Last weekend saw hundreds of developers and thousands of fans flock to Seattle for PAX West 2022. We had a team on-site to check out games both big and small. The best thing about these events are the hidden surprises we likely wouldn't have found otherwise. Here are our 13 best games of PAX West 2022.
Demonschool combines the vibe of the Persona series with the tactical complexity and satisfaction of something like Into the Breach. Set on a mysterious island where the main characters attend a university, you’ll figure out why it’s so demon infested and delve into other oddities. To further the Persona comparison, you’ll level up relationships with your classmates and plan their schedule as the semester progresses to make them stronger where you want and gain new abilities.
The combat somehow manages to be both flashy and extremely tactical, requiring a great deal of thought to get the most out of it. All characters share an action points pool, where both moving and abilities take up points to use. Using the same character multiple times consumes more, and you have to account for how abilities will knock enemies back, what enemies will do on their turn right after you, and more. You set up all of your moves at once to see them pulled off in spectacular fashion as a reward for the smart moves you made, or possibly the brief silver lining before all goes to hell.
Friends vs Friends
One of the biggest surprises at PAX West was Friends vs Friends, a lighthearted 1v1 and 2v2 shooter. In Friends vs. Friends, you’ll face off against opponents while armed with a deck of cards and a starting gun. Your deck can be created before playing rounds, and when you’re thrust into the arena, you’re dealt a hand of red and green cards. Red cards debuff your opponent while green aids you.
The card effects are very creative and goofy. A red card may enlarge an opponent’s head, making it easier to pull off headshots. Other cards may slow down time or give you a new weapon. Be wary, because you never know what card your opponents might draw! We’re definitely looking forward to this simple-but-fun competitive FPS.
Check out our preview for more thoughts on the game.
Goat Simulator 3
Now you might be wondering, “Wait, where’s Goat Simulator 2?” Anyway, Goat Simulator 3 delivers on exactly what you might expect from the initial outing, but it takes things a couple steps further by elevating the scope of the game. Is it still a hilarious sandbox where a goat causes carnage? Absolutely.
But the scale of the carnage felt larger, wider, and deeper in our short preview at PAX West. The map is 18 times larger than the last Goat Simulator entry, and with 200 collectibles to find on the map, you’re likely to spend far more time creating mayhem in the latest entry – especially when your goat can shoot helium balloons, control the minds of random NPCs, and grind on power lines.
If you’ve ever wanted to wield an umbrella that is also a gun, then Gunbrella is the perfect game for you. Published by Devolver Digital, Gunbrella is a retro-inspired adventure where the titular Gunbrella allows you to boost-jump in any direction and parkour around a sprawling metropolis. Swap ammo types to wreak havoc against countless enemies, and if you need a quick getaway, you can always hop onto the nearest zipline.
With a beautifully designed art style and a narrative that is as engaging as it is surprising, Gunbrella was one of the standout hits at PAX West 2022. We can’t wait to play more when it arrives next year.
High on Life
It’s easy to expect comedic moments in the upcoming High on Life. The creative mind behind Rick and Morty, Justin Roiland, is at the helm, after all. What we didn’t expect is both a great deal of character agency through witty dialogue as well as extremely competent, tight gunplay. We especially can’t wait to see more of the Gattlians, High on Life’s talking guns. Each gun comes with both a primary and alt fire mode, as well as a distinct personality.
We were also impressed with the astonishing detail put into the world and graphics of High on Life. The city is vibrant and bustling with various aliens, so we're excited to experience what the rest of this quirky science fiction world has in store for players.
Lies of P
While you could jokingly call this the Bloodborne sequel From Software hasn’t made yet, Round8’s upcoming grimdark adventure should have every soulsborne fan excited. Lies of P absolutely nails the feeling of some of From’s best work, matching their combat tempo with aplomb. From the first few seconds of our time with the Lies of P preview demo at PAX West, it was abundantly clear that it’s a frontrunner for best soulslike not made by From Software.
From the creepy automatons and oppressive atmosphere to the gritty combat and slick movements, there’s a lot to enjoy in Lies of P, even if you’re dying over and over again. No one will see Pinocchio the same way after it launches sometime in 2023.
Check out a more in-depth preview here.
