On San Antonio, Redux

Relatively recently (okay, not that recently anymore), I spent some time in San Antonio, at PAX South, where I hung out with some awesome people and saw some interesting things. PAX South seems to be at a bit of an awkward time of year for game studios, and the only major video game publisher that was there was Capcom. As a result, there was a lot of opportunity to see indie games. This is a few weeks late, so I’ll skip mentioning Ultimate Chicken Horse, which you should buy. Here are some of the others:

Stories: The Path of Destinies

First, the name of this game makes me really sad, because it’s very generic and unmemorable. The game itself looks like it will be quite good. It’s an isometric action-RPG that is not really in the Diablo-style, although it looks like it at first. The story involves a fox named Reynardo, with choose-your-own-adventure storybook segments between levels. Combat is kind of reminiscent of Assassin’s Creed (the first one) or the Arkham series; countering enemy attacks is the most important element. It feels good to get a hang of the combat, and you’re graded at the end of every combat based on how well you strung together your attacks (more is better) and how much damage you took (less is better). This was announced for PC and PS4, and looks like it has a release date of April 12. Stories

Just Shapes And Beats

Exactly what it says on the tin. This bullet hell-esque game involves shapes dodging other shapes to music. There is local multiplayer, and players can (if they’re quick) revive others. It sounds simple, and in a lot of ways it’s like a bullet hell shooter where you can’t shoot, but the PAX demo was quite difficult. I’m a bit concerned that this one would only be fun in multiplayer, and with a lack of online (citing latency concerns), my personal future with this one is undetermined. Release date and platforms are TBA (it was demoed with a 360 controller). JSnB

Pixel: RU Squared

I actually saw this for the first time at PAX South 2015, and I thought it looked kind of uninteresting, although it had some neat ideas. It’s come quite a way in the year between shows, and now I think its worth a mention. It’s a little unfair to call this VVVVVV with some additional mechanics, but that’s what it really reminds me of. It’s even more abstract (you play as a square) and the player has the ability to jump and eventually shoot. Color also plays a role in the puzzles in the game, and the level can rotate around at times. It’s shaping up to be an interesting puzzle-platformer, and it’s on Early Access on Steam. pixel

Fate of the Norns: Ragnarok

This is not a video game, but instead a tabletop RPG. I was drawn to the theme (Norse mythology) and the mechanics of this one. Instead of dice, this uses a set of runes for action resolution. The composition of this set is based on your character, so a tough character might have more ability to fight things based on what their runes are. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to try the demo while at the show, but I’m interested in taking a closer look. Post-convention researched told me that this is actually a re-imagining of a fairly old game (1993) with this system. This edition is also a few years old, but it was still my first time seeing it. This one’s available in multiple forms from DriveThruRPG. https://youtu.be/TfMrWvEFD_g


Also not a video game, this is a 2-player board game with very simple rules and very simple pieces. It was originally released in 2008, and produced by Penny Arcade starting last year. With 5 pieces, figure out a way to push one of your opponent’s pieces off the board. Actions in a term are limited, so a lot of though has to go into what you’re going to do on a particular turn. When we played, defeat tended to be somewhat sudden, as keeping track of which of your pieces is one turn from being trapped while trying to mount an offense of your own is a lot more complicated than it sounds. It was still fun, and the game can be picked up on the Penny Arcade store. https://youtu.be/hCvms0ATlqE  

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