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PAX

Noteworthy

Clank!
Dire Wolf
The first physical board game designed by the video game studio that makes the digital CCGs Eternal and Elder Scrolls: Legends and is doing the digital port of the board game Lanterns. (In fact, they’re publishing Clank! through the company that published Lanterns. It’s sort of a mirror arrangement.)

It’s a deckbuilding game with a boardgame element. It’s the same general concept as Trains, although designed from the ground up rather than making shallow changes to Dominion and tacking a board game on. Players are thieves delving into a dungeon to skirt encounters, grab treasure, and get back out before the dragon kills them. They need to decide whether to build up their decks with movement, combat, gold, or VP depending on their approach to victory, which hallways they plan to take, how deep they’ll try to go, and what other players do. Some cards give you Clank! points, indicating that you made noise and attracted the dragon’s attention.

Pyre
Supergiant Games
An upcoming RPG from the makers of Bastion and Transistor, with the same attention to art style and amazing sound design. Pyre makes an ambitious choice: the realtime conflict mechanic is closer to soccer than to swords or shootyguns. That’s daring considering how much of the video game-playing public prides itself on disliking sports.

Super Galaxy Squadron EX
Synset
A scrolling vertical schmup from a small indie company. Not innovative, but fun, with a difficulty and a control scheme that were tuned very well to my personal tastes (or maybe I simply picked a good ship option).

Misc.

The American Dream
Samurai Punk
A tongue-in-cheek social commentary first-person shooter, chronicling the early childhood of a boy in 1950s America learning to grow up and use his guns for everything from eating to learning arithmetic.

Super Dungeon Tactics
Underbite
A 1-player tactical game that’s a close implementation of the board game Super Dungeon Explore by Soda Pop Miniatures. 2D square-map-based fantasy skirmish combat, a la Krossmaster or Final Fantasy Tactics or the four D&D boardgames or… Nothing really new, but polished and colorful.

SIX (Seattle Indies Expo)

Noteworthy

Topsoil
The standout title from SIX for me. It’s a simple, elegant, touchscreen-friendly puzzle game of the sort that epitomised the mobile platform when that hardware was still new. You have a 4x4 gridded field. Each square can hold one plant. You receive list after list of random plants and must plant them all, one per square. At the end of each list, you must reap one contiguous group of identical plants. Reaping a larger group scores more points and (more importantly) clears more room for additional planting. Complicating things further, each square has a color. Only groups that are all on one color can be reaped, and reaping cycles the land’s color. You play until you run out of room.

Bring Your Own Book
Do Better Games
Close runner-up for most promising game at SIX. A digital tool for playing their existing board game over the internet with the help of a mobile device. It’s not standalone — you still need a physical book. The app handles the random questions. Once you find an appropriate passage, you take a picture of it with the device’s camera and highlight the relevant phrase so player in the judge role for the round can read your entry from a single image rather than an audio feed.

Ghostlight Manor
Digital Future Lab
A puzzle game that takes the form of a turn-based shooting gallery. Ghostly forms follow a winding path down the screen in strict rank and file, while the player, in the form of a flashlight, takes actions illuminating a column of his choice. The first lighting reveals an enemy’s true form. The second one dispels it for points or some bonus effect. Skilled play comes from dispelling multiple foes in the same column.

Misc.

Friday Night Bullet Arena
A competitive 2-player vertical-scrolling shmup. Both players fly on separate screens facing duplicate patterns of enemies. Performing well builds up combo points that you can spend to spawn extra obstacles on your opponent’s playfield or even temporarily morph into a boss that invades his screen and attacks him.

Rewind
Stubborn Horse Studios
A 3D first-person puzzler involving time manipulation and sending multiple copies of yourself to do multiple tasks simultaneously.

Armour on the Wastes
Reluctant Koala Studios
A simple, top-down, 1-player tank combat sim. Combat against multiple AI tanks, with a basic story about trying to salvage the alien tech that’s crashed in enemy territory. Realtime, but old-school feel and grognardy.

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