PAX South has come to a close and overall the experience was nothing short of awesome. Unfortunately I was feeling under the weather and ended up leaving the show floor very early on yesterday, so I missed my chance to really dive deep into any demos and provide impressions from day two. But after getting a lot of rest, I was feeling much better today and was able to face the crowds (which were thankfully much less packed compared to yesterday) for one last day. Here are the highlights. Read my day one impressions here.
In the Shadows
The world is filled with dark, scary shadows. A young boy must traverse his way through a house filled with shadowy creatures that turn in to trampolines or other everyday objects when exposed to light. Each room in the house has several stars to collect, which adds a nice bonus for players to go back for. The world looks like it is all 2D pixel art, but is fully realized by a 3D lighting engine that adds a great sense of depth to the visual style. Jumping feels great, and the music adds a nice ambiance to the game. In the Shadows will be out in Q1 2017 on Steam, followed by PS4 and Xbox One in the spring.
Dual analog stick puzzles are a lot of fun when they don’t rely on pure twitch reflexes. Semispheres is a Zen meditation on moving an orange orb and a blue orb past different maze-like obstacles on each map. One stick controls orange and the other controls blue. Getting your head and hand working in parallel to successfully beat a level is very satisfying. This is a game that I had overlooked at first, but I had heard lots of positive things and went back to give it a shot. I’m glad I did. Semispheres launches February 14th on Steam and PS4. Watch the new gameplay trailer here.
I have a love-hate relationship with rouge-like games, but Pylon: Rogue is one of those games that was too beautiful to pass up. Procedurally generated maps mean all new games are different. Playing a hero that is trying to earn gold and items to be able to stomp through various waves of enemies, Pylon: Rogue offers players quick play sessions with plenty of depth to the gear and buffs that can be found on items. Holding down the attack button offers a charged attack. A shield buff can also be used to ward off enemy attacks for a short period. This was another example of a game I had initially overlooked, but was glad I had gone back to revisit. Combat feels good and the visuals are striking and lush. Check it out on Steam Early Access.
Mages of Mystralia
Action adventure games with spell casting aren’t a new thing. What makes Mages of Mystralia so unique, though, is the way the game allows players to craft and stack spells of different elements, like earth, fire, water, etc. With four slots to build from, each spell can be modified to change the direction the spell is thrown from the caster, as well as how fast or slow it casts, or whether the spell can then cast a different spell. Mages has a beautiful art style that fits in nicely with the wide range pf spell-casting options. The game includes a story mode as well as a sandbox mode, which offers a lot of flexibility in learning how to tie together some crazy spell options. Mages of Mystralia will be out this spring on PC and PS4.
Trove is like Minecraft in many ways. At the same time, the game offers plenty of variations and improvements that to simply dismiss it as a clone would be a mistake. The visuals are a step up from what Minecraft offers. Additionally, players can ride a mount or jump multiple times and access areas that are much higher and normally out of reach. There is a standard story mode, and with a click of a button, the game can be changed to build mode. The world is vast and as players explore new areas, a new home base can be built on a cornerstone to replenish health vials as well as craft items with all of the materials that have been collected while adventuring in the world. Trove was a pleaant surprise to me as I walked up and realized that it was more than simply what I previously assumed was just another Minecraft clone. The game is free to play now from Trion Worlds, on Steam, and in beta on PS4 and Xbox One.