PAX West 2016: Living in an INDIE Paradise

PAX West 2016: Living in an INDIE Paradise

written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)

So you’ve seen the coverage I pulled for the big players at PAX West this year, the Ubisofts and the Sonys ended up feeling more subdued this year. What I noticed was how prominent the indie scene was… and not just in the indie mega booth area.

I want to touch on a few of my favorite indies from the show, some of which are already out in the wild.

First off, I wanted to touch on the Lost Castle again. Most of my praise of this stellar project was pointed out in the review, but in talking with Iain Garner he mentioned that in the Chinese game market… a market that loves their free to play games as much as they love Jack Sparrowing (pirating… I am gonna make that a thing… to say Jack Sparrow -ing -ed etc) their games. With Lost Castle, this little game with the cute visuals and crippling difficult gameplay ended up sitting high on the charts as a paid game. The same country that brought to the world the ridiculously grievous Overwatch rip off paid for this game.

It’s a testament that this game did so well, so when Another Indie published it for the western market, they were certain it would garner similar if not higher acclaim. With (to date) 93% of Steam users positively reviewing it, there has to be something to this little Maple Story meets Dark Souls rouge-like adventure.

Jumping over to the mobile space, a surprising little title caught my eye. From MetaArcade, their story-telling rich Tunnels and Trolls acted as a much needed reprieve from the highly stimulating showings of pretty much everything on the show floor. The game plays out like a choose your own adventure tale with a table top RPG element to the game’s encounters.

I was enthralled, completely sucked in to the story. This opens up such a huge opportunity for community driven content a well. Much like how a DM (Dungeon Master to the uninitiated) can craft a compelling story, you could possibly take MetaArcade’s platform and craft your own stories. We talked about the fan fiction communities and if crafting a story about pre-existing characters can produce some worthwhile additions to the fandom, imagine if you can craft and adventure… complete with drama, intrigue, and poisonous bats.

There’s a lot of history on their website, so make sure to check out MetaArcade and support those PNW local devs.

Jumping back into the flashy, from Trion Worlds, their game Atlas Reactor first caught my eye from Facebook ads. Billed as a fast paced/turn based RTS with a unique cast of characters. It feels like a methodical Overwatch. The game’s characters have personality and the unique gameplay could be a strong contender for the eSports circuit.

I played a little game called Metronomicon. The review is still in progress, handled by our newest writer Isaac, but the game is an RPG masked as a rhythm game… or a rhythm game masked as an RPG?

You control a party of four heroes, your attacks are linked to how long of a streak you hit during the song. You switch between heroes and try to complete your objectives before the song ends. It’s interesting, a bit rough around the edges but the concept feels like something that could shape future games.

My personal favorite comes from a developer with some serious pedigree under their belt. Supergiant Games, the studio behind Transistor and Bastion delves once again into a uniquely designed adventure with Pyre.

An RPG which follows a band of misfits. I played a bit of the demo but didn’t get to truly enjoy the story. This being a Supergiant Games product, you can’t judge it solely on a few minutes in. It’s one of those experiences that requires time to really savor.

Visually it looked stunning and I’ve already added it to my list of games I will definitely buy day one. Anyone who was a fan of Transistor or Bastion (the game, not the cancerous Overwatch hero) should have Pyre on their radar.

As I mentioned, the Indie showings this year were huge. It was like being at a Penny Arcade Expo before the big players started showing their titles. It was indeed a paradise for the indie crowd, some good… some disappointing… but overall a fun showing for indie devs.

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