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In previous years, when coming back from PAX East or PAX Prime, we’ve put together lists of the hidden gems we found among all of the games on display at the shows. At PAX East 2016, however, we found more games you need to have on your radar than we were expecting to find. So, this time, we’re breaking up our list across two separate days. So, without further ado, here’s part two in our list of hidden gems from PAX East 2016.

Haven’t checked out part one of our list? Do so here!


Hob
Developer: Runic Games | Platforms: PS4, PC,

What it?s about?

A once vibrant world has fallen into disarray, as an unknown force begins to consume all manner of life. Using the power of ancient monoliths and the ability to reshape the world itself as necessary, players will be tasked with purging this evil from the world before it falls too far into disrepair and is lost forever.

What sets it apart?

Hob has all the makings of a classic adventure game, as you have to piece together the mystery of what has caused this evil to erupt all over the planet. You?ll be able to gather new and mystical items that can increase your power while exploring, with solving puzzles and backtracking through familiar lands with these new items being critical to your overall success. What is most striking about Hob, however, may be its simplicity. Instead of relying on a narrator to drill the story beats into your mind, the game uses cues in the environment, allowing the story to unfold before you. The game also features a beautiful cel-shaded aesthetic?and when you use your increasing powers to actually change features in the environment, the animation is a sight to behold. A huge departure from the studio that brought us the Torchlight games, Hob is showing that Runic Games is far from a one-trick studio with this slick-looking adventure game that I can?t wait to play again.  ? Ray Carsillo


Battle Chef Brigade
Developer: Trinket Studios | Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux

What it?s about?

I could just say the same things with different words, but I?m going to let the game?s site explains things for itself: ?Play as Mina as she vies for a place in the Battle Chef Brigade. Slay and cook monsters with her magic and knife skills. But, beware! You?re not alone in the kitchen arena. Other aspiring chefs will also be fighting to win the hearts and stomachs of the judges.?

What sets it apart?

As a longtime fan of the Japanese TV series Iron Chef, you don?t need to convince me very hard to be interested in games which feature homages to those fierce battles to see whose cuisine would reign supreme. (Hey, it was one of the sleeper hit parts of Suikoden 2!) Battle Chef Brigade, however, has much more going on than that. To get the ingredients you need, you control Mina as she explores a beautiful hand-drawn 2D world, fighting creatures to carve them up for restocking your fridge. Gameplay here was inspired by games such as Guardian Heroes, and I could already see that influence in the polished combat. And then, once you?re back in the kitchen, cooking plays out as a puzzle game? Battle Chef Brigade seems tailor-made for me.  ? Mollie L Patterson


Flint Hook
Developer: Tribute Games | Platforms: TBA

What it?s about?

In Flint Hook, you play an intergalactic space pirate who wishes to be the richest scallywag on this side of the Milky Way. The easiest way to do this is to steal not from regular folks, but from other space pirates who have already done most of the hard work for you. Of course, I?ve never known a pirate to give up his gold without a fight.

What sets it apart?

It?s retro art style and mechanics are par for the course when it comes to yet another metroidvania amongst the Indie crowd, but Flint Hook?s interesting array of power items and cool pirate-themed boss design caught my eye even more than its surprisingly tight gameplay. The ability to slow down time, a bevy of blunderbuss weapons, and a stash of bombs make it so that you?re never too overwhelmed even when enemies start to fill your screen. The real star of the show, though, is your grappling hook, which you can fire at any time in any direction. Moving around a room via a dozen grapple points opens up a variety of combat possibilities, and finding new and interesting ways to take advantage of differing enemy weak spots via this system was a blast. All you need is really one great gimmick on top of some solid old-school design, and you?ll find you can easily rise to the top in the indie scene. Flint Hook definitely dug its hooks into me when I played it on the PAX East show floor.  ? Ray Carsillo


Move or Die
Developer: Those Awesome Guys | Platforms: Consoles (TBA 2016), PC, Mac, Linux

What it?s about?

Indie studio Those Awesome Guys are hoping to ruin friendships?and, as a secondary goal, give video gamers some joy?with Move or Die, a fast-paced four-player party game that constantly mixes things up to keep players on their toes.

What sets it apart?

