PAX West 2017: The Pinniest PAX yet with Wolfenstein milkshakes, BioShock blues, Donut County raccoons, and a date with Detroit

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2017 is the year that pins went mainstream at PAX. Pinny Arcade is nothing new, with Disneyland-esque pin concoctions sold and traded for many years now. But they were EVERYWHERE, and easy to acquire in many cases just by playing demos - like the wonderful raccoon with a donut provided by Annapurna Interactive for trying the delightful Donut County.

Other rewards stood out too. Bethesda handed out the delicious Kommandant's Strawberry Milkshake in collectible deco-style cups as a pick-me-up after the Wolfenstein II demo. Super Lucky's Tale players received tokens for a skill crane machine to take home their choice of stuffed Lucky dolls, capes, or pins (everyone's a winner - after three tries, they simply handed you the prize of your choice).

BioShock party (from outside)

PlayStation Experience app (at the show)There were a few lowlights too. IGN and BioShock held a deco'd out party at Seattle's tony King Street Station but fans who signed up for digital tickets were blown off in favor of anyone willing to stand in yet another line for 3+ hours (unless you were a VIP or cosplayer who arrived early enough to sneak in as free ambience). Dressed to the nines and early enough to not be fashionable, we spent 90 minutes in a line we were never going to conquer before bailing for a late dinner.

Our other PAX bane was Sony. Rather than allow lines, they required demo appointments using their PlayStation Experience app. The first day was a bust since we didn't recall our PSN logins.

But it didn't matter - appointments were wiped out in seconds, and the phone reception was awful (as usual for PAX) so connecting from the expo hall was next to impossible. After thinking we had secured a Monday appointment (only to find it didn't go through), a PlayStation booth agent took pity on us and slipped us into for a late appointment to play Detroit.

Overall, PAX was a positive experience - in some ways better than the past few years. But it could still be so much better if event marketers can think through the attendee experience and err on the side of rewarding their faithful base.

Here are the games we checked out:


SpyParty. This party game was one of our top PAX finds. One person plays the spy and another a sniper trying to take him or her out. The spy meanders through a party, trying to act inconspicuous (i.e., robotic, like an NPC) while enacting nefarious goals such as bugging an ambassador, seducing a target, and swapping out a decorative statue with a fake. The sniper watches and listens through windows, trying to decide where (or whether) to spend his or her one bullet. Tension builds as the party proceeds - who will win this battle of wits?

 • Available now in early access beta on PC and Mac, with other platforms to be announced

 • Busy Gamer Nation interview coming soon!

 • Read the excellent SpyParty Manual


Hello Neighbor

Hello Neighbor. I've been calling this The Lovely Bones - The Videogame as it reminds me of the friendly neighborhood serial killer from the book and Peter Jackson movie. It's not clear exactly what this neighbor is up to but it's definitely not good. You use a wide variety of tricks to distract him while you break into his house and investigate but you are eventually caught and returned home with any secrets you've gleaned. Next time, your point of entry is blocked and you'll need to negotiate traps or find another way in. This game has already become something of a viral sensation and it's not even fully released.

 • Launches Dec 8 on PC and Xbox One (Steam preorder beta out now).

 • Busy Gamer Nation interview coming soon!


RWBY: Grimm Eclipse

RWBY: Grimm Eclipse. Based on the popular Rooster Teeth anime series, this game has been out for a while but we were curious to hear more about how this co-op hack and slasher came to be.

 • Available now on PC, Mac, PS4, and Xbox One.

 • Busy Gamer Nation interview coming soon!


Dishonored: Death of the Outsider

Dishonored: Death of the Outsider. This was the first game we were able to get in a reasonable line to play at PAX, and like the prior Dishonored demo we played years ago, we quickly became lost. That didn't mean we didn't have fun with this standalone side story but the impersonation skill seemed hard to pull off (how do you lower your weapon when in disguise? It seems you cannot without ditching your borrowed persona) and we generally couldn't figure out where to go. Worse, the booth stay had no idea about how the game worked and couldn't advise us at all. That said, the game looks great- and as we finished the first Dishonored game, we'll likely buy and play this through as well.

 • Launches Sept 15 on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

 • Sorry, no interview available


Forza Motorsport 7

Forza Motorsport 7. What can I say, I love me some Forza. While I prefer the open world Horizon series, the desert race FM7 demo at PAX was pretty cool. I nearly took first place in my BMW the first lap and easily sealed the deal in the second. If I had turned off assists, I could have done even better. Needless to say, I'll be playing this next month.

 • Launches Oct 3 on Xbox One and Windows 10 (Play Anywhere).

 • Sorry, no interview available


Assassin's Creed: Origins

Assassin's Creed: Origins. This game looks and plays great but due to some confusing advice from booth staff I blew my shot at beating the demo. You start on horseback, ride into town, and confront a preacher who is beating a boy for losing some golden statues. You promise to retrieve them from a nearby shipwreck. Swimming is awesome (despite being menaced by a hippo) and I quickly nabbed one of the statues. I then took control of an eagle to try to find and mark my next objective, but this proved confusing and I wasted the rest of my demo looking for a sunken statue that was actually above water. That said, the whole family wants this game so it will be a holiday purchase for sure. It certainly seems more fun than the last few AC installments.

 • Launches Oct 27 on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

 • Sorry, no interview available


Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. This is GrrlGotGame's jam. I went along for the strawberry milkshake but had a fun time with the game too. You play as Blazkowicz, now in a wheelchair but this doesn't really slow him down much. He moves quickly and his only impediment is stairs - but there are plenty of giant cogs that serve as elevators and conveyer belts to get you where you need to go. There is some irony that the end of the demo featured a lengthy Nazi fat-shaming diatribe right before we were handed our milkshakes but we enjoyed them nonetheless - after hours of standing in lines, we needed the sugar jolt.

