Dear Diary: Friday at PAX East 2016 I Played…

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The Boston Convention and Exhibition Center has opened the doors for PAX East once again. And once that overwhelming feeling went away, I managed to pay a visit to more than a few indie developers on Friday. So here’s a quick look at what I managed to play on the first day of PAX East 2016…

The Behemoth came back to Boston with another look at Pit People, their fast-paced turn-based strategy game. The game has grown considerably since the last time we saw it, with more characters, side quests, and weapons available. Pit People should be out by this year.

After that, I stopped by the NextGen Pants booth to try out Refactor, a “Metroidvania” that swaps out humanlike characters for sentient tetrominos. Refactor contrasts its dystopian 1984-like setting with these colorful blocks to create a very unique game world.

Described by its creator as “dominoes for movie lovers,” Cinelinx Mobile is an iOS/Android spinoff of the great card game. Players build connected chains of Film Cards, Actor Cards, and Genre Cards with their best “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” style. The mobile game works much the same way and will offer single-player and online multiplayer modes when its ready.

Developed by Super Awesome Hyper Dimensional Mega Team, Rise & Shine is a cartoony run-and-gun side-scroller with a strong Metal Slug vibe. But it also makes the cartoony part quite literal with great-looking comic book panels that push the story forward. There’s a lot of potential here, and just get a load of the story it’s telling:

Rise lives on Gamearth, the world of the classic video game characters. He finds himself in the middle of a war against the Space Grunts: bald, muscular soldiers from Nexgen planet. With the help of the legendary gun, Shine, he’ll be able to stay alive and save his planet from trigger-happy invaders.

Deathstate, from Workinman Games, has been available for a while now, but I’ll take any chance I can to mention this “single-stick shoooter” (players will automatically attack the nearest monster, so movement is key).

Speaking of shooters, Graceful Explosion Machine is a shooter, albeit one with a more traditional bent. “Think Defender, not R-Type,” said Vertex Pop’s Mobeen Fikree. But unlike Defender, Graceful Explosion Machine is much more interested in zapping baddies than rescuing colonists. And zap you will, as the four weapons, which are mapped to the four face buttons, all feel pretty powerful.

My run of shooters ended with a quick look at Inversus, which was created by
Hypersect, a one-man nom de game for Ryan Juckett, formerly of Bungie. After leaving Destiny behind, Juckett decided to create a single-screen shooter that’s part Othello and part Ikaruga. I don’t know if that comparison will appeal to you, but for me, yeaaaaaaahhhhhhhh (direct quote from my notebook).

Finally, my first day of PAX East 2016 ended with a demo of Dungeon Punks, a beat ’em up/one-on-one fighter/RPG hybrid. It definitely had an interesting style, but it also felt a lot like Double Dragon with actual dragons… which is probably what developer Hyper Awesome Entertainment was going for.

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John Scalzo is Warp Zoned's Editor-In-Chief and resident retro gaming expert. You can follow him on Twitter or email him at john AT warpzoned DOT com.

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