While PAX South may be smaller than the big-time conventions, there is still a great variety of games to look at. This year, we definitely found some that confirmed our suspicions on just how great they appear to be. Of course, our favorite part of attending these sorts of events are the surprises, and there definitely were quite a few of those. Here's a list of games to keep your eye on in this next year.
An Airport for Aliens Currently Run by Dogs aka Dog Airport Game
Developer: Strange Scaffold | Release Date: TBA | Platforms: TBA
It's not like there's anything particularly complicated about Dog Airport Game. You play as one of the last two humans alive, and your goal is to travel airports until you can once again reunite with the other human, the love of your life. The catch is that these airports are for aliens, so nothing makes sense. You know, just like a real airport. Also, all the employees are stock photos of dogs. Read more here...
The Artful Escape
Developer: Beethoven & Dinosaur | Release Date: 2020 | Platforms: Xbox One, Apple Arcade
Really, while there may not have been much to The Artful Escape's gameplay, there was plenty to love about the game visually. Will the trips into Francis' head keep getting more and more insane like the one I got to play? Oh man, I really hope so. There's so much potential for this journey of self-exploration and galactic jam sessions that I'm so glad I discovered this game so I can see more. Read more here...
Bill Hates Videogames
Developer: Saam Pahlavan & M. James Short | Release Date: TBA | Platforms: TBA
Humor is one of the toughest things to get right in, well, anything. Everyone's tastes are different, so I totally get why such a concept is so difficult. Still, I appreciate attempts made by various developers. Such is the case with Bill Hates Videogames, which features a man I quickly related to thanks to his hate of video games. While my dream of ending video games forever is some ways away, I could at least laugh along with Bill and his desire to escape a video game. Read more here...
Dungeon Defenders: Awakened
Developer: Chromatic Games | Release Date: February 2020 | Platforms: Switch, Steam
When the first Dungeon Defenders released in 2011, it became my go-to game anytime I looked to play something. When II came out, not so much. The formula wasn't what I was looking for anymore. Dungeon Defenders: Awakened, however, is a return to the same stuff I fell in love with to begin with.
The most immediate change is the graphical upgrade, making the game look great. Beyond that, there are of course new enemies and mechanics, but a lot of mechanical conveniences added as well. Certain things that would be a chore, like getting through the UI, have been streamlined and improved. For those that wanted to see more of the original, Dungeon Defenders: Awakened is a return to form.
Developer: Rose City Games | Release Date: Spring 2020 | Platforms: PC, Mac
Finally, one of gaming's eternal questions has been answered: do you want to be a grape? The answer of course is an emphatic yes. In Garden Story, you play as the hero grape Concord, who works to help the townsfolk with their problems and cleanse the mysterious Rot that's taken over the land. Garden Story's charm is overwhelming, the music relaxing, and its thematic flairs a delight. Read more here...
Developer: One More Level | Release Date: 2020 | Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
In Ghostrunner, you're basically a time-bending cyber ninja. If that's not enough to make you think "that sounds cool as hell," I don't know what else can be said. At PAX South, I had the chance to give Ghostrunner a try, and while at first glance it can appear to be a generic action game, its breakneck action pace is anything but. Read more here...
Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet
Release Date: February 7th, 2020 | Platforms: Apple TV+
We had the chance to check out the first episode of Mythic Quest at PAX South, which we weren't too sure of going in. The trailers give the show a vibe that it will be nothing but making fun of the industry and those that participate in it, but the show is much more than that. Of course, a ton of it is going to be your regular over-the-top office drama between folks, but there's a lot of thoughtful writing about genuine problems in gaming. It helps that it was funny, too. Our biggest surprise and one that we look forward to watching.
Developer: TurtleBlaze | Release Date: February 6th, 2020 | Platforms: PC, Switch
I think it was the adorable tablet face that made Kunai catch my eye. This may be the case for a lot of people, but there's just something about that face that is just hilariously adorable. Whatever it is, when I saw it at PAX South I just knew I needed to play Kunai. It helped that it looked like a very fun metroidvania that I could get into. Spoiler alert: it was. Read more here...
Streets of Rage 4
Developer: Lizardcube, Guard Crush Games | Release Date: 2020 | Platforms: PC, Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Streets of Rage 4 is... Streets of Rage. Is that a bad thing? No way. It's Streets of Rage. It's been a while since we've seen any entries for the classic beat 'em up series (in fact, the last one was in 1994!), and after seeing Streets of Rage 4 at PAX South I can safely say it's in good hands. Which is good, because if it wasn't then I would probably find myself feeling pretty sad.
I got a chance to play the demo in local co-op with my EIC, and it really is a classic beat 'em up that harkens back to that era rather well. The combos are easy to learn, but even by the end, I kept finding more ways to attack. There's just something awesome about uppercutting someone into the air, jumping up to hit them back to the ground with a guitar, then landing on the ground and strumming a note that knocks everyone away. Likewise, give me a baseball bat any day, and I will use it to hit enemies. That's what's best about video games, hitting people with baseball bats.
Oh, and looking lovely while doing it. Streets of Rage 4 has that down as well. The game is absolutely stunningly lovely. It's this great art style that really manages to pop out from the screen, so if that's what you need in your life, Streets of Rage 4 has that.
Really, it's still a little early to tell, but this is shaping up to be one of the best series revivals in quite some time. If you need another beat 'em up in your life, then pay attention. Them streets be raging
Developer: Andrew Shouldice | Release Date: TBA | Platforms: PC, Xbox One
At some point in my life, I knew I needed Tunic. I don't even remember where I first saw the game or when it was announced or anything like that. Just one day I knew I needed Tunic and I've been eagerly seeking the game out and waiting for its release since then. While it still seems to be some ways away, I finally got my hands on it at PAX South and it turns out I love everything about it. So hey, I know my own tastes after all. Read more here...