PAX West once again visited the Emerald City, and with it came a tsunami of games both indie and triple-A upon its show floor. I was there for three days and played too many games to count. Instead of doing a typical Best Games of PAX West! list, I wanted to take a closer look at the ones that I kept thinking about after I left the show floor, and the ones that I wanted to keep playing after the demos ended.
First up is Lucifer Within Us from Kitfox Games, an investigation-focused adventure set in a world where technology advanced in lockstep within religious mysticism. Digital demons are real, taking over hardware implanted in the citizens and forcing them to Sin. Playing as a digital exorcist, it was my job to solve crimes committed by these possessed citizens through some old-fashioned detective work, piecing together timelines and uncovering lies to find out who might be controlled by evil.
Next is Industries of Titan from Brace Yourself Games, a sim/strategy/city builder set in the far future. Years after the failed colony of Titan was abandoned, a group of megacorporations decided to repopulate the surface of Saturn’s largest moon. Of course, each of these megacorps have different ideas about who should be in charge of the project, but I’m sure they’ll peacefully sort out their differences…
Also from Brace Yourself Games was Phantom Brigade. I’m always a sucker for giant robots beating the hell out of each other and Phantom Brigade brings not only that, but the same simultaneous turn-based combat found in the excellent Frozen Synapse. Essentially, every move is planned out in 10~15 second chunks of time, then all factions execute them at once. Rinse, repeat, and stomp on a tank for fun.
Now the Final Fantasy VII Remake isn’t something that needs more light shined on it, but I wanted to add it to this list because of how much the demo surprised me. I still harbor doubts about the game and I’m extremely concerned that the only parts Square Enix keeps showing are from the first hour, but playing it assuaged my worries about the controls. To say it was like playing Final Fantasy XV while watching Advent Children is a gross oversimplification, but one that gets the core concept across. I wanted to keep playing well after the demo finished.
I was initially dismissive of Haven until I learned it was coming from the same team that created the excellent boss-rush focused Furi. Haven is focused around two lovers that are on the run from… something… and they’ve found a sanctuary world in which to hide away. It’s billed as an RPG, but my takeaway from what I saw was that it was far more focused on story and exploration than leveling stats. The relationship between the two protagonists is central to every aspect and, as such, it makes sense that Haven is co-op as well.
Fallen Heroes is essentially Divinity: Original Sin 2 crossed with a strategy game. Continuing after the end of D:OS2, Fallen Heroes seems to have more in common with XCOM or Fire Emblem than its predecessor. While the exploration of the previous RPG seems scaled back, the 60+ mission based format means the group will be able to travel to more locations across the world.
When I first saw Gamedec I thought it was a classic-style isometric RPG set in the Wild West. Turns out I was completely wrong… kinda. The Western setting is just one of the many virtual worlds found in this cyberpunk detective story. Crimes involving child slavery, murder, and extortion take place in various environments as if they were little more than shadowy back-alleys in a sprawling megaplex. Conversation, not combat, drives the story along and everyone lies to some degree, so the conclusions I might have come to in my short time with the game might not even be close to the reality of the story.
I’ve been isolating myself from Praey for the Gods from almost since the day its Kickstarter was announced over four years ago. This cousin to the venerable Shadow of the Colossus finally entered early access at the start of 2019, and I figured the reveal of a new boss at PAX West would be a great time to finally get a bit of hands-on time with it. So far, I’m not disappointed. It’s so similar to SotC that it veers a little too on the nose at times, but there’s enough different here to let it stand alone.
Finally, I want to mention Destiny’s Sword. On its surface, it looks like just another sci-fi strategy game with a few MMO elements thrown in. However, what made this one stand apart for me wasn’t its setting or the gameplay — it’s how it handles the mental health of the soldiers. In Destiny’s Sword, soldiers aren’t just unfeeling cogs in a machine. Injuries and horrific experiences will leave them haunted by what they go through. They’ll suffer PTSD, fall into depression, turn to drugs, anything to cope with the stress of battle. Helping the team recover from their mental trauma is just as important as what loadout to take, and I want to delve deeper into what the developers have planned for this one.
Of course, there are many more games from PAX West 2019 that I’d love to feature, but there’s only so much one person can cover. If you do need a few more, however, may I suggest taking a look at SpiritFarer, Bridgador Killers, and Backbone for a good mix of genres and settings.
Thanks for reading, and feel free to let us know if there was anything you you wanted to give a shout out to in the comments below!