Analog Addiction’s Top 10 Games of PAX East 2015

Last weekend saw the annual PAX East take Boston by storm, with developers, journalists, and gamers from all around the globe attending the event. We were lucky enough to be in attendance this year and there was certainly no shortage of games to demo. While there were not many AAA titles, it allowed an unbelievable number of indie developers to showcase their games to the masses on a large platform as well as interact with gamers, answering questions, and offering hints in moments of confusion. Picking favourites from the monstrous list of titles displayed at PAX is no easy feat, but we have whittled our choices down to the top 10 games we got our hands on during the show. We strongly suggest you keep your eyes on each of the titles below because they are shaping up to be magnificent experiences.

10. FORCED 2: The Rush

This cross between a strategy card game and hack/slash is thoroughly enjoyable both in brief stints and extended periods of play. The game operates as a sports season whereby the player is given the freedom to choose their opponents based on who they believe they can defeat and which rewards they find most appealing. You will find yourself fighting your way through several rounds of minions and lower tier enemies before battling the boss or opponent you chose. Throughout the entirety of the level, these bosses will taunt you or modify various elements of the level based on how angry you make them through your actions. Win or lose, you will undoubtedly be given the opportunity to face off against that boss again, and some of them will begin to expand their dialogue as they establish more of a rapport with you. If you defeated them last time, you might hear them explain they’ve upgraded their armour or that they look forward to getting revenge.

There are a number of protagonists for you to choose from, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. The levels are all procedurally generated, causing the layouts to change constantly, and as you progress through the game, bosses begin to receive different buffs. It is especially key during these moments that you play your cards properly, using them strategically to enhance your abilities, make yourself more powerful, or increase the number of special attacks you use with a single button press. Look for FORCED 2 to launch on PC this September.

9. Planet of the Eyes

Planet of the Eyes is a side scrolling retro inspired puzzle platformer in which players take control of an exploration robot that has crash landed on a strange planet. The planet and the crash are shrouded in mystery, with a story that plays out through discoverable recordings of a surviving crew member. Levels contain a variety of environmental obstacles and physics-based puzzles that test the player’s problem solving skills as well as reflexes. There is a real focus throughout the game on the idea that the little robot is just one wrong move away from death; jumps often only barely land, and there is a sense of urgency to almost all of the gameplay. Speaking of death, the Planet of the Eyes team is proud of their numerous and unique death animations, citing a key feature of the game as “Robot Deaths.”

8. Party Hard

Officially annoucned at PAX East, Party Hard is the game all about getting obnoxiously loud parties to stop. How do you go about completing this task? It’s simple, you murder everyone at the party. There are attendees who are passed out, some who are unaware of their surroundings due to being so engulfed in their own activities, those who will actively wander the party, and the DJ who does not seem to care what happens even if someone gets murdered directly in front of him. You cannot let any of the party-goers see you murder someone, as they will immediately call the police and you will be arrested. If you happen to be near a dead body when someone finds it, they will likely accuse you of murder and you will be arrested. The trick is to murder people when they are on their own or out of range from others and then escape the immediate vicinity. When you make it back to the party, simply dance when the body is being found and you should be alright. That’s right, there is a button command to make your character dance so that you seem less suspicious.

If you choose more complex routes, you can manipulate items throughout houses to kill guests while you are not around and most of these are simply found by trial and error. Just to add some extra pressure to the situation though, the police officers may randomly choose to arrest someone when they arrive at the house so even if you thought you covered your tracks, you may still be carried off to prison. While it is such a simple concept, the amount of pressure felt as you play is unbelievable, and it is an absolute blast to play. Party Hard is coming to Steam, iOS, and Android later this year.

7. Necropolis

Necropolis is a stylish third person action adventure game tasking players with fighting their way out of a magical dungeon. With a difficulty inspired by Dark Souls, getting through the game will be no easy task with countless deaths awaiting everyone who rises to the challenge. The game utilizes permadeath, making each death a learning experience, but also offers multiple ways to progress through scenarios. An initial response to being swarmed by enemies is to simply attack, but Necropolis has a living ecosystem within the dungeon, meaning that some monsters feed on smaller enemies, and if you happen to find one of the former, you may be able to lead them to the swarm, clearing the way for yourself with much less hassle. For those that enjoy a challenge, Necropolis is a must-try and you can read more about it in our PAX spotlight piece.

