We’ve made it through another day at Pax West, interacting with some new devs and some old friends. I found some of my favorites entries of the show so far today, so for your consideration, here is:
Keyboard Sports – Saving QWERTY (Triband, PC)
One of my favorite things about going to PAX is when I’m introduced to a game that I never would have looked at otherwise and find out that it’s great, which was 100% the case with Copenhangen dev Triband’s Keyboard Sports. What sounds like a Mario Teaches Typing-style project is actually a little less formal and a lot more open ended, putting you in a colorful, cheerful world, solving puzzles and navigating some pretty fun action scenes using the keyboard as your sole input for control. Most states set the player on a keyboard-layout area where instead of being asked to hit specific keys, whatever key you press on the keyboard determines where you move. Depending on the task at hand, you might be tasked to move your character through a maze, avoid obstacles, evade and even shoot enemies, and quite a few other different tasks built around the idea of using the keyboard as a controller. My particular favorite in the demo has the player on top of a faltering airplane, the wings set up as your keyboard area, and you must push around cargo and use your weight to tile the plane and evade oncoming obstacles.
While it may sound trite to say so, the game has a ton of charm. It’s bright, simple graphics are a little reminiscent of Katarmari Damacy, and add a lot to the feel of the game. In addition to some really cool puzzles, the game also has a soundtrack that is, again, very charming, but also features live symphonic tracks that added add a lot of polish to an already very slick game. This was a game that went completely under my radar, but now that I’ve seen it I think they’ve got the makings for a pretty sweet title, one which I will be sure to follow up on.
Pathologic 2 (Ice Pick Lodge, PC)
It’s always a treat to drop by the tinyBuild booth at PAX to see what new, off-the-beaten-path titles they’re adding to their lineup, and this year was no exception. Today we demoed Pathologic 2, a first-person survival horror title, which is pretty departure from what I think of when I think of tinyBuild. Pathologic 2, which is less of a sequel and more of reboot/rebuild, puts you into a Victorian-like world as the last doctor in a town where the a plague has stricken the local populace. You have 12 days to diagnose the plague and devise a cure, pressing you traverse a quarantined town, avoiding militia and plague victims to try to piece together the mystery.
The demo we played didn’t have a huge wealth of content just yet. I moved through a few buildings, looting chests and autopsying corpses before I was captured and put in front of a firing squad. It’s hard to capture a lot of fear and angst on a noisy show floor, but so far it looks like they’re building the right structure for a creepy, unsettling time. It’s early on, but this has the making for a potentially intriguing title, and with tinyBuild backing them up, I am hoping for good things.
Break Arts II (MercuryStudio, PC)
Hailing from Osaka, Playism presents Break Arts II, a mech-racing game that allows you build your own mech, with a suite of customization options, allowing players to choose from a huge number of upgrades, weapons and designs to build your own unique robot. Once you have your custom mech you can take them out on stylish neon tracks to race at high speeds. The demo I sampled today was only a time trial, allowing me to kick the tires of robot racing, which felt pretty smooth. In the future the dev intends to add multiplayer for online competitive matches, as well.
Ark – Survival Evolved (Wildcard Studios, PC)
I stopped in at the Ark booth for a quick chat one of the game’s senior producer to find out a little bit more about their upcoming release as the title leaves Early Access on Steam. The new content expounds upon the added worlds of previous releases, this time going underground into a world of caves. Some of the exciting new features coming with the expansion is a new type of gliding pack, which allows you coast safely from heights, as well as the ability to scale cliff walls, adding climbing mechanics that seem to add a lot of vertical mobility to game. The game also expands upon the numbers of dinosaurs and items, offering a lot of new content for veteran players. Never having spent any time with ARK, I’m not sure how this will impact the existing game world, but the new content might be the perfect excuse to check it out. We will investigate further and do an update once we’ve spent more time with it.