So instead, you get a super short post about Dome Keeper, the single remaining entry on that list. So I say to Dome Keeper: congrats! And please don’t disappoint me when you actually release.
So what is Dome Keeper? Well, two things, sorta. It plays like a combo of Motherload, and Space Invaders. You are a small space person, living in your tiny little dome. You can leave the dome to dig down, and gather various minerals and ores, which you then drag back to your base and deposit. Different ores are used for different types of upgrades, which range from increasing the speed at which you move, your carrying capacity, and how quickly you dig. They can also be used to upgrade your dome. And you’re going to want to do that, because there’s a timer, and when it ticks down, your dome gets a attacked by a wave of monsters.
Of course, even if you clear that wave, the next wave will be stronger. So back into the mines you go to search for more minerals. Rinse, repeat.
The demo itself was a ton of fun, and the game is supposed to release later this year. The Steam page has it listed as a roguelike, so I’m curious to see how that gets implemented, and what other features the game has.
But like I said, the demo was fun. And really, that’s the most important thing. So cross your fingers with me, and let’s hope it’s good.
I mentioned in another post-PAX writeup how I’m hesitant to recommend boomer shooters based off demos. This is because boomer shooters almost always demo well, even if the final product is subpar.
Well, this week, we’re talking about another genre that almost always demos/plays well at a convention: The party game!
Combine the excitement of being at a con with anything competitive, and a large number of people to play with, and just about everything can be fun for a bit. So here are the party games I saw at PAX East.
From what I played, Orbitals felt like a Smash Bros style 2d party brawler. The game had two mechanical twists though. The first is that the whole thing takes place in a gravity free area. You have to move from area to area Super Mario Galaxy style. The second is that after each round, you get points to spend to upgrade your character.
When I played, I found the gameplay a bit floaty. I couldn’t tell if that was just because it was my first time playing. The gameplay seems interesting, and Orbitals is on my watch list because of that. If you want to find out more about the game, click here.
Match Point by Jolly Crouton is effectively multiplayer super Pong. It supports up to 4 players. Unlike Pong, you have a few other abilities then just bumping into the ball. By pressing certain triggers, you can magnetize yourself to pull the ball in, or do harder shots. Also, the goal requires you to hit it twice in semi-quick succession to score.
After reading my notes, I have written down that I thought it was “Fine” and “Not really my thing”. Also “Good Party Game???”. I think those notes are pretty accurate. It’s well made, but it’s still mostly Pong. I think it might be fun with the right crowd. But if it seems like your thing, you can learn more about it here.
Which brings us to our last entrant…
Squish is fairly straight forward. It’s a survival versus game for up to 4 players. You play as a small blob skeleton, and try to be the last one standing while blocks constantly fall down onto the field. You can push this around, but if you get crushed by one, you die. Get killed, and you’re given one last chance to control a falling block. Take out another player with that block and you’re back into the game.
Squish feels like a extended release of a Mario Party minigame if I’m being honest. I don’t dislike it, but it wasn’t amazing. The full game does promise more modes, which might change things up a bit. If you want to find out more, you can click here. It actually has a scheduled release date of May 31st, so pretty soon!
And those were all the party games I played at PAX East. Like I mentioned before, it’s a genre that does well at conventions, and always makes me pause for a bit. My personal favorite was Orbitals, for both having the most potential and being the most interesting.
In either case, join us next week as I attempt to keep writing these summaries because I played a ton of stuff! Not sure what the theme will be then, but I’ll figure it out.
A look at the board games I played at PAX East, 2022.
While PAX East doesn’t focus on board games in the same way as Gen Con, or PAX Unplugged, they’re still there! Despite having a smaller presence, PAX East’s tabletop sections stays open late into the evening. So let’s go over the fun board games I played at PAX East.
Disclaimer: This list is no particular order, but I have listed bigger/released games closer to the bottom of the list. I played Dominion. It was fun. But it’s been out for 10 years, it doesn’t need top billing.
So let’s get right into it. Drum roll please!
First up, we have Space Lion! It’s an asymmetric bluffing/placement game. At the show, I only played the demo which used a single army. The full game is supposed to include four armies, if I remember correctly? The general gist is that you have a hand of cards, which are your units. Each round, you and your opponents place cards face down at various locations, and after placement is finished, you flip them up. Whoever has the highest unit value wins that battle, and the goal is to destroy the opponent’s base. While this sounds simple, I’ve completely skipped unit abilities, exhausting units, and the fact that each army is supposed to play differently.
Unfortunately, the game isn’t actually out yet. There was a Gamefound campaign running, but it was canceled. Still, if you’re interested in the game, there’s hope! The creators announced they were taking the lessons they learned from the first campaign and planning to try another at some point. If that all sounds interesting, you can sign up for their mailing list here. I hope it succeeds, as it was one of my favorite games from the show.
Another unpublished game is Small Time Crooks. I found this one in the Unpub hall. If you’re not familiar with Unpub, it’s a small area where you can play test board games in various states of development. The games can vary quite highly in their levels of completeness. You’ll find folks looking for publishers sitting next to a first prototype of a hand made deck of cards.
Small Time Crooks though! It’s a hyper-lite GM-less RPG? The mechanics are pretty straight forward. You have a character, and you have a randomly generated target to rob. The target consists of a series of random rooms. Each room contains a skill check, which you make via dice rolls.
I’m honestly not sure how well it would work with multiple players, but the demo was neat. I think it’s worth keeping an eye on. And if you want to do that, here’s the link to their website. My notes say that they’re planning a Kickstarter at some point in 2022? Weirdly enough I could never find who is actually making the game.
Update: You can also find them here, on Twitter! Thanks to the Unpub hall for pointing this out for me.
