The first full day of PAX East was jam packed for the Everything Action crew as far as games we got to check out, including ones we got to hit up before the show opened to the public for our special press hour (We’ll get to those unscheduled games in our Day 3 post on Friday). Day 1 started with the beginning of a snow storm, so we braved the bone chilling weather to get to dive into some VR headsets, pilot helicopters, drive futuristic cars in insane stunt tracks and much more, check out everything we saw below.
Snake Pass is coming from Sumo Games and is hitting PC and consoles, including the Switch, and seems like a throwback to the mascot platformers of the PS1/PS2/Xbox era like Crash or Banjo-Kazooie but with an extremely unique method of movement that is actually fairly realistic to how snakes actually move, relying on momentum and wrapping yourself around objects to climb. It seems like it will take a little bit to learn how to control but, once you do, it will give you a much more interesting experience than the typical run and jump of other similar cutesy platformers.
Distance from Refract is an extremely fast paced, awesome looking racing game that has shades of Tron, Burnout and Rush 2049 as you race a car in a virtual world on twisting, upside down, switchback courses that requires pinpoint timing and learning how to fly your car as well as drive it. There are tons of obstacles to dodge as well, like lasers that will carve off pieces of your car and there will be a single player campaign, stunt tracks and multiplayer racing. If you’re looking for an arcade racer, this is definitely one to keep an eye on.
Hacktag is a co-op stealth game that has one player playing a spy in the field while the other player plays their hacker support back at HQ and they have to work together to unlock doors, dodge guards and fulfill the objective. You can play locally or online but locally is the team at Piece of Cake’s preferrred method of playing and Chris and I quickly got into pointing out on screen where the other should go and trying to beat our mission of stealing data from a Fox Newsesque corporation. The game has a fun anthropomorphic art style that allows some social satire and it’s hitting this summer on PC and console.
If you’re looking to break your brain with a new puzzle game, Semispheres is one you definitely want to keep on your radar as you need to work on two screens at the same time to guide two jellyfish like creatures through different areas but each is guided by separate analog sticks, similar to how the game Brothers controlled back in 2013. Things start out fairly simple but quickly get complicated with the addition of powerups that cause the characters to switch sides and guard creatures that need to be distracted away on one side by the partner side. It’s already out on PS4 and PC if you want to check it out and it will be on Xbox One later this year.
Earthnight is a gorgeous looking, action packed twist on the “endless runner” genre where you play as either high schooler Sydney or freelance photographer Stanley as they battle dragons that are causing the apocalypse by running down the length of their bodies to their heads, where you stab or punch them to death and then freefall to the next dragon to battle. In what we got to play, Stanley was the standard beginner character that has a single jump and dive attack but Sydney is more advanced and can glide and double jump depending on when the button is pressed and you really have to get into a rhythm of how the dragon is moving up and down as well as the smaller enemies that are hanging around the dragons, which you can leap off of. The art style is incredible and if you get into a flow, it feels great. It’s coming to PS4 and Steam.
Heliborne is trying to bring back the helicopter action that was around in the 90’s PC gaming area with games like the Commanche series that blended sim and arcade style gameplay. In Heliborne, developed by Jet Cat Games, you actually get a trio of helicopters to pilot for each mission and you have to use them strategically to complete objectives. For instance, you have to land troops at a landing pad but there are enemy boats patrolling nearby, so you have to move in with your attack chopper first and then fly in the troop transport. It looks awesome, with lots of satisfying explosions and wind effects when you get near the ground or water and the controls take a little bit to get used to but once you get the hang of it, you can pull all kinds of bad ass manuevers. It’s currently in Early Access on Steam if you want to check it out.
Bruce is a 2D action platformer from Logic Artists that is inspired by Sin City and Blade Runner as you guide Bruce, a private investigator, as he tries to unravel a mystery in a cyberpunk future city overrun by deadly androids. The game apparently started out as a straight noir but Logic Artists picked up development and made the setting and story more sci-fi. Bruce can melee and shoot enemies, sneak up and perform stylish looking stealth kills and has a hacking device that gets him through locked doors. It’s still pretty early in development and there were some hilarious bugs (or are they features?) that we ran into but overall it seems like a stylish take on the run and gun genre with a deeper story than that genre usually has. It’s hitting console and PC sometime this year.
