A Stranger Look at the PAX 10 of indie games for 2018

Soon, the PAX West show will return to the Seattle city for 2018. And within, are some new gems from this year’s PAX 10 lineup.

The PAX 10 is an annual list of industry chosen new indie games, earned approval as worthwhile to check out to all gamers. These interactive works add fresh and innovative elements in gameplay, have an interesting style, fun and sometimes weird. For both the PAX West and East shows, attendees can demo these games, with the developers usually present. Each annual list is special and inspirational for new upcoming talent, showing you need not big company brands to impress potential gamers. Just keep the player engaged with something original, engaging and fun. Others will notice.

For this 2018 run, here is the PAX 10 worthy of your attention:

Gunhead

Developer – Alientrap
Platform – Windows/Steam
Genre – Roguelike FPS
Website: www.alientrap.com

“Gunhead is a fast paced roguelike FPS where you take the role of a pirate mech with a gun for a head, looting derelict spaceships filled with monstrous drones made out of bone and steel. Sequel to Cryptark – Coming 2018.”

Personal Thoughts: The art style is beautiful and comic book cell-shaded. The overall feeling is a bit visual overload, but maybe that’s part of the fun.

Mirror

Developer – Ian Lilley
Platform – Windows / Linux
Genre – Puzzle
Website: http://www.mirrordropgame.com

“Mirror Drop is a psychedelic 3D puzzle game where you maneuver a reflective sphere in a world full of mirrors, over-saturated colors, and infinities. Each level contains three puzzles and a hidden exit, set against 100% raytraced alien geometry.”

Personal Thoughts: This looks trippy as hell, and could be more involving as a VR title.

DropOverload

Developer – Revival Productions
Platform – Windows / Mac / Linux / Xbox One / PS4 (Steam/Gog)
Genre – Shooter
Website: http://www.playoverload.com

:A new six-degree-of-freedom shooter from the creators of Descent with intuitive controls, amazing lighting and graphics, and the best zero-G robot-blasting combat ever devised.”

Personal Thoughts: Looks very polished, with a lot of added potential for VR.

Pizza Titan Ultra

Developer – Breakfall Inc.
Platform – Windows via Steam (Xbox One / PS4 Coming Soon)
Genre – Action
Website: www.pizzatitanultra.com

“Pizza Titan Ultra is a fast paced 3rd-person action platformer focused on fighting and smashing through a futuristic city, in a giant mech, to deliver pizza. Experience arcadey action with speedy attacking and dodging, but also attempting to control the massive weight of a 10 storey mobile pizzeria. Just try not to make too much of a mess.”

Personal Thoughts: I love this ridiculous premise, where Crazy Taxi meets Gundam. The mech designs are awesome.

Praey for the Gods

Developer – No Matter Studios
Platform- Windows
Genre – Action Adventure
Website: www.praeyforthegods.com

“Praey for the Gods is a brutal journey set on a desolate frozen island, where your only chance of survival is to destroy the very gods you believe in. In Praey for the Gods, you play a lone hero sent to the edge of a dying world to discover the mystery behind a never-ending winter. Arriving with only the clothes on your back, you must survive the colossal dangers that you encounter. To restore balance and reclaim the land from the brink, you will be faced with questions that not even a God knows the answer to.”

Personal Thoughts: A beautiful, story-driven game, where the play and progress is the exposition, driven by exploration and survival. As a big fan of the classic Shadow of the Colossus game, this excites me.

Retimed

Developer – Team Maniax
Platform – Nintendo Switch
Genre – Multiplayer Arena Shooter
Website: maniax-games.com/Retimed

“Retimed is a local multiplayer arena shooter for 2-4 players with slow-motion. It’s a combination of Super Smash Bros and the film Matrix. When an enemy bullet gets close to you, time slows down and a time bubble is created around the player. Now there is enough time to react and try to dodge the deadly projectiles. These time bubbles generate exciting alternations between fast-paced movement and tension-filled slow motion moments.”

