PAX East Indie Game Showcase

paxeastpicPAX East 2014 happened earlier this month, and we’ve been busy providing coverage for you. But walking around the Indie Megabooth, there are simply too many brilliant titles that deserve mention. The best thing about PAX is that all these good games are well on their way. Check out what caught my attention on the show floor:

Duet

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_wnYjYrSWHc&w=640&h=340]

This “hypnotic new action arcade game” has you controlling a red and a blue orb simultaneously. All you can do is make them switch places in a circular motion. I played this on a tablet, so all I had to do was press either sides of the large screen. Obstacles continuously come from above, increasing in complexity: First, simple rectangles, but then you have to start timing the circular switch, which is especially difficult with rotating obstacles. I feel that Duet is a cool distraction, but it’s not something I’d love to sit down and play for an hour. It’s a good one for the train, but I also think that the concentration it requires might make me miss my stops.

You can get Duet off the iTunes App Store.

Assault Android Cactus

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_5QYf7n4iOY&w=640&h=340]

Rarely do we bet on graphics, preferring substance over looks, but if this idea of a four-player wave-defense with eight different playable androids doesn’t sell it to you, the smooth animations and explosions just might. Mechanics are fairly simple: Instead of one life bar, there’s a “battery” that’s kept up by the team, though an individual character can get temporarily knocked out. Every character is equipped with a primary weapon and a stronger, secondary armament that can’t be used all the time. I played as Aubergine, who’s primary means of destroying the robot hordes is a companion, Helo. As long as I held the button down, I directed the little helicopter-chopper away from me, dealing continuous damage. It was fun and challenging to control, but she’s backed up by her powerful Singularity Generator, which creates a black hole that scoops in enemies.

AAC is tight, fun, and simply a blast, and you can get it on Steam right now.

Gods Will Be Watching

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0qLjgfp_d1U&w=640&h=340]

This minimalist “point and click thriller” became famous as a Ludum Dare game, but its success is leading up to a full, crowd-funded release. The Spanish developers, Deconstructeam, stationed a different scenario challenge for each day of the con. The one I played was the “Torture Challenge,” where Sgt. Burden is captured with a fellow member, interrogated, and, in the process, malevolently tortured. The goal is to endure the torture for twenty days, the captors visiting each day for a “friendly” talk, but if you confess, you just get killed immediately. The controls revolved around about five decisions: You could beg or intimidate, lie or think, or confess. Lying was only effective if you chose “think” a few times, thus, evading punishment. But the more you stall to do so, the more Burden gets his body mangled. At night, the only relief is a team member delivering one of three things: Information, medicine, or pain killers.

Needless to say, this is a game to watch, and the torture challenge was a gruesome, satisfyingly-dark experience. You can pre-order on their website.

Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NwfRYGVADL0&w=640&h=340]

This cutely-named game is one of the sweeter co-op titles out there. The two lovers are on a round spaceship with several stations inside: Four for turrets, one for controls, another one for shields, and one for restoring health. Moving about inside and climbing ladders, you and your partner need to communicate and work together to maneuver an asteroid-filled galaxy and rescue animals like cutesy bunnies. As more and more enemies swarm the round ship, things get frantic, and that’s when Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime gets really fun, as you yell at each other and run to switch stations; guns only cover one side of the screen, and if two people are shooting, no one is piloting!

The game is currently in development.

Spacecom

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qAMQhZB1TB0&w=640&h=340]

How often do “strategy” and “minimalist” meet? Spacecom is being published by 11 bit studios’ launchpad initiative. It’s about space battles, entirely from a strategic vantage. Viewing a simple planetary system, the goal is to dominate each moon or planet, sending out ships from your starting zone until facing off with enemy forces. You do so by sending appropriate units, sending them off on the connecting paths. You have a choice to destroy or take over, so this is already one of the strategic choices the game presents. There are hardly any statistics or UI, so Spacecom is a little hard to grasp at first, but a lot goes to the developers for having done so much while showing so little.

Check out this trailer to get a better idea.

Swimsanity

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jh9vg87an0&w=640&h=340]

Walking by, I could not help but stop by and check out this four-player, crazy-looking action title. Swimsanity puts all the players as scuba divers, but in the most perilous situations. And with powers. Boston-based Decoy Games had two stations available: one with co-op and the other with PvP fun. I checked out the co-op, which had the four swimmers on the run from a giant whale. There are eight or so selectable characters, differentiated by their “ultimate” abilities: Super moves that can wipe out all enemies on the screen. The specific level I played was about skillful maneuvering and doing what I could to not get left behind. An especially important technique is a short-ranged teleport, which everyone has, but with limited uses.

For detailed info, check out Decoy Games’ on-going Kickstarter campaign page.




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