6. Toto Temple Deluxe

So I’m carrying this goat on my head, and my friend slams into me and steals it away. I know, it sounds weird, but it is so much fun. In Toto Temple Deluxe, a local 4 player party game, the object is simple: get the goat. Four characters dash around a temple trying to hang on to a goat that seems to be particularly important. The game offers a variety of modes, powerups, and other mechanics to make each level engaging and exciting. This title is fantastic in a party setting and may lead to a couple of severed friendships.

5. Fortified!

In this retro sci-fi 4 player co-op title from Clapfoot, players join forces to protect a city from invading aliens. Inspired by War of the Worlds and other early sci-fi stories, Fortified combines shooter, real-time strategy, and base defense mechanics in a fast paced and exciting party game. Four playable classes offer a variety of weapons and tactics that will all come in handy in fending off the opposing force. Players have a chance before the waves of enemies begin to place turrets, landmines, and other weapons that can slow or destroy the oncoming aliens. Players even have the opportunity to train and command units. Fortified is a great co-op game that will be out this summer!

4. Severed

This first person action adventure game from Drinkbox Studios follows Sasha, a young woman who wakes up to find herself missing an arm. She is also given a living sword as a weapon to fight the enemies which attempt to ensure her demise. Launching exclusively on the Playstation Vita this summer, Severed uses the touch screen in a perfectly intuitive manner to engage the player. The sharp contrast between the bleak story and the bright, vibrant colours is just a part of what makes this title so charming. While the demo at PAX East only gave us a brief glimpse of what to expect from this title, it appears that Severed will quickly become a fan favourite.

3. Neon the Ninja

Ninjas are no longer hiding in the shadows all dressed in black. They are… Well, actually, they’re doing stunt work and birthday parties, but not Neon! Neon is the colorful title character in this punk rock anti-establishment ninja land, and he is on a mission to rebuild the ninja reputation. Hiding in the shadows is too old school for this ninja; he prefers bright colors that allow him to hide in plain sight. The eye-catching camouflage offers a new spin on the ninja narrative, allowing Neon to blend in with the unique and hand-drawn environments in order to cause some heavy duty damage. Taking down an enemy often results in blood splatters that could make Tarantino jealous, and the stealth takedown is especially rewarding. Each level offers multiple paths to completion, and players can even choose the order they encounter each boss.

2. Woolfe: The Red Hood Diaries

In this (un)fairy tale side scrolling platformer, players guide Red Riding Hood through a hazardous world as she seeks the truth about the sinister BB Woolfe and the death of her parents. It may sound like heavy subject matter, but The Red Hood Diaries incorporates some pretty fantastic humor along the way. The dialogue is full of puns and quips, and even some of Red’s body language is dramatized just enough to make it comical. Red herself is a well rounded heroine, guided by her emotional attachment to her family, but also full of sass and unafraid to take on the tin soldiers (each of which is named after a specific Kickstarter backer) patrolling her town. Though primarily a platformer focused on story, The Red Hood Diaries offers challenging puzzles and smooth combat that break up the jumping and double jumping quite well. Woolfe: The Red Hood Diaries is out now on Steam Early Access, or you could just wait until Tuesday, when the full version will be available for purchase.

1. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

In addition to being one of the most anticipated titles of the year, The Witcher 3 presents players with an expansive world full of side quests, life, exploration, and a story which may lead you to forget all about your actual life for a while. The final chapter in Geralt’s story will have players slaying gryphons, racing across the land on horseback, venturing off in search of your beloved Yennefer, and trying to locate a young woman named Ciri. With the story missions alone providing roughly 50-60 hours of play time, we can only imagine how long it will take to complete if you attempt all of the side quests. One thing is for sure though, The Witcher 3 is looking like it will live up to the standard set by its predecessors and surpass them. The Witcher 3 is scheduled for a May 19, 2015 release and you can find our impressions of the PAX demo here.

This concludes our list of top 10 games we played at PAX East this year. Are there any games on the list you’d like to learn more about? Are there any of them which captured your attention more than the others? Let us know in the comments below.