Personal Thoughts: An interesting concept, which I think I would need to test before getting too involved.

Roundguard

Developer – Wonderbelly Games
Platform – Windows
Genre – Rogue-like
Website: http://www.wonderbellygames.com/

“A bouncy physics-based roguelite with a cast of oddballs, procedural dungeons, and lots of loot. Like if Peggle played D&D in the basement.”

Personal Thoughts: This looks fun. I like when RPG elements gets mixed into other genres. 

Shift Quantum

Developer – Fishing Cactus
Platform – PS4 / XBOX One / Nintendo Switch
Genre – Puzzle Platformer
Website: www.shiftquantum.com

“Axon Vertigo, the world’s leading authority and most trusted friend in cerebral contentedness programming, promises to deliver better life quality for everyone with the Shift Quantum program. Connected to the cyber-noir action-puzzle platformer, you will be task to solve puzzles and create negative space by inverting the world to transform barriers into escape routes. Shift the world, twist your environment, bend your mind to unveil its secrets and solve each brain-drilling level. Make use of all special gameplay blocks to overcome obstacles and get to the exit to find the happiness you have been searching for and promised by Axon Vertigo.”

Personal Thoughts: I like the customization feature, and would play it just to see what others would come up with. I like the style too, and hope there is a good story with that too.

Tick Tock: A Tale for Two

http://www.ticktockthegame.com

Developer – Other Tales Interactive
Platform – Windows
Genre – Co-op adventure
Website: www.ticktockthegame.com

“Tick Tock: A Tale for Two is a co-op adventure where you and your friend get trapped by the skilful clockmaker Amalie Ravn. In order to escape you need to navigate a magical clock world filled with secrets and puzzles. The only problem is… neither of you have the full picture. Prepare yourselves for a narrative experience where your communication skills are put to the test. Read out loud to each other, discuss what you see, and combine the information on your two screens to get closer to the truth and your ultimate escape. Play on any two devices, local or remotely, all you need is a voice connection.”

Personal Thoughts: An interesting idea this is. I like it, but would need the right kind of person with a good attention span to take this seriously.

With Friends Like These

Developer – Shy Kids Club
Platform – Nintendo Switch / PC
Genre – Co-Op 2D shooter
Website: www.shykidsclub.com/with-friends-like-these

“With Friends Like These is a game that lovingly forces co-operation. Everyone on your home planet is super bored and over worked! So you and your bestie have decided to take everyone on a trip to Crazy Time Planet where everyone can let off some steam. Unfortunately, things go wrong and you crash into Super Chill World, your friends don’t realise they’re on the wrong planet and start to cause chaos. It’s up to you and your pal to collect up all your friends before they cause too much damage and drive the Super Chill residents insane.”

Personal Thoughts: Cute and weird, which the games industry can never have enough of. A game like this would work well in a video arcade cabinet, and I would spend the quarters for it.

GRIS, an upcoming beautiful and surreal game revealed

GRIS___Screen_15

Nomada Studio and Devolver Digital have announced GRIS, a serene and evocative narrative experience, for Nintendo Switch and PC later this year.

Free of danger, frustration or death, players will explore a meticulous designed world brought to life with delicate art, detailed animation, and an elegant original score. Through the game light puzzles, platforming sequences, and optional skill-based challenges will reveal themselves as more of Gris’s world becomes accessible.

Trailer:

GRIS is a hopeful young girl lost in her own world dealing with a painful experience in her life. Her journey through sorrow is manifested in her dress, which grants new abilities to better navigate her faded reality. As the story unfolds, Gris will grow emotionally and see her world in a different way, revealing new paths to explore using her new abilities.

Based in Barcelona, Nomada Studio is composed of experienced developers and artists outside of video games with disciplines in illustration, painting, and graphic design. Featuring art from noted artist Conrad Roset and the music of Berlinist, GRIS is their debut title as a team.

