PAX 2019 was full of amazing indie games and once again Dylan and Ashley have played as much as they could. Below are their favourite games from the show floor this year.
Best Friend Forever
I’ve never been one for dating sims or visual novels but the art style and the promise of cute dogs caused Best Friend Forever to catch my attention when it was announced during Nintendo’s Indie World Direct back in August. Getting hands-on at the Next Exhibit, I was swept up in the story of my character arriving in Rainbow Bay with its interesting array of residents and the town’s seeming necessity to own a dog. After arriving in Rainbow Bay, you are quickly introduced to Cheeseball the Shiba Inu who steals all your belongings and you end up adopting (there will be more options in the full release). Cheeseball sits in the bottom right corner of your screen while notifications of his actions pop up in the top right corner alerting you that he has pooped or borked at someone.
The thing that really got me was the humour, I giggled several times in the demo while sitting alone with headphones on, surely with someone watching me. While only the initial bus trip to Rainbow Bay was fully voice acted, I’m keen to hear the other characters deliver the amusing dialogue and get to know them better.
Best Friend Forever is scheduled to release February 14th 2020 for PC, Mac and Nintendo Switch.
– Ashley Hobley
You might remember last year at PAX we were talking up a little game called Scout’s Honor, a co-op camping game that required you to complete a series of tasks before nightfall. Well, it was back this year under the new name Camped Out which means we can talk about it again! #loopholes. You may also remember that Dylan was complaining about having trouble finding important items like the fishing rod or axe in the chaos of four players running around. Well it looks like the team at INCA Studios noticed because they’ve come up with a solution by giving those items a white outline when not being held by a player, enough of a subtle change to make it easier to find in the rush to finish tasks but not too obvious as to take away from the challenge or ruin the aesthetic.
Camped Out is still a fun, chaotic experience that will be a challenge in co-op, especially in the later levels that add obstacles to overcome to get those 3 stars, like falling rocks and thieving squirrels. We were all fans of the game last year and are looking forward to its full release. Also, they added a bear.
Camped Out is scheduled to release in 2020 for PC, Mac and Consoles.
– Ashley Hobley
(Sad & Son)
Grabimals has a very simple premise: move and connect a bunch of blocks to complete simple tasks like build a certain shape, climb over a gap or create a specific shadow on a wall. The challenge comes in trying to co-ordinate up to four players, each controlling an individual block, in order to complete these tasks. While the game can be played solo, with the player switching between the blocks to move them, the game will certainly be more fun with multiple people, all debating how to solve the physics puzzle in front of them. Grabimals is sure to test some friendships.
Grabimals is planned to release on PC & Nintendo Switch
– Ashley Hobley
Henry Mosse and the Wormhole Conspiracy
(Bad Goat Studios)
I laughed-out-loud several times thanks to the quirky writing in Henry Mosse and The Wormhole Conspiracy and quickly saw something special in this adventure game set in a future ‘New Melbourne.’ The demo I played was the start of the game and although the story promises adventure into space, the demo is set-up at Henry Mosses’ home of New Melbourne. It’s a somewhat typical point-and-click adventure game with puzzles, but a hint system did help the moment I was questioning where to head next. A colourful art style and interesting character designs drew me into the booth and as soon as the demo finished I was interested to find out where the story was going to go next, which is why it’s my favourite indie title of PAX Australia 2019.
Henry Mosse and the Wormhole Conspiracy is scheduled to release in 2020 for PC, Mac and iOS.
– Dylan Blight
Nekograms is an adorable little puzzle game for mobile that sees you solving cat-related nap issues. The game is centred on moving an assortment of sleeping cats, or ‘neko’ which is the Japanese word for cat.
It’s a tile-based game and cats can only be moved left to right on the game area, while the cushions can be moved up and down, with the end goal being to get all the cats onto cushions so they can have a night of cozy sleep. The PAX demo started simple enough but soon added in long cats that need two cushions as well as other obstacles to get out of the way like beach balls. Also, beating a level under par awarded you a ‘Purfect Score’, so extra points for puns.
– Dylan Blight
Nekograms is coming to iOS and Android in 2020.
