WHAT UP INTERNET?!
Take it from your Bro is who a (self-proclaimed) ConLife Connoisseur-PAX is absolutely the best convention for getting hands on time with the latest and greatest indie video game titles. Lucky for us gamers/nerdlife-enthusiasts/people-who-spend-exorbitant-amounts-of-money-on-collectible-pins (I know it’s a racket yet I keep opening up my wallet…), the good folks of Penny Arcade put on multiple PAX shows per year. In order to ensure I started 2017 off right after throwing down on the Dopey Challenge, I headed to San Antonio, TX and attended PAX South 2017. Being able to pick up and play unique gaming experiences while chatting with those who dedicated their time and effort to creating them is an absolutely awesome experience and one I recommend to all gamers who have yet to attend a Con. Without further ado, let’s hop straight into all the awesome games!
Beat Cop (PC, http://beatcopgame.com/)
The title with which I spent the most time with at PAX South 2017 was Beat Cop. In this title, the player controls a former detective regulated to the beat due to his shady past, which I will not divulge here as I found it very interesting. Although the show floor was quite loud, from what I could hear the music was perfect for the time period the title is set in (1980’s) and the striking pixelated art-style is both simple and engaging.
Additionally, the player has tremendous flexibility when it comes to how they approach each day. When the player is dropped off on their beat each morning, they are given a specific task before leaving the precinct. In the three days I played through, these were typically ticket quotas tied to a specific type and/or number of tickets to be issued. That being said, the player has the option to either adhere to these guidelines or not. I opted to engage with the various people in the street, picking up a litany of side missions and exploring the neighborhood.
Player choices shape relationships with various factions, such as the citizens of the neighborhood, the local gangs and mafia. Additionally, while abiding by the rules may net you brownie points, the option to engage in other more “lucrative” (see: illegal) affairs abound. When you’re struggling to make your ticket quota and need to come up with $300 by the end of your shift, the options of bending the rules just a tad may become alluring to even the most noble of players. Beat Cop is a large game with a unique art style and sound, an interesting story and offers players a myriad of choices when it comes to how they approach their play-through. As a result, it’s a title I cannot wait to get my hands on!
Prisma & the Masquerade Menace (PC, http://www.prismagame.com/
Prisma & the Masquerade Menace was easily the most visually striking game I got my hands on at PAX. In this platformer where the objective is to reach the end of the level, the player has the ability to switch between “dimensions” (differentiated by distinct color schemes) which provides their character with different powers. Activating the yellow dimension (achieved via a simple button press) allows the character to run much faster, while switching to the blue dimension enabled the character to jump much higher.
This platformer was a little daunting at first, however bear in mind I did not play through the tutorial and ended up being dropped in the middle of a level. That being said, after only a few minutes with the game, it’s apparent to me this title would be a speed runner’s dream, as flipping between the multiple dimensions on the fly is incredibly easy and the controls are extremely fluid. Provided the tutorial introduces the mechanics effectively (which I assume it does), I can envision the puzzles and platforming growing increasingly complex, requiring both precision and quick thinking.
Each of the colors on the screen popped magnificently, but never looked too cartoony or washed out. The combination of fluid controls, gorgeous visuals and a unique-yet-intuitive power system make Prisma a title on my radar, and if you’re a fan of speed running or platforming in general, I recommend you add it to yours.
The Painter’s Apprentice (PC, http://luminositymobile.com/)
The Painter’s Apprentice is another platforming title with old-school mechanics-your goal is to reach the end of the level while engaging enemies with your paintbrush, which you swipe like a sword. However, the old-school platform aesthetic has a unique flair: when I spoke to the composer for the title, Ray Flores, he stated each world is inspired by a different period in art history. As a result, each world will feel unique with varied backgrounds and absolutely fantastic music. Although I only had limited hands on time with the title, the backgrounds were engaging and looked decidedly different than any other platformer I’ve seen.
The core mechanics were instantly recognizable to anyone who has picked up a title such as Shovel Knight-you’re able to jump and slash with your paintbrush, however you’re only able to attack enemies who are the same color as the tip of your paintbrush. The player is able to switch the color of the brush on the fly, meaning you’re never unable to engage an opponent. While the controls were a tad slow for my liking, they were precise (as any platformer would suffer tremendously without precise controls), and I believe this may be a personal predilection toward titles which allow the player to move their character much more quickly.
The Painter’s Apprentice is a title which leverages its core steeped in art history in a unique and interesting manner. The backgrounds are distinct, the music is some of the best compositions I’ve heard in any game and any gamer will feel right at home with the old-school platformer mechanics. Any fan of titles with unique atmosphere (and seriously legit tunes) should scope out The Painter’s Apprentice.