PAX East was a little over a week ago. Four days of revelry in the world of both video games and tabletop games. I would be remiss if I did not admit that the world of indie video games is just as intriguing to me as tabletop gaming. So I’ve taken a moment to reflect on some of the titles I can’t stop thinking about now that I’ve demoed them. Don’t worry, I asked each of these developers if they also enjoyed playing board games and they all came back with the correct answer, so they passed inspection.
Above, Mighty Moth
Above comes to us from Benjamin Salqvist and Mighty Moth of Denmark. In Above, you pilot a small aircraft, exploring a flooded world filled with mystery and maybe some magic. You’ll collect resources to satisfy missions and earn the tools you need to upgrade your aircraft to fly farther and faster taking you deeper into the story. At first glance, this game seems like a flight simulator, but there’s a ton of story to experience through a beautifully rendered landscape. The simple flying controls really encourage you to take risks as you’re piloting your aircraft to explore the limits of what you can achieve.
Below, Capybara Games
Unbeknownst to Capybara Games co-founder, Sean Lohrisch, Below was demoing at PAX with the aforementioned Above. There is no relation. Except there are some really positive similarities, like the game’s use of landscape to elicit atmosphere and tell a story. Also, both games appear on this list. In Below, you will dungeon crawl through a world you know nothing about, learning the tools you need to survive the hard way. Game developers intentionally give you little to no information from the onset to indicate how you should approach gameplay. You just have to take a leap of faith (and then sometimes start over)
It is unclear whether you are just an oval shape or a colorful bean, but Pikuniku has plenty of personality. This indie is coming to us from Sectodub and Devolver later this year. You can play single player, wandering the friendly world you live in to your heart’s content, or you can play with a friend, tackling a wide variety of puzzles. While a side-scrolling game, Pikuniku is far from linear. It offers an openness in single player mode, we don’t often see in indies this size.
Projection, Shadowplay Studios
Projection follows a young German girl, Gretta, who has run away from home to find a life more exciting than her own. During her travels, she encounters four cultures (Indonesia, China, Turkey, and England) and their different forms of storytelling as reflected through the medium of theatre and puppets. Through a series of simple controls, you’ll manipulate light and shadow to help Gretta progress through her story. Creator Michael Chu, a fan of story based games like Dungeons and Dragons, believes in getting his product right. Not only does this creative team identify with many different cultures, some depicted here, but they poured hours of research into accurately depicting the artistic flavor from the various locations.
Good Shepherd Entertainment has partnered with Independent South African developer Nyamakop to bring Semblance to Nintendo Switch later this year. In Semblance you are a squishy deformable character manipulating the deformable world, Squish, to solve puzzles, and more specifically, to save the world from a infestation of a hard material. Ben Myres, one of the developers for the game, explained that the inspiration for the game actually came from an attempted design about a bug while finishing studies at the University of Witwatersrand. While the bug is now gone, the unique interactions between a moldable character and its “play dough” world are here to stay. Definitely keep an eye out for this one.
Sleep Tight, We Are Fuzzy
Sleep Tight is a tower defense game where you star as a kid defending your bedroom from the monsters that attack in the night. You’ll do this in waves, earning resources from your monster takedowns that you can spend to increase the structural integrity of your bedroom, you know, with more pillows and couches and nerf gun turrets. Your goal: Last as long as you can. I’ve demoed this game at two conventions now with equal enthusiasm. Between character variability and a slew of monsters I haven’t even seen yet you can be sure I’m ready to on the full build of this game.
All images provided by respective publishers and or developers