PAX Rising has always satisfied my craving for new and inventive experiences, and this year is no different. So once again, I decided to roam the floor and dive into as many indie titles as I can, picking out my top 5 indie titles from PAX Aus 2019. Keep in mind, these are not reviews nor previews, but more first impressions of titles that hooked me, and I can’t wait to see more of.
5. Henry Mosse and the Wormhole Conspiracy – Bad Goat Studios
This one is kind of cheating, as it featured at last year’s PAX Aus, and yes, I did include it in my top 5 indie games then. For those of you that don’t know or haven’t heard of it, Henry Mosse and the Wormhole Conspiracy is a point-and-click space adventure set in a futuristic version of Australia as Henry and his Mother Seren operate Mosse Family Supplies, an interstellar delivery business, as they become wrapped up in an evil plot that threatens the galaxy. With added sheen an improved script, this title feels like an instant classic, and an Australian tale worth sticking around for.
4. Rooftop Renegade – Melonhead Games
Rooftop Renegade more or less made this list based on a mixture of simplistic elements; a neo-noir art style, some smooth 2D platforming and an engaging hook. Rooftop Renegade plays out as a 4-player asymmetrical multiplayer games as one player takes control of a runner, while the remaining three players take control of turrets in a bid to take the runner down. With some interesting moves at your disposal, you must run like hell in order to avoid your turret weilding foes. This sits lower on my list as I didn’t get much time with it, but I’m most definitely interested to see more!
3. Cybermonk – FEED
I must be a sucker for multiplayer experiences featuring a neo-noir art style, as we have yet another on my list. This time around, players take control of robots in a Bomberman style arena, as they control mirrored panels, moving them around to deflect beams of light (or lasers, depending on how you put it), into enemy zones. It’s a very accessible puzzler with a simple premise, and can get quite fun particularly in its later moments when things get a little chaotic. Overall, yet another game that won me over on its intriguing premise.
2. Heavenly Bodies – 2PT Interactive
My first and second choices were honestly split by no more than a fine hair, but my goodness, this was a fun experience. Players take control of astronauts as they are stranded in a derelict space station with nothing but each other. They must figure out a way to navigate the ship and find a way home, but doing so is no easy task. The game’s hook is that limbs are controlled with each thumb stick, while grabbing and holding onto items- including each other- is confined to each trigger. Things start off hilariously awkward as you get in touch with the controls, but soon take a steep turn as you come to terms with the lack of gravity, as one wrong move can send you flying away. There was a moment in the demo where we actually got out of the space station, as my partner and I realised only one of us could be tethered to the ship, while the other had to hold on for dear life. Let’s just say, this was some of the most co-operative fun I had at PAX Aus this year.
1. Death Hall – Tom Janson
This was a tough one, but it had to be Death Hall. There has been a fair bit of hype behind this one, and I just had to know why. And then it hit me. This is what mobile games should be. Simple and accessible, yet oh so addictive and satisfying. Players run through the depths of hell in a fast paced platformer that balances the line between difficulty and fairness, thanks to some responsive controls. The art style draws the eye in, but keeps the player focused on the task at hand, even though there’s heaps to admire. I actually found myself not wanting to leave the booth, asking for just one more try; and that is why Death Hall tops my list.