PAX East Devolver Preview
In the lead up to this weekend’s PAX East in Boston, USA, the kind folks at Devolver invited us to a quiet dive bar in Sydney for a few brews and some hands-on time with some of their upcoming titles. On display was the latest DLC for The Swords of Ditto, The Messenger and Enter the Gungeon, as well as some pretty funky looking new titles like the Metroidvania-like Gato Roboto, the super stylish My Friend Pedro, and the at-the-time unannounced party game, Heave Ho.
While I poked around The Sword’s of Ditto’s new DLC, Mormo’s Curse, and a surfing section of The Messenger’s Picnic Panic for a little while, I was mostly keen on the newer things I hadn’t seen yet.
Cider in hand I sat at the laptop and fired up My Friend Pedro, a side-scrolling action game that combines the slow-mo action of a Max Payne or The Matrix with twin-stick shooter controls. While the demo felt lenient in terms of player damage, it throws a lot of different control concepts at you early. With dual weapons equipped, you can keep the left hand aiming at one spot by pointing with the right-stick then pulling the left trigger, and then use the right stick to move the right arm around. While it looked quite stylish with all the slow motion, bullet debris and particle effects, I never quite found a good rhythm with how it felt. Jumping and movement felt a little awkward, but it also felt like something that would get better with more practice, and maybe less beer.
Next up was Gato Roboto, a charming 1-bit style Metroidvania about a cat named Kiki who needs to help their owner, trapped on their spaceship, complete their mission on a strange planet. It’s got some snappy platforming; Kiki can run up walls and move about quickly when not in her mech suit, but is mostly defenseless. But once you find the suit, you can start attacking enemies, opening doors and exploring the labyrinthian style map by drilling through light rock. Metroidvania’s aren’t generally my kind of game, but the old-school black and white pixel art and tight feeling controls made it something I’m looking forward to playing more of.
The sleeper hit of the day was the previously unannounced Heave Ho, a game that might struggle with a few copyright claims in its hopefully bright future. A party game about climbing on objects to get from the start to the end as fast as you can by using the triggers to grapple with each hand, and the thumbsticks to shift your weight. You can play either single player or co-op, and although the single-player mode was fun on its own, the co-op is really where it’s at. More than once were a bunch of us crowded around the laptop, roaring with laughter as we flung each other back and forth across the level. Although it was an early build, the fun is already there to be had so I’m keen to see if and how they can build that out some more.
If you’re lucky enough to be in Boston for PAX East, you can get your hands on all of these games right now! Otherwise, you won’t have to wait long for Enter The Gungeon’s new DLC, out on April 5. Other titles have yet to see a confirmed release date, though Gato Roboto and My Friend Pedro are expected in the second half of 2019.
James Swinbanks is a Games Critic currently writing for GameSpot, although you’ll still occasionally see him popping up on Player 2, because frankly, he loves the smell of the place.