If you’re a fan of strategy RPGs such as Fire Emblem and Final Fantasy Tactics, then be sure to check out Lost Eidolons. Ocean Drive Studios clearly knows what makes these games so popular among fans. Commanding units in Lost Eidolons is a breeze, and the closeups of combat encounters are exciting and visceral. Exploring your campground and interacting with allies also appears to be a strong focus in this game, allowing you to bond closer to your troops.
Lost Eidolons likes to distinguish itself by offering the chance for players to explore a fleshed-out and brand new world. An epic and vast storyline with over 25 chapters awaits players.
Check out a more in-depth preview here.
Celeste made a huge impact in the games industry since its debut in 2018, and up-and-coming indie title LUCID takes cues from that challenging platformer. By marrying tight movement with Mega Man X style combat, The Matte Black Studio expertly melds combat and platforming together, creating a seamless experience that’s challenging and engaging. You’ll probably die a lot, and every time, you’ll get back up and think, “I can nail it this time.”
Each vertical and horizontal movement is tied to an attack, so clearing out enemies and getting to a room’s exit are one and the same problem. Because of that, figuring out each solution becomes intrinsically satisfying in a way that feels like the perfect mix of action, platforming, and puzzle.
One Last Breath
Those looking for a thrilling yet confusing 2.5D adventure are sure to love One Last Breath, the upcoming game from Moonatic Studios. As a side-scrolling adventure, One Last Breath puts the player in control of Gaia, a powerful being created from Mother Nature’s last breath. Use your healing abilities to control nature and restore order to a polluted, post-apocalyptic world.
One Last Breath offers moments of calm puzzle solving punctuated by encounters with grotesque enemies, leaving you with no way to defend yourself apart from running away. With secret rooms and multiple endings, One Last Breath has plenty to offer for players who want to unlock all its secrets.
One Piece Odyssey
The Straw Hat Pirates that have been titans in the manga space for 25 years are making their mark on the turn-based RPG genre with One Piece Odyssey. Think Dragon Quest meets One Piece, and you’re pretty close to what the game is shaping up to be. The superpowered crew gets lost on an island, and they try to find their way out. As they explore and try to find their way back to the ship, they’ll come across all sorts of enemies they have to dispatch with flashy moves that come straight from the series. Thanks to a polished turn-based system and charming, much-loved characters, One Piece Odyssey is shaping up to be the love letter to fans that’s been a long time coming.
Check out our hands-on preview here.
Shovel Knight Dig
We saw Shovel Knight Dig for the first time back at PAX West 2019, and it was one of the better games we had seen even back then. That remains true three years later with a release date just around the corner. It is fast-paced mayhem that marries perfectly with the classic Shovel Knight gameplay so many came to love. It also (finally) features the shovel’s primary purpose prominently: digging.
Shovel Knight Dig is addicting, fueling that “one more run” urge that all good roguey wogueys accomplish. You always feel like there’s room for improvement, and maybe you’re unhappy with the secrets you missed. Each run is different with handcrafted sections jammed together as you make your way down, encountering some new Knights to battle, with some familiar faces too.
Check out our preview for more thoughts.
Jam-packed with interactive elements and completely new visuals, the remake of one of the original immersive sims and a pioneer of the genre is pulling no punches. The opening scene gives us a sweeping view of a cyberpunk city in System Shock and proudly displays its new graphics. Afterwards, we plant our feet in the oppressive and ominous atmosphere of a derelict space ship in an effort to stop the rogue AI Shodan, one of video game's most feared antagonists.
We were also impressed at how accessible and easy-to-navigate System Shock’s menus and UI were, contrasting with the old and clunky original game. Things are definitely looking like developer Nightdive is putting everything they have into what could become their magnum opus.
Check out our more in-depth preview here.
Ooh yeah! It’s time to get into the squared circle, fly off the top rope, and deliver an elbow full of fantasy JRPG goodness right to the heart. If you have a deep-seated love for wrestling and old-school fantasy JRPGs, then you’ll love what WrestleQuest is cooking.
With a clear love for classic wrestling greats like “Macho Man” Randy Savage and Jake the Snake Roberts, this lovely indie game enshrines them as the legends they are, all while turning classic turn-based combat on its head. Enemies are pinned, not routed. Matches are won with taunts, not fireballs. The writing equally mocks and respects wrestling culture, and fans will be able to laugh at – and along with – everything WrestleQuest has to offer.
Check out our more in-depth preview here.