Thursday, February 04, 2016

Most Anticipated Games - PAX South 2016

The big draw to PAX is the ability to play a lot of games for 3 days without anyone judging least not inside the walls of the convention center. Some titles are already available on Steam and devs are trying to drum up a few more sales. Others are brand new and have yet to hit the scene. I had a chance to dive in and really play up the indie crowd this year and wow...there are going to be some awesome games coming out that are not Triple A funded. I have 2 favorites that I'm looking forward to sooner, rather then later.

Most Anticipate Mobile Game - Like A Boss

Amusing title aside, Like A Boss has the elements one needs for a great mobile game: action, adventure, story, compassion, heroes, villains, witty banter, and the ability to kill a lot of time with very little effort.

Developed by Fire Horse Games, the title clearly is derived from one too many internet memes, and it makes sense when you fire up the app. You play as the epic of most epic bosses in an MMO. Your task is to survive an incoming raid of "heroes" as they attempt to kill you for loot. It's fairly straight-forward. You get a series of abilities and can obtain more as you progress through each level, with the difficulty increasing at each interval. What stood out to me about this game was it's ease of letting new gamers in - that anyone can pick up and play for casual fun. But there is an ever-building story with your Boss character as you move forward in the game.

paxsouth16-163<World of Warcraft. That may seem low-tech by today's standards with games, but for a phone and tablet? That's pretty darn nice.
And though most of the game is played out arena style, where you have a "spawn" area and kill the heroes around you, the world feels lived in. The heroes banter back and forth hoping that you will drop the loot they need, or yelling at each other to stop being n00bs. It's quite entertaining to see what they'll say next instead of killing them off with a few taps of the screen.

paxsouth16-160 In the same vein as so many free-to-play apps, there are restrictions on game time. It's like Candy Crush in that as long as you keep winning, you can keep playing. You have a set number of lives, so if you reach a hard level and die a bunch, you have to wait on the gamer timer to refill your bar before you can try again. The staff on the floor didn't say exactly how long those timers were - if it was 30 minutes or 3 days. You can buy more lives in their digital store, or earn power-ups throughout your Boss-ly journey.

On the surface it may seem like a mindless game, but there is content that expands past tapping your screen to destroy the heroes. The fact that the story is focused on the villain is a nice twist to a traditional mobile game. I can't wait to play it later this spring!

Most Anticipated PC/Console Game - InnerSpace

To say I'm obsessed with this game is an understatement. If the Expo floor wasn't closing Saturday night with 10 minutes left, I would have stayed and continued to play.

Developed by PolyKnight Games, InnerSpace is a flight game focused on exploration. That may not sound all that glamorous, but stick with me for a few moments. You take on the role as a cartographer. Part of your job duties include flying into plant cores, collecting relics, and discover the history behind the planet. Each planet will have unique features, such as jungles, oceans, and life that is different from another, and you have to navigate through complex landscapes, and puzzles, to obtain each relic.

What I really adore about this game is the design scheme mixed with the controls. You fly around on an inverted axis, and on a curve. Think Super Mario Galaxy (SMG), which made the team on the floor chuckle when I made this comparison. Each planet is going to have it's own gravitational force, so how you fly, spin, and dive will alter with each location - just like SMG. You're always flying on a curve, and have to rotate with the planet - just like SMG. If you've played Galaxy, you can play this game. And I found myself memorized at how fluid the controls were. I didn't even bother looking for relics. I spent my entire time flying around in awe of the feel of the game!

The graphics are simply beautiful. They are reminiscent of Journey while still feeling very unique to their game. Blocky landscapes with the rolling hills of the oceans. Soft hues of blues, yellows, reds, and cremes give an alluring, other-worldly vibe to the landscape. You'll still experience the cool, crazy things that one would expect with new planets in a sci-fi movie (see the screenshots), but the calming effect of exploring these worlds is amazing. Someone had mentioned that the team has been approached a few times by clinics to bring this game in to help patients with PTSD since the game has that calming effect. After a few minutes of play I felt more relaxed and stress free - it was weird and cool at the same time. Once you really get into the flight controls, you tend to ignore the real world for a little bit. Whoops!

What's also cool is that you can alter the environments around you by using your ship to slice through rocks, ropes, and other things tethering the world together. While they'll help you get new relics, you'll also change the world you're exploring. We didn't go deep into this topic, but my hope is that over time your actions in the world will have consequences for when you return to explore new content. That would be cool.

Seriously, I can't gush about this game enough. I want it now. The target date is Q3 for 2016 on PC, Linux, and MAC. I strongly encourage you to get a PS4 controller to get a better feel for the game's mechanics. It was so smooth on a controller that a keyboard would not do it justice.

More PAX South news coming up!


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