Video game conventions went on hiatus at the beginning of 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. While the world is still very much dealing with this virus, conventions like Pax East and others have begun to adapt to the changing world and have re-opened its doors. This means that for the first time in a long time, the Prima team was able to go to the show and see how things faired for one of the biggest video game conventions on the East coast. Here are some of our favorite games we played this year.
No Place for Bravery
At first glance, I wasn’t sure this would be something I’d be into, but after an extensive hands-on demo, I walked away pleasantly surprised with it. With obvious inspiration for Souls games, No Place for Bravery feels like a blend of these games while still retaining its own identity. It mixes fast-paced combat, a rewarding parry system, and some platforming that blend together into something all its own.
The story of No Place for Bravery pulls from the developers at Glitch Factory’s own personal life experiences. It’s not a game about being the hero, but of someone needing to make choices and living with the consequences left behind from those actions.
The game is set to release on Steam and the Nintendo Switch sometime in Q3 of 2022.
Lucid is a game that was not actually on the show floor, but one that we were able to see behind closed doors at the convention. It pulls its inspirations from games like Celeste with its beautiful pixel art-style and challenging movement system. Developed by The Matte Black Studio this game is the work of one developer and it truly blew us away with its artwork, character design, and rewarding gameplay.
It mixes intense platforming with a robust combat system that allows players to swap abilities and weapons on the fly. What caught our attention the most is the clear potential this game has for speedrunning at events like GDQ.
Lucid does not have a current release date but you can check out the Steam page and trailer for the game.
Ok, so what if you played Pong but cranked it up to 11? Match Point pits two teams of two against each other in a hyper-intense matchup. Each player can move freely through a divided arena to try and knock the pong ball into the enemy team’s goal.
You have a wide array of different tools at your disposal from a charging kick to a double jump. Each player can use a tether to pull the ball into their range which leads to a tug of war between players all fighting for control. It’s the game at PAX that I kept going back with friends to play over and over again.
Each match lasts about five minutes and leads to those edge-of-your-seat moments that can end in heartbreak or total victory. It’s easy to pick up with a group of pals or total strangers and once that led to all sorts of new strategies every time I played.
Match Point is currently out on Steam.
On paper, Dolmen doesn’t really stand out. After all, “sci-fi Soulslike” ain’t new. But in practice, Dolmen just feels great to play. It’s responsive and communicative, making throwdowns with bizarre aliens and other strange enemies tough but fair. The premise is interesting, with a time and space-shifting theme that’s baked into the familiar Soulsy mechanics. There’s also an intriguing elemental system, with weapons color-coded and every enemy having a specific weakness. Much to my chagrin I wasn’t able to clear the first boss before I ran out of demo time, but a look inside the character’s home base-slash-spaceship at a crafting station and an in-depth level up, uh, tube(?) had me wanting more.
Dolmen is coming on May 20 under the Prime Matter banner ($39.99)
What if Footloose was cyberpunk? In Keylocker, music has been outlawed, and you’re in jail for just wanting to shred. This game combines intriguing visuals with some surprisingly deep turn based combat to easily stand out among its peers. Combat involves both timing checks and positioning, with a little bit of rhythm on top. There’s a real sense of humor as well, so I can’t wait to dive further in and see what happens when I get to keep murking robo-cops with sick bass lines.
There’s a demo on Steam right now!
Gori: Cuddly Carnage
This game broke me for a minute. Presented to me as a mystery game, Gori ended up being a neon-colored mashup between Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and like, Darksiders. You play as a human-sized cat while a foul-mouthed AI system powering a weaponized hoverboard guides you around. With a second AI baked into a videogame cartridge, your goal is to set up base on a planet overrun by evil alien unicorns and violently fix any problems you run into. It’s extremely juvenile in a way I normally wouldn’t be into. But the player character just being a literal cat that only meows and makes noises while a trashier Guardians of the Galaxy vibe explodes around them makes it funnier. I’m curious to see if that novelty can sustain through a whole game beyond a demo.
Wired Productions is publishing this one, at some point, probably.
For fans of industry games, we got you covered. Techtonica is similar to games like Factorio and Satisfactory but instead of the allure of simply building a big factory, it has a story that will pull you along its various challenges. This stood out to me because often with these games you get caught up in the details without feeling a proper throughline.
While of course during my demo I still focused on making the most efficient production pipeline I could to make sure that iron ore smelting down and was turned into beautiful industrial parts, it was the curiosity of what was around the corner that kept me pushing forward.
Techtonica, while still extremely early in development showed a clear understanding of some of the frustrations with the genre and sets to fix some of them. You’ll be able to craft more complicated parts by simply clicking on the part rather than needing to craft the base components first, making it fluid and less user intensive to make basic parts. You’re also able to craft in the background while completing other tasks.
Simple changes like this make Techtonica feel like the finished product at the end of the conveyor belt as opposed to the raw material like similar games before it.
There is no currently announced release date, but you can wishlist it on Steam here.