PAX East has become the place to find a huge gathering of independent smaller games thanks to areas like the Indie Mega Booth and PAX Rising. There are also many hidden gems scattered through the show floor that really stand out from the crowd. I try to check out as many of the smaller titles as possible to see what’s on tap from these talented developers in the coming months.
One of the first games I wanted to check out at PAX East was this charming little game called Above from Mighty Moth studios. What I saw in the trailer clicked a whole pile of my buttons and I wanted to see more as soon as possible. This title is still a long way from release (early 2019 is the hope) but I really liked the framework I saw.
Above is an exploration/flying/adventure game with a deeper story than I expected. The main character has been ejected from her zealous community for daring to want to fly. She decided to risk exile and take to the skies; her brother is missing so she embarks on a quest to save him. Quickly in my short demo I saw that there is more to the game and world than it seems at first glance.
The core gamplay so far (I have been told there may be a lot of tweaking) has the pilot travelling around the map – which is a flooded landscape – looking for upgrades to her plane and clues about her brother. On her adventures to rescue him she will travel across dimensions and meet many people and even monsters in the waterways.
I was instantly charmed by the game’s look and feel as well as the developers’ clear passion for the title, which has been in development for a few years now. They have received great feedback and are able to continue working on the game independently until its release. This is one game I am excited to keep checking out until its release next year.
Tales of the Neon Sea
If there’s one thing I love it’s a good cyberpunk setting, and Tales of the Neon Sea caught my attention right away with a bright and vibrant look that echoes a pixelated Blade Runner. In speaking to the team, from a Chinese indie studio called Palm Pioneer, that is exactly the look they are going for, and they nailed it with the visuals on display.
This noir-inspired point-and-click adventure game features a retired detective (in this demo his cat) who is brought back into a cold case when new evidence pops up. The part I played was just a snippet of the introduction but was very interesting as I got a good feel of the tone and humor of the game.
The demo starts with the main character restoring some power to his apartment but ends with the local cat exploring and reaching the boss of his clan. The dialogue was interesting as were the few puzzles on display, which were just challenging enough to give some pause but not too hard to be frustrating. There will be much more to the game, according to the developer, but what I saw so far from the demo and trailer definitely intrigued me.
One of the best pieces of news from the Palm Pioneer team is that the game is nearly complete and will be available on Steam in late summer, a very quick window between reveal and launch. It’s a great-looking game with a terrific art style, fun gameplay, and a surprisingly funny narrative experience.