This year’s PAX East was a slightly strange experience. The last time we attended the show was just weeks before the whole country started shutting down due to the pandemic. After a canceled show in 2021, the Boston Convention Center was once again filled with gaming fans this year, even though they were now all wearing masks (with strict enforcement).
Many of the big name publishers that were at previous PAX shows were missing this year, whether it was due to pandemic risks or declining promotional travel budgets. It got the usual mix of indie developers and publishers hanging on their floor space – though they didn’t really expand to fill in the gaps.
Although the overall selection of games on offer seemed smaller, there were plenty of eye-catching titles. Here are the nine games we’ve been thinking about ever since we left Boston.
Developer: HalfHuman games
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, Switch
Scheduled release date: 31 May 2022
More info: Official website | Steam | Demo
It’s almost a cliché for many indie games these days to just take two popular genres and smash them together to create a new concept. To DwarvesBut the combination of an action RPG and a tower defense game creates something special.
While you can attack the various enemies you find in Dwarves directly, you will quickly be overwhelmed if you do. Instead, each battle provides a new opportunity to run around while placing various automatic defenses to torment the waves of enemies floating across the landscape.
Positioning is the key to maximizing each tower’s damage potential and the traps that slow down your enemies and ideally lead them down a hell of a death path. But fights are not “put it and forget it” matters – when the swarms eradicate your defenses, hurry to replace them without at the same time exposing yourself to harm.
The story of the young boy standard in the bog is not very remarkable, but even the small bit of structure helps to shape the apparent meaninglessness of most tower defense games. And while the on-site demo barely went beyond the actual tutorial stage, the appeal of the central gameplay loop was easily apparent.
Developer: Un Je Ne Sais Quoi
Platforms: Windows, Switch
Scheduled release date: 2023
More info: Official Website | Steam
On a PAX show floor dominated by high-octane action games, Dordogne felt like a breath of fresh mountain air on a cool spring day. It’s an appropriate feeling for this game, which is about exploring the countryside of the French country like Mimi, a 32-year-old who has just inherited her grandmother’s cottage.
However, the small part of the game we played took place well before the legacy where Mimi explored her memories of a visit to her grandmother as a 10-year-old. As she wanders through these watercolor memorabilia, Mimi records sounds, takes pictures and grabs misguided words from her thoughts to compile them into a diary that the player puts together at the end of each day of the game.
The game’s hand-painted environments and thoughtful sound design evoke a childlike wonder, as do small touches like Mimi running around with her hands stretched along the side, as if she’s about to leave. Super Mario World. But just below the idyllic, carefree facade are strong signs that Mimi is struggling with some traumatic changes in her life and emotions that she is barely equipped to handle.
Even those who have not grown up in the French countryside should be able to relate to the painful process of growing up in this charming game.