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7 Indie Discoveries from PAX East 2017

It wasn't all known properties and sequels as we explored the many indie booths at PAX East in Boston.

An event like PAX (Penny Arcade Expo), in this case PAX East 2017 in Boston, always results in a lot of new discoveries as you work your way through scheduled appointments as well as the occasional opening in the schedule. Some of the games we've seen before, some of them we've even played before, but a large portion of the games we play, see and/or do interviews for at an event like this are new discoveries. Sadly, we don't always get to spend the time on them needed for a full preview, so instead we've collected seven indie titles that caught our eye during PAX East 2017 to give you some idea what they're about and why they got us excited.

Ape Out (Gabe Cuzzillo/Devolver Digital)
PC/PS4/Xbox One

This violent and frenetic puzzler puts you in the furry costume of a gorilla who wants to escape from a zoo. A heavily guarded and labyrinth-like zoo that is. The jazz music and the cymbals that are triggered as you put your dirty paws on a guard makes for an incredibly addictive experience that's punctuated and elevated thanks to the audio. After each run, whether you make it to the end or not, you get to see the path you've taken through the labyrinth, which is a brilliant way to cap what looks like an extremely well thought out game in terms of presentation.

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Aftercharge (Chainsawesome Games)
PC/Xbox One

One team is invisible. The other team is invincible. This three on three shooter takes a very interesting approach to team-work. It may sound like a silly concept, but in reality it plays out really well as the invisible team needs to work together to try and take out a series of nodes by firing at them. They have a certain amount of health, though, so you can tactically whittle their health down so that the final push is made easier. You can also coordinate and mislead the invincible team, draw their fire to let a teammate sneak in. It's all very well thought out and the concept appears to allow for some high level tactics. Getting the right balance with two very different sides is going to take a lot of work, but we're intrigued by the premise.

Deep Rock Galactic (Ghost Ship Games/Coffee Stain Publishing)
PC (Steam Early Access in 2017)

When Microsoft pulled the plug on Press Play (Max: The Curse of Brotherhood, Kalimba) last year (an event largely overshadowed by the closure of Lionhead) it meant new developers rose from its ashes. One such developer is Ghost Ship Games (mostly made up of former Press Play developers), and their first game Deep Rock Galactic has been picked up by Coffee Stain Publishing (of Goat Simulator fame). This debut title mixes the co-op shooting of say Payday or Left 4 Dead, with mining and being able to change your surroundings. It sounds like a great concept and we'll be able to see just how well it shapes up as the game nears its Early Access release. Oh, and we forget to mention it's all about dwarves...

Pixel Noir (SWDTech/Badland Games)
PC/PS4/PS Vita/Xbox One

We stumbled upon this game at the Badland Games' booth in a hidden away corner of the PAX East 2017 show floor (perhaps it felt hidden next to the huge Bethesda booth). Merging a noir detective story with what's essentially a pixel and turn-based JRPG certainly whet our appetite. Originally funded via Kickstarter the game has taken its sweet time to get ready and we're still a year out from release, but this one may well be worth the wait.

Battle Chef Brigade (Trinket Studios/Adult Swim Games)
PC

Getting dinner on the table can be an epic struggle at times, even more so if you have to hunt down the ingredients in your back garden while simultaneously cooking experimental dishes on the stove. Battle Chef Brigade is an anime-style take on the hardships of being a chef that mixes battles (to procure ingredients) with a rather interesting match-3 puzzle concept that lets you put together dishes based on their tastes. Had it not been for a busy schedule we could have sat playing this for quite some time, for now we'll have to wait for the full release to test our cooking skills.

The Church in the Darkness (Paranoid Productions)
PC/PS4/Xbox One

We've talked to Richard Rouse III previously, but at PAX East 2017 we got to see The Church in the Darkness in action for the first time and we came away impressed by a stealth game that sees you infiltrate a sect that's created a commune of their own in the Jungle. What's unique about The Church in the Darkness is that while your objective is the same each play-through - find your nephew and extract him - the nature of the movement is different and procedurally generated. Maybe they're not entirely bad? Maybe your nephew doesn't want to leave? Or maybe they're just incredibly horrible in ways you wouldn't even imagine (we witnessed a stoning, for example)? The procedural nature plays nicely into the subject matter and this attempt at a procedural narrative has us intrigued.

Mothergunship (Terrible Posture Games/Grip Digital)
PC/PS4/Xbox One

Tower of Guns was an insane roguelike-like bullet hell romp, and by the looks of it Mothergunship takes this to a whole new level. We got to witness a rather skilled Tower of Guns player as he sampled a more advanced and challenging demo than the normal showfloor one and, well, things were quite mental. The basic premise is that you'll fight your way to the titular mothergunship, the final ship in the alien fleet laying siege to Earth. You'll craft weapons and upgrade skills along the way (you start with triple jump and the dev said you'll be able to jump as many times as 30 in a row, important if there's a giant room full of lava, he explained), and you'll face increasingly deadly enemies. The room themselves are procedurally generated, so you never quite now what's next.

Anyway, these are seven games that are now on our radar and perhaps they belong on yours as well.

Not included in this list are sequels (SteamWorld Dig 2 looks awesome) and indies we were already very familiar with and had seen or played before (Rain World, Pyre, Tormentor X Punisher).

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