It has been a few years since I was last at PAX East in Boston. Even before the pandemic, it was a show I missed due to life, bad timing, or just simply having other things that needed to be done. Now, with the fear of in-person events dying down a bit, I found myself in the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center once again, and got to dive into the games of the show, trying the big and small offerings to see what is worth gamers’ time.
This year’s show was a bit more toned back compared to past offerings. While there were still plenty of people on site, and vendors ready to show off their latest titles, many of the big publishers were still noticeably absent from the convention centre floor. I made the choice to avoid the sold out Saturday, and packed my time in Boston with as many games as I could in two days. From metroidvania indie titles, to new and exciting souls-likes, PAX East 2022 had some good titles that show just why it is a con for people that love indie games.
Source of Madness
Carry Castle | May 11, 2022
When I first saw the email about Source of Madness, I was excited about playing and seeing what the game had to offer. It is a Lovecraftian side-scrolling dark action roguelite that gets under your skin in the best possible way. The developers have built a dark and twisted world that changes with every run through. The layout and monsters will change each time you die, much like one would expect from the genre, but Carry Castle has gone above and beyond with Source of Madness.
Each monster you face is built up from a series of parts, and when they change through each playthrough they give new, often more disturbing creations for you to go up against. With tentacles, eyes, faces and limbs put together in new and ever more disturbing ways, Source of Madness is for the true Lovecraft fans out there that want to experience the unexplainable. The developer has built an experience that is fun, challenging and unique. Even the short thirty-minute play session has me craving more of what the game has to offer.
Source of Madness is currently on Steam Early Access, and will be available for purchase as a released game starting May 11th, 2022.
Flying Wild Hog | Release Date: TBD 2022
I have a soft spot for horror, so when I heard Flying Wild Hogs were bringing their unique horror, Wild West inspired shooter, Evil West, to Pax East 2022, I had to make an appointment to give it a try. Known for their work on the Shadow Warrior reboot trilogy, Flying Wild Hog know how to make a game that is fast, intense, and never takes itself too seriously.
Set in a supernatural Wild West, Evil West has you playing as a vampire-hunting bounty hunter who uses classic era weapons and steam-punk style gadgets to take on demons and creatures wanting nothing more than to suck your blood. Filled with violence, blood and action, Evil West wastes no time thrusting you into the game. With combos, brutal finishing moves, and some truly twisted enemies, even in the short demo, the game already looks very interesting.
While Evil West was not on my radar before entering the halls of Pax East, the pulp, over the top style and unique take on the genre has me excited to give it a try when it finally launches later in 2022 on PC, Xbox Series X and PlaySation 5.
Massive Work Studio | Release Date: May 20, 2022
FromSoftware and the souls-like formula, has had a massive impact on the games’ industry since the release of Demon’s Souls back in 2009. Now, over a decade later, it is still making waves, and other game studios are trying to pick up the mantle and bring their own take on the formula. One such game is Dolmen, a new sci-fi style souls-like from developer Massive Work Studio and publisher Prime Matter.
Playable at PAX East 2022, Dolmen has you playing as a mercenary who finds himself on a mission that is more than he signed up for when crystals spawn multiple timelines, making death a much more complex affair. Gameplay will be familiar to people that have played Dark Souls or Elden Ring, with a gameplay loop based on slowly and methodically working past each new obstacle with death part of the process.
The game is hard, and uses its science fiction setting well, adding just enough to give it a look and feel all its own. With the addition of energy weapons, firearms, and elemental effects, the build you take the world on with will be unique to you and your playstyle, giving a new layer to the Souls experience we know and love.
The Last Oricru
GoldKnights | Release Date: TBD 2022
While I love the single-player gaming experience, there are times when you want a friend to join in on the fun. Normally, this involves time to build your character, plan to meet up and get everything prepared. This is even more true when you are trying to play a complex RPG or action game. The Last Oricru seems to have solved this conundrum, bringing a seamless multiplayer concept to a vast story-driven gaming experience.
In a fantasy styled alien world, you must decide what faction to follow, and how to take on the epic challenge that stands in your way. With many playstyles, a rich story, and branching paths, The Last Oricru is a game made for people that love a deep experience. What sets it apart from the crowd is a co-op experience that feels seamless for anyone to jump in and take on the fight together.