GRIS will be playable at Gamescom and PAX West, later this month. Follow @nomadastudiobcn and visit nomada.studio for more  information on the game.

HAROLD HALIBUT, a handmade adventure indie game planned for 2019

 

Cologne, Germany-based developer Slow Bros. is building a new world, piece by piece using hand-crafted real toy models, puppets, and other real world supplies; all incorporated into their new adventure game, Harold Halibut.

Harold Halibut is a narrative exploration game that combines underwater atmosphere and self-reflective humor with a unique art style.

Comprised entirely of real world supplies and made in Unity, Harold Halibut aims to bridge analogue and digital art. Slow Bros. sculpts, paints, and glues together the models and puppets that make up the world of Harold Halibut, while a team of digital artists renders these objects into the virtual space.

Harold Halibut tells the tale of a clumsy lab-assistant and janitor who was born on a submerged spaceship that crash-landed on an alien planet made entirely of water. Never knowing what life was like on Earth, Harold spends much of his time daydreaming about what’s beyond the subterranean vessel in which he is bound. After spotting an unidentified swimming object, Harold becomes obsessed with uncovering the mystery behind this aquatic planet.

unnamed (1)

“Harold Halibut started out as a dinner table conversation about the adventure games we played as children,” said Slow Bros. designer, writer, and composer Onat Hekimoglu. “We soon started building dollhouse sized sets and puppets in our bedrooms. The result works like a game but it looks like a stop motion film. Welded metal, carefully sewn textiles against tiny wooden floorboards, and clay faces the size of walnuts pull the player into Harold’s world.”

“We are beyond excited to be partnering with Slow Bros. on Harold Halibut,” said Simon Byron, Publishing Director at Curve Digital. “The sheer amount of work and intricate detail that Harold Halibut brings blew us away, and we can’t wait to show you all more.”

Slow Bros developers with Curve Digital will target Harold Halibut a 2019 release for PC and consoles. For more info, visit www.haroldhalibut.com.

E3 2018: Indivisible, a new animated gaming adventure revealed

 

Another overlooked gem from this year’s E3 Expo is Indivisible, a fully animated game with a hybrid of platforming and turned based classic RPG elements.

This new adventure is developed by Lab Zero (the creative team behind Skullgirls) and published by 505 Games.

Indivisible stars Ajna (AHZH-na), a girl who sets out on a globe-spanning journey to discover the truth behind her mysterious powers. On her quest she’ll be joined by a variety of unique heroes and gain new abilities to traverse the environments and defeat the enemies they’ll encounter along the way.

In addition to a fresh spin on RPG gameplay, Indivisible features a deep storyline inspired by southeast Asian and other world mythologies, Lab Zero’s trademark feature-quality 2D hand-drawn animation,

For the soundtrack, Lab Zero brought aboard Secret of Mana composer Hiroki Kikuta. The game will also have an animated opening by popular anime studio TRIGGER.

Indivisible is planned for release in 2019 for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Steam for Windows / Mac / Linux. For more info, check out the official site at www.indivisiblegame.com.

E3 2018: SABLE, a new indie game with Moebius inspired animation

Through this year’s E3 show event, an announcement trailer for a new game Sable stands out for something different and exciting for gaming fans.

The trailer gives a style must be stylized after the classic artwork and storytelling of Jean Henri Gaston Giraud, more known through his pseudonym Moebius. As for the story itself, it follows through its description from Shedworks, the developers behind the new game:

Sable is a coming-of-age tale of discovery through exploration across a strikingly rendered open world desert. Go on a deeply personal journey across an alien planet while learning its history and discovering Sable’s place in the world.

This is Sable. Created by Gregorios Kythreotis and Daniel Fineberg from a studio they’ve founded called Shedworks. Original soundtrack (including the song for the trailer) composed by experimental pop artist Michelle Zauner of Japanese Breakfast. Narrative crafted by the talented Meg Jayanth. Sound design from Independent Games Festival award-winning audio designer Martin Kvale. Animation by brilliant newcomer Micah Holland.

