THE BEST OF PAX EAST
INDIE MEGA BOOTH
by Robert Wery
PAX’s embracing of indie games with its traditional Indie Mega Booth has shed a light on a myriad of amazing games, and this year has been no different. We took a look around and tried our hands at a few of the PC games available, and to be honest, some of them may have outgrown the title of indie.
Currently in Early Access, Trailmakers is a vehicle based construction game with a LOT of room for creativity. The gameplay is heavily based on the physics engine, which starts out very clunky, but more a fault of user trial and error than the game’s mechanics. I was able to play the creative mode where all parts were available for free, and after crashing to pieces multiple times, my design steadily improved and I was eventually able to properly turn and use a rocket booster to launch off some of the existing jumps.
And then I tried my hand at the premade vehicles. I immediately chose the pod racer, which was hilarious to zoom by others also demoing the game (there’s both a single player and a multiplayer) but again it forced me to really consider the directions of the boosters to properly propel myself where I wanted to go. This one is definitely for the experimental-minded gamer.
The Shrouded Isle
A highly stylized “cult village manager,” think a darker and more in-depth version of Mafia. As the High Priest of the Shrouded Isle you must prepare for the awakening of your Lord Chernobog, and purge any sinners that might get in your way. The five families struggling for power are fraught with secrets, both virtuous and heretical, and the first playthrough is a lot to take in. Over time, as your actions shape the island and a sacrifice must be made, loyalties begin to shift and they may shed their ignorance in search of other truths. It’s an intricate game with a lot to consider before making decisions, and the characters and conflicts are random each time. There are six possible endings, so you’ll be able to play it multiple times to get the hang of the game but it’ll stay fresh and challenging each time.
Self-dubbed as Jetsons meets Austin Powers meets Adam West’s Batman, The Take is a quick and fun party-style VR game. Two players take turns playing hide and seek with an object in a choice of three different sized rooms. The hider can rearrange the room however they please, write clues on the walls, even place traps to obscure the seeker’s vision. It’s a game where ingenuity and the ability to get into each other’s heads is key, but it’s easy to get carried away in an elaborate scheme and forget about the time limit. Meant to be more of a hot-seat multiplayer game, The Take is an entertaining way to include everyone in the room, rather than watching one person play for extended periods of time.
Q.U.B.E. 2 is immediately reminiscent of Portal, but not to say it’s a clone. In comparison, a much more mysterious and sinister feel accompanies the sequel’s custom-made story, which is a marked improvement over the previous iteration that had story tacked on after the fact. After a quick intro, the game immediately begins to dish out puzzles, and it’s sink or swim with a blue/orange toolset. Blue produces a surface that launches, and orange pulls out to create pillars or shelves. With a solid balance of thoughtful play and quick reflexes the playable portion of Q.U.B.E. 2 at PAX hinted at an enigmatic plot and a deep pool of extensive puzzles, I can say that this game would scratch any Portal 3 itches.
Rite of Ilk
A game currently in development by AAA developers turned indie, Rite of Ilk is an entirely co-op (couch and online) based game. In an effort to right the wrongs of their ancestors in the eyes of the gods, the Ilk tribes of Azath send two younglings to travel to the ceremonial tower and offer their sincere apology. Based on what was playable, it’s an intuitive and imaginative co-op game where you’re literally tied together by a rope that is both a blessing and a curse. With some coordination with your partner, the rope becomes a fun way to navigate the game’s vivid world, and debilitating when out of sync. The release date has yet to be announced, but they’re predicting a 2019 release.
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