By the third day of PAX East the vibe becomes different, in part because it is the busiest day by far, but also because the show is well under way and people are focused on what they want to see. In my case I had a mission: to line up and get autographs from the Team Fortress 2 actors for my son while keeping my many appointments to see games.
Unfortunately the autograph session started late and after 2+ hours I had to back out of the line and get to my main purpose at the show, checking out some of the many games available on the show floor.
Saturday was a packed day and I was able to check out many varied experiences, from an RPG about a cook trying to save her restaurant to a remaster of a truly weird game about killing vampires by undressing them. I was also able to check out a retro shooter take on the Warhammer universe as well as a surprisingly deep action RPG set in a Dune-esque wasteland.
I checked out Atlas Fallen purely because I had heard some nice online comments about it and I am glad I did. The demo starts midway through the story so I had no idea what the heck I was doing, but the gameplay as well as the stunning look of the world had me hooked right away.
Playing as a character who has a mythical gauntlet granting fantastic powers, I was thrust right into a series of short tutorials teaching traversal, attacks, dodging and special powers and abilities. It was overwhelming at first but I quickly got the gist of the game and was battling enemies in the sandy wastes with a speed and style I quite enjoyed.
Traversal is a combination of almost skating rapidly across the desert wastes and double jumps and quick dashes. Part of the joy I had in this demo was just quickly running between areas, gliding across the sands of the well-rendered universe.
After a bit I was sent to a village where some initial missions and dialogue options were offered. Conversations were a bit clichéd but the village was well populated and fun to explore as I did some busywork for the local sergeant.
All in all I quite enjoyed my time with Atlas Fallen. It would have been great to start from the beginning so I could understand the world and get used to the mechanics, but that’s tough to do with a demo at PAX East. From what I saw though this looks to be a sprawling adventure with some deep mechanics and progression systems that I look forward to checking out when it releases in August for PC via Steam as well as PlayStation 5 and Xbox X/S systems.
Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun
Another interesting title I was lucky enough to check out was the ‘boomer shooter’ look at the Warhammer universe Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun. Essentially it’s a blend of Warhammer 40,000, classic, frenetic FPS gameplay and the stylish visuals of ’90s retro shooters.
The concept of the game, as if it really even needs one, is to play as a battle-hardened Space Marine on a perilous mission across the galaxy, fighting the Chaos Space Marines and daemons of Chaos. In the demo that meant kill everything that moves in fast retro style, which was actually quite fun.
What struck me right away was how powerful I felt. Melee strikes and shots from my guns felt strong and impactful and attacks against me could be shrugged off for a time. The fast pace had me running, jumping and sliding all over the levels as I chased down enemies and secret paths.
Although designed to look like retro shooters from the ’90s the game looked great and leaned into the HD pixel look, and with added bells and whistles shined on screen as I played. The action was violent and satisfying and represented the dark and violent world of the 40k universe very well.
Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun will release later this year on PC via Steam as well as on PlayStation 4/5, Xbox One/X/S and Nintendo Switch platforms.
One of the more unique and enjoyable games I checked out at PAX East was Cuisineer, a food-focused action roguelike that has us trying to save a restaurant by fighting for food and ingredients in a dungeon. You play as Pom, a former adventurer who has to fight through dungeons to save her family’s debt-ridden eatery. The game is quirky and fun.
Part Tunic-style dungeon and world exploring RPG and part restaurant sim, Cuisineer was charming, good to look at and most importantly fun. The game starts with Pom trying to get the restaurant back on its feet by gathering more and more ingredients and recipes, then becomes a mission to revitalize the whole town with her culinary and fighting skills.
I enjoyed my time running around dungeons gathering the necessary ingredients and then running the restaurant each night as I learned more and more recipes while expanding the eating space. There is a lot to see and do in Cuisineer and the demo just scratched the surface.
What I enjoyed the most was talking to the lead developer, who told me the game was a Hail Mary as they were struggling to find a format that resonated with people. After showing this game at PAX East 2022 they were picked up by XSeed games and given resources to grow the game to a deeper experience,. This passion and depth showed in the demo and I am looking forward to the full release.
Cuisineer is so far slated to release later this year on PC via Steam and they hope to expand to consoles in early 2024.
Trinity Trigger is an interesting action role-playing game I checked out at PAX East. It combines the look and feel of iconic RPGs of the ‘90s with a modern emphasis on fast-paced, customizable combat.
As you take the role of Cyan and his companions Elise and Zantis, this fast-paced and action-heavy game had a cute look and feel, with anime-style characters and dialogue. The hook of the game has the companions joined by Triggers, strange creatures with the unique ability to transform into eight types of weapons that players must master if they hope to be successful in their quest.
The game revolves around solving puzzles and battling creatures, using the different weapons to take advantage of their weaknesses, and of course saving the world. I found it fun, but not terribly engaging.
It is designed to be played solo (with companions controlled by AI) or via co-op for up to three players. I demoed the game with a couple of other players and actually found the co-op aspect a little distracting and would have preferred a completely solo experience.
Regardless the game looks interesting for those who find the look and concept intriguing. Trinity Trigger will release April 25 for PC via Steam as well as on PlayStation 4/5 and Nintendo Switch platforms.
AKIBA’S TRIP: Undead & Undressed Director’s Cut
By far this was the weirdest game I saw at PAX East (and in a long time I may add). Featuring a Persona-style adventure and characters, AKIBA’S TRIP: Undead & Undressed Director’s Cut revolves around defeating vampires invading Akihabara by damaging, then stripping them.
Yes, in this game the characters need to attack enemies to the point that their clothes are damaged enough, then execute moves that tear off clothing till they are undressed. Once they are down to their underwear the creatures posing as human are defeated and disappear.
I could not help but chuckle as I tried the demo, exploring Akihabara while detecting then battled enemy vampiric creatures called Synthisters. The sun kills them, but special clothes protect them from harm, hence the clothes need to be removed (of course).
Crazy concept aside, I was shown the many types of fighting styles, weapons and, ahem, undressing tactics that the characters can employ, and it was far deeper than I expected. A base and character roster expands as the game progresses, as does the customizable look of the characters.
This game originally released in 2014 and is now getting new DLC and remastered visuals as it releases on Nintendo Switch for the first time later this year. The extra content, including the true ending with character Kati, will be available in this AKIBA’S TRIP: Undead & Undressed Director’s Cut release and as DLC for the existing PlayStation 4 and Steam PC versions.