That's right! The Vita darling is going all HD for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC early 2014. Development started shortly after the Vita release thanks to how the fan base reacted so positively to it after the E3 reveal...
Are you a good person? I like to think I am, but I guess I don't really know. "Good" is a relative term, and the line can become muddled pretty quickly. Everything's circumstantial, and it doesn't take long for self-preservation to kick in when the going gets tough. Maybe I'm not as good of a person as I thought. Maybe sometimes I'm a monster.
Vagabond Dog's first title, Always Sometimes Monsters, aims to analyze this concept in great depth. The role-playing game eschews standard RPG tropes in favor of a position that anyone can sympathize with -- real life. It might not be a situation that everyone's personally experienced, but it's one that's within the realm of reason. As a downtrodden writer on the brink of eviction, you find out that the love of your life is ready to marry someone else, and you set out to do everything in your power to put a stop to it. Damn anyone that gets in your way. Sometimes, you're a monster.
It's obvious that relationships play a large part in Always Sometimes Monsters, and Vagabond Dog gives players the freedom to explore. More interesting than your love interest is the way in which others will react to you and your partner. Straight, white couples might have an easy time; interracial gay couples won't be treated with the same kindness by everyone. Sometimes, they're monsters.
Many of my staff members wander off in the other direction after hearing things like "free-to-play first-person shooter." I get it. But I wanted to see Extraction's debut at PAX this past weekend because Splash Damage were behind it. The folks behind games like Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory and Brink definitely know their stuff, so I worked it out so that seeing Extraction was my very first appointment of the show.
Formerly known as Audiosurf Air, Audiosurf 2 made an appearance at PAX Prime 2013's Indie Megabooth, and the team was really pushing the new wakeboard mode, wearing life vests and adorning the booth with a custom board.
After visiting with the developer and having a go with the wakeboard (on a Björk song, because *swoon*), I can say that a lot of the trepidation that the community expressed after the first trailer showed up was unnecessary. Not everybody will like the wakeboard, but thankfully for those, there is more on offer with Audiosurf 2.
I feel comfortable going out on a limb to venture that PixelJunk Inc. will be the best game about intergalactic soup empires for a long while. I'd have felt fine with that declaration before my hands-on time with the game at PAX Prime 2013 -- the basis is a bit out there, after all. After being given a demo, I'd like to further suggest that PixelJunk Inc. will be a damn fine game regardless of its premise.
PixelJunk Inc. is the next installment in a long line of PixelJunk titles, but it's poised to be the best of the franchise. It's completely centered around the manufacturing and exportation of soup, but it's so much deeper than that. It'd be impossible to shoehorn Inc. into a particular genre of games, because it has serious elements of sandbox, real-time strategy, and tower defense.
At the beginning of the game, the objective is simple: make some soup. To do this, you might need to start building different facilities to streamline the process. As you gather more materials, it becomes simultaneously easier and more difficult. The operation has expanded, and you're now expected to manage the robot crew that's carrying out your tasks. You probably need to do some of the legwork on your own too.
Spencer Hayes and I got some quality time with Techland's Dying Light and we both came away pretty surprised from the experience. The game features a day and night cycle, and the day time stuff we played was pretty average. We knew what to expect, especially after playing games like Dead Island, another open world zombie game from Techland.
But then the night time stuff came up and holy crap the game gets super intense. More importantly, Dying Light becomes way more fun. The zombies transform in runner style zombies like the ones from Left 4 Dead and they become relentless in chasing you down. My heart was seriously racing as I tried to escape the horde, so they've certainly nailed down the horror aspect.
Yetis should be scary, but they're not in the world of The Haven, a newly revealed area in Harmonix Kinect game Fantasia: Music Evolved. We got a few walkthroughs of this new area at PAX Prime this past weekend, and I'm here to tell you that even the yeti roars were cute. They...sang.
I've heard a fair bit about Max: The Curse of Brotherhood this year. This spiritual successor to Max and the Magic Marker sounded great, but it somehow was just off my radar, lost in the shuffle among the new games and consoles we're constantly hearing about.
I'm glad I had a chance to spend some time with Brotherhood at PAX Prime this past weekend. It's now on my radar, and I liked it so much that I am already planning a straight-through play marathon upon its release.
Paradox Interactive is a publishing machine. It's dabbling in just about every genre under the sun, and now, the company is taking on third-person action in the form of War of the Vikings -- a PC title set to arrive sometime in 2014.
It's a bit rough around the edges, but as an action fan, I really appreciated the attention to the tactical nuances that made the games' combat so deep.
Super Time Force, in the state that it's being shown at PAX Prime, is a product that has been refined and shaped by player feedback along all steps of the development process. Capybara Games first showed the game at PAX East 2012, after a mere couple months working on the project. As conventions came and went, the developers used information gleaned from watching people play Super Time Force to perfect it.
Anyone would be hard-pressed to say this method hasn't worked, because Super Time Force is really damn good.
