PAX Prime 2015 was a sprawling behemoth. Centering on the Washington State Convention Center and spilling over into numerous surrounding hotels and venues, PAX Prime is ever growing, from the main show floor that was as much rock concert as convention to smaller, more mellow rooms set aside for tabletop free-play, there were an incredible number of games to see and play. The four days of the show were absolutely jam-packed with panels, shows, video games, tabletop games and everything in between.
During the four days of the show, TechRaptor went eyes and hands-on with a ton of games, some excellent, some completely forgettable. Listed below are the games that stood out from the crowd and left a lasting impression. In no particular order, here are TechRaptor's Best of PAX Prime 2015 ...
According to Dennis Detwiller of Harebrained Schemes, Necropolis is heavily influenced by Dark Souls, and it shows. Necropolis is a third person action rogue-like with a stunning art style and tight, responsive controls. Unlike Dark Souls though, the game's levels are procedural, completely placing the onus of performing well in combat on the player's skill, as opposed to knowing exactly what is coming and preparing for it, or tackling a tough obstacle until you finally manage to overcome it.
Add in neat little touches, such as the game's monster factions' tendencies to fight among themselves and the ability to pick up weapons directly dropped by fallen foes, and you have a game that I can't wait to get my hands on.
Sword Coast Legends is the game that I was most looking forward to seeing at PAX Prime and it did not disappoint. I recruited a crew of friends from the show floor, who also happen to be part of my tabletop Dungeons and Dragons group, to join me, and we played through a 5 player scenario where I played the devious, murderous Dungeon Master, and they each took control of hero characters.
The DM'ing experience was fun, inventive and smooth, and places powerful tools at the DM's fingertips, allowing a DM to not only prepare missions and stories ahead of time, but to alter them on the fly based on party performance. We all had a blast with Sword Coast Legends. The game opens up myriad possibilities for RPG groups. Solo players and groups of friends who aren't interested in having someone play as the DM should keep an eye on Sword Coast Legends as well, as the game will ship with a 40 hour campaign that can be played both solo and cooperatively.
Tumblestone took us completely by surprise. Initially underwhelmed with the look of the game, we decided to stop at the PAX 10 booth and give the game a whirl for no other reason than the fact that there was nobody in line to play at the time.
We were immediately hooked. The controls are tight, the game is intuitive and challenging, and the competitive multiplayer modes hearken back to Tetris and Dr. Mario games of our formative years. Tumblestone is the game to keep an eye out for if you like to get together with a group of friends for same-screen multiplayer.
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is a wonky mashup of video game and board/puzzle game. One player, wearing an Occulus Rift headset, must diffuse a bomb that is covered in wires, symbols and buttons. The other players have the manual for the bomb and must walk the player with the bomb through how to properly diffuse it before time expires and it explodes. While this process may seem straightforward enough, it is complicated by the fact that neither the player with the bomb, nor the players with the manual can see what the other sees.
Complicating the players' efforts is the fact that the manual is written more as a confusing puzzle than a straightforward manual. The players must communicate back and forth while successfully sussing out exactly the steps that need to be taken to diffuse the bomb, all while trying to avoid the inherent confusion that shouting back and forth can cause, on top of dealing with an intentionally obtuse set of instructions.
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is a great convention game that will make an even better party game.
For the record ... we exploded.
Soul Locus was described to us as "Tower defense meets Pokemon" by Marc Scattergood of Fat Loot Games and, while that description is a great way to sum the game up, it doesn't quite do the game justice.
Soul Locus oozes charm from every pore. Beautiful, charming art, delightful music, intuitive and fun gameplay and the fact that the game is a premium title in a world where micro-transactions have run wild mean that fans of tower defense games should find a lot to love about Soul Locus.
Cinelinx's box makes the game look like a Cards Against Humanity rip-off, but that is unfair to the game that lives inside the box. Cinelinx takes the traditional activity of linking movies, most often called Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon and adds aspects similar to Dominoes, creating a game that ends up being greater than the sum of its parts.
As the various movie related cards (genre, actor, director etc.) are played onto the table, players have to be aware of not only how to link various cards together but also their positioning relative the the other cards on the table. The positioning aspect of the game allows players to attempt to block their opponents, limit their options or force them into difficult positions.
Movie buffs, this is the game for you.
Mech Deck is a skirmish war game about giant mechs going to battle with one another. What makes Mech Deck interesting is the fact that each of the game's mechs are completely modular. Before the battle begins, players will draft the parts for their mechs and then physically build the mechs that they will be using in the game, and as the mechs take damage and parts are destroyed, players will physically remove those parts from their mechs, showing exactly where the damage was done. Add in various mech pilots that can be chosen, each with different abilities, along with the planned 24 different mech parts, and the potential mech building combinations skyrocket.
Drafting various mech parts, cobbling them together and then sending them into battle against my opponent's creations is an exciting prospect, and determining which combination of parts is the most deadly that most closely matches my preferred play style is something we're really looking forward to exploring.
mod puzzle game is a game that we actually saw at SIX, the Seattle Indies Expo that took place on Sunday 8/30/15 just a few blocks away from the main PAX Prime show floor, rather than PAX proper, but it instantly stood out from the crowd.
An iOS game, mod puzzle game tasks players with matching up lines on hexagons in order to form closed hex chains that "capture" adorable monsters that take shape based on the size and shape of the hex chain. While not immediately intuitive, mod puzzle game tickles the part of your brain that whispers "I'm clever" when you manage to make a long chain and capture the biggest monster needed to clear a level.
Trial by Viking is another game from SIX that we couldn't help but notice. An action platforming Metroid-vania style game, Trial by Viking has tight, responsive controls that feel nearly flawless in action. The weight and speed of the hero feel just right.
With a proposed 130 levels and a low price point, Trial by Viking should offer a huge bang for your buck.
What did you think of TechRaptor's Best of PAX Prime 2015 list? Did you see a game that you absolutely loved that didn't make the list? Tell us about it in the comments below.