I?m going to be honest here: I?ve seen more than my fill of indie-developed multiplayer ?party? games with wacky cartoon-styled characters at this point, and I?ve played plenty that were okay but nothing really enthralling. So, really, I wasn?t all that excited to try out Move or Die when I first saw it?and yet, playing changed my mind. As its title says, you have to keep moving or else you?ll die, but every round, the overall goal changes between a selection of options participants picked before starting. One round, you might simply be trying to jump on each other?s heads to kill them; in another, you have to paint as much of the stage your color as you can by walking over sections. At key points, a random player can pick mutators to make things even more chaotic, and online spectators will be able to do the same. Speaking of online, if you can?t get enough friends (or foes) onto your comfy couch, you can jump online and play against others.

All of those variables are what helped make Move or Die both exciting and competitive as I faced off against other PAX goers (and won). Congrats, Those Awesome Guys, you?ve got me wanting a second look at your game?and anyone out there looking for something new to break out when friends are over may want to do the same.  ? Mollie L Patterson


Zombie Night Terror
Developer: NoClip | Platforms: PC

What it?s about?

A mad scientist has created a new super drug that he hopes to get the populace hooked on. It has an unforeseen side effect, however, in that it causes the users to desire a craving for human flesh, turning them into mindless zombies. Unfortunately for the world, the scientist does not care, striving for the goal of getting as many people hooked as possible?and you?re going to help him.

What sets it apart?

Zombie Night Terror is basically a modern version of the classic puzzle game Lemmings. Here, instead of adorable creatures, you?re guiding a mindless zombie horde. Players start by infecting a select number of humans on screen, and then guide them around the stage infecting more and more humans until they have consumed all human flesh and move on to the next stage. Unsurprisingly, many humans can defend themselves with various guns or melee weapons, so it?ll take a mighty big horde to overwhelm these more determined defenders.

There?s more than just human dangers you?ll have to contend with, however, as conveniently-placed gaps will see your zombies fall to their doom, requiring some careful planning in your progress. In addition to infecting people, you?re also in charge of upgrading certain zombies, leading them to mutate in different ways that can help your zombie horde overcome even those pesky bottomless pits. If you love puzzles games, Zombie Night Terror?s twist on an old classic is surely worth a look down the line.  ? Ray Carsillo


Super Treasure Arena
Developer: treasurearena.com | Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC

What it?s about?

Up to four players can hop into the world of Super Treasure Arena, an arena-based action brawler where players not only have to worry about each other, but also each area?s array of enemies, and the rush to collect as many coins as possible.

What sets it apart?

There?s a long-standing hole in the hearts of many gamers that?s been left from the death of the Bomberman series, and while they aren?t directly similar in terms of playstyle, I can?t help but feel like games such as Super Treasure Arena are trying to fill that hole. There?s something comforting about the simple tactics on display here, and the top-down view even negates any need for extra layers like platforming. While the original Treasure Arena started as a web-based game, Super is beefing up for its wider platform release, bringing with it new modes and characters, updated graphics and control, and additional modes and multiplayer options. Super Treasure Arena is the kind of game even non-gamers will be able to join in on, but there also seems to be enough going on to still challenge more accomplished players.  ? Mollie L Patterson


Shadow Warrior 2
Developer: Flying Wild Hog | Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC

What it?s about?

Set five years after the first game, Shadow Warrior 2 again has players assume the role of modern ninja Lo Wang as he battles a demon horde from another dimension.

What sets it apart?

When you hear a game is being published by Devolver Digital, it?s easy to think ?smallish indie game,? but Shadow Warrior 2 shows it is anything but. Like you?d expect from any sequel, everything is bigger and better than the original, with massive levels to explore and new traversal mechanics like wall climbing and double jumps which allow Lo Wang a chance to check out every nook and cranny. Each level that is not integral to the story is also procedurally generated, so if you go back and replay missions to help level up Lo Wang and his weapons, you?ll still get a fresh experience every time. Speaking of weapons, over 70 different guns and melee weapons will be featured, with more than a half dozen able to be stored in your weapon wheel at once?giving Shadow Warrior 2 an old-school, over-the-top shooter feel. Throw in weapon modifications that allow you to stack things like ice, poison, or fire damage, and taking down demons based on Asian mythology has never felt (or looked) so good.  ? Ray Carsillo


Thumper
Developer: Drool LLC | Platforms: PS4, PSVR, PC

What it?s about?