 • Launches Oct 27 on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

 • Sorry, no interview available

Disneyland Adventures

Zoo Tycoon: Ultimate Animal Collection, Disneyland Adventures, Pixar Rush. I'm grouping these together since Xbox did, as a collection of remastered family titles. Zoo Tycoon is basically the Xbox One launch title but with the park size limit removed and a lot of new content added. Alas, unlike the ReCore Definitive Edition just released, this game is NOT a free upgrade for previous owners.

Disneyland Adventures and Pixar Rush are basically the same as the games released on Xbox 360 in 2011 but remastered with the Kinect controls replaced by controller. Rush also has a new Finding Dory world.

 • All launch Oct 31 on Xbox One and Windows 10 (Play Anywhere).

 • Sorry, no interview available


Super Lucky's Tale

Super Lucky's Tale. This was one of the standouts of the show. We loved the adorable Fox's platforming antics and only got stuck in a few places. When giant flowers attack, they look just like catapults but they don't work that way. You jump on them and then back to safety, defeating them entirely before opening the way forward. Booth staff - among the best, most helpful we've seen at PAX - assured us that player feedback is helping them refine game cues so you shouldn't have problems when the game is released. The boss battle also proved tough enough to challenge core gamers; younger players may struggle but will eventually get through given enough time.

 • Launches Nov 7 on Xbox One and Windows 10 (Play Anywhere).

 • Sorry, no interview available


Battle Chef Brigade

Battle Chef Brigade. We usually enjoy cooking games and match-3 puzzlers, and this combines elements of both along with a combat system used to hunt ingredients and keep them from hungry, aggressive scavengers. You mix ingredients by solving matching puzzles, which makes the dish less like following a recipe and more like improvising a culinary creation. Once you master the basics, there's an RPG world to explore and cooking battles to beat.

 • Launches in 2017 on PC and Switch, and soon after on PS4.

 • Busy Gamer Nation interview coming soon!



Goragoa. This game, nestled in the Annapurna booth, got less attention than Donut County but acquired a small but devoted following of puzzle fans. You begin with one square with hand-drawn animation playing within. You can pull away layers and zoom in and out to unfold new pieces of the visual story, told entirely without dialogue. Layers can be combined to transport your character to new places and unlock new elements that may be positioned so they interact with each other. Once you understand the game's simple controls, you may find it hard to stop zooming and moving things around.

 • Launches in 2017 on PC and iOS.

 • Sorry, no interview available


Detroit: Become Human

Detroit: Become Human. This was the star of the Sony booth, and we narrowly snagged an appointment to play it. In the demo you control an android investigator in a futuristic world who manipulates crime scene evidence to unravel clues in three dimensions. Once you have enough insight into what happened, you move into negotiation mode to try to talk a renegade android perched on the ledge of a skyscraper out of killing a young girl that he previously served as a domestic. Do you lie to talk him off the ledge or level with him and risk the girl's death or your own? It's a fascinating game dynamic if creator David Cage and his team at Quantic Dream (Fahrenheit, Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls) can sustain it over the course of several branching story nodes.

 • Launches in 2018 on PS4.

 • Sorry, no interview available


Donut County

Donut County. This was perhaps our best of show, and certainly our favorite. The game is charming and fun without being punishing. We were lured in by the Raccoon Donut pin but stayed for the excellent gameplay, which vaguely resembles Katamari Damacy while being its own game and story. You control a hole that ostensibly escaped from a donut in some sort of existential transfer (similar to The Beatles' famous "I've got a hole in me pocket" from Yellow Submarine). The hole sucks up everything that will fit, so you start with smaller objects and then, as it grows in size, move on to the larger things. Gameplay evolves as some objects alter the way the hole works, such as snakes that act as a tool for hitting objects above ground level.

 • Launches in 2018 on PC, Mac, iOS and other platform to be announced.

 • Busy Gamer Nation interview coming soon!



Collidalot. This was a neat find, a party game created by recent graduates of the Academy of Interactive Entertainment in Seattle. It's sort of like Othello but with race cars that paint curvy track segments with their glowing color as they collide into each other - yes, you guessed it - a lot. Whoever gets to 45% control of the track first wins the battle - at least until the inevitable rematch.

 • Launches 2018 on PC and Xbox One and possibly PS4 and Switch.

 • Busy Gamer Nation interview coming soon!


Once Upon a Puppet.

Once Upon a Puppet. This puzzle platformer is visually stunning thanks to its creative use of theater lighting techniques. Gameplay is challenging as you control a puppet trying to get back to being the "fancy hand" that would normally be the puppet master but is now trapped on the stage.

 • Launches 2018 on PC and targeting eventual release on PS4 and Xbox One.

 • Busy Gamer Nation interview coming soon!



Necrobarista. This visual novel combines story with interaction but unlike most point-and-click adventure games, you are not required to dig deep if you don't want. The story hinges on the premise that the dead are granted limited access to the living world at a coffee bar where some choose to gamble their time for a chance at a longer stay. The Necrobarista owns the place and isn't above taking whatever you want to wager. The visual style is engaging and digging up story nuggets from the environment can be rewarding.

 • Launches 2018 on PC, Mac, and Switch.

 • Busy Gamer Nation interview coming soon!

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This page contains a single entry by Gamewatcher published on September 6, 2017 5:51 PM.

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