Friday, February 05, 2016

The Inspirational and Weird Games of PAX South 2016

These are the games that may not get the biggest crowds or the best sales. They may not even be released if financing falls through. But they are darn impressive and deserve to be recognized for bringing creativity to the fore-front. And for being weird. Because creativity comes in all forms, including the crazy stuff. Here are my picks on the games from PAX South that inspire, and sometimes tilt our heads.

paxsouth16-168Color Thief - Puzzles with colors. That's the best way I can describe this game. It's a third person game where you are a lizard (because they can be very colorful). Your goal is to unlock puzzles and roam around the world by using color as your guide. You can touch a color palate to have it transfer to your character and then move it to other spots around the world for your puzzle plight. What makes this a little more special then traditional puzzle games is that the world is persistent. If you use blue paint and touch it on the ground, it'll turn into water. Pick up the brown paint and touch a tree, the leaves will begin to grow. Pictures don't do it justice - it's really neat to watch the game in person as the world changes with your actions.

It also allows you to unlock secrets in the game, new puzzles, and the like. The story is told through the environment. The paint is energy and allows you to discover new aspects to the story. It's a simple concept with a very complex design - I can not wait to see more from this developer as they continue to polish this product.

Omnibus - Be a bus and hit things. Here's one of those "head-tilts" that I was referring to. As a Devolver developer said in describing this game "we just wanted to make something fun. Games don't have to always be serious." Good point! That's where Omnibus delivers. It's a game where you are a bus and you drive around to complete course objectives. There's a single player story-mode which mostly involves obstacles and bonking your bus-face against bosses, and a multi-player in a Mario Kart fashion where you outlast your enemies as you bonk them off the screen. It's weird. It's wacky. It's hilariously entertaining. There are different buses, from traditional singles to super-long buses, double deckers, and a gravity bus that can help save your butt from falling off the cliff in multi-player.

And yeah...that's about it! It plays nicely, though there are some control issues you have to figure out with each bus (some flip over more-easily then others). But it's a fun, time-killing game that can be quite entertaining with a group. Possibly while you're drunk. Now that could be interesting to see.

paxsouth16-173Brawlhalla - SSB for PC. And that's how the game should bill itself.

This could easily be a multiplayer hit for the non-FPS crowd on PC. That's always been my trouble with PC games. If it's not an MMO or an FPS, few people want to play. But this action-fighter could really make a name for itself with the computer crowd.

You have a series of characters you can choose from that all look like they came out of a anime-driven Norse book of myths. Each of them has a set of special powers, weapons, and abilities to help you defeat your enemies. Up to 4 people can play on a time on various stages and you pick up weapons as you go. Some are swords, others are daggers and pop-guns. There are mines, throwing weapons, you name it. What makes this a bit different from SSB is that you have a larger collection of weapons at your disposal, more combos to work out, and you can do a bit of character customization. I found this a lot of fun to pick up and play even when I was getting my ass handed to me by a Twitch streamer who had been practicing on the game all weekend. But really, this is SSB for PC. Not the most original idea, but it'll sell.

paxsouth16-024Enter the Gungeon - Be the hero by fighting guns! Another Devolver game that made me wonder what the heck was going on. But it had a dog sidekick as an option, so you know it's already full of win.

You pick from a cast of characters ranging from an convict, to hunters and mages. From there you are tasked to enter the Gungeon and try to make it as far as possible before the enemies kill you. Each level gets increasingly difficult as you progress and the layout can change every time you restart with a new character. Your enemies are other guns. Yep. Bullets. Torpedoes. Bats with lasers on their heads. Anything that's a weapon is anthropomorphized into a living object for you to destroy.

The game play can be as fast or as slow as you want it to be. I found the controls to take a bit for me to get use to since the movement and aiming sticks are reversed (usually it's left thumbstick to move, right to aim). When you get the hang of it, it's fine, but it's annoying for the first few minutes when torpedoes are trying to kill you.

Devolver added in a multi-player mode to give more quality time to couples looking to shoot bullets at bullets. Unfortunately it forces player 2 to be a mage, and this may change in the future after the feedback they heard on the show floor - they did this to help balance out the game play and not have the PC's overpowered with other job combinations. Looking forward to playing this game when it's released with a cohort. Dibs on the Hunter! I want that puppy companion!


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