Sable is planned for release on the PC and consoles in 2019. For more info, visit sablegame.com

E3 2018: GreedFall, an upcoming historical fantasy fiction game

 

 

Amidst the many new games at the E3 2018 show, a new trailer for GreedFall shares the spotlight.

GreedFall is an upcoming RPG game set in a 17th century setting mixed in magic, developed by Spiders Games. It sets for a tone inspired by European Baroque art, depicting grandiose sceneries in muted warm colors and dark undertones.

Here is more from a press release given by its publisher, Focus Interactive:

This E3 Trailer reveals the origins of GreedFall’s story, as settlers, mercenaries and treasure hunters, fleeing a continent plagued by pollution and an incurable disease, set foot on a remote island seeping with magic, rumored to be filled with riches and lost secrets. A grand journey filled with mystery follows, as you find yourself in the middle of ever-increasing tensions between the invading settlers and the locals, who are protected by manifestations of the island’s earthly magic in the form of supernatural beings.

With a strong focus on its core RPG identity, GreedFall follows Spiders’ experience in building intricate worlds filled with mysteries to discover, weaving deep character interactions, and offering players freedom to achieve quests and objectives in many different ways – through combat, as well as diplomacy, deception or stealth. The island of GreedFall is a living, ever-evolving world. Your actions, from seemingly trivial choices to the most important political decisions, will influence and alter its course, as well as the relationship between the different factions established on the island.

GreedFall is currently in development, and set to releases on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. For more info, visit www.greedfall.com.

E3 2018: Cyberpunk 2077, a promising trailer of dark, dystopian edge

 

Cyberpunk 2077 is set to bring back the urban dystopian science fiction style, to the latest generation in gaming from The Witcher series developers, CD Projekt Red.

The new game recently revealed at the 2018 E3 Expo in Los Angeles, with a promising trailer. Cyberpunk 2077 is set in an open world, narrative-driven role-playing game set in the universe of the Cyberpunk 2020 RPG books first published by R. Talsorian Games in 1988.

A bit more from a recent release from CD Projekt Red:

The game follows the story of V — a hired gun on the rise in Night City, the most violent and dangerous metropolis of the corporate-ruled future. A robust character creator will allow players to choose V’s gender, visual appearance, character class, as well as historical background — all of which may influence the shape of the game.

With dozens of hours of main story arc quests, and many more of additional activities, there’s always something to see and do in Night City. Players will experience all of it entirely through V’s eyes, with an interactive dialogue system that gives them greater narrative agency.

Returning in Cyberpunk 2077 is CD PROJEKT RED’s hallmark of choices and consequences. As they make their way through the streets of Night City and its sky-scraping megabuildings, players will face difficult decisions that will ripple through the entire game.

Personal Impressions: I’m looking super forward to this, as it has all that I have been wanting in a character and story driven RPG mass world-building with that classic feel of dark cyberpunk style, not really felt since the days of Shadowrun, Deus Ex, and the first half of Final Fantasy VII. The music is also a nice touch.

Cyberpunk 2077 is planned for release on the PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. For more information, visit cyberpunk.net.

 

Path to Mnemosyne, a new experimental indie game in making, trailer revealed

Indie game developer DevilishGames recently unveiled a trailer for its upcoming game, Path to Mnemosyne. It looks interesting…

A recent news release gives a little more:

“After the launch of King Lucas in late 2016, at DevilishGames we opened a phase of ideation and technical and artistic experimentation in search of our next independent project. The premise during the pre-production phase was to seek artistic, narrative and playable innovation to try to achieve a unique experience for the user.”

So far, Path to Mnemosyne is in full development phase in its version for Steam via the PC. The game is planned for the light in the first half of 2018.

New Star Trek Discovery Trailer and SDCC Panel Notes…

Over this latest weekend, CBS released a new Star Trek Discovery trailer, the next televised series bearing the Star Trek name in over a decade. Much on this upcoming Fall series was revealed, while raising new questions.

