Last weekend, I was lucky enough to spend a few days with great company, a rad airbnb, and attended what is quickly becoming the most relevant videogame show today. (Sorry E3, it’s bound to happen.)

I was able to put Zelda down long enough to enjoy some other great games. We discussed some of our favorite picks on the LAN Party, but since we didn’t all get a chance to try the same things, I feel like it’s important to cover some of the games I dug:

Moonlighter
It’s possible that I was starstruck by the first thing I touched at PAX, but Moonlighter really caught my eye. Part RPG, part economy sim, part roguelike; I’m not alone in that I found myself thinking about Moonlighter multiple times during our trip to the expo. Dungeon crawling has been around for ages, but the idea that you’re scouring those dungeons to make a living and support yourself is a totally unique approach. Coupled with a rad pixelated visual style, Moonlighter has me excited for sure.

Abi
I’ll admit that it was slow moving; I’ll admit that I couldn’t hear anything at all from the headphones, but Abi was damn beautiful to look at and charming to boot. Abi is a side scrolling puzzle solver, in which you play a pair of robots. Sounds pretty straight forward, but man, those hand-drawn assets really pop. It promises to be an emotional adventure, and I hope it rings true. It’s also one of the games I accidentally broke while trying to play… gg, Tristy.

Toejam & Earl: Back In The Groove
There are two types of people in this world:
-Those who have played Toejam & Earl. (Me, and some random girl)
-Those who have not. (Daney, and some other random girl)

When we sat down to play this four player demo, Daney confided in me that she hadn’t ever touched a Toejam & Earl game.

It showed.

The entire time, I glanced between she and the other ladies joining us. One of them was smiling ear to ear the entire time. Daney & Co looked like they were doing quantum physics with a pencil made of meat.

I’m not sure what 2017 will mean to a new Toejam & Earl audience, but we faithful definitely have a joyful ride ahead of us.

Sonic Mania
It’s traditional Sonic.
In 2017.
It plays really well.

Galaxy Of Pen And Paper
This series has been available on Steam for sometime in the form of Knights of Pen and Paper. The premise has you building characters and then guiding them on a tabletop-like journey from the perspective of the DM. Now though, we’ve traded in the fantasy for the sci-fi. It was full of cheesy genre tropes, synth music, and goofy monsters. I couldn’t have been more jolly.

Guild Of Dungeoneering
This is one that’s actually already available. It was tough, and I kept dying in my short time through the demo, but it certainly was captivating. In Guild of Dungeoneering, you create your party, and take them through dungeons that you build as you go. Choose a room, choose a monster(s), choose a reward (maybe), and head into battle. It has a neat pencil drawn aesthetic which fits the angle of the game. I plan on hopping into this as soon as I have the time.

Steam World Dig 2
Steam World Dig certainly was a hidden gem on the 3ds, and its sequel is shaping up be a neater, smoother, and more colorful entry. I’m not really sure if I’d call it a side-scroller, dungeon crawler, OR metroidvania platformer, but it’s definitely somewhere in the middle. Can’t wait to play it on Switch when it drops this year.

Tumbleseed
In a time where we try to plow through everything in life as fast as humanly possible, it’s nice to see something that asks you to slow down. Tumbleseed is a roguelike, twin-stick controlled adventure where roll your character along a level spanning platform. You will avoid obstacles and attack enemies while you ascend vertically to progress. This game demands patience and accuracy. At first, I didn’t understand why somebody would want to play something so simple on a console. Once I understood how and why the game controls in such a manner, I got it. Seriously, look out for Tumbleseed.

Graceful Explosion Machine
Gradius for a new age.
Gracefull Explosion Machine is a side-scrolling ship shooter which had me on my toes the whole time. Think Geometry Wars, but moving. It was reflex-driven bullet hell at it’s very best. The minute the dev said “leaderboards”, I was all in.

I avoided most of the AAA stuff at the show. Partly because I didn’t want to stand in lines, but mostly because, well… They’re just more of the same. The indie scene is where PAX shines the brightest for me; and here we have some great examples to look forward too. Good luck, devs!

I’m unabashedly in love with Nintendo; ESPECIALLY Zelda! Spelunky is my jam. Burritos are life.
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