Pax Prime 2013 - Indie Game Roundup
Six months ago at Pax East in Boston, I began my Gameskinny journey. Together, we’re giving you an inside look at some of the best indie titles at Pax Prime 2013 in Seattle, Washington.
With over 88 games on display at the Megabooth, it was a force to be reckoned with on one of the main show floors. Despite Prime being extended to a full four-day schedule, it still didn’t feel like enough time to play everything indie had to offer me at Pax. Aside from the Mega and Mini Indie booths were tons of indie development teams hawking their wares across three different areas, not including tabletop. While this was a bit of an overload, I loved every second of it. Here are some titles that stood out, and why (in no particular order):
Armello - By: League of Geeks
Platform: iOS Release Date: TBA
This turn based RPG drew me in with some absolutely stunning artwork. Turn-based games aren’t really my style, and yet this title kept me around a little longer than normal. I couldn’t turn away from the outstanding graphic work in their iPad build, and the play controls made it easy to pick up. With no help whatsoever, I was able to get my character over to an enemy target, and start an attack as well. The gameplay style definitely makes this title appear user friendly for a somewhat younger crowd, while still drawing the attention of older gamers who may be intrigued by the game’s offering on mobile devices.
Crypt of the Necrodancer – By: BraceYourself Games
Platform: pc/mac Release Date: Late 2013 Early Access
This is the first of two games on this list which incorporate rhythm and music as a basis for movement and action in game. While this roguelike dungeon crawler seems like any other from a distance, up close and personal it brings a unique flair and personality to the genre. Moving your character through dungeons and passageways must be done in time to the rhythm of the game’s soundtrack, which can be pre-ordered with the game now on their site. Additionally, bonuses like disco lighting and multipliers are also unlocked the longer you can keep in rhythm.
These guys also get special points for adapting their game to allow for gameplay using an old Dance Dance Revolution game pad. The devs said they came up with the idea just a few short days before Pax, and it was a huge hit.
Foul Play – By: Mediatonic
Platform: PC/XBox 360 Release Date: September 18, 2013 (Steam)
The incredibly polished and theatrical adventures of Daemon Hunter Baron Dashforth are hilariously re-enacted through theater/stage based brawls with both local and online co-op. Recreations of the many monsters and bad guys from Baron Dashforth’s travels make this beat-em-up title incredibly unique. Play to the crowd’s taste with as much blood, gore and violence as possible, and watch them go crazy for your bravado and antics. (Also, Baron Dashforth looks like a very close relative to the Monopoly man, which made me giggle more than once.)
Jungle Rumble – By: Disco Pixel
Platform: iOS/Android Release Date: Late 2013
Do you like “Freedom, Happiness and Bananas? “ If you do, and you also enjoy catchy drum beats and rhythms – then Jungle Rumble is a definite must. The second game I found at Pax Prime incorporating rhythm as its function for movement does so in a much more innovative way. Tapping and interacting with the drum rhythm is the only way to move your monkeys, defend your coconuts, and ward off the enemy (also monkeys!). Navigate maze-like treetops, sometimes while racing to beat a timed scrolling level, anticipating the oncoming attacks and impending banana theft. Thinking I would give Jungle Rumble 5 minutes or so of my time, 25 minutes later I came out of the practically meditative trance this game put me into, with a huge smile on my face.
Little Legends: The Battle for Willow Lane - By: Reentry Games
Release Date: PC/Mac/Web editions available now for early access, Mobile TBA
Little Legends was by far one of the most addicting titles I came across. A traditional match-three title, they have added in elements of local and online co-op, allowing players to use matches of tile themes to load up attacks on their opponents. Beyond that, earning gold and points while leveling up your player and equipment allows you to level up a lovable “Floom.” I’m honestly not sure what your Floom is for, but I’m definitely excited to find out. What makes Little Legends stand out from the rest you ask – players compete against each other in real time, using the same board. More than once I exclaimed when I found a great match, only to watch that match be utilized by my opponent before I could act on it. Frustrating, but incredibly fun.
Faeria - by Abrakam
Platforms: PC/Mac/Linux (Mobile TBA?) Release Date: TBA, Betas Sept 2013
Faeria caught my eye in a different show floor area of Pax Prime, and boasts a unique blend of boardgame/tabletop gameplay basics, with deck-building elements. While I am normally wary of turn-based games (which seemed ever-present at Pax this year), and also not usually a deckbuilding fan, the artwork and style called to me from across the booths. Players were allowed 20 minute demos, teaming up one on one to build terrain, collect and build resources, and utilize cards to play spells, creatures and objects. Utilizing three actions per turn, you slowly worked toward attacking and eliminating your opponent’s home base, and it never really felt cumbersome. Open beta sign up is going on now, and you can bet I’m on the list.
Contraption Maker – by Spotkin
Platforms: PC/Mac Release Date: Early access available now on Steam (Alpha)
This game put the tools, challenges and frustrating fun of Rube Goldberg projects into my hands. Creator Spotkin, the makers of the original “Incredible Machine,” have definitely built heart, soul and giggles into the different ways to solve simple problems. The current alpha build offers 5 challenge puzzles, or an available sandbox mode. Use the available tools to fill in the gaps of a Rube Goldberg machine, and press play to test and re-test your contraption. Once it’s complete, record the video and save it for posterity.
Even four days isn't enough for everything.
These are some games I loved, but couldn't squeeze into my crazy crazy schedules.
- Spellirium by Untold Entertainment Inc., for PC and Mac. Solve puzzles by spelling words from a 7x7 letter grid.
- Life Goes On by Infinite Monkeys Entertainment for PC, Mac and Linux. A Limbo-esque problem solving platformer – kill your character repeatedly, in order to solve problems with his corpses.
- Legend of Dungeon by Robot Loves Kitty, for PC, Mac and Linux. Randomly generated dungeons fuel this RPG roguelike with pretty pretty pixels.
- Always Sometimes Monsters by Vagabond Dog. After hitting rock bottom and setting out on the road, will you be able to overcome?
- Contrast by Compulsion Games. A puzzle platformer with striking 2D/3D gameplay and art styles--take control of your own shadow to get through unique and innovative levels.
- Death Road to Canada by Rocketcat Games. Road trip simulator meets hoard style zombie killing, with horse heads.