Leaving the indie and unpub space, let’s head over to a game that had its own massive booth.
Calling Dice Throne an incredibly polished “Push-Your-Luck” dice brawler is underselling it a bit, but it feels fairly accurate. I only played a single 1v1 game, but it worked like this: each player picks out a character to play. The character determines the starting health, energy, hand size, and most importantly, your attacks. Each attack consists of a matched pattern of dice rolls. On your turn, you have three sets of rolls. After each roll, you can choose which dice you want to reroll, and which to keep. The end result is that you’re generally trying to roll specific patterns to inflict damage, while using your own abilities to keep yourself alive. You can also use your hand of cards to modify dice rolls, and upgrade your abilities.
It’s very polished, and the two characters I saw seemed pretty different. I didn’t rush over to buy a copy afterwards, but I’d play it again. Also, the game box is massive, and I’m not sure I have space for it. Like, much bigger than other board games.
Of games I played though, the last one is one I owned: Dominion.
A deckbuilder like Tanto Cuore, Dominion is over 10 years old and is the OG of OG deckbuilders. There’s not much I can say that hasn’t already been written about, but let me summarize it anyway. Each player starts with a deck of cards, and a shared market. The market consists of 10 of 21 non-starter cards, and also a few more. Your goal is to spend the currency you get from you hand to buy cards from the market and add them to your deck, and improve your deck’s efficiency, so you can buy victory point cards. But as victory point cards only give VP at the end of the game, you want to avoid buying them until you have to.
Overall, it’s a very solid game, and playing it with someone who hadn’t played before gave me a solid appreciation for how well it’s held up all these years later. It also gave me a sense of nostalgia for a time 10 years ago. Y’know, back when you could just go places, the world wasn’t falling apart, and my parents weren’t divorced!
How time flies.
In any case, that’s what I played at PAX. This was only a microscopic sample of what was available, but as I tend to focus on video games while at East, it’s all I have to write about today.
Oh, and I also played lot of MTG, but that might just end up being its own post.
Okay, let’s talk about some more stuff to cover. That’s right, it’s time for more
RELIC HUNTERS LEGEND
This is a sequel to Relic Hunters Zero, a free game that according to steam, I played for about 2 hours. I’m gonna be honest, I don’t remember it at all. I played a bit of the new one, and it was… fine. However, at a PAX, fine doesn’t keep my attention, and so I wandered on. Here’s a link if you’re curious though. If a cartoonish Destiny/Diablo mashup sounds like your sort of thing, you might enjoy it.
Maquette is published by Annapurna Interactive, the people who also published What Remains of Edith Finch. I’m gonna be honest here, I got in the Maquette line because they were giving out a free pin.
Clearly the moral of this story is that I do way too much book judging by covers, because Maquette was one of my top three games at the show. It’s a really cool puzzler where you move objects around to solve puzzles, except that your central point of interaction is a small model of the much larger world outside you, and you can move things in the small world, or the big world, to make them exist in the other.
There also seems to be as story about a relationship falling apart that’s also told in the game, and I’m gonna be honest, it felt a bit too real for me, but that’s a story for another day.
Just go play Maquette. If you looked at it and thought “Oh, someone made another artsy walking simulator” you’re dead wrong. There’s a really cool game here, with some big ideas, and I’m honestly really excited to see more of it.
You can learn more about it here, on it’s Steam Page.
I was gonna write a bit about this, but it looks like it has a demo on steam? And the demo comes out in like two days? So yeah, I’m just gonna wait two days, play the demo for probs longer then 15 minutes I played it at the show, then write about it. That just seems like a better policy.
I have been trying to figure out what to say about Wunderling for a while, and have been failing, so I’m just gonna type things and post them. Wunderling is small and cute, and as a result, I want it to succeed. Wunderling’s primary game play mechanic is simply that you can’t actually control your character, you can only control your jump. And while that seems really simple, there were some moments in the demo that were really clever, and made me want to see what the rest of the game could include. For example, one of the secondary mechanics is that if you don’t pick up a collectible every now and then, you die. In the opening levels, this was really simple, but one area had a hidden chest that required you to skip collecting some of these earlier, so you could grab the chest later, and if you picked them all up, you would actually starve to death.
I dunno, I just want to see it work.
That’s all for now I think. This took longer to write then I was expecting, but I think I’ll be able to wrap the rest of this up in part 3, and finish giving my thoughts on the stuff I saw at PAX East.
I got a free key for Misbits at PAX this year, and honestly, I’m not sure if the game is very good. At the time of writing this, I’ve played about 38 minutes. Before I publish this, I’ll try to play another 20 or so minutes so I can say I played it for at least an hour, but I really doubt the next 20 minutes are gonna change my opinion, because I’m simply not having fun at the moment with it.
I first went over to Misbits because it looked neat. It has a sorta nice toy box aesthetic, which makes sense given the game is based around the idea that you’re a toy head, and that the biggest game play element is that you can go around jumping onto different bodies, with different special attacks. You also have health on your bodies, so if you get hurt, you can jump to a different one. I think I’ve seen about 5 different bodies so far, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there are more.
So why am I not having fun? Well, simply put, everything feels really floaty and it feels really hard to actually connect with hits or attacks. It doesn’t help that everything is either a melee attack or a thrown weapon, the only ranged weapons I’ve seen are turrets. Also, it can be surprisingly difficult to figure out what to pay attention to. New bodies are constantly dropping down from the sky, as are items. Enemy players are marked sometimes with a sorta line, but it can still be hard to quickly and easily spot them.
There are two big features that are supposed to be added later to the game, a workshop for building your own levels and sharing them, and the creation tools for said levels. Right now they’re not just present.
For the moment, I wouldn’t recommend it.
You can find the Misbits website here, and you can find the game on steam.