PAX East 2018 Indie Previews DARK DEVOTION BLAZING CHROME

first_imgStay on target Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. When it comes to new and upcoming games on display, PAX East isn’t always necessarily the “big show” of the Penny Arcade Expo family of conventions. Typically playing out at the tail end of Winter, located on the opposite coast from the webcomic itself’s home base and lacking even PAX Australia’s relative geographic proximity to gaming-saturated Japan; it’s not traditionally the show where major upcoming titles make their debut or make a featured showcase unless by coincidence (as was the case with the surprise announcement of Capcom’s Ducktales: Remastered a few years back, or Duncan Jones making a sweep through town last year to promote the Warcraft movie).On the other hand, though, the ever-present indie and smaller dev offerings are as… well, present as ever. And with the Expo Floor not necessarily over-clogged with This Month’s Big New Thing, PAX East can be a fine place to catch up with some of the biggest mid-tier titles still in development in a hands-on setting. Which this can often give a better feel for what it’s actually like to pick up and play a new title than a downloaded demo or Kickstarter trailer. For example, these two titles both set for release by up and coming publisher The Arcade Crew.DARK DEVOTION“What if Dark Souls was a 32-bit 2D side-scroller from the late-1990s?” Well, it probably wouldn’t have even attempted to balance the number of different moves, options, strategies, attacks, stats and details Dark Souls does and thus wouldn’t really be a 2D Dark Souls; for starters. But once you reconcile that “retro” and “Dark Souls” aren’t really ideas that are meant to fit together in the first place and that what remains is more like a Diablo-inspired roguelike with Dark Souls trappings it gets easier to groove on Dark Devotion’s wavelength. And either way, a general familiarity with the mechanics of the Souls games and their progeny (particularly managing stamina bars) will help you out a lot.What’s less clear, at least at the demo stage, is whether or not you’ll want to stick with it for long enough that the help will yield much. Dark Souls was already action gaming’s ultimate acquired taste, but at least some who weren’t pre-sold on the old-time gaming ideal of die-until-you-memorize-how-not-to-die difficulty curves were drawn in by the atmosphere, aesthetic and the opportunity for exploration. A more straightforward “Metroidvania” experience, cast in attractively-simple but none the less low-detail pixel art, doesn’t exactly offer the same wide net. And in practical terms it doesn’t seem like the mix is destined to work – roll-dodging zombies and waiting for your weapon to be ready isn’t quite as thrilling in two dimensions.That said, there’s a lot to recommend yet. France-based indie developer Hibernian Workshop has clearly put a lot of love into the look and feel of the game, and there’s an attention to detail one expects from the obvious (pardon the pun) devotion to the Dark Souls aesthetic. The controls, if perhaps a little too elaborate for a side-scroller (memo to all devs. You don’t have to use every button just because they’re all technically there) are responsive and as intuitive as one can hope for within the genre. Fans pre-attuned to the roguelike scene may find it easier to pick up and play than others. The Arcade Crew expects to have the game out in the U.S. shortly.BLAZING CHROMEAs noted above, indie gaming loves its retro-inspired mash-ups. Indeed, one could likely craft a not-unsuccessful run of potential Kickstarter moneymakers by putting the names of between five and ten uniformly well-remembered 1990s console classics and the words “roguelike,” “Metroidvania,” “puzzle-platformer” and “procedurally generated” into two different hats and making blindfolded matches at random. And bonus points if you can affect the neon-sweatband absurdity of Reagan-era machismo that dominated the era’s popular culture for ironic humor.A much more difficult task is recreating the experience with authenticity without also dredging up the parts we’d prefer to leave behind – to recreate not simply the games one is nostalgic for but the ephemeral sense of nostalgia itself without ironic detachment or cheap commentary. That’s what Blazing Chrome, a labor of love from Brazilian indie wunderkinds JoyMasher (Danilo Dias and Thais Weiller) is aiming to accomplish: A Super Famicom-faithful cousin to Contra III: The Alien Wars that feels like the best co-op shooter 1993 never got around to releasing. And if you like that sort of thing… well, you’re probably going to like this.Let it not be said that JoyMasher doesn’t know their stuff: Apart from the HD-scaled field of play and the ability to handle a greater variety of moving sprites at a time than even the most dust-free SNES could hope to achieve. Blazing Chrome is as committed to straight-faced 90s 16-bit recreation as the team’s prior offerings (Oniken and Odallus) were to their similar specific reference points (the NES versions of Strider and Astyanax, respectively.) If you remember the basics of Contra and other co-op 2D shooters, it’s like putting on an old shoe – and if you don’t have any memories of that era, it’s not as though “move, jump, shoot, everything that’s not you is bad and will kill you” isn’t exactly a lengthy tutorial.The PAX East 2018 demo included the two main playable characters and enough ready levels to show off an impressively-scaled boss fight. Obviously, the target audience are retro fans; but there’s a level of polish here that shows a real skill at keeping the “feel” of a retro game but knowing where to make subtle improvements in smoothness of controls and a more graceful difficulty curve one would expect in the genuine article. That, plus the general upswing in popularity for such titles, could well win Blazing Chrome fans too young or otherwise-occupied to have sense-memories of classic Contra.center_img Valve Steam Link App Brings Your PC Games to Mobile‘We. The Revolution’ Is ‘Ace Attorney’ With More… last_img