Here is the new trailer…

 

And, here are some new tidbits recently revealed at the San Diego Comic Con, through press releases and panel:

The updated cast:

Sonequa Martin-Green (First Officer Michael Burnham), Doug Jones (Lieutenant Saru), Jason lsaacs (Captain Gabriel Lorca), Shazad, Latif (Lieutenant Ash Tyler), Anthony Rapp (Lieutenant Paul Stamets), Michelle Yeoh (Captain Philippa Georgiou), Mary Wiseman (Cadet Sylvia Tilly), Chris Obi (T’Kuvma), Mary Chieffo (L‘Rell), James Fruin (Ambassador Sarek), Rainn Wilson (Harry Mudd), Terry Serpico (Admiral Anderson), Maulik Pancholy (Doctor Nambue), Damon Runyan (Ujilli), Rekha Shanna (Commander Landry). Kenneth Mitchell (Kol), Clare McConnell (Dennas), Sum Vanholomeos (Ensign Connor)

First Officer Michael Burnham (played by Sonequa Martin-Green) is Spock’s half-sister, with Sarek as her surrogate father. She was raised by her mother Amanda. The canonical reason Spock not mentioning her is unclear, but Executive Producer Alex Kurtzman said during the panel that they are aware, and such will be addressed with in time.

Ambassador Sarek (played by James Fruin) will be explored as a character further since his introduction in the classic series, as we find him younger and learning about emotions. He is also a mentor to Officer Burnham.

Saru (played by Doug Jones), is a Kelpien, a tall alien with hooves for feet.

The Klingons are back, but with the obvious difference in their appearance and presentation.  Little is known towards why, other than the promised expansion of their culture and heritage, and not as repeat villains.

Little is known about Lt. Stamets (played by Anthony Rapp), other than he will have a male love interest and partner; which will make him the first openly gay character with a lead crew role in Star Trek history.

Not much is known about Ct. Lorca (played by Jason Isaacs), other than he is different in character from past starring captains of the Star Trek franchise.

The creators announced Jeff Russo (FX’s Fargo, Extant, The Night Of, Legion) as the new composer on Star Trek: Discovery.

Star Trek: Discovery will première in the U.S. on CBS All Access (CBS digital subscription and streaming service) Sunday, Sept. 24. A broadcast première will follow on the CBS Television Network. The series will also be distributed on Netflix in 188 Countries.

The first season will run for 15 episodes, with the first eight initially running from the première date until November 5th. The second half will resume in January 2018.

Images: Courtesy of CBS

French animated film THE GIRL WITHOUT HANDS, heading for US screen showings.

This week, film distributor GKIDS (Guerrilla Kids International Distribution Syndicate), released a new trailer and releases dates for its sublime The Girl Without Hands French animated film, based on the Brothers Grimm fairy tale. The film opens in New York at the IFC Center on July 21, 2017, and in Los Angeles at the Laemmle Music Hall on August 4.

The Girl Without Hands (French: La Jeune Fille sans mains) is directed, written, edited, and animated by Sébastien Laudenbach in his feature debut. Laudenbach animated the entire film on his own, with hand-painted crafting. Featured voicework will include Anaïs Demoustier (The New Girlfriend) and Jérémie Elkaïm (Declaration of War). The film premiered in the ACID section at Cannes, was nominated for Best Animated Feature at the César Awards, and won both the Jury Prize and the award for Best French Film at the Annecy Animation Festival.

“In hard times, a miller sells his daughter to the Devil. Protected by her purity, she escapes from the Devil who, in revenge, deprives her of her hands. So begins her long journey towards the light… but in spite of her resilience and the new protection of a handsome prince’s estate, the Devil devises a plan of his own.”

The new trailer:

 

The Girl Without Hands is planned for more select theaters after it’s US premiere. For more info, visit www.thegirlwithouthands.com.