PAX East 2017: Day Three

We lost an hour of sleep last night, and I’m already running on fumes. The weather hasn’t gotten much better either.

We’re at the con at about 9:30, so I have time to line up for the floor opening. Andrew recommended checking out Absolver, so I head there first since it had a long line yesterday. The line is already stretching around their booth by the time I get there. A dev luckily invites me to the front of the line since I’m not grouped with anyone, so I probably skip a good 30 minute wait.

Although Absolver is meant to be a Dark Souls with martial arts, I’m not big on fighting games and queuing up combos to kill enemies was not my cup of tea. Maybe I’ll change my mind on it later.

Of course, if I wasn’t a fan of Absolver, then Fantasy Strike wasn’t going to fare much better (sorry Andrew!). Fantasy Strike is a fighting game created by a former Street Fighter dev. One thing I did enjoy about it is that it’s much more simplified than a standard fighter – no up/down positions, and combos are reduced to fewer button presses. Your health bar is also measured in blocks rather than a bar, so landing hits is easier to keep track of. I played against a fighting game aficionado, and he had a much better appreciation of the game’s mechanics than I did.

I pass the Devolver Digital booth and decide to give Ape Out a try. I really enjoyed this one. You control a rampaging ape trying to escape a facility as armed guards chase you down. It’s essentially Hotline: Miami but with melee combat and more of an emphasis on running and outmaneuvering your enemies. Like Hotline: Miami, you’ve basically got one or two shots before you are dead, so survival often comes down to making the right choices within a few critical seconds.

Last night, Dave and Brett recommended a game called The Long Journey Home to me based on my love of FTL. They turned out to be totally right – not just because it’s like FTL but because it’s basically a spiritual successor to Star Control II, one of my favorite games and an underrated gem.

The developer was ecstatic when I asked him about this – he confirmed that Star Control II was the game’s primary influence. He says the reason he made the game is because Star Control II has no modern analog. I agree with him, and I hope that The Long Journey Home finds a warm welcome in the modern gaming community.

At noon I head up to the game journalism panel, but on the way I bump into Randall, Chelsea, and Austin getting out of the GearBox panel (a bit of a disappointment, from what I heard). They’re heading to Danny O’Dwyer’s panel covering his new video game documentary series, NoClip. I decide to join them instead.

After the panel I grab some lunch with the crew (and brave the freezing weather to hit the food trucks). Around 1:30 I head back down to the expo floor again to do a final sweep. On the floor I bump into the last person I expect to see – my friend Kristel, whom I haven’t seen since probably college. First Chris yesterday and now Kristel today – small world we live in.

She tags along with me to try out Tooth and Tail. It’s essentially a party RTS for four players that can be played on consoles. You harvest food from windmills and use that to build spawners, which automatically create units for you to command. It reminds me heavily of Cannon Brawl. I managed to take out the green player, but blue destroys both of us with a large group of flamethrowers. He wins a free copy of Monaco – no big loss, I already own it.

Kristel and I part ways when I go to attend the Streaming 101 panel with Cathy and Matt. I’m 10 minutes late. The streamers there give some general advice – don’t worry about the perfect time to start streaming, don’t focus on numbers, make sure to interact with your audience. They also show off Beam, Microsoft’s streaming service.

I head out 10 minutes early to get to my last panel on journalism, but my attention is shot at this point so I basically chill on my phone for most of it. I also saw a lot of this panel last year, so there’s not much new info to absorb.

For the last hour of the con I do a rush of the booths to grab pins for my lanyard. I bump into Andrew, Austin, and Dave on the expo floor. We’re all burnt out and ready to go, so we say adios to the expo floor and get ready to make our way home.

It’s time to get out of this god-forsaken city (ahead of the blizzard, no less). My top 3 picks for the expo floor:

  1. The Long Journey Home –  Did I mention it’s filled with a ton of sci-fi references?
  2. Ape Out – They missed the chance to called it “Going Apeshit”!
  3. Tooth and Tail – Because I’m too dumb to play StarCraft II.

I’m going to sleep for the next 24 hours.

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