From The PAX AUS 18 Show Floor – Shaun’s Indie Cavalcade
The Church in the Darkness – Paranoid Productions
The Church in the Darkness was a game that was on my radar prior to getting into PAX. A top-down stealth infiltration game set in the 1970’s, you find yourself infiltrating a cult known as the Collective Justice Mission in the jungle of a fictional South American jungle. When the cult left the United States one of the congregation to leave with them was your nephew Alex. After a few years, however, his mother has become worried and asked you to find him. As ex-law enforcement, you will use your tools to track him down and get him out of the cult.
It is not as easy as it sounds though. Upon your infiltration, which changes with each new game, you will have to find clues to be able to know just where to find your objectives. For instance, in the demo at PAX you had to track down Issac, one half of the married couple who are the leaders of the cult, but his location changes every time you start a new game, thus looking through every draw for clues or completing tasks for cult members who may be having second thoughts about the cult is essential to narrow down his location.
The part that really piqued my interest though was the premise of changing attitudes and personalities of the cult in each new game. I have been told that the attitudes of the cult will vary, from a peace-loving commune that actually embraces socialism right through to the extreme, with the leaders encouraging violence against those who are not part of their ‘church’ and being much more militant.
While the short time I had with the demo was not long enough to get a true understanding if this is the case there was one significant factor that changed between my different attempts to rescue Alex, and that was the attitude of Issac. The first time I had been caught I ended up in a firefight that took out five members of the cult before I was taken down. Upon awakening I found that I was locked in a cage and after a short talking to by Issac was left to my own devices, by which I mean escape and incapacitation of the one person left to guard me.
The second attempt I had planned to not engage any guards at all, distraction and avoiding where I could, knocking them out when I had to. Unfortunately in an attempt to skirt around three people at a shooting range I ran straight into two others, which ended up with me killing them before once again being captured. This time things were different though. This time Issac told me that I had to pay for what I had done and executed me right there in the cage.
It is this kind of change that has me intrigued to see the whole game. I was told that there is a peaceful ending to the game no matter how extreme the cult is, and I think going the non-lethal stealth route is going to be the better way. You can go in all guns blazing, however, you may not live long if you do.
We can expect to see The Church in the Darkness early next year for both PC and PS4 and Xbox.
Neo Cab – Chance Agency
Neo Cab is one of those games that is more of an interactive story than a traditional video game. Taking place in a neon-filled, cel-shaded future where automation is predominant, you take on the role of the last human cab driver in Los Ojos, taking on fares while trying to figure out what has happened to your friend. This is a game where it is more about the story and the choices you make, and their consequences, as you try to balance keeping your driver rating, emotional state and finding out what has happened to your only friend in the city that has mysteriously vanished.
The game promises the choices you make to affect the way the story plays out, with real consequences to seemingly innocuous choices rearing their heads at times you might not expect. The one major downfall that I found during the demo was that there is no emotional context for the dialogue options you are presented with, resulting in my choosing an option that to me sounded flippant, but which the game interpreted as me being rude. Maybe it is just my sense of humour and the way my own internal voice processed the dialogue. Hopefully, in the full release, we will have an indicator that will give the player a clue as to what the context is.
Player interaction is limited to the choices you make, in dialogue options and the fares you pick up. You are as much a passenger of the cab as the fares that you pick up, but this allows you to concentrate on the dialogue and story as the game progresses. It is not my usual type of game but having spent time with it, the narrative has me interested in finding out just what is going on in Los Ojos.
Ailuri – Vivink Studios
Nestled away in the far corner of the PAX Rising area, you could be forgiven for missing Ailuri while at PAX, however, I am here to let you know that it is a game that should definitely be on your radar. You take control of a Red Panda who is the last of his kind, travelling through forests that are lush and green or scorched and desolate. It was one of those games that just captured me the moment I looked at it.