From across the indie section I spotted Giant Margarita and as with every year they’re at PAX, they had a great new game for everyone to try out, this year that game is Squidgies Takeover. It’s an adorable looking game, and that’s going to be your first impression, but the second thing that shocked me was when I was told it was a single-player Nintendo Switch game, an interesting piece of information considering all of Giant Margarita’s previous games had been highly customizable party games (Party Golf, Party Crashers, Party Poppers).
Squidgies Takeover was pitched to me as being similar to Lemmings and it is, kinda. You have to get the squidgies themselves to safety by using the abilities of different squidgies to guide them. The first level is easy enough as you simply select the first squidgy to turn it into a power-shot that shoots the rest along the path to the goal, but it gets more complicated in other levels as squigides do different effects when activated and there are more obstacles to get around.
I had some trouble playing with the joy-con and using it as a pointer on the screen, although the blame for this can come down to the ultra signal distorting room that is PAX. I feel like I’d prefer to play this game using the switch’s touchscreen in handheld mode anyway as it’s probably easier. However I play it, I’m looking forward to 80+ levels of squidges to save.
– Dylan Blight
Squidgies Takeover is coming to Nintendo Switch November 14th.
(Cotton Candy Cyanide)
With a distinct art-style and poster, this visual novel from Cotton Candy stood out at PAX, even being placed in a corner it was. Jumping into the game’s demo I wasn’t sure what I was playing at first. It was a visual novel, yes, but nothing was grabbing and I didn’t understand what the hook for the game’s story was going to be. But when it was introduced I automatically was onboard as it reminded me of my favourite visual novel series, Danganropa. Aboard a spacecraft in deep space a rogue A.I forces you to participate in ‘The Deletion Game’ each week with death on the losing end. The characters I was introduced to in the demo all seemed unique and didn’t fall into any blatant stereotypes and it seems each ‘Deletion Game’ round will see a new puzzle to solve, with the first being a card game for survival.
Quantum Suicide is scheduled to release on December 1st for PC, Mac, PS4 and Vita.
– Dylan Blight
I enjoy unpacking and organising items so Unpacking was certainly scratching a rather specific itch when I sat down to play it at the Next Exhibit, which was in its second year to present games from underrepresented developers. Unpacking is simple, you click on a box to grab an item and can rotate it before placing it at a location in the room. The demo I played was from a child’s room featuring dolls, unicorns, books and other items. I missed one important memo about Unpacking though, which was that it is a puzzle game and once you pull all the items out, ones that are in very wrong places will flash red until you move them. So there is a challenge here, but still no score, or timer, it’s not competitive at all, which will make it a very zen puzzle game. I hope a mode to mess around and place items wherever is in the final build because there’s fun to be had simply designing the rooms as well.
Unpacking is currently scheduled to release late 2020 on Windows, Mac and Linux.
– Dylan Blight
(Team Fractal Alligator)
One game made me laugh the most while playing it at PAX this year and that was Wrestledunk Sports from Team Fractal Alligator. Cherie and I from the Explosion Network teamed up against Ashley from EN and somebody else in three of the four games included in Wrestledunk Sports to see who could prove the best.
Those three games were Wrestling, Volleyball and Fencing. The first see’s you moving your adorable rectangle characters back-and-forth across the screen attempting to dodge your opponents’ dive attacks while trying to squash them with a giant belly dive from above. It got plenty of hollering from all of us. Fencing saw many different techniques come into play once we learned you could not only attack your opponents directly with your swords but also throw the sword and then attempt to belly-slam them anyway like we were still playing Wrestling. Volleyball got the tensest for all of us as we paid close attention to the ball being hit back and forth across the net until someone eventually failed to spike it correctly and there would be a cheer from one side of the court.
All of these games are played out on colourful maps with several to choose from and the ability to change up the colour of your characters as well.
I was even more interested in Wrestledunk Sports as it’s not only coming to Nintendo Switch but will also have an inclusion of online play make it an automatic must-play as soon as it arrives.
Wrestledunk Sports is releasing for Nintendo Switch sometime soon.
– Dylan Blight
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