PAX Rising - The indie games of PAX AUS 2016

PAX Rising - The indie games of PAX AUS 2016


Our Aussie local, William was sent to explore the independent games on offer at this year's PAX Rising section at PAX AUS.

Game development in Australia seems to have come along in leaps and bounds. Ever since 2013, PAX has been a playground for games attempting to capture a share - however small - of the mammoth video game market in Australia. Hooked Gamers' very own Aussie, William was sent to explore the games on offer and wasn't disappointed by this year's crop. The following is by no means a comprehensive list of all the independent games at this year's event - just a small outtake of the ones that garnered his attention.

The American Dream - Samurai Punk
The American Dream provides a tongue-in-cheek look at 1950's America, all in a VR landscape. And what encompasses America more than their love of guns? Not much, so the team at Samurai Punk have created a game that uses guns in unique situations throughout the course of someone's life cycle. It is a game filled with shooting mini games that work marvelously well and a lavish amount of humour thrown in for good measure.

For more info, visit the Samurai Punk website.

Grim Balance - Little Reaper Games
This cute platformer has you playing as Ollie, the Grim Reaper's assistant, as you work your way through the mystical world of Grim Balance. Ollie can destroy enemies and reap their souls in to bring inanimate objects to life, using these objects as a pathway towards the exit. Grim Balance has Disney style visuals and sports features such as a player gallery and unlock system inspired by Rayman Origins.

For more info, visit Little Reaper Games

Orwell - Surprise Attack Games
Orwell is an episodic game already available on Steam that has players taking on the role of a human investigator. Browsing through the social media profiles and personal communications of a range of unsuspecting citizens, your job is to find out who was behind a bombing. It is a game that may have gamers questioning their stance on social media as they delve ever deeper into private information. Decisions you make can influence people's lives and characters can change according to your interaction with them. As a result, there are multiple ending possibilities.

Grab a copy on Steam

Inflatality - Hojo Studio
We saw this fighting game briefly at last year's event and thought we'd see how it has come along. It still retains all the fun aspects we saw before, with two air wavers (those things you see at car yards blowing in the breeze) taking each other on in a fight along the lines of Street Fighter. The air wavers now have 360 degree movement and a number of special attacks they can use. Extra interactive battlegrounds have been added as well as a short single player challenge. A simple to play game that anyone can have fun with.

For more info, visit the Inflatality website.

Evergreen - Siege Sloth
Some games have more educational value than others, and Evergreen has museums and schools looking at it due to its take on evolution. Evergreen (another game that we briefly saw at PAX AUS last year) has you taking a relaxing journey as a tree with some mythical abilities. You must nurture the tree and perform a number of tasks in order to help it grow the world around it. The user interface has improved with an additional year of testing and the game still looks gorgeous.

For more info, visit the Evergreen website.

Blockpocalypse - Dime Studios
Platforming meets Tetris. That is probably the best way to describe Blockpocalypse. In the version shown at the event, gamers work as a team jumping and collecting Tetris-like blocks to build up to higher areas away from the danger of the impending apocalypse until they reach the end goal - in this case a helicopter waiting to whisk gamers to safety. Don't let the modernised pixel style visuals deter you. With simple controls and a number of game modes including co-op and versus modes, this game is a heap of fun for up to four people.

For more info, visit Dime Studios

Ticket to Earth - Robot Circus
Who doesn't like playing a colour matching game, especially one that adds tactical combat into the mix! Ticket to Earth does just that. Matching more of the same colour type grants better skills with which to dispose of their enemies. Each of the colours grants a special ability, so colours can be matched depending on the situation. There are four different characters to choose from, allowing for multiple playthroughs. With 80 levels across four environments, the short battles are bound to keep you occupied.

For more info, visit the Ticket to Earth website.

Symphony of the Machine - Stirfire Studios
Symphony of the Machine is another game developed purely with VR in mind. The puzzle game has gamers using a machine to alter the weather effects in order to grow a plant. There are a number of plants to grow, each requiring different weather situations including rain, sun and wind or combinations of each. The beautiful looking game is quite serene so take your time and work through the puzzle without time constraints.

