PAX Indies

The independent gaming section at PAX Australia has nearly tripled in size in two years

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PAX Indies
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Post Bug

[developer] Hemingway Games

[release] Available now

[price] Free

[website] postbug.hemingwaygames.com

Here’s your love letter from an old friend. Sorry you drowned before you had a chance to read it. Initially, I decided to include Postbug in the PAX feature just because it is free and fully released. I figured readers could play along at home. Now, I suspect it might actually be the most compelling game in the whole collection. Why? In a world that will drown, crush or eat you at any moment, correspondence seems exceptionally precious.

And who makes sure your message gets through the perilous and dynamic rigors of nature in this Boulder Dash style open world of browser based mayhem? Me. The ladybug with the mail satchel. I will swim past jellyfish, command a bee army and dance around spiderwebs to do it. If I have push you into the claws of a crab so I can escape while it snaps you in half, well this is just the nature of things. Perhaps the next letter will actually be opened. By golly, I will deliver it.

Concurrently, here is a letter from designer, George Hemingway, to you, and it reads, “Postbug has been designed to encourage exploration, experimentation, and strategy building during gameplay. Players will need to experiment with their environment to understand how objects behave and I hope a sense of curiosity drives the player to explore the open layout.” Watch out for that spider!

Quarries of Scred 2

[developer] Kale

[release] Available now

[price] $4

[website] darkestkale.itch.io/quarries-of-scred-2

Prior to Postbug, at PAX last year, Quarries of Scred retrospectively introduced me to this specific and compelling blend of arcadey exploration, collection and being crushed horribly from above. Recalling how well balanced the experience was, I was interested to see a new game for the series, recently released and now multiplayer. Developer, Kale, tells us that this is directly in response to 2014’s feedback and people asking for it.

So, does the experience hold up with friends? With meaningfully different game modes, it’s both usefully familiar and new enough to maintain interest. For starters, you can aim to be the last drone standing, or play in teams. Then, vary up how much loot is dropped, how many lives you have and terrain features, including how far you can see. Or, you can attempt the hilarious mycological melee, surviving while painting the level with either mushrooms or moss.

The four player slots can be filled with human players or challenging AIs. I quite like assigning four bots and just watching the game play itself, as well as the lighthearted humour, like being, “hugged to death.” Kale tells us he spent time considering, “How do I use the same space and physics to do different things?” The result is more Quarries of Scred, reorganised in a bunch of ways and, as Kale says, “the energy that comes with friendly competition.”

Goat Punks

[developer] Alberto Santiago

[release] Early 2016

[price] TBA

[website] goatpunks.com

Are goats playful creatures? They always struck me as such, but maybe it’s just because they bounce to get around. One way or another, the goats in Goat Punks have gone silly. This is a four player race to the top of one of many themed spires. What do you do when you get there? Try to stay there for a count of 30, exploding approaching goats with fireballs, when necessary. What happens if you are knocked off? The time you’ve won starts unwinding.

Along your way to the top of unlikely cities or a mountain of candy, there are a range of powerups to collect. Don't forget to push another goat off a precipice or activate your bubble shield if you need it. The action is fast paced and relies on both reflexes and skill. Designer, Alberto Santiago says, “When people play GoatPunks I hope to have them experience the same excitement I got when I was child playing games like Smash Bros and Bomberman.”  

I played this at home with my kids and it was a game they could both play instantly and improve at. At one point my five year old shouted, “I’m a goat,” demonstrating that this game really does capture that goaty mood. On what inspired the game, Santiago says, “Random youtube videos about goats, Japanese game shows and Anime.” Goat Punks is fun. Watch for it on Steam and head to YouTube in the meantime. Goats are amazing.

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