Fueled by energy bars and caffeine, I spent all three days at PAX East 2014 running from appointment to appointment to do interviews and spend some hands-on time with many of the great new games coming down the pipeline. Here are the ten that I found to be the most impressive.
This War of Mine
Release: TBD on PC, Max, and Linux
This War of Mine is on a mission to make sure you understand exactly how devastating war can be on survivors. 11bit Studios’ upcoming title is an experience meant to evoke empathy from the player as they control and protect the lives of survivors during a disastrous siege.
Even the fifteen minute demo I saw featured powerful and gut-wrenching decisions that called for a new kind of maturity and understanding to digest. It’s not for the faint of heart, but its message is an important one that needs to be heard.
Release: Spring 2015; Platform TBD
Tetropolis is a game born of a joke between the developers. After coming up with (and laughing at) the word “Tetroidvania,”the team at NextGen Pants began exploring the idea further. What would a Tetroidvania game look like? How would it play?
The result was Tetropolis, a game in which players assume the role of a defective Tetronimo and work their way through a world obsessed with perfection. Gain new abilities to access different areas of the world, work with other rejected blocks to accomplish your goals, and revel in a beautiful game with great physics-based movement. Even the world map itself is a puzzle that must be manipulated in order to allow players to access the end of a level.
Release: Fall 2014 on Xbox One and Xbox 360
While in the final stages of development on Max: The Curse of Brotherhood, the developers at Press Play games started working on a new concept idea for a puzzle platformer. The result was “Project Totem” (working title), a game in which players simultaneously control two pieces of a totem pole.
It’s a pure joy to play, just as challenging and rewarding as Super Meat Boy with the same approach to trial-and-error learning that made Team Meat’s game so engrossing. Project Totem is still very early in development, but even in its primitive state, it was one of my favorite games from PAX.
Release: 4/22/14 on PC and Mac
FRACT OSC is a musical exploration game whose ultimate goal is to show people that everyone has musical inclinations. Like Proteus, it’s a game that calls for putting on headphones and allowing oneself to be absorbed into its ethereal neon world. Solving puzzles throughout the game rewards players with new abilities and unlocks beats and loops that can later be layered in the game’s studio and made into full musical creations to be uploaded and shared on YouTube.
Release: TBD on PC
Both the best and worst way to describe Prodigy is as Skylanders for adults. It’s a figure-based game that brings the figurine characters to life in a game when they’re placed on a proprietary white game board.
That’s about where the comparisons between the two end, however. Yes, it borrows the “Toys to Life” idea used by Skylanders, but Prodigy is a much deeper strategy-based game that allows for several figures to be placed on the board at one time. No controllers, mice, or keyboards are used to play; instead, actions are selected by using cards labeled with different options such as attack, will, and power. I went head-to-head with a friend of mine while playing and found the entire setup to be very a very approachable and rewarding strategy game with great depth.
Be on the lookout for the rest of Cassidee Moser’s top picks from PAX East 2014 tomorrow!