PAX feels a little light this year. Maybe it’s because PAX East, South, and Australia are budding into more full blown conventions in their own rights but I’m fairly certain there was less on display this year both from AAA developers and indie booths. We spent some time this morning with some AAA titles but as usual indie games are the cream of the crop at this show so expect to see plenty of coverage on that front. If you’re curious about a specific game you can always consult our coverage hub.
Final Fantasy XV (Xbox One, PS4, PC)
Every year on the first day of PAX the press is allowed into the exhibit hall early. It’s a magical time where you can see all the AAA titles that don’t really need or want whatever press the small outlets can give them. I don’t know why but we decided to waste our opening hour of the show playing Final Fantasy XV.
Now to be completely fair, we didn’t really “play” Final Fantasy XV for a number of reasons. My suspicion is that the demo Square had on display is likely the same one that folks have been playing on their home consoles earlier this year. (I’ll have to confirm that later with Lucio.) In said demo you’re tantalized with a look at a horrific fiery enemy just about to do battle with a much more grizzled version of the game’s main character. This brief moment of excitement is cut short as we’re transported to a set of overlong cutscenes that felt like way too much exposition for a showfloor demo.
Initially when I arrived the station running the game was resetting so it took awhile to get back up and running. Xbox Ones appeared to be the chosen piece of hardware and the game has a hell of a time loading on it. As I began to push into the half hour mark of my press hour I finally gave in and skipped the second cutscene to find my thrilling introductory gameplay would be….pushing my broken car down the highway. After a few minutes of slow rolling I couldn’t justify the time expense any further and decided to go explore elsewhere.
I don’t know what I was hoping for, Lucio’s already expressed his disappointment with this entry into the struggling series, but I wasn’t even able to get far enough to validate his concerns. In fact I don’t even know why I’m writing this, let’s talk about something else, anything else….
ReCore (Xbox One, PC)
If you weren’t a Gears of War or Halo Wars fan there wasn’t much to see in Microsoft’s booth, but nestled in next to Forza Horizon there was a small set of stations playing the very soon to be released ReCore. The game comes to us from Comcept, a studio founded by Keiji Inafune, presumably to make up for whatever the hell happened with Mighty No. 9. The game is directed by Mark Pacini, who was also in charge for all three Metroid Prime games.
While the game does feature some puzzles and platforming most of my time spent in the demo was in combat. Shooting segments have two important aspects, the first is your ammo type, which is separated into four colors. You can use the d-pad to change the type of ammunition you’re using and you’ll want to make sure it always matches the enemies you’re fighting at the time. Red for red enemies, blue for blue, etc. Using the wrong type of ammo on an enemy will still damage it but at a significantly diminished rate.
The second component involves directing the AI companions in your stead. Later on in the game there might be more complex commands you can direct at them but for the purposes of my session was only able to direct them to attack and enemy or circle up on me. Your friends (pets?) can also help you navigate the game’s world, take Seth (yes Seth) for example who can allow you to travel on rails laid out through the environment.
I was not really blown away by what I played. All of your gunplay uses a heavy lock on, so any skill involved in the shooting will revolve around picking targets rather than aiming. Ultimately it feels like the challenge might come from RPG elements but as I mentioned earlier there’s not really a lot of direction you can give your AI companions.
The main character moves without any weight in her step and the game’s level design favors large open rooms with nothing of any real interest inside it. ReCore is a budget title, launching at forty dollars instead of sixty and it was easy to see why after spending some time with it. I’m still curious about the Metroid and Mega Man elements that people are presuming lie within, but they’re certainly not well represented in a fifteen minute playthrough.
State Of Mind (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
You might have heard tell of the fabled land known as Germany, where adventure games flow like ambrosial water through a babbling brook. Martin Ganteföhr hails from such a land, and has spent plenty of time developing adventure games before beginning work on his latest project for Daedalic Entertainment.
State of Mind takes place in a futuristic imagining of Berlin. You play as Richard Nolan, a successful journalist and father who wakes up one day to discover that his entire family have been subjected to “Mind Uploads” a process where their consciousness is essentially digitized, allowing them to leave behind their physical bodies. Unfortunately Richard’s upload seems to have gone wrong and has created an incomplete version of himself in virtual reality.
The game’s story is a rather serious one inspired heavily by the writings of futurist Ray Kurzweil. Specifically we’re referring to Kurzweil’s predictions regarding transhumanism, certainly a heady subject for an adventure game of this scope.
But what exactly do you do in State of Mind? We were shown an inventory system and told there were a few puzzles in the game but Ganteföhr emphasized that story and dialogue were the primary drivers and that he didn’t want something like an overly challenging puzzle to interfere with players experiencing every drop of it. The game’s current press material mentions twenty hours of gameplay, which is huge for a game that is mostly built around dialogue.
Assuming the team is able to deliver a solid english translation this is almost certainly one to keep an eye on when it releases sometime next year.