Drawing inspiration from Ori and the Blind Forest, Ailuri is a puzzle platform level based game, the developers wanted to go with a classic platform style such as Yoshi’s Island and filled with vibrant 2D art that has all been handcrafted and the developers hope that the game will help to bring awareness to endangered species.
The game also bestows the ability to grapple through a magic ability that is surprisingly deceptive. While it looks simple, there is a steep learning curve to master it, throwing in another level of challenge that must be overcome.
While we don’t know much else about the game it is one that you can be on the lookout for late in 2019 for PC and, hopefully, Xbox and Switch.
Guile and Glory: Firstborn – Elston Studios
As I was wandering through the booths of PAX Rising games I came across Guile and Glory: Firstborn and was instantly drawn to the SNES style graphics that were on display. A top-down turn-based tactical puzzle RPG, Guile and Glory is a mouthful to describe but one that comes with an interesting premise. For while like all good tactical RPG’s you utilise your movements to fight your enemy and take a tactical advantage, in Guile and Glory the combat comes with an added twist. You see in this world the demonic enemies known as the Firstborn cannot be vanquished by mere mortal weapons, instead relying on teamwork and quick thinking to dispatch your foes via environmental traps or even the attacks of other enemies.
The PAX demo walked me through the basics of the world and the three characters that you will be utilising in your quest to make the world a safer place. The Outlander is a man who is driven by his quest of vengeance to slay the Wyrm, what looks to be the big bad of the game, and uses his strength to send his enemies reeling. The Slaver is a guy that seems to be along for the ride, following the Outlander even though he would much rather avoid the Firstborn altogether, utilising his whip to pull Firstborn into strategic positions, and the Guardian is a shield wielding tank who can take almost any damage thrown at her head on. While in the demo she did not have an attack that leads to the downfall of Firstborn, she could stun enemies with a shield bash, stopping them from moving during their turn and helping to keep them in place for her companions to administer the finishing blow. As it was a demo, the characters were limited to their base abilities, with more to be revealed in the full game.
Because of the need to utilise environmental traps in order to defeat the Firstborn, Guile and Glory is like a game of chess. Each of the levels in the demo had the win condition that all of the heroes had to survive and make it to the end of the map in order to pass. Teamwork between the three characters is the key to beating the game, and with the promise of more abilities, it will make for some truly tactical gameplay.
Guile and Glory: Firstborn will be coming to Steam Early Access in February next year.
Primordials: Fireborn – Toybox Games
Stumbling across the booth for Primordials: Fireborn, a third person action adventure, I was immediately captured by the visual quality of the game. It was clear from the outset that the team at Toybox Games had decided to shoot for the heavens with their first game, and from what I have seen they are well and truly on the way.
Primordials: Fireborn has you taking on the role of Ash, one of a race rarely seen in the world of Eridal, and sets you on a journey to recover your lost memories by seeking out the Primordials. On the way, you will find a number of abilities to use in both combat and puzzle solving as you make your way through a fully realised 3D world.
For a team that at its core only has seven people, all of whom are working full-time jobs and thus only able to devote a day or two to development every week, the game looks incredibly polished. The foliage that is present throughout the entire word will deform as you move through it, and the voice acting and sound effects are both of a very high quality.
The controls are responsive so you will not find yourself hurling a controller in rage during some of the platforming sections, although I did find the combat to be nothing more than mashing the melee button. The full game promises a range of combat and movement mechanics to utilise as you explore the world and uncover more details about Ash and the world that he inhabits.
Speaking to Yasin and Tyson, both of whom are the game’s designers, the quality is something that they are both very proud of to show off, and the team already has five out of the planned fourteen levels built to the same standard as the playable demo at PAX. At the current workload they anticipate that the game will take about two more years to complete to the level of polish that they want to distribute it with, however, they have left the door open on the release being moved up if the right circumstances come about.
Toybox Games are determined to explode on the Australian gaming scene with Primordials: Fireborn, and while a full release is a while off yet, this is one game that should definitely be watched. I know I will be.