PAX East 2015 weekend was the holy grail of video game conventions. People dressed up as their favorite characters, played their favorite games and even talked to their favorite game developers. Street Passes on the DS, buttons on your lanyard and the wind in your hair; a PAX picture painted by the masses. When I think of PAX, I usually get excited for the releases of the AAA titles. Bungie, 2K Games and Bethesda dominated last years PAX East with 30 foot tall monsters, Guardians who save the galaxy and towns gone crazy with rage and zombie like creatures. This year however, that was not the case. Of course there were big name games such as Final Fantasy: Type Zero and Halo 5: Guardians but those games, in my opinion, were not nearly as fun or as built up as some of these soon to be underground hits. The normal AAA titles were not in full force and as people visited an array of indie booths, they realized how good some developers were at making some truly great games.
While shuffling through the masses, I visited developers that gave us amazing titles such as Breakfall’s eccentric Starwhal and Tiny Builds dark comedy, Party Hard. Both with unique titles and game premises. Starwhal being a smash em up, 4 player combat game, with narwhals, that looked like it was out of a Tron movie. I loved it. A full review of Starwhal can be read here on Mammoth Gamers, you should check it out!
As well, Party Hard was an 8 bit-esk game with the idea of killing everyone at a party you were at, without getting caught. People sleeping off drunkenness, dancing in the hall or even taking a bath, this game lets you kill them all. When people notice the deceased, they call the cops and it’s your job to dance or seem inconspicuous. Sometimes other people get blamed for it and you totally get away with it! Tiny Build had a bunch of great games like this and the orange booth was hard to miss. These games drew me in with the game play and the developers kept me there with their stories. Tales of how the ideas were developed from a spark of inspiration into a great piece of art for everyone to enjoy.
One interview that myself and Mammoth’s own Laura Mazerall had with a developer at Compulsion Games about their upcoming title We Happy Few. The premise had me truly appreciative that developers still wanted to make a game that was strange and unusual, as well as had a great story to tell. The idea of the game was that of an alternate version of London in the 1960’s. Everyone was drugged up on something called “Joy”, a hallucinogenic drug that made all of the bad things, seem good. The best thing that I found out about about Joy was that other people could tell if you did not take it and well, they were not joyful when in return, threatening you, chasing you down and even attempting to murder you. People in the game environment were readily hostile and if you stared at the citizens for too long, they took notice and began to attack you as well. Sounds like a great time, right?
Laura and I each took turns playing through the pre-alpha trial, each with our own agenda. I was more of the explorer of the duo, looking into various trash cans, creating different items and checking out the details. Laura on the other hand, went Hulk on the game. Right off the bat, she went up to a house and killed the members inside, which the combat was fun and exciting. As the bodies piled up, she began to pick them up and attempt to push them out the window and into bathtubs and anywhere else she could find. This was a fun aspect to this game because the characters in the world are so creepy, it became fun to want to provoke them into combat. As the demo died down, we realized that the artwork and graphics were super detailed, with the dark undertones and the gloomy disposition of London ‘The people at Compulsion were super nice and really seemed to care about the title, which was endearing to us as gamers.
As I wandered through the Boston Convention Center, I saw a lot of people stopping at various booths and trying out the games. Some looked involved and into the game while others were tagging a long with their comrades, waiting to come across that golden gem that screams to them. I waited in line for a few games, not too many though because PAX for me wasn’t just about the games, it was about the culture. People being free enough to express their love for games and other people who shared this love as well, all in the same place. Nobody judged me for sitting on bean bags in the Handheld Lounge for 4 hours while playing Super Smash Bros, which in any other circumstance would not be acceptable, just ask my girlfriend. I love the culture and acceptance that comes with the video game world and the people who are in it. PAX is that snapshot of how people should act and how thousands of people can come together to share a love that they have. Who else but gamers can unite the world?