PAX Rising: The Indie games of PAX AUS
I say it every year, but the PAX Rising section at PAX AUS continues to be my favourite part of the whole event. There are just so many games that have been lovingly crafted by people that have a passion for gaming. Their enthusiasm for the games they have created (or in many instances, are still refining towards the finished product) is infectious. There are games from every genre, as well as those bringing innovation to the gaming landscape. But there are those too, that pay homage to the classics, bringing an older style to a younger crowd.
As always, it is hard to narrow all the PAX Rising section down to a manageable list, but the eclectic bunch of games below will have something for everyone. And if you do find something that tickles your fancy, I urge you to support the developers by purchasing a copy of their game or add them to your Steam Wishlist.
So, without further ado, this year's list of indies from the Land Down Under (and one from NZ, too):
Wayward Strand - Ghost Pattern
Wayward Strand has you play as teenager, Casey, in a Point-and-Click adventure based on an airship hospital. The curious and somewhat naive Casey is tasked by her school newspaper with finding the mysteries of how the airship came to be in the small coastal town. By talking to the residents, can she uncover the mysteries surrounding the floating hospital? With the game set around a three day timeline, and featuring characters that go about their business, many of the mysteries may not be uncovered in one game - which should take around two hours - allowing for multiple playthroughs. With fully voiced dialogue to be incorporated, (the demo at PAX AUS only had partially voiced dialogue) and a wonderful narrative, Wayward Strand is certainly one to keep an eye on.
For more info, visit www.WaywardStrand.com or add it your Steam Wishlist
Unpacking - Witch Beam
The team behind the fast-paced twin stick shooter Assault Android Cactus has changed tack on this one. Unpacking is a much more relaxing, go-at-your-own-pace type of game that has you, as you could probably guess, unpacking boxes. In a Tetris style game with a storyline that becomes apparent to the gamer as they progress, players must unpack boxes as if they've just moved to a new house. With limited space, items must be placed optimally to fit everything in. The early levels are somewhat simple, allowing you to place items willy-nilly into your own house. But moving in with someone who already has their own gear means that compromises must be made in placement of your own items. Unpacking is a single player game that can be fun to play as a couple or in a group, as you argue about where things should be placed - a true social experiment into the lives of those playing.
For further details, visit www.unpackinggame.com or add it your Steam Wishlist
Speaking Simulator - Affable Games
We had the chance to see Speaking Simulator at last year's PAX AUS, and while it was somewhat raw, it was a hilarious take of the difficulties of speech as you controlled the tongue and mouth of an android looking to fit into human society. A year on, and the team at Affable Games have refined the mechanics whilst adding several new features, such as upgrades that can be purchased upon gaining points for better performance, a dancing mini-game, and a range of different facial features. A character customization screen has also been added, but this has been left intentionally basic, so that it adds to the comedic nature of the game. And although it wasn't working at PAX AUS, a webcam based facial recognition mode can be played, requiring gamers to physically alter their facial features in line with the game. Hilarity ensues.
More info on the Affable Games website or add the game to your Steam Wishlist
Hot Brass - Walk With Kings
Hot Brass is a top-down tactical shooter where you play as an elite police SWAT team. I say it's a shooter, but the game rewards you for taking the less-violent solutions in a situation - after all, who wants all that paperwork to fill out because of the infractions you've committed? This up-to-four player co-op squad-based tactical game (it can also be played as a single player game) has you select a loadout before entering missions. Choosing various loadouts as a team helps to overcome various scenarios, as your characters move through the settings, apprehending or taking down criminals whilst saving innocent lives. Player avatars are represented by icons depending on the weapon they're carrying in a vibrant, although often darkness-filled setting. Torches and thermal imaging, light up the scenes in the fully destructible environments of the varying themed missions. With each mission completeable in a variety of ways, replayability is endless.
For more info, visit www.hotbrassgame.com or add it to your Steam Wishlist
Kana Quest - Not Dead Design
Mahjong meets dominoes in this tile-swiping puzzle game that also acts a way of learning both the Hiragana and Katakana alphabets of Japanese. The tiles, each with one of the Japanese characters must be matched with others of a similar sound. The alphabetic characters are gradually added to the game over the course of its 300-plus levels (spread over 13 worlds, each adding a new varied mechanic, such as immovable tiles) allowing gamers to become familiar with the characters in a relaxed atmosphere. The pixel art style, full of traditional Japanese influences makes this a fun educational game, despite it being a puzzle game at its heart.
For more info, visit www.kanaquestgame.com or add it to your Steam Wishlist