Paul's PAX AUS 2022 Indie Picks
PAX AUS 2022 was a strange event. The lack of large AAA titles from the big console manufacturers and other third party partners at the show left the floor open to the independent titles to take centre stage. Thankfully, the PAX Indie Rising stage delivered in spades, and while I had to unfortunately cut my stay at PAX a day short, and likely missed out on some future classics as a result, there was still numerous brilliant titles that I got to explore either on the show floor or thanks to the simultaneously run Steam Next Fest. I found four particularly promising titles that will be high up on my must-play list in 2023 and beyond, and I hope you see the same attracting factors in them that I have
There had been a lot of hype stemming from GamesCom about Dredge, but it had largely slipped under my radar up until the eve of the show. Seeing that the game was coming to the PAX AUS showfloor it clearly took top spot on my must-play list for the event, and I was not disappointed.
Dredge combines some fairly standard RPG loops, exploration, and upgrade systems with a cool, calming fishing mechanic, and a dark, brooding atmosphere that envelopes the calm bathed in daylight fishing and upgrade loop. The horrors that stalk the ocean and the panic levels escalate are completely determined by you however, with the game capable of being completed without every having to venture out at night, but for those who want to explore the world, complete more quests, and engage further with the narrative, then you’ll want to upgrade that ship of yours, and drink a glass of concrete before heading out. I loved my time with Dredge and I cannot wait to get my hands on what Black Salt Games are up to in 2023.
I never played the original Resident Evil games when I was younger, and when those games were in their prime, but I went back to them after many years of being scared away, and lapped up my time with them. Conscript, from Catchweight Studio harnesses the many horror elements that made the original Resident Evil tick.
Solo developer Jordan Mochi has successfully managed to draw upon his love of WWI history, and merge it with his love of survival horror to form Conscript, a game that left me in a constant state of suspense when I played it. The experience thus far is superbly balanced; as a French frontline soldier on trekking out to find and save his brother, you’ll regularly find yourself face to face with hardened soldiers loaded to the brim with a far superior arsenal to yours, and yet, its possible, but not without a struggle, to best the threats that pursue you. Conscript walks an amazing tightrope, straddling a constantly overwhelming feeling, without being powerless to fight back. My heart was pumping more playing this demo than most full releases of the last decade. Conscript is targeting a 2023 release.
It seems clear at this point that anything Witch Beam Games touches turns to gold. From Assault Android Cactus to Unpacking, and now Tempopo, Tim, Wren, Jeff and Sanatana from Witch Beam are hitting home run after home run. Each time they create a vastly different type of game, and yet, with each release, the heart of the studio beats as strongly as ever.
Tempopo is a rhythm-based puzzler, and was the perfect remedy for the PAX show floor chaos, so it should be that for you whenever it comes out and you can nestle into your couch or favourite chair, and bounce your way through the vast levels that the team have assembled. The game gradually drip-feeds new abilities and obstacles, and as the game really picks up steam it pulls together these various systems in crafty ways that strained the brain on more than a few occasions. Witch Beam are targeting 2023 for Tempopo, and you should be excited.
Dros had my heart early in the piece with its combination of 3D action-adventure gameplay, with splashes of light puzzling, and absolutely breathtaking character portraits. While the saying goes “don’t judge a book by its cover”, I did, and thankfully, I judged the game correctly, because Dros is fantastic!
Dros is a goo like substance that possesses a fallen knight, giving him a second lease on life, and the tool that facilitates the games numerous puzzles, and platforming possibilities. The game plays fantascially well and the writing is killer – Dros is a game that has stuck with me well beyond the conclusion of PAX AUS 2022 because of how it executes on the aforementioned elements, as well as nails the accessible action-adventure combat, and how it leverages its Dros possession system. Wishlist it and be ready for its upcoming release!