For more info, visit the Symphony of the Machine website.

Forts - Earthwork Games
Forts is another game that we've seen before, and looks like a cross between Worms a modern version of the old Tanks game where two players shoot each other from opposite sides of the screen. Players are constantly in the process of improving and expanding their forts in real time, building bridge-like structures to nearby locations on the map opens up improved weapons, but don't slack - attacks can ensue at any moment. With a range of maps (and a map editor) Forts has the visual style of Worms, giving it the perfect atmosphere for an online multiplayer or co-op session. The biggest improvements have been towards the user interface - it is now much easier to build and repair your fort - and the addition of a 20+ mission single player campaign against an AI opponent.

For more info, visit Earthwork Games

Wildfire - Sneaky Bastards
Wildfire sees you use the elements of fire, water and earth - sometimes in combination, to outsmart superstitious enemies. The game favours a stealthy approach, often requiring you to sneak into bushes or divert the attention of the enemy in this puzzle platformer. With a number of ways in which to complete each level, upgradeable abilities and the option to play co-op, Wildfire is quite a lot of fun.

For more info, check it out on Steam

Damsel - Screwtape Studios
In this game, you play as the titular character Damsel, a secret agent type character who races across the globe in an attempt to keep the forces of evil at bay. The game is a Valhalla for speed running fans and completionists across its 100+ levels. A range of mission types and upgradeable weapons keeps the gameplay fresh in this colourful platforming game.

For more info, visit the Screwtape website

Township Tale - Alta
Also developed purely for VR, Township Tale has you team up with others to create and grow an online village. Up to 16 players per server can take on the role hunters, blacksmiths, miners, bakers or jack-of-all-trades as they build their village with their peers. In many ways, this resembles a VR version of Minecraft.

For more info, visit the Township Tale website.

Paradigm - Jacob Janerka
The Eastern European inspired setting of the post apocalyptic world of Krusz is the perfect setting for a surreal point and click adventure. There is clearly a LucasArts influence in the style of gameplay and some of the comedy that ensues as you control the titular Paradigm in a series of trials. Paradigm was horribly deformed as a youngster and was left to fend for himself, but is now the last chance to save humanity.

For more info, visit the Paradigm website. You can even download a demo of the game.

BrambleLash - Bytesprite Games
BrambleLash allows players to team up with up to four players in a game of co-operation or betrayal. Players, as flowery characters, are lashed together and with this tether must work to destroy all the creatures that attack them. Once an enemy dies, points are collected and this is where the betrayal takes place: the player who gathered up the most points wins. With a number of game modes and a range of different environments, this beautiful looking game is heaps of fun.

For more info, visit the Bytesprite Games website.

Mallow Drops - Gritfish
With Nintendo style visuals and some very cute characters, Mallow Drops immediately looks family friendly. This gravity platformer literally had people turning their heads as they worked through its puzzles. The game requires players to rotate the playing field sideways or upside down as they lead the two Kiwi birds known as Marsh and Mallow to their eggs and then to safety. A range of dangerous characters, including the deadly Dropbear will make things tough, though.

For more info, visit the Mallow Drops website, or you can purchase a copy on Steam.

D3Bug - Stirfire Studios
The second game from Stirfire Studios on this list is the polar opposite of the VR game I mentioned earlier. This 2D puzzle platformer has gamers taking on the role of a warrior in control of a debug gun in a digital world that has been corrupted. The debug gun has a number of functions which allow pieces to move in various ways. Using the gun in different ways allows various paths to proceed through the futuristic looking levels.

For more info, visit the D3bug website.

Objects in Space - Flat Earth Games
The first thing I noticed about Objects in Space is the strange controller setup. The developer has created a whole controller scheme with flashing lights and switches for this stealth space trading game. In a spaceship with no windows, it is up to you to use the ship sensors and various monitor panels to guide the ship around the galaxy trading commodities and fighting space pirates. Ships can be customised to suit changing playing styles as the player attempts to gather wealth. The visuals will appeal to those who loved playing Elite.

For more info, visit Flat Earth Games.