Another day at PAX, another written piece of me rambling about games that caught my interest, though in this case I am fashionably late being two days behind schedule. This is just some quick information about some games that caught my interest. I would like to give them some more time and a proper review at some point in the future, but until then these are some titles I am looking forward to that you may want to keep an eye open for.
Dragon Fin Soup: This is a brightly colored turn based RPG/adventure game patterned after fairy tales with a dark, twisted sense of humor. The protagonist, Red Robin, is based on Little Red Riding Hood, except in this world she is an alcoholic bounty hunter, traveling around armed with magic spells and a shotgun. While this is a turn based game, the developers did a great job in streamlining game play to the point where if you saw someone playing it would look like it is an action game. This game has roughly 60 hours of content, and they plan to include additional DLC characters, one of which is Geppetto from Pinnochio fame. I thought their incarnation of Geppetto was interesting and in quite contrast to the Disney version of this tale most people are familiar with. Geppetto’s son dies, and he uses alchemy to bind his soul to a wooden doll, which should give an idea of what the tone of this game is. A game mechanic unique to this is you drink liquor in place of health potions which also contribute to a separate rage meter. If this fills up all the way you go into an uncontrollable drunken rampage for a period of time. Any RPG fan should be on the lookout for this, especially ones who appreciate off color humor. In other words, this is a game I need to play when it is released.
Secret Ponchos: This is a spaghetti western inspired isometric multiplayer combat shooter with stylized cartoon graphics. What I played was a couple three on three team battles. There are six unique characters to choose from, each with their own play style and special moves. The first character I played as I initially thought was underpowered and useless until I figured out how to do the special move and then I started having a lot more success. It was enjoyable, but then again I tend to like any game that gives me an excuse to shoot my friends. This game is currently on Steam Early Access with the finalized version scheduled to be up soon.
Blade: Redemption: This is a mobile game. I know, I know, steam is computer gaming and mobile games are an unholy blight on the gaming world and have no business being mentioned on this site. Despite being on a reviled platform, this is a pretty solid game. It actually resembles a real video game, and a good one at that. This action RPG brawler uses the Unreal 3 engine and has a developer that was involved with the Dynasty Warriors series. A typical level in this loot fest is 1-2 minutes with boss battles being a bit longer, clocking in around 3 minutes. There is also a PVP mode so you can do battle with your friends or random strangers. Currently this game is out in Korea with an expected early next year US release date. The plan is to keep this mobile only so unless that changes I will never speak of it again on this site, but if you are looking for a game to play on your phone that isn’t typical app store shovelware this is a good title to keep in mind.
Time Machine VR: This game currently has two levels that are roughly two hours of game time on Steam Early Access, with more levels and more creatures to be added. An Oculus Rift VR headset is required, as is a high end graphics card since this game is meant to run at 90 FPS. This game involves a sci-fi plot and has you exploring the ocean filled with prehistoric creatures. The developers consulted a paleontologist to ensure that the creatures you encounter are as scientifically accurate as possible. As I mentioned in an earlier article, I was initially not sold on the Oculus but after attending this PAX I have done a 180 on the matter. This game only makes me want one of these more. I doubt I can do justice to the level of immersion this technology is capable of, there were moments were if I didn’t know better I would swear some monstrous extinct sea creature was going to swallow me whole. The controls felt natural as if you were moving through the ocean yourself. The developer I spoke to said they went to great lengths to ensure motion sickness would not result from this game, and I can confirm that at least in my case I never felt anything close to motion sickness or nausea. If you have an Oculus and a beefy enough graphics card, I highly recommend checking this one out.
Bombshell: This is an isometric action RPG shooter developed by Interceptor Games and published by 3D Realms, using the Unreal 3 Engine. In this game you take control of a tough as nails nonsexualized female protagonist with a robotic arm. An early mission had me trying to rescue the president during an attack on the White House. The president in this case is a woman with an eyepatch, so I can only assume there is going to be some interesting character development with her in the parts of the game that take place after the demo ended. The default starting weapon is called the Ion Maiden, so of course I ran into battle shouting Up The Ions! and lyrics from The Trooper. I don’t know for sure but I think I made some people playing on the computers next to me get up and leave. There eight different weapons and each one has a ten point skill tree for customization. Bombshell has all the action and carnage one would expect in an action shooter but the RPG elements make this seem like it will stand out from the pack when it is released. This one is expected to be out in three months, also coming out to Xbox One and Playstion 4 in addition to PC.
The Castle Game: This is a tower defense game where you build a castle and defend it from attacking monsters. There are 15 large maps where you have quite a few options at your disposal to defend your kingdom against the attacking forces, including some interesting boss battles such as a dragon. The beauty of this game is there is no one strategy or right way to play it, adding a lot of replay value. Maybe you master the game using conventional tower defense strategy, so you can replay levels and only use traps for a challenge. The gameplay draws influence from Minecraft, Rampart, and Warcraft, the original Warcrafts, not WOW. There are numerous nods to various fantasy franchises in this game, some of the more obvious ones are The Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones. This game has a great visual design and it is very fun to play. Currently the game is out on Playstation 4 but also rotting away in the cesspool known as Steam Greenlight. I know it is easy to dismiss a game and not give it a second look when all you see is the title but this is a quality product. This is a game that deserves a proper Steam release.
In addition to games, which technically what I am supposed to talk about, I saw some video game themed bands, and since music is my first love I am going to go rogue and talk about them. The next PAX post I do will be strictly about games.
The first band I saw was The Returners, who were fantastic. They take their name from the rebel group Locke was working with in Final Fantasy VI, which is the best Final Fantasy. They specialize in SNES and Playstation 1 era covers, but also threw in a Saturday morning cartoon theme medley featuring Gargoyles and The X-Men, along with a Nightwishesque cover of Phantom of the Opera. They feature guitar, bass, drums, keyboard, flute, and some vocals, both male and female. Among many other games, they covered music from Starcraft, Metal Gear Solid, and obviously Final Fantasy VI in a style that borders on being symphonic metal. They have an album out called Immune To Silence, which I recommend picking up. If you like video game themed bands at all such as The Black Mages or Minibosses you need to check these guys out, or even if you just like symphonic or folk metal you can probably appreciate this band.
The next band I saw was Bit Brigade. I saw these guys in PAX East where they did The Legend of Zelda. This time they did Metroid. This band is a 5 piece, they have two guitars, a bass, a drummer, and a Nintendo player. What they do is their NES player does a quasi speed run of a game while the band plays the game’s soundtrack. They do take some liberties, some songs from Super Metroid snuck their way into this concert, and when they did Zelda instead of the same overworld and labyrinth theme being played over and over they switched in music from other Zelda games. They just released the CD for Metroid, but they also have other game “soundtracks” available. I own all their albums, but this band is best enjoyed live. This thing I do wonder about them is what do they do in their show if their player happens to die? They have a Mega Man 2 album out, and no matter how good you are I can see you missing a jump and exploding on some spikes.
Closing up the night was The Protomen. This was different than the other two bands, the only cover they did was In The Air Tonight which anyone whose parents owned the Miami Vice soundtrack is familiar with. Or, if you want a more contemporary reference, the song that Mike Tyson punched out Stu to in The Hangover. They performed original material, which is basically a multipart rock opera about Megaman. The singer even donned the Blue Bomber and Protoman’s helmet at different points in the performance. They do put on a very high energy show. Follow me on Twitter