The Indie Megabooth is routinely my favorite part of PAX Prime. You’re unlikely to find three rows of video games filled with more passion anywhere else on the floor or at any other expo. Every year PAX manages to assemble a series of games that do justice to the name “Megabooth” by gathering a group of titles that represent the unique spirit of the indie gaming community.

The Indie Megabooth has hosted many game that ended up being hit like Darkest Dungeon, The Banner Saga, and The Stanley Parable. You never know which indie gem will be the next big hit. Here were some of my favorites from this years megabooth.

 

The Westport Independent

Double Zero One Zero

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Looking at The Westport Independent, it’s easy to draw a line between this game and Lucas Pope’s Papers, Please, or an ever more direct connection to Pope’s earlier Republia Times. But it’s an unfair comparison as The Westport Independent isn’t nearly as ostensibly mundane as Pope’s games. Players assume the role of an editor-in-chief for one of the last newspapers free from government control. While the titular newspaper retains its freedom, a new law forces all media to promote the government and turn a blind eye to the increasingly tyrannical rulers.

Players must decide how much they will play along with the new law. They will edit stories, assign them to members of their staff, then layout the articles for tomorrow’s edition. Writers will refuse to stand against the government or play the role of puppet. Readers voice their outrage through angry letters. Your version of the news will affect your readership as they believe in the narratives you craft through omitting facts of a story.

The Westport Independent takes the fascinating job of running a newspaper and twists the premise to create an even more intriguing dilemma for players. The game boasts a creative premise with gameplay mechanics baked into the concept. It was easily a highlight of the PAX Prime Megabooth.

 

Gang Beasts

Double Fine Productions

incinerator_burnIt seems every year there is a game which attracts an audience who vocally responds to its action. Divekick took over PAX East a couple of years ago as audiences marveled at its intense gameplay. The wrestling-like gameplay of four players attempt to knock each other out of the games arenas in Double Fine’s Gang Beasts garnered a similar reaction as crowds gathered and oohed/ahhed.

Four brightly colored players begin the game on four separate corners of the map. The locations can change, beginning with the traditional wrestling ring and getting as wild as a ferris wheel. Players can punch each other to weaken their stamina, but the end goal is to pick your opponents up and throw them out of the ring after weakening them with a good beating.

The simple premise and controls turn Gang Beasts into a strange sort of physics simulator fighting game as players attempt to get a hold of each and then build up enough momentum to drop them over the side of the ring while their opponents struggle to get themselves free. The tables can be easily turned, the action is swift and exciting. This colorful multiplayer action game was a real jewel from the people at Double Fine.

 

Through the Woods

Antagonist

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There’s a usually a horror game locking it down on the Megabooth show floor, exciting those who are hungry for something to freak them out. But it wasn’t just the scares which attracted me to Through the Woods, but the beauty of its dark and ominous atmosphere.

Through the Woods follows a mother as she traverses a forest that is the dominion of the monster Old Erik. Players control the mother from a third person perspective as she searches for her lost son who was likely stolen by the folk tale creature. The controls are a simple mix of running and using a flashlight. The goal of the game is to follow reflectors placed through out the dark forest and hopefully find your way to your son.

Through the Woods drips with foreboding, instilling a sense of dread in players right off the bat. Doing the heavy lifting with this chilling atmosphere is the game’s incredible sound design. The demo I played was filled to the brim with the naturally eerie sounds of nature at night and the unreal noises which come from the terrifying creatures hunting you in the forest. Through the Woods is a wonderfully scary game and something I’m eagerly anticipating next year.

 

Moon Hunters

Kitfox Games

Moon-Hunters

The term roleplaying game has been fairly watered down these days, especially when it comes to the “role” part. Moon Hunters is a game that tries to reinvent what it means to play a role in an action RPG.  Players choose a character and are assigned roles based on their style of play.

The game uses an overview map and players vote on areas they want to explore, vanquishing evil and interacting with the characters they meet along the way. Choices and character responses are voted on by the four players, allowing you as a party to decide if you’re going to accept a quest or if you would like to rest your head. When you pause for a rest, characters can then use their free time as they would like sleeping, cooking, gazing at the stars, or guarding the campsite. Decisions like these influence your characters and the role they play within the game.

Moon Hunters is a unique twist on the action-RPG genre and a welcomed change. The game forces players to work together while making independent decisions. It’s rare that an action-RPG allows for players to have so much control over their characters.

About The Author

The Glorious Predecessor

As I write this, I am listening to Striking Matches and eating a blueberry muffin. The music is good, the muffin is even better. I dance when I drink and have been known to occasionally free-style rap, none of which benefits society.

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