By Jason Parker (Ragachak)
I have to say, the list of developers at PAX South 2017 really surprised me! I didn’t see the huge Texas developers like Gearbox at all! I know Robot Factory were busy too, but I was a little disappointed they weren’t there! There were some big names there, though – Nintendo showed off the Switch for example. But for the most part, PAX South remains the home to highlight indie games. I love that though! There were so many fantastic games that were on display that we could not possibly get to, except on my last day where my mission was to find as many things as possible that need to be noticed. So with that in mind, let’s talk about some indie games!
- Super Dungeon Tactics: Oh man! I’ve covered this before, and without a doubt, it’s one of the most fun ways to play a tabletop strategy game, without being able to get out and be with actual people!
That’s not always an easy thing to do. So, being able to play a strategy board game, in a franchise as fun as Soda Pops Super Dungeon Tactics, makes me very happy. In fact, they are going to have new levels soon, and quite a bit more content that will be worth seeing!
- Nefarious: NEFARIOUS IS SO FUN. You play an action platformer/twinstick platformer as the evil villain. You can point your attacks with the other stick to set up some on the fly chaos. Special attacks are amazing, as is bomb jumping, the amazing 1930s style music, and there’s even someone from the Skullgirls team working on it for bonus points. I forget exactly who it was, but it will show, I promise. It’s a single-player title, but it’s catchy and addictive. It’s a very smart, self-aware title, and come on, the hero breaks up with the Princes on the first stage! Each princess in the game will change gameplay for Crow, the villain, and you will have fun exploring. I promise.
- Holy Potatoes! We’re in Space!?: I’m so glad I got to go see them! I loved Holy Potatoes! A Weapon Shop!? So seeing this one is just 100% better. Their devs were chill, and they showed us turn-based strategy game that is 0% serious. Tons and tons of pop-culture references, fun characters, an upgradable starship that you’ll do battle with, and just being there for 15-20 minutes to play some of the start of the game…I was disappointed that I had to get up and go do other things. I enjoyed picking the brains of their devs, admiring the adorable and funny art, and just laughing at every subtle [or not so subtle. . .] joke or reference. If you don’t look for this when it comes out on Valentine’s Day, shame on you! Even single people will have something to fill their lives that’s magical and lovely.
- The Shrouded Isle: Just when I thought the Moon Hunters people couldn’t top themselves, they did it. The Shrouded Isle places you in charge of an island of paranoid religious nutjobs, and your goal is to find the right people to sacrifice to keep a dark god at bay and appeased. You don’t want him to wake up and consume everyone! Five families vie for power, and as it so happens, the normal traits might not be ideal. As in, someone who is a sadist might be a great candidate or someone who is a religious zealot. Sacrificing someone who is insanely into religion shouldn’t be a problem or upset people, because they know it is their duty to die for the cause. This is going to be uncomfortable for some, but for me? I NEED IT. I need to play this simulation, control this island, and put to death the right people. Maybe that… says more about me than it should.
- In The Shadows: A very retro-styled game where you play a child shrouded in darkness. You need to bring light to the world around you to scare away the monsters! They are hidden in a deeper darkness, and the game feels like it will be a wonderful, fun, distracting platformer.It’s hard to reinvent the platformer, and it is imperative that they stand out. I didn’t get a lot of time to see this in action, but what I saw captured my attention. We as humans have a fascination with what lurks in the darkness, but it would also feel incredibly satisfying to banish that darkness with your own hands.
- Forsaken Castle: Forsaken Castle is a Metroid-vania style platformer, with more Super Metroid than Castlevania going on. Lots of hidden power-ups and secrets to unlock, as you control Lily, a newly appointed Paladin to a run-down, decrepit castle where evil lurks around every corner. It’s adorable and looks and feels quite fun. You avoid traps, smash evil to bits, and explore all the nooks and crannies of the mysterious castle. It’s coming soon to Steam Greenlight and should not be missed at all. It’s definitely one of my favorite platformers I saw. I was always more of a JRPG fan, but at heart, platformers are fun. And I like fun, contrary to popular belief.
- Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom: It’s a sequel to a game I couldn’t play as a lad, but am familiar with! Monster Boy debuted on the Wonderswan [a Japanese handheld], and in this sequel [which features many of the original devs/composers], you play an insanely adorable platformer where you can turn into various animal creatures to solve puzzles, overcome obstacles, and stop your evil Uncle from ruining the land with his ridiculous curse.It’s so bright and cheerful, I can hardly stand it! But it is fun. It’s so very fun.
- Haimrik: Em. Gee. The most ambitious fun puzzle platform game I’ve ever played. This is a world where words have power, and Haimrik can take these words and wield them. Literally. There are words on the screen, and some can be pulled to life, whether it’s ‘sword’ pulling a sword from the air, or a torch, or the word lightning, to zap the other evil wordsmith, Haimrik needs to be seen to be explained/believed. There are so many ways to solve problems and overcome issues, depending on how you look at the word. It makes me so happy to see as a fan of the English Language. And the art is mesmerizing. Everything about it was magical, and I love seeing games that are not so straight-forward. They weren’t telling people how to do it, and were letting them do it themselves. And I was great at it! These titles are all really wonderful, and I really wanted these guys to get some exposure and credit for their work.
One of the most important, most difficult parts about being an indie developer is finding an audience and exposure. How else are people going to find these amazing up and coming games without a bit of help? That’s what my goal was here; they are definitely titles that deserve to be seen by a wider audience.
And finally – it’s time to enjoy the tons of great cosplay that was available at the show this year!