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Brad's PAX Prime 2011 Report: Day Three--The Indies, Part 2

Brad Gallaway's picture

Here is the final part of my PAX games coverage. It's definitely overdue, but hopefully there will still be something here to chew on…

Sine Mora

The first of two DL titles from Grasshopper Manufacture, this one was a rather attractive-looking shoot-'em-up that reminded me quite a bit of Metal Slug, except starring a transforming airplane rather than a tank. I couldn't gather much of the story during the demo (I'm guessing there isn't much of one...) but the gameplay looked right and it had a fun, light energy about it.

Black Knight Sword

The second download from Grasshopper, this 2D sidescrolling action game didn't look quite as good as Sine Mora. In this particular title, I think the main draw is meant to be the visual style. Vaguely analogous to some sort of paper craft or puppet show, it does have a certain flair. However, in the brief time I had hands-on, I didn't find much of interest. Some hacking, some slashing, some jumping... if there is a hook to the gameplay, I didn't find it. I'll be continuing to keep an eye on this one, but I'm not expecting too much.

Fez

Everybody and their brother has written about this one, so I doubt it's news, but just in case... this game stars a cute little character who has to navigate a 2D world. The gimmick is that the world can be rotated in order to change the topography. For example, a gap that is too far to jump can be crossed by turning the world on its side. The change in perspective eliminates the distance, and then can be easily traversed. It reminded me quite a bit of the PSP's Crush, although given the fact that hardly anyone has heard of that title (let alone played it) it's not much of a surprise that the mechanics on display in Fez strike most players as brand-new.

Vessel

I saw this one at the recent Seattle Indie Expo, and it's only gotten better-looking since then. Sporting a strong Steampunk vibe, this title challenges players with a variety of physics-based puzzles and gameplay that hinges on manipulating creatures made of liquid. The art style is highly attractive and the implementation of the creatures is much more complex than you'd assume at first glance. I absolutely can't wait to get my hands on this one.

Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack

This particular title was running on the PS Vita, and it looks like it will shape up to be a strong entry for the new hardware's launch. The player takes control of a blob that can consume items smaller than itself. In that sense it's a bit reminiscent of Katamari Damacy, but there are also strong notes of LocoRoco in terms of how the blob generally handles. That said, it would be doing became a disservice to make those comparisons and leave it at that. Drinkbox Studios has come up with several unique twists that take advantage of the Vita's abilities, and the little bit I saw suggested that a fair bit of puzzle-solving will come into play as well.

Closure

This game was one of the more mind-bending titles I saw at the show. The player controls a spider-like character who carries little balls of light from place to place. The game's hook is that anything outside the globe given off by these lights does not exist. It's a little hard to describe without actually playing it first-hand, but imagine a level whose platforms, structures, and landscape utterly disappear if they aren't being illuminated. I found myself constantly falling to my death as my brain struggled to come to grips with the fluid nature of each area—simply remembering where a platform was doesn't help. If it's in the dark, it's not there.

Although there were tons more games that I saw and certainly several dozen more worth mentioning, it's time to wrap up my coverage and say goodbye to another year's PAX. However, I do have a few photos from the event to post... I'll go through and pick out the best ones, and once those are up, I'll be returning to my regularly-scheduled rambling.

Thanks for reading!

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