With PAX Australia done and dusted, there comes time for introspection and assessment. Dozens of games from across the industry made appearances on the show floor, with some leaving far more of an impression than others. What follows is a run down of the best that PAX had to offer, and the games that shone the brightest.
Speaking Simulator, Affable Games
This weird little game is equal parts horrifying and hilarious. Essentially, the game is about a robot who attempts assimilation with the human race by undertaking a variety of everyday conversations. In the scenario playing out on the show floor, our very normal, definitely human protagonist goes on a date.
In order to pass as human, players are required to sound out speech by manipulating a very unruly tongue. Touching the wrong buzzer has dire consequences, and the way the tongue flicks itself across the screen is so awkward that it’s amazing. Each mistake you make twists and distorts our daring protagonist, until his eyes pop out of his skull, his ears spring out and his head starts to steam and spark. Just some good, clean family fun.
Necrobarista, Route 59
This stylish little game takes place in a coffee shop in inner city Melbourne. It’s incredibly rare for a game to really grasp the genuine, authentic culture of Australia, particularly for it to grasp what makes our cities special, but Necrobarista feels like it’s done the impossible.
The game is a gorgeous blend of anime styling, mixed with a gothic, visual panache that is immediately eye catching and unique. The vignette that show-goers were treated to featured a mysterious ritual, hints of intrigue and mystery, and a cast of characters that I immediately wanted to know more about. Necrobarista is going to be a game to watch.
The Stillness of the Wind, Memory of God / Lambic Studios
The Stillness of the Wind provided a much-needed break from the chaos of PAX. Taking place on a minimalism farmscape, the game follows Talma, an old woman who lives by herself. The game instils in players a sense of perfect calm, with both the visuals and the soundscapes taking you on a journey.
While I was only able to play a short snippet of this game, what I did manage to glimpse had such a beautiful feeling of melancholy. The story, in isolation, was unclear, but Talma and her struggles to keep the farm going were immediately relatable, and I’m incredibly keen to see her story unfold.
Neo Cab, Chance Agency
Neo Cab had one of the most distinctive visual styles of any of the games I played at PAX. With artwork reminiscent of comic artist Jamie McKelvie, and a gorgeous and relevant social commentary, Neo Cab piqued my interest immediately. Tackling the issue of the gig economy and the development of ride sharing, the game presents a believable and stunning future.
Taking the role of Lina as she operates her Uber-like Neo Cab (one of the last left in the city), players travel through towns picking up passengers all while looking for Lina’s missing friend Savy. Each passenger the player choses to pick up have their own stories, and as you travel, you learn more about the worlds. This is another title I see making strong waves with its style and uniqueness.
Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu!/Eevee!, Nintendo
I was content with being done with Pokémon. I’d come to terms with the fact that it was no longer for me – a fact that some, I believe, have yet to realise. Pokémon: Let’s Go is not a title for older Pokémon fans, particularly not for those fans with a strong and possessive attachment to the franchise. But despite that, I had a blast.
Players were given the option of joycons or the Pokéball Plus, a nifty little gadget that lets you catch Pokémon with a flick of the wrist. The whole game can be played one-handed with the device, and it works like a charm. As expected, the whole game was cute and incredibly fun – even if it wasn’t created for me. Keep an open mind, and this title might just surprise you.
Devil May Cry 5, Capcom
This was the title I was most excited to see, and one that absolutely blew my expectations away. The level shown off on the floor featured my favourite asshole, Nero, as he battled against a hoard of demons and came face to face with Goliath, the level end boss.
The game is gorgeous, plays incredibly smoothly and chained attacks are as fun as ever. While I nearly carked it even playing this tiny piece of the puzzle, it was a valiant near-death, and one that I enjoyed immensely. While I might be one of only a handful of people who genuinely love the rebooted DmC: Devil May Cry, I am incredibly glad to see Nero and the original family reunited once more.
These were only a few of the titles I was able to check out on the show floor, and each of them impressed me in their own way. Walking the show floor at PAX Australia, it was never clearer how bright the future of video games is.
This author’s PAX Australia accommodation was provided by the lovely folks at Mantra Hotels. We thank them for their support, and their impeccable service.