If Adult Swim Games is the current rock star publisher of the indie scene, Devolver Digital is the punk rock critical darling that they stole from. Displaying a devil-may-care attitude and sporting an uneven back catalog to match, Devolver is at least brave enough to experiment and put out projects that other publishers might shoot down with fits of laughter. They’re also nice enough to put out free games from time to time, and when the high marks involve Hotline Miami and Shadow Warrior, you tend to forget about the other stuff anyway. As for PAX East 2015, Devolver had a huge lineup that could not be contained within one booth and several exciting standouts that I’m eager to play more of.
First, a game that has been steadily improving for the better part of a year on Early Access. Broforce is a love letter to action movies and Contra, an over the top arcade experience with unpredictably explosive environments that your mercenaries can scale with just a knife. You control varied heroes inspired by Ripley, Machete, Robocop, Neo, and several flavors of Arnold and Chuck Norris. Each character has specific special moves and firearms tied to their reference points, making the entire thing feel like a Super Smash Bros. game for those who grew up quoting Jack Burton.
You move ridiculously fast across the enemy infested jungles and cities, encouraging a precision run and gun style that keeps you on your toes while also letting you loose with a minigun or a hail of missiles from the sky. The update that was being shown added Aliens-ass aliens to the mix, continuing the Contra love and giving the game a difficulty bump in its later stages. It’s just nostalgic to see a video game go back to the old well and have unlicensed xenomorphs. Aiming for a 2015 final release, Broforce looks to be an unstoppable patriotic powerhouse ready to descend on the indie games market.
Continuing with a theme of wanton violence, Devolver were showing two games with the word gun in their titles. A Fistful of Gun is an eight player western themed top down shooter. The eight characters all have different weapons and are split evenly between keyboard, keyboard and mouse, and controller. This allows each player to have a number of choices while using their preferred control scheme, and the devs confirmed to me that the game will attempt to recognize eight players no matter what combination of crazy hardware and USB hubs you hook up.
There will be a single player campaign, but the mode I played was a points based mode with procedurally generated levels of increasing difficulty. The rounds go by very quickly, with each player getting power-ups between them like spawning on horseback or faster movement speed. I felt pretty comfortable after a time with a minigun wielding character, especially once I discovered that standing in water negated my gun’s overheating. Despite that, it’s easy to succumb to a horde of foes charging you from the side of the screen if the RNG isn’t on your side. A Fistful of Gun is arriving in Spring of this year.
Downwell is a game that is also concerned with guns, but only ones that are strapped to your feet. Originally a mobile game coming out of Japan, Downwell is a monochromatic arcade shooter where you must go down while inside of a well. Your only controls are to dodge left and right and hover by shooting your feet guns. I went through the demo on an iPhone, and it was surprisingly responsive compared to most of the phone games I have attempted to play in the past. The game is quick to respawn you once you die, which seems necessary considering the twitch reflexes required to get past the first level.
Enter the Gungeon, besides being a brilliant title for a video game, is a procedurally generated dungeon crawler where you fight giant sentient bullet casings. We’ve previously covered the title, but I got an eyes-on view as one of the developers scrolled through a huge list of weaponry in a debug mode. Any game with hand cannons from Terminator 2 and Robocob is a special treat, and the team at Dodge Roll were quick to point out that they aren’t even halfway done implementing all the weaponry they want. If my memory serves me correctly, there was also a literal hand cannon. As well as a gun that shot rainbows. The controls aren’t pick up and play, but there is a lot of depth here for anyone looking for a new rougelike to obsess over.
In the Devolver booth proper, no game stood out quite like Dropsy, and not just because of its relative lack of firearms. It’s a textless point and click adventure game staring a clown who just wants to give out hugs. Much like in real life, people are quick to turn Dropsy’s random offers of hugs away, so he must help them out using items he stores in his giant trousers. The entire vibe of the game is bizarre, but completely charming, and it was very easy to relate to this selfless weirdo as he traversed an indifferent world. The puzzles were a little obscure at times, but that can be chalked up to the roar of the expo hall for this particular demo. Dropsy drops later this year.
Those were my own personal highlights among Devolver’s diverse lineup. I had fun with everything at the booth and beyond, and I can say that between these and Adult Swim’s offerings, 2015 is going to be a great year for indie games. As smaller developers continue to attempt to fill the gap left by the vanishing mid-tier game, it’s good to see organizations like Devolver put some promotional power behind the best of the best.
What was you favorite among Devolver’s games? Are Dark Souls fans going to notice that I didn’t mention Titan Souls until just now? Answer these questions and more below and keep checking TechRaptor for more PAX East previews!