WHAT UP INTERNET?!
If you haven’t scoped part 1 or part 2 of this riveting “Indie Games of PAX South 2017” series (totally taking naming suggestions for future posts, btw), feel free to scope ’em. There were many interesting and unique titles available to play, and it’d be a shame if you missed out on any. Without further ado, let’s dive in to more awesome games!
Super Galaxy Squadron Ex (PC, http://www.newblood.info/)
Super Galaxy Squadron Ex is a vertical scrolling shooting game in the vein of classic titles such as 1942 or Tyrian. Players control a ship which can be upgraded via various power-ups gathered after destroying enemies and bosses. The graphics are distinctly retro with a slick coat of modern paint and the music is catchy, and probably better than the tunes contained in most of the vintage titles you’d associate Super Galaxy with.
The gameplay is crisp and immediately recognizable to anyone who has spent a fair share of time in dimly lit arcades popping quarters into a machine hoping to finally beat that last boss-not familiar with this phenomenon? Really showing my age here, you say? Well, fear not-the controls are precise and allow the player to maneuver easily around enemy fire while simultaneously laying into your adversaries with a combination of futuristic lasers and missiles. While occasionally the action on screen can feel a bit cramped and chaotic with a deluge of neon-colored death rays raining down upon the player blended with the colorful rays of their own arsenal, the gameplay is intuitive and simple: shoot and don’t get shot!
I’d assume in the later levels the difficulty becomes much more intense as the title oozes old-school mechanics. Fans of old-school gameplay mechanics as well as retro looks and music will feel right at home picking in Super Galaxy Squadron Ex, and I for one can’t wait to play that bad boy on a Twitch broadcast!
Sundown (PC, http://sundown-game.com/)
Sundown reminded me of an updated and much more tactical and strategic Bomberman. In this title, players are pitted against one another with the objective to get the most kills. Considering the title is an arena-based brawler, I was immediately reminded of Bomberman (again, possibly showing my age here…). Unlike that classic title, players are only able to see their character when they fire their weapon or when crossing where a static light is present on the map. This caveat means firing your weapon can be a double-edged sword, while you may need to fire it to simply figure out your location on the map, you’re conversely giving your position away to your adversaries.
The controls are similar to any dual-stick shooter: character movement is regulated to one stick and your aim is dictated by the other. While character movement was a bit slow for my liking, I’d surmise this is due to the fact the player cannot see their character without firing their weapon. If the characters moved too fast, it’d be much more difficult to ascertain exactly where on the map your player is. The weapons fire quickly and accurately, and despite the initial hesitation I felt about moving on the map, the action is both strategic and quick. The maps are dark, constructed in a unique manner and truly contribute to the ambiance of the title.
Sundown is a tactical arena-based shooter which provides a very unique PvP experience. This is a “thinking Bro’s game” if I’ve ever seen one, and I could imagine this providing some of the most varied multiplayer experiences gamers have played in a long time. Definitely a title to keep an eye on if you’re a fan of strategic PvP.
Death Squared (PC, Xbox One, PS4, http://deathsquared.com/)
From the moment I saw Death Squared I was immediately reminded of the PlayStation title Intelligent Qube, and I personally view this as a spiritual successor to that game. In this co-op puzzle game which includes both two and four player support, the objective is to have your character (a colored cube) reach a designated point on the map. Working as a team is imperative, as no single player can reach their goal without the assistance from another player. The puzzles grow steadily more complex and each map requires both working in tandem and advance planning.
The animation is simplistic, yet distinct and in my (non-) professional opinion, decidedly “cute.” Occasionally, the player will control two cubes at the same time, meaning moving your left stick will move two blocks in the same direction. As you can surmise, this requires additional advance planning as well as constant communication with your compatriot(s), as you may be tasked with lining up your blocks in a manner which would be difficult to accomplish alone. The obstacles in your path grow more complex with each level, as stages containing platforms of multiple heights and a variety of switches which perform different functions littered throughout the levels.
Death Squared is one of the most inventive co-op puzzle titles I’ve ever come across. It’s a game which favors strategic planning and communication among teammates above of all else to complete the complex levels contained in the title. Although I’ve never been one for puzzle titles, Death Squared skyrocketed to the top of my “must watch” list after playing through a handful of levels with my partner in crime due to its clever level layouts and distinctively cute aesthetic. I for one cannot wait to tackle more of it!
These are just a handful of the titles I got hands on time with at PAX South 2017, yet all of them were intriguing and none disappointed. Inevitably, if you pop by one of my Twitch streams you’re bound to see me throwing down on some of these titles in the near-future. Until next time, Bros!