PAX East 2020 was famously one of the last big conventions before the doldrums of pandemic living really set in. The Boston Convention & Exhibition Center would remain empty for the following year, but now in 2022, things are (somewhat) back to normal (maybe). Team TechRaptor took to the floor over the past weekend and played all sorts of demos, and now we're bringing you our nine most anticipated games we saw at PAX East in 2022, in no particular order.
Rawmen is absolutely ridiculous and stupid -- and we love it. The team-based competitive arena shooter feels very casual, and it’s easy to pick up and enjoy with friends or strangers. You play as a (presumably very greasy) avatar that carries a giant stock pot of soup with them. To hit enemies, you fling soup at them with your ladle, and if you charge up your shot, you can snipe someone with one ladle-ful of soup. When you sprint, you create a trail of soup, a la Iceman from X-Men. When you want to lower your profile, you can duck into the stock pot like a turtle.
If this sounds absolutely bonkers, that’s because it is. The devs at TinyBuild’s booth did a mini tournament, and it pretty quickly caught on. Throughout the weekend, the Rawmen booth was pretty consistently packed, and for good reason. After all, with playful game modes like Claim Chowder and Broth Battle, anyone would want to try it at least once.
Rawmen is slated for release this year on PC via the Epic Games Store, where you can play the beta this summer.
Ever since gaming’s early days in the arcades of yesteryear, many folks have always dreamed of one thing: running their very own laundromat. Arcade Paradise is here to finally make everyone’s dreams come true, but unfortunately, it comes with a catch. You also have to manage some dumb arcade in the backroom that can hold up to 35 cabs full of exciting minigames. Can’t I just wash other people’s laundry in peace?
Jokes aside, Arcade Paradise is shaping up to be a fun little trip down memory lane. While you theoretically could spend your hours laundering clothes, the real game starts when you begin amassing a collection of cabs. There’s a metagame running beneath everything, where you’re cleaning out coin hoppers and placing new games in your space. You’re here to run a business, but it’s also literally all fun and games. Each machine is playable, featuring its own minigame for you to enjoy, including a Pac-Man meets Grand Theft Auto mashup.
And did I mention your in-game dad, Gerald from Riviera, is voiced by Doug Cockle, the voice of Geralt of Rivia?
Dead Cells’ Accessibility Update
Dead Cells has been out for a couple years now, but there's a new reason to get excited about it: its upcoming accessibility update. Coming next month, this huge update will put more options in the player’s hand, kicking the door wide open for more people to enjoy this critically acclaimed roguelike.
The list of changes are pretty long, but some of the major highlights include the ability to change the colors of most of the UI, including the color-coordinated Brutality, Tactics, and Survival stats. Discerning weapon stats at one glance is vital to survival, and if more people can do it, the better.
Some gameplay options include the addition of an auto-attack feature, so players can focus more on positioning and dodging. Damage sliders can be tweaked, and you can respawn at the start of a level instead of the beginning of the game when you die. None of these settings will affect achievements either.
It’s all these little things -- and more things not covered here -- that make the gaming landscape a more welcoming place for everyone. It’s great to see Evil Empire work on such an important Dead Cells update, especially after asking the community to help them shape the process.
World of Horror
World of Horror is a point-and-click, narrative-driven adventure game with a unique, black and white manga-inspired art style. The gameplay mechanics are relatively simple. In fact, the entire game can be played with just a mouse, but this simplicity is punctuated by a world rich in story and lore.
During our hands-on demo at PAX East, we explored a school and interacted with different objects to solve a mystery while fending off enemies along the way. The turn-based combat system allows you to select multiple actions in a row to buff attacks or use abilities, and if you find a loadout you like, you're able to save it and click one button to unleash that series of attacks in the same order on every turn.
World of Horror stood out at PAX East thanks to its gorgeous art style and engaging narrative. The game is currently in early access and available on Steam for anyone who would like to experience it for themselves.
Criminals better watch out: A new superhero is in town, and his name is Dusty McClean. This adorable robot vacuum bathes in the blood of its enemies in the upcoming indie game Justice Sucks. Billed as tactical vacuum action that goes vac to the ‘90s, you’ll sneak around levels and dispatch criminals.
