PAX Aus Roundup: Indies You Might Have Missed

Another PAX Aus has been and gone, and boy howdy was it a big one. It was so big, in fact, I didn’t actually see everything this year and I’m still mad about it. Mostly because I was also sick this year and my nose was bleeding all over the place which is bad when you’re wearing a fake mustache for cosplay, but hey! The important thing is, I got some games in. Which is the ideal situation at a gaming convention. I did this for you. And if you are someone I met and passed the PAX Pox onto, I am so sorry. I am so, so sorry.

So, video games! This year’s offerings were bigger than ever. The PAX Rising area was the largest it’s ever been, and there were plenty of spaces dedicated to student games as well. If you walked away without playing at least one indie game you did something horribly wrong and I feel so bad for you.

But that’s okay, that’s why I’m here, to point you in the direction of a few of my personal highlights.

 

Speaking Simulator
Affable Games

Listen. I’m tired of simulator games for the most part. Remember when that was a fad, and then a bunch of them came out, and it was utterly exhausting and nothing innovative was happening? Yeah. That sucked. But this game isn’t like that. Yeah, it’s a simulator, but… Let me start over. Do you remember Octodad? That was a good game, and this is sort of like that. You’re a robot trying to infiltrate human society, and to do so, you have to speak like a human. This requires moving the mouse in order to change the mouth shape, and then using the WASD keys to control the tongue. It requires a lot of thought and coordination and I am very bad at it, but I was also absolutely delighted playing this. It’s gross, but charming. Hideous, but beautiful. I’m not sure if the build I played was buggy or it’s just normal to for a robot to kind of shove its tongue in weird places of the mouth not capable for regular humans, but I still had a good time.

 

Storm Boy The Game
Blowfish Studios

I had to read Storm Boy in highschool. I don’t actually remember anything about it other than that there was a boy and I guess he had something to do with storms? There was a pelican? I think a beach was a large part of it. I assume so because this demo took place on a beach and this boy spends a lot of time in the water, as well as storms, presumably. So when I heard a game was being made of Colin Thiele’s classic novel, my first thought was ‘aw nuts, I wish I could have played that at school instead of being shoved into a dark theater to watch the movie adaption that I think I enjoyed?’ And hopefully that’s what this game will offer to kids. A better way to interact with the novel. Because the demo I played was stunning and full of cute little moments. It’s a point and click adventure, with the player guiding said storm based boy across the beach as excerpts from the novel play out, and then the player is invited to interact with those excerpts. I played fetch with Mr. Percival. I drew things in the sand (not crude things, I did not succumb to temptation and sully this adorable title). I stared out into the ocean in awe. A big part of me hopes this is the future of assigned novels in schools, because letting people interact with the world instead of just observing it changes everything. Also, pelican fetch.

 

Neo Cab
Chance Agency 

This is hands down the most gorgeous game I played. Look at it! It’s so pretty! A vibrant cyberpunk noir kind of world! Neo Cab tells the story of one woman trying to survive in this world. She’s essentially like an Uber driver, but the last human for hire driver in a completely autonomous world. New in town, she’s left with numerous decisions to make. What’s more important? Her cash, or her star rating on the app? The quality of her customers, or her own wellbeing? In the demo I played, I had to keep an eye on my cash, filling up with enough fuel to make a couple of trips. I picked up a passenger in a no park zone and was soon pulled over by a nasty looking future cop who quickly socked me with a fine as well as forcing me to make a financial ‘donation’ to some kind of ‘charity’ or. Something. But I got that sweet five star rating from my passenger. Another passenger I picked up was a dodgy looking cult member, who turned out to be super chill, actually, and we talked about his cool death cult and how the world was going to end. Nice guy! There’s also a lot of personal mystery around every corner, with the hunt for a close friend and having this lead to something bigger that you still need to balance with, you know, having a job and getting money to be alive with.

 

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