There was a metric ton of games at PAX. I went to as many booths as I could, and here is a bit on some of the lesser-known games that stuck out:
Leftovers – competitive Plants vs. Zombies. The premise of the game is that all of the grown-ups of the world have vanished, leaving the children to run amok. At some point in the running amok, the children formed various factions and built altars to their deities of choice. The player is in control of a tribe of children and squares off against a rival child-tribe, using a manner of offensive and defensive units in attempt to topple the enemy’s altar. Unfortunately, the Wi-fi at PAX was woefully inadequate, and when I tried to play a game against another Paxian the connection broke. Still, I love the premise and may pick it up for my iPad.
Atom Zombie Smasher – a tactical zombie outbreak game. You control a handful of military forces and attempt to evacuate as many civilians from various cities as possible. Between missions you choose which troops to upgrade and which territories to evacuate (or where to strike!). I’ll do a full review of the game at a later date. I purchased this game the week before PAX, but had only played it for a few hours. As I was sitting down and playing the game at PAX, a young gentleman sat down beside me and started talking to me. I asked if he had worked on the game and he replied, “I made it.” And that’s why PAX is awesome.
A Space Shooter – a space shooter… well, at least it is appropriately named. Let me try again. It’s top-down shooter where the player shoots lasers and missiles at enemies. It’s classic and fun, if a little uninspired. It was funny, right after I had played just a few minutes of the game, one of the company’s employees pulls me aside to get my comments on the game. I was intentionally over-enthusiastic, but it’s hard to be critical of a game when it is the developer you are talking to, particularly when you can tell that they are super-excited about the game. I don’t think it’s a bad game and it’s freeware regardless. The price is right.
Novus Aeterno – a ship-based MMO. The player takes the role of a ship captain and… does whatever the heck they want. I spoke with one of the graphic artists and he explained that the game is going to be almost entirely rule-less, in the sense that the only thing stopping players from rampaging throughout the world and preying on lower-level players is… other players. The way he described it made me think of the old days of Ultima Online, when nothing stopped player killers from attacking your llama. What stayed with me the most was what the team had only met in person for the first time a few days before the event: all of their work had been done remotely up to that point. Wow.
Qubo – a block-based maze-puzzle game. There are colored cubes throughout the level which have properties based upon their color. The player can push or pull the blocks in order to activate them, so the trick is to figure out which blocks must be activated in order to proceed. Its art and gameplay style is somewhat reminiscent of Portal. I only played for a few minutes, but I enjoyed and will consider picking it up.
Snapshot – a platform jumping puzzle game in the vein of Braid. The player controls Pic, a robot who has a camera that does more than just take pictures, it takes the objects from the environment and puts them into the picture. Pic can then “paste” photographs other places to help avoid obstacles and dangers of the world. The developer I was chatting with told me that there are some places where there are “duplication fields”, which cause do not cause the original objects to vanish when photographed, but another object is still created when Pic pastes it. I am excited to see what kinds of devilish puzzles these guys come up with. This is probably the game that I was most excited about at PAX.
The Splatters – an acrobatic goo game. The player takes control of the splatters, goo-based characters intent on destroying themselves in slimy glory. The objective of the game is to aim the splatters so that when the last one has exploded all of the targets on a map have been gooed. The kicker? Not only do the splatters tend to explode and slide all over the map, but they can also “jump” in flight as well, allowing for some tasty acrobatic moves. With goo. I had the chance to play this one for a few minutes, and I have to say that it is a blast. It reminds me somewhat of Angry Birds. I hope that it comes to the PC, but if not, it may be the reason to get Xbox live.
Whew. I had a blast in Seattle and I very much look forward to returning next year.
And now I have to choose between playing some Deus Ex: Human Revolution or un-vandalizing my fortress in Minecraft.