This year's PAX Prime will feature plenty of recognizable
, but it's also a showcase for standout indie titles. In fact, the annual event has a huge booth dedicated entirely to indie games, the Indie Megabooth, and it's often one of the big highlights of PAX Prime. AAA games
The lineup for PAX Prime 2015 is extensive, and it touts plenty of intriguing projects from all kinds of independent developers. Here are 10 of the most noteworthy indie games that the public will get their hands on at the event later this week.
Top 10 Indie Games at PAX Prime
Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden was a ridiculous homage to JRPGs and basketball legends that came out back in 2008 at the reasonable price of $0. It features the titular Charles Barkley as he tries to escape Michael Jordan and the B-Ball Removal Department after an individual kills millions of people with a Chaos Dunk. It's absolute insanity on a minute-to-minute basis, but in the best way possible.
rnThe sequel looks to match that insanity and even eclipse it. I mean, this is a game with a full title of The Magical Realms of Tír na nÓg: Escape from Necron 7 – Revenge of Cuchulainn: The Official Game of the Movie – Chapter 2 of the Hoopz Barkley SaGa. As for the story, it involves "a powerful youngster, wise beyond his years, [who] awakens from a B-Ball induced coma aboard the mysterious dwarf space ziggurat Necron 7, held captive by the Malevolent A.I. Cuchulainn." If that doesn't grab your interest, I don't know what will.
Below was first revealed back at E3 2013. The action/adventure game from developer Capybara Games, best known for Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP and Super Time Force, emphasizes atmosphere and challenge. The protagonist is just a small spec in a huge environment, and it contributes to the game's effective use of scope and size. rn rnIt also means death comes often. Dangerous enemies lurk around every corner in Below, and I learned the hard way when I played it at E3 earlier this year. It doesn't take much to die in the game, but it coincides with Capybara's vision for a brutal roguelike experience in which permadeath plays a key role. Hopefully PAX Prime is the last preview before the Xbox One/PC game comes out.
Chasm, an upcoming action-platformer for PlayStation 4 and PC, first generated buzz with a Kickstarter campaign two years ago. Its combination of dungeon crawling and intricate platforming clearly appealed to fans of Castlevania and Metroid titles, and thus it successfully reached its funding goal. Since then, developer Discord Games has been hard at work on Chasm, and it looks to be paying off. rn rn Chasm was one of the best indie games I played at E3 this year. On the surface it appears to be simple in structure, but the game relies on a unique combination of procedurally generated rooms and hand-crafted environments. It also helps that the game feels great, an important element in the action-platformer genre. This is the kind of game I can see myself playing through multiple times when it comes out in Q4 2015 or Q1 2016.
Gang Beasts may seem like a strange choice for this list as it's already available on Steam Early Access. You can play it from the comfort of your own home right now. But there's a difference between playing Gang Beasts with a few friends and playing it in a more open setting with tons of people. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll cheer, and before you know it you'll have a few new friends. rn rnI didn't even play Gang Beasts at E3 even though it was available in the Sony area. I just watched in amusement as a group of people swung their in-game arms randomly in an effort to knock out their opponents and throw them over a ledge. The game emphasizes a community atmosphere, even if you're just standing and watching. I imagine that will still be the case at PAX Prime.
Hyper Light Drifter
Hyper Light Drifter Kickstarter campaign began in 2013, folks were stunned by the game's evocative art style, full of mystery, intrigue, and beauty. On top of that, developer Heart Machine referenced The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and Diablo as key sources of inspiration. Now that's how you come up with a convincing pitch. rn rnThe size and scope of the project grew beyond initial expectations as the $27,000 funding goal was met and surpassed. The final total: $600,000+. Thus, it's taken longer than expected for the game to come out, but an early preview build I played kept my hopes up. The Legend of Zelda comparison is apt, but Hyper Light Drifter features more fast-paced and visceral combat. It also raises plenty of questions about its protagonist and world. Perhaps there will be some answers at PAX Prime.
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
Described as an "asymmetrical puzzle/party game where one player in virtual reality must defuse a time bomb with the help of their friends in the real world,"
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes makes great use of its hardware. The player with the VR headset must communicate what they see, while the other players rummage through a manual to help them solve puzzles. If they don't solve the puzzles in time, a time bomb explodes.
rnIt's a fun twist on the escape room craze, and it seems like the praise has been unanimous from everyone who has played the game. It's currently available for the Samsung Gear VR, but it gets a wider release this fall on PC and Oculus Rift. A Project Morpheus version is also being developed.
Few games fall under the cult classic banner, but
La-Mulana is one of them. It wasn't a wildly popular game, but most of the folks who played it loved it. The game was first released in Japan back in 2005 and eventually remade for U.S. audiences in 2012. Fans appreciate its insistence on mind-bending puzzles and difficult platforming action, and the sequel looks to continue that trend. rn rn La-Mulana 2 follows protagonist Lumisa Kosugi as she tries to find the entrance to the ruins of Eg-Lana. Much like its predecessor, La-Mulana 2 touts a strong archeological emphasis, which will surely make for some intricate puzzles that require plenty of notes and brain power. La-Malana fans wouldn't have it any other way.
Here's another indie game that jumped onto some radars due to E3.
Moon Hunters is an action-RPG for 1-4 players, and it uses Mesopotamia and mythology as its foundation. The goal is to play through the game in an effort to find the missing moon, answer unique questions to form a personality and thus create a legend, and do it all over again as the game is randomly generated. rn rnI played a bit of the game at E3 and came away impressed with Moon Hunters' art style and combat variation. There were a few playable characters with different abilities, and all of them appeared to be effective in their own special way. I enjoyed playing the game solo, but I can see it being a lot of fun with a few other players.
Puzzle games often succeed or fail based on the core design principle, and
Mushroom 11 looks to be a winner if early coverage is any indication. The physics-based platformer tasks players with guiding a strange organism over a series of obstacles. It sounds simple enough, but the act of guiding the organism is far more complex. rn rnPlayers must erase one part of the organism in order for it to re-appear on the other side. You don't simply move the organism through the obstacles – you constantly recreate it to help create momentum. It's a novel concept that takes some getting used to, but those who have played it say the controls become second nature with enough practice. We'll see if that's in fact the case at PAX Prime.
YIIK: A Postmodern RPG
You probably won't see another game like
YIIK: A Postmodern RPG at PAX Prime. The title is apt in that the premise screams postmodern. As the official website explains, "After following a hideous cat into an ordinary old building, Alex’s life takes a series of strange turns that leads him to www.onism1999.com, an English-language imageboard website. On this strange site users post anonymously, on the topic of conspiracies, disappearances, the occult, and otherworldly happenings." rn rnIf that sounds odd, just watch the trailer. It features the protagonist running through a field, a lady playing a keyboard and DDR at the same time, and a platforming section with rainbow platforms and buzz-saws. It's all tied together with beautiful 3D visuals that brim with color and personality. This is one that definitely requires a more careful look at PAX Prime.