PAX East 2022: Day One

PAX East is back. For four consecutive days, from April 21 to 24, thousands of gamers came to Boston to experience numerous digital and tabletop games. While the conference was smaller and more focused on indie games than in the past, there were still plenty of great games to see and play.

On the first day, there were logistics to overcome as all participants had to verify their vaccination status before being allowed to participate. This was easily accomplished and a semi-permanent wristband was provided so the following days entry was seamless.

Once at the show, I chose to focus on video games for the first day and saw many games spanning many genres. I was thrilled that we basically had a great indie games conference, which allowed for a lot of innovative and unique experiences.

Dolmen

This publisher game Raw material games and developed by Massive work studio immediately caught my attention. It’s a Souls-esque sci-fi horror game that gave me a lot of Dead Space vibes. The concept is to go to places to mine a crystal called Dolmen that is capable of enabling interaction between realities, revolutionizing space exploration, and changing the known world forever.

Things, of course, are not what they seem. Competing Monsters, Terrors and Miners are all around and must be defeated for the precious Dolmen Crystals. The game is an action RPG with persistent enemies and of course some attributes that remain after each death and some that are lost.

I was immediately impressed by the visual style of Dolmen, including a lot of main character customization that made me smile at the start of the demo. This is an action-oriented game with ranged and melee options. This made exploration and combat intense but also varied as monsters and bosses were encountered.

There were some nice tweaks, with the weapon swapping and activating environmental effects on attacks making the fight much more strategic. The preview was relatively short but I could see that Dolmen had a fresh take on the Souls genre, adding horror and sci-fi elements to help it stand out.

Dolmen launches May 20 and is well worth checking out for a sci-fi twist on the challenging Souls genre. The varied enemies, dynamic combat, and interesting world of Revion Prime were enjoyable and interesting to experience. It will be available on PC via Steam on PlayStation and Xbox platforms.

The Last Oricru

Another game from publisher Prime Matter Games, developed by golden nightsis The Last Oricru. The game’s pitch is the player waking up in a medieval wartime sci-fi world and beginning to influence the fate of the entire nation. It’s designed from the ground up to be played solo or co-op (couch or online) and has some really cool hooks.

The first is the sci-fi fantasy setting. While the demo I played had mostly fantasy tropes, I was told that one of the factions was very futuristic and that as the game progresses more science- fiction are added. The other incredibly interesting aspect is how the world changes based on choice.

I played two versions of the same scenarios where the faction chosen to ally with drastically changed not only the level dynamics but also the enemies and victory conditions. It was actually amazing to see, as being allied with a different faction changed level progression, added a boss, and moved enemies I encountered.

When it comes to gameplay, character choices and weapons impact how combat is experienced. Magic users can hang back but must occasionally fight melee to recover mana. Melee fighters have parries and shield attacks as well as fast and heavy attacks.

Enemies were interesting and sometimes took tactics to defeat, and there were some interesting combo mechanics in co-op. The mage could unleash a spell that added an attack between us that I could position on an enemy to deal sustained damage; it was efficient and fun.

The Last Oricru was an interesting experience that I can’t wait to see more of, especially the worldbuilding choices as factions are encountered. It will be available later this year and can be added to the wishlist on Steam where a demo is available to download and try.

rusty moss

Presented as part of the PAX on the rise showcase, this Metroidvania-style game was brimming with personality and had plenty of cool features. Originally developed as a proof concept, it is now fleshed out as a full game by a very small team around the world.

The great concept of rusty moss is that it is a Metroidvania without a double jump. Instead, there’s a bungie-like grapple line that can be used in a variety of ways. The tutorial demo goes through the shooting and traversal mechanics first, then the more complex grappling hook tactics.

On the show, I struggled a bit with the bungie-like grapple system as it was keyboard and mouse controlled, but with a controller those dual-stick mechanics will come more naturally. The concept was quite interesting and added a fast dynamic as it required a lot of grapples, jumps and quick shots to complete each level.

The game is made by only three people and I was surprised at how high quality the title was with such limited resources. A funny story the developer told me was that the game was supposed to be called Rust and Moss but it was misheard and it became “Rusted Moss”.

My favorite aspect of rusty moss frankly, it was the aesthetic, because it’s a pixelated game but had a big Deny automata vibe. The game is slated to arrive later this year on PC and console and can be wishlisted on Steam where a demo is also available.

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