From the PAX AUS Showroom Floor – Adam’s Indie Wrap
It wouldn’t be a PAX AUS without the Indie games. Every year the PAX Rising section opens the floor to a bunch of wonderful titles that independent developers have been working on and are all too eager to show you what their latest and greatest builds. There would never be enough hours in the day to see each and every one but here are some short snippets of some fun little titles we came across:
The Dark Room
READER, YOU AWAKE TO FIND YOURSELF IN A DARK ROOM! Yes, a game based on a stage show that is reminiscent of a choose your own adventure game is now in video game form. The concept is very straightforward, you get asked questions and you have a choice of responses that dictate where the story goes next. Believe me when I say the description doesn’t sell the game, but the dialogue and humour hit every note perfectly and is narrated perfectly! Having a narrator insult you continuously only to make you (literally) laugh out loud just makes you want to hit that ‘restart from checkpoint’ one more time every time you hear the game yell “YA DIE YA DIE YA DIE!” (You can read more about The Dark Room here:)
Aura of Worlds
Aura of Worlds is a rogue (oh look I spelt it correctly this time) like platformer from developers ‘Cognitive Forge’. Like all good titles in this genre, levels are randomly generated as are power-ups and weapons you receive whilst in a level. The tutorial does a great job of explaining its fundamental basics, you’ll be dodging attacks, blocking projectiles, wall jumping and learning how to correctly utilise some of the many items you’ll be picking up through the game.
The level we played through was broken up into 14 sections, each with different themes. For example, the first level was a basic ‘kill the enemies, make your way through the level and don’t forget to explore’ whereas the second was more of a speed run, there was a fire chasing you that meant instant death if it ever caught up. Where we met our undoing was the boss level which, despite some good dodging and timing attacks completely obliterated what little remaining health we had left.
The game itself is very challenging and even the developer said he had never seen someone get through the entire level all weekend (yet). He went on further to say the general idea is that you’ll die many times on a run before finally getting the skills and items to get you through to the end.
Nova Flow is the perfect name for this title because it’s all about flow. This little title sets up a series of ramps and platforms that you can interact with by firing one of three modifiers. Blue turns the platform into a speed boost, red a bounce pad and yellow sticks you to it (i.e. for wall running). As the levels progress, these get harder as the game throws more things at you, naturally one misfire or stuff up and you’re restarting at the previous checkpoint.
This game feels like the Counter-Strike ‘surfing’ mode mixed with some strafe jumping for those who grew up with the Quake games (yes, I’m old, I’ve made peace with this). The more difficult levels can get quite stressful as you fumble your hands to shoot the right combination of shots, all whilst timing jumps aiming in the right direction. It’s a skill-based obstacle platformer done well and you can find more information on this title and others right here:
Ice Caves of Europa
Europa has always been my favourite of all of Jupiter’s moons (no I’m not kidding, please don’t stop reading). Why? Because it’s a giant body of ice orbiting the biggest planet in our solar system, what’s not to love?! Ice Caves of Europa is a free-flowing flight exploration simulator, in low gravity.
The story is fairly straightforward, a massive asteroid has smashed into Europa and opened up some caves on the orbiting planet, ripe for exploring! You’ll take control of Verne, an AI in a flying drone and as you dive deeper into the icy planet you’ll start to uncover a mystery that continues to unravel as the game progresses.
Controlling your vehicle is actually quite difficult but even in the short demo, I noticed I was starting to sync up and adjust to what the game was throwing at me, although in true video game fashion, I’m expecting navigation to get increasingly harder the more I go. We’ll be reviewing this little title in the coming days so make sure you keep an eye out for that, in the interim go and check out the trailer here:
If you grew up playing games like Magic: The Gathering, it shouldn’t surprise you that the popularity of these games in digital form is are insanely popular at the moment. With Hearthstone bringing in enough money for Blizzard to buy another Island and Magic: The Gathering Arena currently in early access, it’s nice to see a new entrant that looks to shake things up.
The biggest key difference is that you won’t be building your decks. Instead, you’ll pick three heroes, each with their own pre-defined cards. The heroes all have different pros and cons, where one might focus on attacks and aggression, another will provide control spells or support buffs for your army of minions. Each turn you’ll choose which hero to run with and each player will have their turn simultaneously, this was specifically chosen to help avoid the downtime that can occur when a game is truly turn based.
I could go into some depth on how the game works or you can watch this gameplay 101 video from the developers (and thank them for making my job a lot easier!)