Today was the opening day of PAX South in San Antonio, Texas. This is now my third time traveling to the great city, and I have to say that I’m blown away by how much the gaming event has grown since last year. From huge spectacle-laden booths to small, cozy indie booths, PAX has plenty of awesome gaming goodies for all interests. Tons of tabletop games as well as unreleased gems. PAX South is growing ever larger year over year and I honestly didn’t even get to all of the booths on the first day (unlike the first two years), so I’ve got plenty more to look forward to exploring and demoing tomorrow and Sunday. Stay tuned for more over the next few days. But first, here’s a recap of just a few of the highlights from my first day on the floor. Read more impressions from my final day at PAX South here.
Haimrik is a side scrolling adventure game with beautifully muted hand drawn animation. Haimrik wants to be a writer but doesn’t have any ink so he uses his blood, which invokes magic and causes the words and the world to come to life. As players move Haimrik across the screen, words appear below the area he is walking, and certain words can be activated to become real. For example in one section a platform has a raging fire that can’t be by-passed, however on the platform above, the word rain is mentioned and so Haimrik can navigate back over the word rain and activate it, causing rain to pour down into the world and douse out the flames so Haimrik can move forward. Puzzles in the game can also involve activating a sword so that Haimrik can attack a soldier, or activating a crossbow and arrows to attack archers or even a dragon. This is definitely a cool and unique take on action adventure gaming. The game’s Steam page is up for interested wishlisters. It’ll also be releasing on PS4 and Xbox One.
I’ve been told that I lost an entire hour playing this game today. Blacksea Odyssey is a twin-stick shooter set in space yet the story is more along the lines of a naval sea pirate challenge. Players compete with other space pirates attempting to collect coins and runes to pay or upgrade their ship. The ship has a harpoon that can be fired at large space creatures and rip off sections of their bodies once attached. Different levels increase the challenge and difficulty where the creatures can be much larger or have large swatches of harpoon-resistant armor. The art style reminds me of a cross between PixelJunk Eden and PixelJunk Shooter. Blacksea Odyssey is my favorite game that I’ve encountered so far and one that I’m looking forward to playing more. It’s already out on Steam and will be coming soon to PS4 and Xbox One.
Slime-san has a minimalistic approach that feels a lot like Super Meat Boy, but has added several mechanics to the classic brutal platformer. Fast movement through each level (and just as fast respawns when an accidental death occurs) is aided by two additional mechanics: a slowing of time, which allows the player to slide through green walls, and a dash move, which is used to move very quickly or boost a jump’s distance. Adding to the chaos of the levels is a timer which drains away. If a level isn’t completed by the time the counter is empty, a large red slime oozes down from the top of the screen and makes it almost impossible to complete the level. If you enjoy tough, twitch-reflex platformers, Slime-san is not to be missed. Watch for its release on Steam coming up this April, followed by PS4, Wii U, and Xbox One.
Sometimes you walk past a booth and just have to stop and go back because the art style of a game speaks to you on a level that is without compare. Sundered was that game for me today. A Metroidvania type action platformer from the makers of Jotun, Sundered has some of the most visually stunning attack animations and combo attacks. Adding to the complexity of the game is a deep skill tree that offers bonuses to attacks, health, juggling and more. The music in the demo was also great. Sundered‘s Kickstarter campaign is now underway.
Legends of Callasia
Legends of Callasia scratches an itch that I didn’t even realize I needed scratched. In some ways Legends of Callasia is like Risk as one kingdom expands into new territories to increase its wealth and borders, which is then in turn used to bolster heroes who move to battle enemy territories. The heroes can be backed up with fighters, archers, griffins and dragons while moving through and snatching up enemy land. Towers can be built to help fortify land where no heroes are active (in the event an enemy decides to attack from a different front). Legends of Callasia is not just a single player strategy game with a deep and rich campaign. It also has multiplayer modes where all players perform their actions at the same time, and then actions are calculated once all players hit ‘End Turn’, so if someone isn’t careful, an undefended area could be easily taken over by one player who is making a strong front in another part of the map. Legends of Callasia is out now on PC and mobile devices.