NOW that we’ve all collectively had a some time to rest our aching feet and catch up on some long overdue sleeps, I finally had some time to reflect on what I spent the vast majority of my time with over the weekend: indie games. I had the absolute privilege of interacting with countless developers about their beloved indie titles that for some, have been progressing over several years, and for others; are the next title in their journey as an independent studio.
I had the upmost pleasure experiencing dozens of upcoming and currently released titles, but so here is my personal favourite games I had the chance to experience throughout my time at PAX:
I will repetitively state this until proven otherwise – everything Devolver Digital touches turns to gold, and Anger Foot is no exception. Kicking ass has never been presented more literally and vibrantly through this lightning-paced action first-person shooter. If you’ve ever wanted to chuck on some converse sneakers and bust down doors with the power of your feet, look no further.
Supportive by an incredible, bass-thumping soundtrack, you’ll kick your way through doors and anthropomorphic enemies of the criminal underworld as you clear out slums, skyscrapers and the occasional sewer or two. You’ll upgrade your weapons sneakers, while you unlock and upgrade and powers (because of course) to assist in your ass-kicking endeavours. For anyone who’s ever been overly caffeinated, Anger Foot does a really good job of visually showcasing what this feels like without intending to – it’s pure, chaotic fun and it’s the exact kind of game I’d expect Devolver Digital to be associated with. Run, kick, repeat.
I will openly say, prior to my hands on experience at PAX – Noodle Samurai was a game I had not heard of in the slightest, but was arguably the game I spent the most time with. I always find a game with a really unique game mechanic enthrall me, which is exactly what the team at Planet Pumpkin have put together.
Noodle Samurai is a top down action game where you play as ‘Reshi’, a samurai monkey, now turned chef. Using your wits and trusty grappling hook, you’ll hack and slash your way through dozens of levels in order to deliver ingredients as fast as possible. It’s a time-based level-clear type game which leaderboard based times, which brings out the absolute worst in me.
I will openly say I get way too competitive when it comes to gaming, so when a young chap named Tristan immediately beat my record time (after I had spent my too much of my morning trying to set the record), I took it way too personally. This didn’t retract at all from the amount of fun I had with Noodle Samurai (if anything it fueled me to play more), and I’d highly recommend it for anyone who enjoys a fast-paced hack and slash.
An absolute gem I adored my time with from the team at We Made A Thing was Box Knight. It’s self proclaimed as a mix of The Office and Lord of the Rings with a comic like aesthetic, which I think accurately summarizes everything on a purely thematic level. It’s an action RPG, roguelike set in an office department, where you play as a stereotypically boring office worker, who transforms into box knight once work finishes.
Level by level, you’ll make your way through each department, liberating them from the toxic plague that has scarred the once great company. Your end goal is to defeat the CEO in glorious battle or die trying…and do it all over again next week (which is where the rogue-like gameplay loop comes in). It’s an incredibly fast paced and rewarding combat system that I found really easy to pick up and jump straight into. It’s heightened even further by the randomization of each department (or ‘dungeon’), alongside the customization options in both playstyle and visual unlocks for your knight.
the game acts as a nice metaphor for what it can feel like battling your way through the work week, until to go through it all again, but I won’t dig too deep into that.
Dredge managed to remind me exactly why I’m petrified of the ocean, and yet; I still couldn’t stop playing it (I guess I’m a sucker for confronting my fears). In the upcoming title from Black Salt Games, you captain a fishing trawler as you set off in exploration for remote isles, sunken treasure and the vast (and terrifying) depths of the ocean.
You’ll sell your catch to the locals, complete quests to learn more about each area you explore and earn some extra coin and outfit your boat with better equipment to trawl deep-sea trenches and navigate to far-off lands. At first, it’s presented as a rather cutesy fishing game with really enjoyable mechanics and a really impressive art style and then you’re very quickly reminded that there’s nothing cute about fishing and night time in the middle of the ocean is scary… OH MY GOD WHAT IS THAT IN THE WATER.
Fantasy Town Regional Manager
Rogue-likes are slowly becoming my most played and enjoyed game category, with Fantasy Town Regional Manager being a perfect example as to why. There’s card mechanics, turn based mechanics, town management and rogue-like elements all in a very cute shell. The team at Caps Collective have already produced a game that I cannot recommend more – especially if anything in the aforementioned interests you.
The entire premise of the game resides in growing a small medieval hamlet into a bustling city. The more your city grows, the more adventures it attracts that you can recruit which you’ll need for the impending and inevitable chaos that will inflict your beloved town. It’s all just bundled together in an incredibly appealing package, and I found myself rushing home to get my hands on the full release (which you can already get on Steam right now!).
A Halloween Valentine
A Halloween Valentine is a really unique puzzle-adventure game that in actuality is just a nifty way of presenting an entire 10-track pop album. While playing. you’ll solve logic puzzles while bopping along to original songs with lyrics to find the way back to the love of your life (yes, it’s a romance game, but this isn’t at all what I was focused on). The games soundtrack is phenomenal if you enjoy a good pop song
For a dad-joke enthusiast, there was a healthy inclusion of spooky-themed puns that I know will disappoint the masses but I chuckled at. Not too much more to say on this one, I just thought it was a really cool way of presenting a music album – more of this please in the future.
Spies & Soldiers
Spies & Soldiers was the first game I played while at PAX, and although there’s still a bit to be worked on in its’ development, with its’ board game aesthetic and tactical & competitive game-play, I was hooked almost instantly. The game is a two-player, turn-based digital board game, based on relatively straightforward mechanics.
The end goal is to capture and hold 5 castles on the world map, which you do-so my moving small groups of soldiers into unclaimed territory. The real juggling act and competitive nature comes in the form of spies, which can be used to assassinate lower level spies, take over cities (which give you more actions on your turn) or simply hide away in specific parts of the map. Each match plays out across a uniquely generated world map, so every game is different.
I’ve never delved all that much into tactical, turn based strategy games – but I truly believe that Ghostbat Games have opened me up to a whole new genre that I’m going to absolutely adore. In it’s current state, the game is primarily a 1v1 online game, but the developers shared with me that their currently working on a fully fledged single-player campaign experience, which I’m incredibly excited to see. Spies & Soliders is also available to try on steam now as a demo!