Super Time Force follows a cast of characters that are on a mission to right all the wrongs in the history of time -- both past and future. For instance, the crew embarks on a quest to prevent the extinction of the dinosaurs. They also travel to the future to download Internet plug-ins, because as studio head Nathan Vella told me, "Downloading new plug-ins is pretty much the worst thing ever".
Exactly how they do all this is the game's hook. The team's ability to manipulate time permeates the core experience. The side-scrolling Contra-like shooter expects you to die -- several times over in fact. That's why everything's a one-hit kill. After each death, the player can seamlessly rewind the level as far as they want to re-attempt the bit they just failed. As this happens, you play alongside your former characters up until the point that they die.
"It's the perfect game for fans of 80's anime," 17-Bit's Raj Joshi told me about Galak-Z before I was given a chance to play it. Admittedly, it seemed like a weird statement at the time. At first glance, the Asteroids-esque space shooter looks relatively run-of-the-mill. Upon a bit of inspection, it's easy to tell where Galak-Z draws inspiration from.
As a character named A-Tak, you control a lone, small spaceship in an attempt to escape the alien territory that you're trapped in. A-Tak looks and speaks very much like a typical anime protagonist, but I think you need not worry if that's not your cup of tea; it's hard to imagine that he'll be around too much. Galak-Z seems as if it'll put a fleeting emphasis on narrative, and focus mostly on the action.
The gameplay has a definite learning curve to it, one that probably can't be perfected during a demo. Your ship comes equipped with a thruster, a booster, lasers, and a limited supply of missiles. While the boosters move you forward, there's a separate button that moves the ship in reverse, which can be used in conjunction with the boosters. There's also a juke button that very briefly pops the ship outside of the 2D plane of the world, providing much-needed sanctuary from the attacks of the enemies.
One of the cutest-looking games that I saw at PAX Prime was Uber Entertainment's Toy Rush. Don't let the cuteness deceive you, though. Toy Rush is shaping up to be a surprisingly deep and fun title.
The developers most often recognized for Monday Night Combat put a bit of a twist on what they know the best. Toy Rush is a tower defense title that tasks the player with focusing on an offensive or defensive approach depending on whether engaged in single- or multiplayer.
Actually, single-player could probably be considered a training grounds of sorts for the multiplayer. The 50 level single-player campaign is oriented around working your way toward destroying the enemy's base by strategically releasing your different foot soldiers. Each level completed earns you tickets, which in turn are used to buy booster packs of cards.
I didn't really know what Samurai Gunn was before today. It has one of those sort of cliché names that's easy to pass over if you don't have a particular reason to care. After playing it on the PAX show floor, I might not be able to stop thinking about it.
Samurai Gunn is a two-to-four player brawler that's stupidly easy to learn. The only moves in your arsenal are running, jumping, a melee attack, and fireballs to shoot. The objective is to place a well-timed one-hit kill on one of your several opponents before they can get to you. Easier said than done.
The relatively small battle arenas quickly and inevitably fill up with a flurry of players that are probably either on a kill streak or have just respawned. That's kind of par for the course with Samurai Gunn -- you feel like you're doing really well until someone swiftly and unceremoniously rips you off your pedestal.
Tucked away in a corner below The Wind Waker HD and behind Pokemon X/Y at PAX is a small kiosk featuring Retro City Rampage and Shantae and the Pirate's Curse, both on the 3DS. Stop by if you have the chance. The games are both fantastic, and on top of that, their developers should be standing by to chat you up. Make time for them if you can.
Pirate's Curse may be one of the most attractive games at the show. WayForward has really gone all out this time, using the sprites from Shantae: Risky's Revenge as a base, while adding additional colors and frames of animation. The 3DS screen makes for a larger playfield, lending to more intricate environmental puzzles, more enemies on screen, and more action in general. It's easily their prettiest handheld title yet.
As those of you who've been following the series so far already know, Shantae has lost her former half-genie powers, and has been forced to team up with criminal pirate troublemaker Risky Boots in order to try to get them back. Risky ends up rubbing off on Shantae in more ways than one. Not only will Shantae learn pirate-styled attacks and abilities, but she'll gradually begin to behave more like a pirate as well.
I played Betrayer today, and I have no idea what it's about. Not because of any sort of inattentiveness on my part, but because the ex-Monolith developers don't want me to know what it's about. That's kind of the intrigue behind Blackpowder Games' first title -- trying to figure out exactly what the hell's happening.
The first-person perspective game starts on the shores amidst the aftermath of a shipwreck. Immediately, Betrayer's most defining characteristic hits you -- the monochromatic visual scheme mixed with deep hues of red. It's reminiscent of Bloodforge in this sense, except it emphasizes things of importance instead of ultraviolence. Chests, enemies, and items that can be interacted with are highlighted, making them stick out across the desolate but vegetated environment.
From there, you get to figure out where to go. There's no goal in mind, no waypoint marked, nothing but sheer curiosity pushing you forward. As you wander into a deserted fort, you get the feeling that you're a part of something bigger. A ringing of a mysterious bell and a conversation with a ghost confirm that feeling. After departing the fort, Betrayer shows its true colors.