GDEX 2018, just like last year, is still an intimate, no-frills presentation of video games from all over the country. Every booth was buzzing with players but never to the point of unbearable wait times. We occasionally played games that caught our attention (sometimes even more than once), but for the most part we were window-shopping. Aside from trying to learn the layout, we wanted to get an idea of which games were in which booths.
Here’s a list of the games we managed to try on the first day, in no particular order:
Wilmot’s Warehouse (PC)
This underrated gem was hidden at the corner of Finji’s booth, sitting right beside Tunic’s demo. And because Tunic was a high-traffic attraction, Wilmot got ignored a bit. That’s unfortunate because this warehouse organization game sneakily grabs your attention once you start playing. You control Wilmot, a boxy warehouse employee tasked of receiving the day’s deliveries and sorting them in the right place. Think of him as a warehouse forklift, moving pallets of items effortlessly with a smile. You’re free to place the items anywhere in any order you want. He can grab up to eight boxes at once before he starts struggling.
Once you’re done, your coworkers will ask for specific items. You have a limited time to fulfill their requests, so remembering where things are is important. Keep in mind that Wilmot can hold up to 8 boxes at once, so feel free to complete more than one request at a time. Once you finish a work day, you get to unlock more types of items, which will also show up on your next warehouse day. The further you go, the more items you have to sort. Organization is key.
Sundown Refusal (PC)
Hitcents brought with them a staggering six games, and one of them is Sundown Refusal. This game is still in its very early stages, with the developer barely able to finish this demo for the show. We’re glad that the game made it because it looked very promising.
It wasn’t until after the show that we learned of the story, but apparently the Sun refuses to set in this world. I mentioned on our quick take tweet that the avatar seems to be hidden in the shadows, and that’s because the Moon created you as the last Spirit of Darkness. It’s your task to restore the cycle of day and night again.
The game is presented in pixel art, and the first stage in the demo basks in the orange-red colors of the sunset. Movement options were great but were not communicated clearly, which led to some confusion at the beginning. Platforming is a key part of exploration, with some treasure chests stashed away in far away corners that require a clever combination and jumping and skill use.
At the end is a boss you must defeat, with several attack patterns for you to remember. Plan accordingly and watch its health decrease as you chip away at its openings. We found a way to stay up in the air to avoid the boss walking around, though this may not be an intended use for your avatar’s magic skill. Keep this in mind as development progresses.
Lvl99 AxeRage (PC)
This is another Hitcents game that we got to play with studio head Jordan Taylor. Presented in beautiful and fluid-moving pixel art, Lvl99 AxeRage is what happens when you turn Mega Man into a Metroidvania. Enemies come at you fast and hard, and you must fend them off while keeping the layout in mind. Platforming is paramount, though some deaths can feel a little cheap with environmental tricks. Eventually you’ll come to expect that something is going to happen with that innocent-looking gap that you’re about to cross. Thankfully there are save points so not all is lost when you die.
The game is a self-proclaimed “homage to the… badassery from the 80s and 90s,” and it shows. Aside from the obvious retro art style and NES level of difficulty, the game tries its best to show its most badass side. Characters are very angry, and they show this through their crazy acrobatics when attacking. Enemy names have also been badass-ified, but maybe a little too much on some.
Super Dungeon Tactics (Switch)
Underbite Games’ Super Dungeon Tactics combines the random chances of dice roll games with turn-based strategy RPG. Your fighters are typical RPG classes such as barbarian, archer, rogue, and many others. But instead of spending your turn picking skills from various boxes, you decide which bonus or penalty you apply to them.
Your turn always begins with a randomly generated dice roll, and you’ll always have more dice than characters to make sure you have choices. You’re required to apply something to a character, so if you’re unlucky your entire team will be carrying penalties for an entire turn. Some bonuses are also color-coded, meaning they’re more effective on certain fighters with certain skills.
Fights take place in a dungeon (as its name suggests), and you’re free to move any fighter in any order you want. The game helpfully tells you your movement range, and once you commit to that action you can either attack or end that fighter’s turn. If you do attack, the game will also tell you your attacking range, so you’ll never be guessing as to whether you can hit something or not. Once your turn is completely over, the enemies will do pretty much the same thing as you sans dice rolls. They will move and they will attack, and the only thing you can do is watch.
Akash: Path of the Five (PS4)
Akash is a departure from most of the games we tried that weekend. This one is an otome visual novel, meaning the story is targeted primarily for women. The story also usually revolves around a female main character, falling in love with one of the male characters in the story.
In Akash’s case, the story focuses on a young lady named Aurora. She’s from a family of elementals, and she’s the only female of their kind that her village has seen in 200 years. She’s about to partake in the Coming of Age ritual so that she can pick her element, and with that comes the topic of love and marriage. Since she’s the only girl in the village, a lot of eligible bachelors’ eyes are on her. And so our story begins.
What makes this game interesting is Truant Pixel’s choice to have a 3D background instead of hand-drawn one. The result is a very colorful backdrop that’s more involved than your typical flat panels. Pair this up with the vibrant character designs and the result is a visually appealing game. The excellent voice acting for each and every line doesn’t hurt, either.
Pig Eat Ball (PC)
Let’s get this out of the way: Pig Eat Ball is bizarre and disgusting, but for good reasons. For one, you control Princess Bow who gorges on anything and everything. Obviously, you’ll end up with a moving balloon. But here’s the interesting part: when you’re too fat to fit, you can barf out your stomach contents so you can shrink. You can also use your barf to slow down enemies. But don’t barf too much because you’ll barf uncontrollably. Oh, and you can eat again the pellets you barfed out, because you need it to complete the stage. Still with me?
Barfing may be the main mechanic for Pig Eat Ball, but the game also has other excellent qualities. Its colorful presentation is such an eye candy, handling multiple moving items very well without looking congested. It also takes other popular games of the earlier decades and tests them against this barfing formula. The most notable example is the Pac-Man-styled stage, where you can barf at ghosts to blind them. And if anything, Pig Eat Ball is a more accurate representation of what should happen when you eat too many pellets.
This is part one of our GDEX 2018 recap and includes the games we played on Day 1. Stay tuned for our Day 2 recap.