With a low profile, hiding under furniture is the name of the game, as you trigger traps from afar with your hacking abilities. Alternatively, you can suck up items and launch them toward enemies, including knives. When a criminal is dead, you can grind up the corpse and eat it to fuel your blood arts, which give you all sorts of abilities. You can turn invisible for a short time, leave a mine on the ground, or even get a powerful ramming attack. Don’t let the cute art style fool you; this is a bloody (fun) game.
All these special powers come from Sexy McClean, a spirit that’s a manifestation of Dusty’s fighting spirit. Is it a Jojo reference? Possibly. Is it hilariously fun? Absolutely. Justice Sucks is one of those games that sounds like a silly idea, but the expert-level execution on display elevates it to new levels of fun. I can only hope we see more soon.
You can play the Justice Sucks demo on Steam now.
Move over Wordle, there’s a new word game in town. Writer’s Block by Tic Toc Games is a roguelike where you play as a sentient pen creature. Ahead of you lies a boss, and you have to choose your path to get there, similar to Slay the Spire. Many points on the map are enemy encounters, but others are events or places to rest.
When you reach a combat encounter, you have to fight by literally using your words. The interface looks a lot like Boggle, and you have to create a word using the 16 letters in front of you. The longer the word, the more damage you do. However, certain letters come with certain effects, depending on the enemy. For example, letters with a red crosshair would do one damage if left unused. Alternatively, some enemies can only be damaged if you use a letter that can break shields.
Writer’s Block is a lot harder than it looks, especially with the extra challenges that those effects throw onto the board. Navigating the board to get the right effects while making the longest word possible will have you staring at enemies for minutes at a time, but it’s fulfilling when you nail a 10-letter stunner.
You can play the Writer’s Block demo now on Steam.
We could always use more tower defense games, and Big Rook Games is bringing the big guns with Hostile Mars. This game mashes up tower defense with factory building, putting you in control of the entire turret-building process. You’ll have to build out supply lines to gather the materials you need for your base. Machines do everything here, including process your materials and slap them together to make more defenses.
That doesn’t mean you’re out of the action though. When the enemy droids start rolling in, you can run around and shoot them, and it plays like a third-person shooter. However, you likely won’t do the most damage; you’re there more for support. And realistically, your time might be more spent running around and ensuring your machines are doing the work for you, troubleshooting any problems as they arise.
Hostile Mars is a fun mashup of genres that you don’t often see, and I can’t wait to see more of it. You can wishlist the game on Steam.
The Mortuary Assistant
Have you ever wanted to be a mortician? Me neither, but I’ll happily play a spooky game that puts you in the shoes of one. In The Mortuary Assistant from DarkStone Digital, you’ll be working with dead bodies and preparing them for funerals. When I spoke with the developer, he mentioned the painstaking research process he went through to get everything as accurate as possible, and it definitely paid off. Having to make incisions, drain blood, and put on eyecaps felt pretty accurate -- and absolutely creepy.
And the funny thing is, that’s not even the "horror" part of this horror game. As you prepare bodies, spooky stuff starts to happen around you. Windows shut. Items fall. In the corner of your eye, you see something stares at you, but it disappears right when you look at it. These haunting events are randomized throughout a playthrough, giving each person a uniquely chilling experience while they go through the ho hum process of embalming a body.
You can play The Mortuary Assistant demo now on Steam, and it features a setup for a larger story.
Asterigos: Curse of the Stars
Asterigos: Curse of the Stars was a wonderful surprise on the PAX East show floor last weekend. I hadn’t seen or heard of it before the show, but the sleek, action-packed gameplay caught my eye. You play as a woman named Hilda, and she has all sorts of weapons at her disposal. According to the game's website, the game will feature six weapon types, and based on the demo, you can seamlessly swap between them on the fly.
The combat feels smooth and engaging. Figuring out all your attacks and how they can chain together is rewarding. I found a combo that could dive in close and quick with dual daggers, and then you I could cap it off with a blast from a staff that would push Hilda back and away. That level of movement felt great, and it was really brought to life by the charming, cartoony art style on display.
Asterigos: Curse of the Stars is slated for a 2022 release for PC via Steam, Xbox systems, and PlayStation systems.
That’s not all we saw though! You can catch the rest of our coverage from Boston down below.