PAX West is back again and as always there are plenty of games to try out at the show. We’ve been hard at work checking out some of the indie offering around the expo hall! Looking for something to try out? We’ve got some suggestions for any type of gamer, from the cozy farmers to dark jrpg detectives!
Spiral (Folklore Games)
Heartfelt, moving, narrative
All of us are surrounded by memories – the people we loved, the moments that made us, the mementos that bring it all back when we pass by them on a rainy afternoon. This is true for Bernard, with one very difficult difference – his memories are beginning to unravel, disappearing with each subsequent recall.
The Spiral demo is a beautiful experience – but also a heartbreaking one. An artistic vision of cognitive degeneration through the eyes of an old man, Spiral encourages the player to explore Bernard’s memories the best they can, preserving as much as possible. The player will get to see key moments that led Bernard to the man that he became, but they will also get to explore small memories, like mom’s cookies or drawings left behind.
Can’t make it to PAX West? You can find this demo on steam and play it from your own home!
Mail Time (Kela van der Deijl/Freedom Games)
Cozy, lighthearted, exploration
When Mail Time was described to me as cottagecore, I was definitely interested, and it definitely delivered. In this sweet, warm open-world platformer and exploration game, you’ll play as a brand new Mail Scout – charged with delivering packages, letters, and joy to Grumblewood Grove.
Mail Time brings a cast of cute and quirky characters, all with different personalities and requests that you can fulfill by running, jumping, and gliding across the forest – and through the air! It’s a relaxing experience that lets you focus on exploring and completing your duties, and should be a good fit for anyone who enjoys a cozy story to get lost in, with no time limits, damage, or wild challenges.
If you’re not at the show this weekend, this is another game you can try out from the comfort of your own home – pick up the demo on Steam!
9 Years of Shadows (Halberd Studios/Freedom Games)
Metroidvania, action, 2D
The world has long been without color – a dark and shadowed place. A curse stemming from Talos Castle, it’s taken over everything and everyone, and Europa is ready to bring back the colors, armed with only a halberd, and a small companion named Apino.
The pixelated world of 9 Years of Shadows is beautiful, and I love the design behind its heroine, Europa. While a couple portions of the demo were so difficult that the exhibitor actually had to warn me, most of it was intuitive, approachable combat. You’ll have your halberd, Apino’s magic, and eventually music to guide your way and keep you safe through this cursed adventure.
While the demo for this one isn’t available online, you can still wishlist it!
Mato Anomalies (Arrowiz/Prime Matter)
JRPG, card game, turn-based
Set against a futuristic vision of a city reminiscent of mid-1900s Shanghai, Mato Anomalies features two distinct protagonists – a private detective solving mysteries, and an exorcist who travels through supernatural rifts, banishing demons. Most combat is turn-based battle, but there’s also a heavy emphasis on card games during what’s called “mindhacking” – you’ll pull a random hand each turn, and have to strategize your way into a win.
It sounds like a lot, but somehow it just seems to work. Mato Anomalies takes the feeling of JRPGs such as Shin Megami Tensei and Persona, and adds in an neo noir detective feel.
Mato Anomalies isn’t available online as a demo, but you can still wishlist it to keep up with its release!
Ikonei Island (Snowcastle Games)
Open-world, exploration, building/farming sim
Ikonei Island is a mysterious place, and one with a lot to uncover if you start looking hard enough. You’ll both uncover the secrets the island holds, and start to build it into your own home – farming, rebuilding statues and shrines, and learning how to talk to (or even fight) the Island’s native creatures.
While Ikonei Island falls into a popular category with its sim and resource collection aspect, its focus on exploration helps it stand out quite a bit. The island is huge, and I spent the demo finding new areas and uncovering new possibilities. Ikonei’s demo gives a good feel for the gameplay, but it’s clear there’s a lot more waiting to discover (the description promises pirates!) Interested in playing the real thing? Ikonei Island’s early access is out now!
We’ll be at PAX West all weekend! Follow us on Twitter @thegeeklygrind for more of our adventures.