PAX West 2017 – Trevor’s Sunday - Enemy Slime

PAX West 2017 – Trevor’s Sunday

My legs cannot go much longer


Wrapping up at PAX West this year, here are three more titles we spent some time with:

Biomutant (PC, PS4, Xbox)

Biomutant is a third-person fantasy, post-apocalyptic RPG game with a lot of personality and comedy. I took a dive into the 25-minute PAX demo that showed off a slice of what the game had to offer.

The mix of ranged and melee combat was the highlight of the game, using combos between the two weapons and slow-motion bullet time effects make for exciting enemy engagements. Right now the combat seemed clunky at times, but I think that was mostly due to lack of polish. There was no HUD which was strange because I couldn’t even see my own health, although I suspect that in the demo they made the player invincible, which may be why there was no health bar. The one thing I really would have liked to know is how many bullets were in my gun, which wasn’t being displayed anywhere and the only reason I could tell I was out is the click click sound and the comic-esque visuals saying “click” every time I pulled the trigger. I hope the addition of a HUD is part of their plan and I suspect that it is.

The demo took me through a series of rooms and outdoor arena type stages to fight against various enemies and the variation that I saw in 25 minutes was pretty decent. Opponents looked fairly similar but the mechanics of how they fought and their weapon of choice was different. For instance there was one big guy who threw explosive barrels constantly and then another one that looked the same but used a giant car door to protect himself from attacks. The attacks you have at your disposal to dispatch foes is is also plentiful, with different combos for your melee and ranged weapons as well as the ability to combine the two for further variety. There were also special mutant abilities, such as telekinesis and a type of Sith Lord lightning attack. There was also a brief weapon crafting demo that didn’t allow for much customization based on the materials in hand, but it has potential.

I look forward to learning more about the RPG aspects of this game and how the progression of the mutant abilities and character stats work throughout the game. There also seemed to be an open world aspect to the game at the end of the demo which is common in these types of game but expected. The personality and comedy of the game looks promising, but I think the success of the game will largely depend on the execution of the combat when it releases in 2018.

Black Mirror (PC, PS4, Xbox)

This reboot of a 2003 point-and-click mystery game of the same title puts you in the shoes of David Gordon, who has a shady and tragic family past. Your father has just died and you come to the family mansion in Scotland to take care of the estate for the first time in your life.  The time period is 1926 Scotland and the mansion is dark and ominous with a beautiful lighting job to keep tension high. This reboot is no longer point and click, but an adventure game similar to the recent Sherlock Holmes games.

There is a good attempt at smooth voice acting and transitions from game play to cut scenes but during the demo there was quite a bit of choppiness in the game. This is concerning, considering the game comes out in November of this year, but in crunch time there is the possibility that the dev team gets this smoothed out.

Otherwise the demo played how it should and gave a good representation of the game you will be seeing on release. It is not my type of game but I know many others who would be excited to play a title like this: Story-driven and scary during a great time period in history. This will make for an entertaining title in the end of November.

Symmetry (PC)

This survival management game starts by dropping you and your small crew onto a foreign planet in a crash landing. The twist is that only part of your crew lands together at the crash site with others getting scattered throughout the map. The goal is to get the different ship parts working so that you can get off the frozen, hostile world. Drawing inspiration from movies like Snowpiercer, the prospect of surviving the circumstances are brutal – The game is not meant to be won on your first pass, but only after you have gotten the micro-management down and devise a successful strategy. The dev explained that it is basically impossible to save all eight of the crew members on the planet so the goal is to get at least one off and home safely.

The art work draws you in with its simplistic design. The HUD and other information being displayed on screen is easy to understand and catch on to quickly without much tutorial. I did lose a crew member to hunger in the first ten minutes because I didn’t let him eat, but that is the kind of mistakes they want you to make in Symmetry so that you can correct them on the next try.  You must collect scraps from the wreck, wood for the fire to keep warm and someone even needs to be the chef and create food for the crew. In a sadistic twist, when I lost my first crew member I found I was able to bury him or use his body as food and I choose to eat him as not to waste the precious resources. There is constant micro-management of crew member energy and food levels as well as figuring out where best to devote each person to in order to get you to your goal as fast as possible.

The game starts very slow but I can tell that even after twenty minutes the speed starts to pick up and the management will get more frantic, especially once you find more crew members to manage. I am very interested to see more of this game once it releases to get a better idea of how hectic it will become. Finding the balance between frenzied and impossible-to-manage is key to these types of management games and in the demo I wasn’t able to get a clear picture of how well this plays out, but more time will tell.