PAX East 2014: Day 1

All the games we loved on our first day at PAX East 2014!

Den of Geek US is at PAX East again this year, and we’ve already fallen in love with a handful of games. We had a chance to experience the freshness of indie games, as well as the power of titles from established developers. Some stood out more than others, but for the most part, everything looked and played great. We’re very excited to share what we saw with you. 

Let’s just get this out of the way: Evolve is an amazing game, and it will probably win several game of the year awards. We had a chance to play this PvP FPS very early in the morning during a special press demo, and we were still shaking by the end. One of the designers from Turtle Rock Studios told us, as we entered the demo area, that Evolve was being made with a lot of love, and that couldn’t be more apparent. The environments look great, the game plays so smoothly, and hunting down the Goliath is both nerve-racking and exciting. 

We all played as different classes — and boy, are they REALLY different. Depending what your job is during the hunt, your playthrough will be vastly different from all the members of your team. If you play as a trapper, you’ll barely need to use a clip of your machine gun. Instead, you’ll be busy harpooning and locking your prey in one place so the rest of your team can go on the offensive. But if you play as a medic, your job is to hang back a little to heal your team members and provide tactical information on the monster’s weak points. Assault is exactly what you’d think it’d be, and support offers both an offensive and defensive tactical advantage that will come in handy depending on whether the monster is trying to crush you or fleeing to regain health. Which brings me to HOW FUN it is to play as the Goliath. The sheer brute strength of the monstrosity makes you almost undefeatable. You can breathe fire, crush enemies with your fists, and you’re faster than anything else on the map. Your focus is on isolating each member of the team and destroying them. The only way you could lose as the monster is if the hunters work as a team. Only 50% of the teams beat the monster during the press demo (Den of Geek beat the monster!), so each game will always be a tough one to call.

We also got our hands on roll7’s new 2D platformer cover-based shooter, Not a Hero. Holy crap, the 45 minutes we spent playing this action game on steroids were the sweetest. Honestly, it’s a shooter that only roll7 could make: a chic pixelated look with the flow of modern console shooters. It’s like you’re stepping into a 2D John Woo film. The first thing we learned during the demo is how much freaking fun it is to slide through a hallway unloading your clip on unsuspecting enemies. You can blow some one out of a window with your shotgun, or completely turn into deli meat with grenades or the exploding cat. Yeah, it’s insane. roll7 plans to dish out several different worlds for this new game, some screaming neon, and other darker and murkier that replicate a hardboiled novel. The best thing about this game is that SOMEONE has figured out how to do something cool and new with cover-based shooters. Sliding into cover and reappearing with a shotgun to blow your enemies out of tenth-story window has NEVER been so much fun. This has been a pet project of roll7’s for quite some time. They’ve been designing it in the background while porting their skateboaring epic OlliOlli to the PS4. Undoubtedly, this is a labor of love. We asked roll7 when we could expect to see this game on the market. Possibly end of year, they said, but really when it’s finished. 

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Press Play announced their new game, Project Totem, right before PAX, and boy did it hit us like a ton of bricks. We weren’t ready for the sheer awesomeness that is this new platformer. As we write this, we’re not sure exactly how to describe Project Totemexcept that it’s an homage to the classic platformers of yore (Creators Asger Strandby and Bo Strandby namedropped Super Mario World) with a twist. You control two characters (one purple and the other green) at the same time, as you dash through color-coded levels. Most of the time, you’ll have to jump through puzzles or aerial death traps, diving into color-coded checkpoints, which will make switch the order of your purple and green characters — only the purple can go through the purple checkpoints and only the green through the green checkpoints. See? I told you it’s a little difficult to explain. We also had a chance to play co-op, and that’s where the concept of totem poles really come into play. You and your partner must constantly stack on top of each other to gain access to parts of the map that you can reach on your own, or two solve puzzles to get to the next area. Press Play was nice enough to let us play some secret levels, as well, that we won’t tell you too much about except that you’ll love them for sure, as they introduce varied environments that you’ll find both familiar and surprising. Also, the guys at Press Play are SO nice, which is more the reason to get behind their game! No release date on this either. It’ll be ready when it’s ready.

Finally, we reach the big surprise of Day 1 at PAX East. There’s a little game you’ll find amongst the behemoth indie titles. It’s called Paperbound, and it’s crazy fun. Dan Holbert, designer of this brawler-style 2D game, describes it as “Smash Bros. on crack.” And he’s right. Not only is the gameplay crazy, it’s also very addictive. We backtracked and played it again after we’d done our first lap around the convention floor. What makes Paperbound so fun? You get sword, throwing scissors, and grenades to vanquish the other players on the map, as well as the ability to change your flow of gravity. One minute you’re standing on the ground, and the next on the ceiling. You can jump from platform to platform, no matter whether you’ll end up upside down or right side up or sideways. Really, you can get anywhere on this map in order to kill your enemies. It’s on Steam Greenlight right now, and you should rush to get it. We think this game is going to be the digital-only sleeper hit of 2014.

We’ll have WAY more PAX stuff for you today, but right now it’s time to get back on the floor! Stay tuned at Den of Geek US for more on PAX East 2014 and all your gaming news!

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