Thumper?s official website proudly displays three short statements in large tan-colored text: ?Thumper is a rhythm violence game. You are a space beetle. Kill Crakhed!? While that may do little to explain this new project from the team at Drool LLC, it isn?t exactly easy to fully convey the journey of a metallic beetle from the future as it travels a world of music-infused distress.

What sets it apart?

While I didn?t get the full VR-powered Thumper experience?me and those headsets just don?t mix, sadly?I still got to play a game that sucked me into a strange and surreal world even in the middle of the sensory overload of the PAX East show floor. Drool?s creation of ?rhythm violence? is about pressing buttons to hit note markers in time to the background music, but there?s a lot more going on here than just that. Unlike other music games where you keep an eye on the note path, here you ride it into the distance, as the environment around you shifts and morphs the deeper you get (or better/worse you play). I told the Drool team that I could best explain Thumper as the band Journey meets Tron meets Rez in some sort of unnerving fever dream, and while that description may only make sense to myself, it helps to show just how hard this game is to pin down. I have no clue how Thumper will play out as a full-length and fully-finished release, but it seems like it could turn out to be one heck of a freaky, fun ride.  ? Mollie L Patterson


Mekazoo
Developer: The Good Mood Creators | Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Wii U, PC

What it?s about?

A magical world made up of animal and machine hybrids called the Mekanasphere has been invaded by a mysterious force that has turned some of its Mekanimal hybrids evil. Taking on the power of the armadillo, pelican, frog, wallaby, and panda, players will have to restore the natural order of things as they work their way through the elaborate environments, mixing and matching each animal?s unique abilities.

What sets it apart?

The cyber-organic design of the world and creatures is a sight to behold, as neon lights are strung up through treetops and line cave walls while your creatures bounce through each level. A straight-up platformer in the vein of the Donkey Kong Country games, Mekazoo allows players to control two animals at a time, and unlock more options as they defeat the evil versions of other animals. Players are able to switch seamlessly on the fly between animal forms with a press of a button, and the world also changes to adapt to each form you choose, even though certain forms are better than others. For example, a cannon will fire the rolled-up armadillo across a level, but will turn into a bar the frog can latch onto and swing from via his tongue. How obsessed you get with collectibles may also dictate which form you wish to take, as certain items can only be snagged by using certain forms. If you love old-school platformers with plenty of secrets to find, and multiple ways to beat each stage, then Mekazoo might be for you.  ? Ray Carsillo


The Metronomicon
Developer: Kasedo Games | Platforms: PC, Mac

What it?s about?

After putting together a team from a selection of eight ?newly graduated masters of the rhythmic combat arts?, players battle an array of fantasy foes by using the power of music to attack, defend, cast spells, raise stats, and more.

What sets it apart?

There?s been a growing library of games that mix music/rhythm elements with RPGs, and it?s a trend that I?m quite a fan of. With some similarities to Square Enix?s Theatrhythm franchise, The Metronomicon has four RPG adventurers lined up and facing off against a rotating selection of enemies. During each stage, players can focus on any of their four party members at one time, and as you hit the notes in time with the beat for each character, they?ll perform their special abilities?with more powerful skills triggering the longer string of note hits you get. Win battles, and you?ll get to level your characters up and unlock even deadlier combo techniques.

And, of course, there?s the game?s soundtrack, which promises to offer a mix of songs from indie bands and tracks specifically crafted for The Metronomicon. Best of all? Kasedo Games? rhythmic RPG could potentially double as your new exercise routine, as the game is fully playable using DDR dance pads.  ? Mollie L Patterson

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The Hidden Gems of PAX East 2016 – Part 2

After heading off to PAX East 2016, Mollie and Ray give part two of their picks for the best hidden gems from the show.

By EGM Staff | 04/29/2016 05:45 PM PT

Features

In previous years, when coming back from PAX East or PAX Prime, we’ve put together lists of the hidden gems we found among all of the games on display at the shows. At PAX East 2016, however, we found more games you need to have on your radar than we were expecting to find. So, this time, we’re breaking up our list across two separate days. So, without further ado, here’s part two in our list of hidden gems from PAX East 2016.

Haven’t checked out part one of our list? Do so here!


