoughts. It’s like patting your head and winning the Spelling Bee.