When you want some help, your friend can play as a hologram copy of yourself, bringing with it all the levels and experience you have achieved up to this point. With the ability to respect the hologram to fit your friends needs, and the seamless way The Last Oricru blends the multiplayer with the single player experience, I feel this will be a model for co-op games going forward if it works as well in the final product as it does in the demo.
The Last Oricru is set to be launched sometime in 2022, on PC, Xbox Series X and Playstation 5.
Black Mermaid | TBD 2022
I did not know what to expect from Black Mermaid’s Moonscars when I sat down at the Humble Games booth at PAX East, but I am now very excited to experience more from the dark grim 2D action.
Set in a crumbling fantasy world, Moonscars has you playing as a resurrected warrior as you look for an elusive sculpture that can shed some light on the devastation you find yourself in. As with many games in the genre, you will slowly unlock powers and abilities as you explore more of the devastated world, with many paths and odd characters to encounter along the way.
What really stands out about Moonscars is the visual style. The game is absolutely stunning, featuring hauntingly beautiful landscapes, creatures and characters, with fluid motion that brings the dark setting to life in a way not seen by many 2D roguelites up to this point. As with other games built around learning from your deaths, Moonscars is challenging and features many moments of excitement as you force your way past an obstacle or new challenge standing in your way. While I loved many games at PAX East, few have me marking my calendar like Moonscars.
Moonscars is set to be launched in 2022 and will be published by Humble Games.
Developer: Bippinbits | Release Date: Late 2022
There is something to be said about a simple concept that just clicks when you jump in and play, and that is the experience I got from Dome Keeper, a new game being published by Raw Fury. The primary goal of the game is, as the name suggests, to keep your dome safe. While an easy concept, it is much harder when things start to get going and the monsters start coming in waves.
To achieve the mission, you will need to mine the ground under the dome for resources. These resources can be used for upgrading your weapons, your character, or even just to keep your dome healthy and repaired. Things get frantic as you have to go deeper to get the resources. All the while, monsters keep getting harder to kill, causing more damage, and there simply is not enough time to do everything. Dome Keeper is a game made for people that love to multitask, and know where to put their time when it is limited, and it is hard, it is also ridiculously fun.
Dome Keeper is coming late 2022 from Bippinbits and Raw Fury.
Voracious Games | Release date: Fall 2022
No PAX East 2022 list would be complete without the addition of the new potion shop, deck-game from XSeed, Potionomics. This cute and colourful adventure has you running a little potion store in a fantasy village. You must stock shelves, make new potions and work to sell your wares to the characters of the town. The one catch, the negotiations are managed through card battling.
Honestly, once you see it in action, Potionomics just makes sense. It is a great concept that puts new challenges into dialog conversations, and it is sold wonderfully through the Pixar-esque style each character brings to the table. The game looks stunning, blending the cute overhead view of the town, with the hyper-expressive looks of people in your shop, and it all just works, making for an exciting fun adventure. Oh, did I also mention you can date many of the NPC’s in the town?
Potionomics is set to be released this Fall on Steam.
ClockStone | TBD 2022
Who has not felt the need to build something with LEGO? It is this sense of wonder and excitement that is at the heart of LEGO Bricktales the latest game from Bridge Constructor dev ClockStone.
Published by Thunderful, LEGO Bricktales made a splash at PAX East 2022, and it is easy to see why. Sitting down for my demo session, I was immediately impressed with the simple concept and how well the game executes on the idea. The game has you playing as a little LEGO character with each new challenge presented as your exploration of the brick built world. LEGO Bricktales does a great job slowly introducing each new concept, giving you the scaffolding to expand on ideas and understand how the systems work.
The challenges are all based on building challenges, needing to build bridges, ramps, staircases, etc to move though the world. The building challenges ramp up in difficulty as you progress, giving you the needed tools to overcome them, but still enough of a challenge to feel rewarding when they are overcome. While I only managed to play around thirty minutes of the demo, I was hooked quickly, and I did not want to leave as I had to rush off to my next meeting at PAX East 2022.
LEGO Bricktales is set to be launched 2022 via Steam, no word on other platforms currently.