PAX Prime has come and gone, the glitz and glamour of one of gaming's biggest events is in the rearview and I've had a lot of time to reflect on what I saw and experienced. I'm not going to talk about marketing-backed games like The Order or Evolve. This list is about the games you might miss otherwise, and why you shouldn't.
I didn't get around to seeing Chariot until the last day I was at PAX Prime, and it's my biggest regret of the show. Chariot is a couch co-op physics-based indie platformer in which a princess and her fiancee must deliver her father's remains in order to inherit her kingdom.
Of all the games I played on the show floor, I found myself wanting to come back to Chariot the most. The level designs are well thought-out and tricky. It's the kind of game that'll have you frantically shouting at your partner to push or pull or jump or use an ability in the best kind of way. Chariot is one of the few games that makes the lack of online multiplayer feel like a really good thing.
Chariot is currently scheduled for release on both last- and current-gen consoles as well as PC later this year.
Of all the games I played, Fantasy Life is the one I've described the most consistently: it's kind of like a cross between Animal Crossing and A Link Between Worlds. I'll try to elaborate as concisely as possible: imagine you're in a world where you can be an adventurer like a knight or paladin, or something a little more slow-paced like a blacksmith or carpenter. That's Fantasy Life.
It's a game that's hard to describe, but one that is definitely worth your attention. Of all the games I played, Fantasy Life has the most potential.
Fantasy Life releases this October on 3DS.
Swords & Soldiers II
I should start by saying I'm not a big RTS fan. I never cared much for Starcraft or Warcraft (back when that name meant something other than MMOs), or Command & Conquer despite most of my friends being hooked.
There's just something original about Swords & Soldiers II though, and it just drew me in. The game eschews the standard issue overhead view in favor of side scrolling mechanics. You don't direct units beyond occasionally changing their paths, every unit walks from left to right until they encounter the enemy and then attack indiscriminately. As the commander, you're also given special abilities, such as the ability to summon lightning or cast other spells to help your units out. Those changes aside, everything else feels like standard faire for the genre but those changes might be just what Swords & Soldiers II needs to pull naysayers like myself into the game.
Swords and Soldiers II is expected to launch later this year on Wii U.
Life Goes On
There are platformers that force you to die, then there are platformers in which you have to die. Life Goes On, which is currently in Steam Early Access is the latter. At first glance, Life Goes On is your standard puzzle platformer. Take a second look however, and you'll realize that this somewhat morbid run and jump requires the player to send poor knights to their untimely demise to help the next in line progress.
In a genre that seems to have done it all after its millennial explosion, I didn't think I'd see anything that could surprise me, but I was wrong. It didn't take long to adjust to the idea of tossing myself into the fire in hopes of my dead body creating an opportunity for the next knight to clear a gap or avoid any number of unpleasant fates.
The best part? Of all the games I've listed, Life Goes On is available now on Steam.
Sure, Kotaku has written about Axiom Verge before. The world loves it, even. That aside, I hadn't heard of this title prior to PAX. To say that Axiom Verge is like Metroid would be an understatement of epic proportions.
If I were tasked with describing Axiom Verge to someone who hasn't played a Metroid game before, I'd describe it as a run-and-jump shooter in which you must explore the world around to you to unlock new weapons, kill bosses and survive. Of course, being released some 25 years after the genre was eventually started has its benefits, Axiom Verge packs some really cool weaponry like a lightning gun that homes in on enemies.
Axiom Verge is due out in 2015 on PS4, PS Vita and PC.
That's my list. Are there any games you feel haven't gotten their chance in the spotlight? A game that's already out or that's coming up that is under appreciated? Let me know in the comments!