The Games of PAX South: Witty, Whimsical, and Wonderful
I hope the expo continues to grow in this area, and provide a bigger platform to smaller developers. It's a great place to showcase new content on a level that these designers may never get a chance to experience. With that, let's get to the games!
- Bee Simulator (Varsav Game Studios). See the world through the eyes of a bee. Fly like a bee! Fight like a bee! Pollinate like a bee! Bee Simulator is exactly what you expect it to be: a game about being a bee. But it's done so well you forget that it's a standard simulator game. The visuals are amazing. Inspired by the sights and sounds of Central Park, New York, Bee Simulator allows the player to live life as a bee in single player, co-op, or vs. splitscreen. Everything that you image a bee can do, you will be able to experience in this game, including fighting other bees. You can challenge other bees to races, master flying moves, seek out rare flowers, the works. It's a charming and lovely game to experience!
- Beyond Blue (E-Line Media). The moment I saw this game, it drew me in. It wasn't so much the exploration aspects or the narrative, but the captivating visuals. I believe the first words out of my mouth were "I want to take photos in this game." Beyond Blue takes you into the not-to-distant future where you experience the ocean through the character Mirai. Using new technology, Mirai is able to see, hear, and feel the ocean in a new way - in doing so we're able to learn more about life under the water on a new level. Mirai and her crew set out to explore the depths of the ocean with an evolving narrative that will require you to visit uncharted waters. Visiting the game's site, the screen shots do not do the game justice. Watching Mirai swim around and interact with the wildlife is unbelievable. National Geographic photographers wish they could get this close to marine life in such detail. I can not wait to get my hands on the full version so I can flood my Twitter feed with photos.
- Boyfriend Dungeon (Kitfox Games). This is my favorite game of PAX South. A dating simulator mixed with a dungeon crawler. I was already sold on the concept before I had a chance to pick up the controller. What really helped solidify my want for this game was hearing the team talk about some of the details to other PAX attendees and press. The game allows you to date your weapons. There are male, female, non-binary, and feline weapons that you find in dungeons, which transform into humans and a cat. You can choose to befriend and potentially date these weapons. Romance is optional and not required. If you don't want to date any of the weapons or find that their personalities are not meshing with your friendly vibe, there's a cat you can chill with!
Aside from the premise, the style of the game is refreshing. Unlike other dungeon crawlers, the colorful layout and smooth graphics provided a welcomed change. Dungeon's don't always have to be dark, gritty, and brown. Brown is so 2006. I was also very impressed at how fluid the controls were. Based on the design, I thought the game would be a bit more like Stardew Valley in how characters move and act. I was glad to be proven wrong. The combat is slick, responsive, and adept to your needs. If you want to button mash, go for it. Combo attacks are an easy way to clean up enemies in a room. If you want to strategize, your character has a spell to provide another layer of combat.
The moment I returned home, I got onto my Steam account and popped this into my wish list. I can't wait to play the full version at release!
- Foundation (Polymorph Games). Games like SimCity, Age of Empires, and Civilization are what propelled me into the PC crowd. Foundation is one of those games that will eat up all of my free time. It's all about building a medieval city, managing your resources, without a grid. What makes this a stand-out compared to other God-games is the freedom to build how you wish. The game comes with a custom building tool that allows you to design your own monuments, churches, farms, and then share them with the community. With Steam, it'll have full modding support so you can transform your city into a unique experience. The game was designed with a unique engine to allow for these creative contraptions to exist. If you are a fan of any building or Sim title, you'll want to give this a try.
- KungFu Kickball (WhaleFood Games). It's Nidhogg meets kickball. Four players in teams of two battle it out to score the most points in a set time frame by taking the ball to the opponent's goal. The twist is that you can Kung Fu your way across the screen with attacks that will distract the other team. The game play and graphics are fairly straight forward, and more in line with button mashing action. Skill is involved, but a team can get lucky enough kicking their way to the goal when one spams the A button enough times. I can see this being a title that will easily attract the casual gaming crowd.
- NESMaker (The New 8 Bit Heroes). No, this is not a game but software that may change how you think about creating games. When speaking with some of the crew at the booth, their focus on NES Maker was to create a program for designers. People who have an idea for a game can quickly cobble one together without having to learn how to code. Like RPG Maker, NES Maker allows you to drag, drop, and develop a game that can be playable on NES ROM's and NES systems. The website even links you to blank games cartridges to zap your product onto! Watching these games come to life before my eyes was incredible. The community has already built thousands of titles within the past year, and it continues to grow. The content varies from in-depth stories to zany shooters. If you've ever tinkered with RPG Maker, you'll want to get your hands on this.
- Totally Reliable Delivery Service (Tiny Build Games). Imagine Goat Simulator, but you have to deliver packages. That's what this game is about. The focus is on physics-defying silly fun. Letting the game be silly for the sake of everyone's enjoyment. Four players are pitted against each other to deliver the most number of packages within a set time frame. The better the condition the box is in, the more points you receive. Other players can thwart your efforts by attaching themselves to the boxes, blocking your path, driving over you, and ripping the box apart. All in a comedic, G-rated art style that will elicit more smiles and chuckles than fits of frustration. It's probably best to play while sober.
- Zarvot (Snowhydra Games). It's a game about cubes. So says the tagline. This Nintendo Switch title is strange and everything that makes indie gaming delightful. You play as a cube, living your life in a semi-realistic world. Making friends, finding love, and shooting enemies with lasers. In story mode, you'll the adventures of Charcoal and Mustard as they search for the ultimate birthday present for their friend Red. In multiplayer mode, you'll experience competitive combat in a variety of maps to outmatch your friends. The story mode is charming; reminiscent of Unravel but not as heavy-handed. Endearing in a way to capture your attention. The PAX South demo focused on multiplayer mode, but speaking with a team member about single player, I was more interested in how one would tell the story of a cube. This is a game worth checking out for your Switch.