I've had a long-standing rule to avoid getting involved in any sort of crowdfunded activities. I didn't donate to Shadowrun or Wasteland, but I did buy and enjoy both of them (I'm plugging both of those games right now, just so you know they're good). I haven't...
This entry by Popcannibal and Dejobaan Games probably falls under the “not a game” category according to the throbbing masses of semantics experts on the internet, but admittedly, there was no other experience like it. Elegy is really a game about writing first and foremost. By placing you in scenery inspired by British Romance-era poetry, you’re then given prompts to write about what you see. You have the option of being given bits of text and filling in the blanks or just free writing.
I got to play through a razed world full of remnants of large sculptures, possibly representations of worshipped gods. When I was done writing my little poem, the demo allowed me to see what other people wrote and comment. You can even submit your email address if you’re interested in getting continuing feedback. While there’s not much action compared to the rest of PAX’s offering, it’s refreshing to see a game about stimulating creativity in ways separate from SimCity or Minecraft.
Wadjet Eye Games is known for providing retro-style point-and-click adventures, but the Blackwell series has been its only actual series. Featuring Rosa Blackwell, a reporter who finds herself inexplicably connected to a ghost, Joey, their adventures across the previous four games have been strange and sometimes otherworldly. Now, Dave Gilbert, company and series creator, is ready to wrap it up.
The start of the game begins with the usual ghost haunting to investigate, and I felt oddly at home while getting to experience the opening chapter. Gilbert told me that in this finale, we’ll find out who Joey is among other answers to big questions fans may have had. He admitted that he’s been “too precious” with how information has been revealed in the past, and Blackwell Epiphany will be a definitive ending to the series. The wait isn’t long, though—it comes out on April 24th.
In the Kickstarter room, I met with Matt Gilgenbach, whose successfully-funded horror game was getting a lot of attention from attendees. This unique title, which features graphics like Edward Gorey illustrations, is inspired by Gilgenbach’s struggles with OCD and depression. Despite the heavy subject matter, the game is more focused on providing freaky experience for players.
You play as a young boy who wakes up in a house and starts exploring and trying to find a way out. One of the more fascinating concepts is how the game actually forces you to die in order to proceed. For example, there's a dark basement room that I navigated by using a candle I found previously. However, when I traded the candle for a useful axe at the end, I mysteriously died when I tried to head back through the shadows. I woke up in my bed again, but the axe was sitting nearby, allowing me to break through a boarded-up doorway.
Each moment was certainly tense, particularly once giant baby monsters enter the fray. For the time being, I’m excited for how the final product will turn out. Infinitap Games hopes to release it sometime this September.
Always Sometimes Monsters
I’ve never played a game that randomly had me play as an Asian man who falls in love with a black man, but that’s the kind of experience Vagabond Dog was providing players in its new demo. The game, which will actually let you choose your character’s race, gender, and love interest, reminded me a lot of To the Moon, but this interactive story has more openings for player choice. In fact, other characters in the game will respond differently to you based on how you customize yourself. The chibi sprites and '80s-style music provided for a really engaging play session, definitely one worth talking about.
Creative director, Justin Amirkhani, told me that Always Sometimes Monsters is roughly inspired by his experience hitchhiking across the US and visiting other indie devs, a trip that provided a lot of self-discovery. The title is meant to suggest that even good people end up making crappy choices that hurt others sometimes, and the demo I played only gave me a tame taste of the moral dilemmas the full game will offer, such as telling a homophobic factory foreman to f*** off. The wait for this one isn’t long either. Interested players will get to satisfy their fix on May 21st, and the title is currently on sale on Steam for 10% off.
Did you attend PAX East? What indies got you excited?