Inner Chains takes inspiration from HR Giger with a first person horror game that is full of wet, horrific looking imagery and an interesting world where your character has escaped some kind of terrible sacrifice ritual and needs to figure out where and what is going on. You gain various weapons to take on zombie like creatures and there seems to be a lot of different ways to take them on besides just blasting them, like luring them into deadly plants for instance. The look of the game is incredible even though it’s disgusting, with even your weapons recharge station being a hideous pulsing sack that suctions onto your gun and it’s out soon on PC.
The only major VR game we got to check out at PAX this year, it’s a wacky, ridiculously fun shooter where you play as the titular Dick as he fends off waves of swamp creatures trying to murder him but he has an arsenal of weapons including shotguns, bows, paintball guns and more to fend them off. With the Oculus touch controllers, you really get immersed in the redneck action and it’s a blast to dodge acidic fish spit and blast gators. It’s coming from Dutch developers Bolverk Games and it’s coming out March 30th on all the major VR platforms.
Earth Atlantis is set in a post apocalyptic underwater world where you control a submarine and track down and kill various giant sea creatures. The game has a very unique, vintage sketch art style and it gets into bullet hell levels, especially facing the monstrous creatures. There are different subs to play as, each with different stats and it’s a procedurally generated open world, so you won’t know exactly where the bosses and items are each time. You can build up your sub’s weapons so both you and the bosses can fill the screen with bullets. It will be out on PC and mobile soon.
Playable on a Samsung with GearVR or an Oculus, KryptCrawler is an updated take old school dungeon crawlers like Might & Magic or Wizardry where you travel a grid based dungeon, fighting monsters, solving puzzles and gathering items. We played on the GearVR and it’s pretty impressive the graphics you can get out of a phone and with only simple swipes and taps, it seemed like it would deliver a full fantasy adventure.
Coming to Xbox One and PC later this year from TinyBuild and the Punch Club team, Graveyard Keeper has you trying to run a cemetery in medieval times, with all the horrific and weird things that entails, like if you want to make extra cash selling bodies to shady doctors or turn organ meat into hot dogs. It’s got a darkly funny sense of humor and carries over some of the character management from Punch Club, although you only have to monitor your energy level and not the 4 or 5 meters that Punch Club has. Apparently people have been calling it “Stardew Cemetary” and if you enjoyed the cult farming hit Stardew Valley, this will probably be right up your alley.
You’ll be able to brutally crash parties again this summer with Party Hard 2 hitting PC. There is a brand new engine that turn the environments 3D while keeping the characters 2D and instead of the super hard task of killing every partygoer like the first game, you’ll have different objectives this time around for each level and new ways to dispatch people thanks to an inventory system for picking up items around the levels. Other than those changes, it’s still mostly the same great gameplay as the first, with lots of waiting for the perfect time to strike and trying to cut off or isolate your targets.
The development team of Runic Games, creators of Torchlight I & II, is bringing their own take on the action adventure genre. Hob is set in a mysterious world that revolves around ancient technology that transforms and shapes as the player interacts with it. The main story and the characters are still being developed as of the Pax East demo, but the gameplay is very polished: controls to navigate the levels felt natural and solving the few puzzles that were in the game were a nice balance of difficult and fun. Hob is a game about exploring the surroundings, and our demo experience took about 30 minutes to complete (With some help from the Runic Games team). The demo covered only a tiny fraction of what Runic Games is planning to do with Hobs and we can already predicted gamers will sink in many hours in this game. The game is set to be released for PC & PS4.
End of Day 1
After Hob, we were finally able to wrap things up on the show floor, get some food and then head back to Laugh Boston for another party, this time with an open bar(!!!), where AGE was running a room full of classic consoles and arcade machines all weekend and selling food and custom cocktails. We had some drinks, played some more Jubeat and other rhythm games, watched a local Street Fighter V pro destroy all comers and then regrouped back at our hotel to get ready for more on Day 2.