PAX East 2019: The Games

I played a lot of things at PAX East 2019, and saw even more of them. Here I have tried to include as much info as was reasonable about each, and impressions when relevant. This took far longer to get all the information I wanted than I ever expected but hey, a month after the convention is still on time for writing about it right?
Right?

5/7/19 Update: Added Rubi: The Wayward Mira, as I had somehow erased my notes on it so missed it in the original list.

Games I Played

Rubi: The Wayward Mira

Developer: Kieryst Studios
Publisher: Blowfish Studios
Release Date: TBA
Platforms: Steam, itch.io, Xbox One, PS4, Switch
Price: TBA
Genre: Action-Platformer
Number of Players: 1
Offline/Online Play: Offline
Games as a Service Plan: Unknown
Downloadable Content /Season Pass: Unknown
Loot boxes/Micro-transactions: Unknown
Control Options: Full controller support

Playing Rubi was an interesting experience–one of the devs was at my shoulder the whole time, and we spent a lot of time talking about the design choices and some of just the little things that had been tweaked. He asked questions about why I thought some things were possible or what signposting I was seeing, and generally was good conversation. The game itself is a 16-bit action-platformer, one that focused at first on NOT being able to attack, which was a fun way to learn how to use the movement techs available.

Heterotopias In the 1989 Future

Developer: Giant Incubator
Publisher: Giant Network
Release Date: 2019
Platforms: PC (Windows 7, 8, 10)
Price: TBA
Genre: Action Adventure, Cyberpunk
Number of Players: 1
Offline/Online Play: Unknown
Games as a Service Plan: Unknown
Downloadable Content/Season Pass: Unknown
Loot boxes/Micro-transactions: Unknown
Control Options: Had controller support on the show floor, other options unknown

An isometric action game with a fun, heavily Chinese mafia-styled story about agents hunting down illegal genetics amidst a cyberpunk aesthetic (lots of neon); though the localization and sound mixing were both not fantastic. Gameplay felt good–I had a lot of fun learning how to deal with the demo’s boss–a mecha-gorilla–even if I found a bug in the physics engine while doing so. The developer was pretty chill about the fact I broke his game, and even loaded a file for me that was right at the start of the boss battle so I could give it a proper go. (I promptly hit the same bug, but this time found a workaround.)
The team was Chinese, and I’ve had a devil of a time trying to track down info about the game (due to the name being a philosophical concept) and all the info I could find being in Chinese. I did consult these sources to verify what I learned on the floor and find out the Developer’s name.
Images courtesy of those sources, seems to have been some sort of press docket as they all use the same ones. Note: none of those are game play footage, which has the same style but is more of an isometric camera.

Night Of Full Moon

Developer: Giant Network
Publisher: Giant Network
Release Date: Summer 2019 on Steam, Already out on Android and iOS
Platforms: Steam, Windows only., Android, iOS
Price: Steam: Unknown. Free on Android, $0.99 on iOS.
Genre: Rougelite, Card Game
Number of Players: 1
Offline/Online Play: DLC only functions when online, game logs you off if you play while offline. (iOS.)
Games as a Service Plan: N/A
Downloadable Content/Season Pass: Some additional characters are available for $0.99, as well as larger packs of the characters and cards for up to $3.99.
Loot boxes/Micro-transactions: None.
Control Options: Touch screen (phones). PC controller support unknown.

To quote the dev “it’s basically like Slay the Spire”. You play as Little Red, of little Red Riding Hood fame, on a quest to find her grandmother. Along the way you fight monsters and villagers, use various tools to improve your deck, and hope you don’t die of poison damage. I played as one of the more difficult starting classes–the Nun–and while the prayer cards, which you choose a delay for, and the longer you wait the greater the effect of the card, were a fun mechanic to play with, I did indeed die of poison damage. It has a different action economy than its inspiration, with many basic cards being free, and different classes focusing on “actions” or “mana” for more powerful or complex cards. The art was a charming cartoony style, and I do like the story focus, but I also feel like I’d be hard pressed to recommend it, at least in current state, over Slay the Spire, which has other systems laid on top that made it unique and riveting.

Double Kick Heroes

Developer: Headbang Club
Publisher: Whisper Games
Release Date: April 11th, 2018 (Steam, Early Access); Summer 2019 Full Release
Platforms: Steam, Itch.io, Nintendo Switch
Price: $16.99
Genre: Rhythm, Zombies, Metal
Number of Players: 1
Offline/Online Play: Unknown if single player requires internet connection.
Games as a Service Plan: None
Downloadable Content/Season Pass: Soundtrack available for $9.99
Loot boxes/Micro-transactions: None
Control Options: Can be set by player to some extent, buttons can be remapped on Switch, fight stick possible (and recommended) on PC.

So I played Double Kick Heroes last year at PAX East, where the only available control scheme was a fight stick for the PC build. I enjoyed the games art, post-apocalyptic zombie setting and metal music, but I did find the actual rhythm game at its heart a little loose. This time, I played the Switch build on a Switch pro controller, and it was really disappointing. The default controls, which can be changed in the full game, used the right joystick to hit the notes, flicking it back and forth to fire your characters’ guns at the top and bottom of your car to kill the zombie horde. It felt extremely imprecise, and felt nearly impossible to maintain a streak when the notes moved quickly.
And then I tried to lower the difficulty and the game crashed, followed by the developer helpfully starting it back up for me–still at the max difficulty available in the demo. Going to have to follow this closely to know if it is worth a pickup.

Terrorarium

Developer: Stitch Media
Publisher: Stitch Media
Release Date: March 20, 2019 (Early Access)
Platforms: Steam (Early Access)
Price: $9.99
Genre: Strategy, Puzzle
Number of Players: 1
Offline/Online Play: Level sharing online.
Games as a Service Plan: None
Downloadable Content/Season Pass: None
Loot boxes/Micro-transactions: None
Control Options: Mouse and keyboard.

Described by the developers as Pikmin for horrible people, Terrorarium has you solving environmental puzzles to get to a goal with enough of your Moogu (little mushroom guys) intact in order to break the force-field on the exit. As I understood the story, you control an old space grandma that’s stealing from people’s dangerous space gardens so that she can have the best garden for an interstellar gardening competition. It’s charming while also being horrifying, as your Moogu are very easy to sacrifice, and you create new ones by having your existing ones reproduce with the uhh…corpses of the fallen.
It also includes a full featured level creator (Maker Mode I believe they called it) which was used to make all levels in the game, but I did not try it.

ELO Hell

Developer: Exato Game Studios
Publisher: Exato Game Studios
Release Date: August 8, 2018 (Early Access)
Platforms: Steam
Price: $19.99 (Season Pass)
Genre: Interaction Fiction, MOBA
Number of Players: Online Competitive, Single Player Narrative
Offline/Online Play: Online MOBA, unknown if can be played offline.
Games as a Service Plan: None.
Downloadable Content/Season Pass: $19.99 season pass is the only purchase available. One of three narrative parts of the game are out currently, and the MOBA has some of its features. Two more parts are planned.
Loot boxes/Micro-transactions: None.
Control Options: Mouse and keyboard.

Narrative adventure game, which are kind of my jam, focusing on the daily lives of some MOBA players; the demo was specifically based on the around when a new game comes out. Has all the story branching and character interaction goodness, and judging by footage from other computers, some mini-games, but I just don’t have much connection to MOBAs and that kind of play, so it didn’t really gel with me.