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PAX West Indie Megabooth Preview

PAX West is upon us again, as the gaming-centered event starts on August 30 and lasts until September 2 in Seattle, Washington.  While I won’t be there in person, I always look forward to diving into the carefully curated Indie MegaBooth available on the show floor each year.  Last year, I wrote about the titles that I was most excited about and I decided to do it again!  I’m not going to do any rankings or a set number of games this year.  Instead, I’m just going to write a little bit about what makes each title I’m excited about interesting, and give my thoughts on it.  There are a ton of exciting games to cover, so let’s get started!

A Fold Apart


One of the best qualities of the indie gaming scene is that stories can be told that would be extraordinarily difficult to represent in a AAA title.  A Fold Apart is a great example of this, as a puzzle-based experience using folding paper as a metaphor for the difficulties of long-distance relationships probably isn’t going to be made by EA anytime soon.  Lightning Rod Games, with employees who have prior experience at companies like Disney Interactive, created a beautiful game due out later this year that I cannot wait to pick up for myself.

Arcade Spirits

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Trailers and screenshots are wonderful, but I love it when I can actually get my hands on a title myself through a demo, and Arcade Spirits delivered.  This visual novel was developed by Fiction Factory Games and centers around a group of employees and frequent customers at an arcade.  Unlike many of the MegaBooth titles, this one has actually been out for a few months already, so if it sounds intriguing, go buy it on Steam.  Demos for visual novels are always a little strange, as they just serve the purpose of giving a rapid-fire introduction to the basic plot and characters, but I had a lot of fun.  Every individual I met felt unique, and I love that there is an actual personality system at work.  Instead of just making random dialogue choices, each response falls into a certain category, like “quirky” or “kindly”, thus allowing the player to build an actual personality over time.  I’m definitely going to pick up the full version of this game in the near future.

Backbone

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Anyone who reads my blog regularly should know that I absolutely adore detective-themed games, so I was instantly intrigued by Backbone.  If I wasn’t already excited, however, the development team at Eggnut has created a special prologue chapter as a playable teaser for the upcoming title.  After playing the demo, while I don’t believe it has any particularly special characteristics when compared to the many other detective games out there, it will easily be able to stand amongst them as an equal.  The pixel art alone has me quite excited to pick this up in 2020.

Chicory:  A Colorful Tale

I had a smile on my face from beginning to end while watching the trailer for Chicory: A Colorful Tale.  Developer Greg Lobanov also created Wandersong, which was tremendously well-received at launch, as well as a game on my own shortlist to tackle soon.  Other indie game veterans who worked on titles like Celeste and Night in the Woods are also involved with this project, which gives me high hopes for something unique and innovative to come out of this endeavor.  The main focus of the gameplay is that players can paint on the world with a paintbrush, which sounds like it could have a ton of creative applications throughout the experience.  While I am going to have to wait a bit before I get to play it, as the current release date is marked as “202X”, I can’t wait to have it in my hands.

Get in the Car, Loser!

I talked about Get in the Car, Loser! in last year’s Megabooth preview, as well.  The mixture of traditional combat and visual novel elements makes me think of Persona, as I imagine character development will take center stage throughout the story.  Developer Love Conquers All has the game marked as coming out in 2020, and I really hope that I can get it sooner rather than later.

Haven

Haven can be played alone or with someone else, but given that the story is about two people in love who have escaped to an isolated planet to be together, the game would be enjoyed most with a significant other taking controller two.  Mostly, I just like playing something relaxing once in a while, and based on the trailer, the emphasis on exploration reminds me of titles like Journey, with a lot of the gameplay revolving around just being lost in a beautiful world.  When I get bored, however, as I often do with ambient games, the screenshots show that there will be some combat and puzzling available, as well.  This beautiful experience from The Game Bakers will be out in 2020 and I am eagerly anticipating it.

Later Daters


I don’t play nearly enough visual novels, but the MegaBooth is here to help!  One of the many intriguing titles featured is Later Daters.  This is a dating simulation title that takes place in a retirement community.  The cast of characters includes a yoga instructor and a former rock star, so I’m sure the conversations between characters will be varied and hilarious.  Still, given that everyone will be on the older and wiser end of the aging spectrum, I’m expecting that there will be some deep conversations here and there that will add a lot of emotional weight to this title.  The current release date is Fall 2019 and I’m quite excited to have Bloom Digital Media’s latest adventure in my hands.

Mutazione


When a game describes itself as a “mutant soap opera”, I am immediately sold, so Mutazione has my attention.  I can’t discern too many details from the crazy trailer, but the game’s plot appears to involve a teenager coming to live in a strange community that has been struck by a meteor, leaving many of the town’s residents with varying mutations.  The developers at Die Gute Fabrik look like they have a truly unique concept and I’m curious to see the final result when it comes out later this year.

PHOGS!


PHOGS! is another title that I discussed last year during the MegaBooth preview and, thankfully, it is finally coming out in early 2020.  This is a game featuring a noodle-like creature with a red-collared dog on one end and a blue-collared dog on the other.  It originally caught my attention due to its comparisons to Noby Noby Boy, which is one of my favorite nonsensical experiences to ever exist, so I’m very interested in seeing what Bit Loom Games can do with this idea.  The graphics are adorable and the dog is super cute, so I look forward to playing this in both alone and in co-op with my husband.

Skellboy


Skellboy looks like a cross between the gameplay of a classic Zelda title and a slightly more pixel-oriented version of the graphical style from the Paper Mario franchise. Umaiki Games has implemented a gameplay mechanic where the protagonist, Skippy, can swap out parts of his skeletal frame with objects in the environment and dropped off of enemies, allowing for new abilities and features.  While there does appear to be a PC listing for 2019, I will be picking this one up on my Switch when it launches later this year.

Spiritfarer

As an Xbox Game Pass subscriber, I am really excited that Spiritfarer is launching on the platform on day one.  While I probably would have bought it regardless due to its intriguing management aspects, knowing that at least one of these games is guaranteed to be in my hands eventually is a good feeling.  I love any title where farming and cooking are central aspects of the experience, so I can’t wait to give this a try!  The story also involves the protagonist being the person who brings dead people to the afterlife, which gives me hope that the story will be a more central element here than in many of the title’s peers.  Thunder Lotus Games will be bringing players this quirky game about death and boats in 2020.

SUPERLIMINAL


I love indie games that unabashedly embrace the weird side of gaming and SUPERLIMINAL is definitely the genre at its weirdest.  This is a title all about perspectives, set in a world where picking up a dollhouse on a table and moving it elsewhere can make it big enough to walk through.  It feels like a strange mixture of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and The Stanley Parable, which is not something I am going to complain about.  As a child who checked out books filled with optical illusions from the library on a regular basis, Pillow Castle Games has created something that will definitely make my brain explode in the best way possible.

Touch Type Tale


Normally, I stay away from real-time strategy games.  It takes a specific kind of gamer to enjoy them, and I am definitely not within that niche.  Touch Type Tale is different, however, as I’m so fascinated by how the developers at Pumpernickel Studio can turn the genre into a typing game that I have to try it out.  Epistory – Typing Chronicles is a highly underrated gem that I absolutely adore, so I’m hoping to find more experiences that feature typing as a central mechanic, even if that means getting out of my comfort zone when it comes to my choice of genres.  Touch Type Tale is coming out later this year.

That’s about it for my MegaBooth preview!  I’ll be doing a separate post on the titles in the MiniBooth in the near future.  In general, I want to do a better job of featuring indie titles on my blog, so look out for lots of demos, first impressions, and indie reviews in the future.  Which indie titles are you most excited about?  Let me know in the comments below!

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