Hob
Developer: Runic Games | Platforms: PS4, PC,

What it?s about?

A once vibrant world has fallen into disarray, as an unknown force begins to consume all manner of life. Using the power of ancient monoliths and the ability to reshape the world itself as necessary, players will be tasked with purging this evil from the world before it falls too far into disrepair and is lost forever.

What sets it apart?

Hob has all the makings of a classic adventure game, as you have to piece together the mystery of what has caused this evil to erupt all over the planet. You?ll be able to gather new and mystical items that can increase your power while exploring, with solving puzzles and backtracking through familiar lands with these new items being critical to your overall success. What is most striking about Hob, however, may be its simplicity. Instead of relying on a narrator to drill the story beats into your mind, the game uses cues in the environment, allowing the story to unfold before you. The game also features a beautiful cel-shaded aesthetic?and when you use your increasing powers to actually change features in the environment, the animation is a sight to behold. A huge departure from the studio that brought us the Torchlight games, Hob is showing that Runic Games is far from a one-trick studio with this slick-looking adventure game that I can?t wait to play again.  ? Ray Carsillo


Battle Chef Brigade
Developer: Trinket Studios | Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux

What it?s about?

I could just say the same things with different words, but I?m going to let the game?s site explains things for itself: ?Play as Mina as she vies for a place in the Battle Chef Brigade. Slay and cook monsters with her magic and knife skills. But, beware! You?re not alone in the kitchen arena. Other aspiring chefs will also be fighting to win the hearts and stomachs of the judges.?

What sets it apart?

As a longtime fan of the Japanese TV series Iron Chef, you don?t need to convince me very hard to be interested in games which feature homages to those fierce battles to see whose cuisine would reign supreme. (Hey, it was one of the sleeper hit parts of Suikoden 2!) Battle Chef Brigade, however, has much more going on than that. To get the ingredients you need, you control Mina as she explores a beautiful hand-drawn 2D world, fighting creatures to carve them up for restocking your fridge. Gameplay here was inspired by games such as Guardian Heroes, and I could already see that influence in the polished combat. And then, once you?re back in the kitchen, cooking plays out as a puzzle game? Battle Chef Brigade seems tailor-made for me.  ? Mollie L Patterson


Flint Hook
Developer: Tribute Games | Platforms: TBA

What it?s about?

In Flint Hook, you play an intergalactic space pirate who wishes to be the richest scallywag on this side of the Milky Way. The easiest way to do this is to steal not from regular folks, but from other space pirates who have already done most of the hard work for you. Of course, I?ve never known a pirate to give up his gold without a fight.

What sets it apart?

It?s retro art style and mechanics are par for the course when it comes to yet another metroidvania amongst the Indie crowd, but Flint Hook?s interesting array of power items and cool pirate-themed boss design caught my eye even more than its surprisingly tight gameplay. The ability to slow down time, a bevy of blunderbuss weapons, and a stash of bombs make it so that you?re never too overwhelmed even when enemies start to fill your screen. The real star of the show, though, is your grappling hook, which you can fire at any time in any direction. Moving around a room via a dozen grapple points opens up a variety of combat possibilities, and finding new and interesting ways to take advantage of differing enemy weak spots via this system was a blast. All you need is really one great gimmick on top of some solid old-school design, and you?ll find you can easily rise to the top in the indie scene. Flint Hook definitely dug its hooks into me when I played it on the PAX East show floor.  ? Ray Carsillo


Move or Die
Developer: Those Awesome Guys | Platforms: Consoles (TBA 2016), PC, Mac, Linux

What it?s about?

Indie studio Those Awesome Guys are hoping to ruin friendships?and, as a secondary goal, give video gamers some joy?with Move or Die, a fast-paced four-player party game that constantly mixes things up to keep players on their toes.

What sets it apart?

I?m going to be honest here: I?ve seen more than my fill of indie-developed multiplayer ?party? games with wacky cartoon-styled characters at this point, and I?ve played plenty that were okay but nothing really enthralling. So, really, I wasn?t all that excited to try out Move or Die when I first saw it?and yet, playing changed my mind. As its title says, you have to keep moving or else you?ll die, but every round, the overall goal changes between a selection of options participants picked before starting. One round, you might simply be trying to jump on each other?s heads to kill them; in another, you have to paint as much of the stage your color as you can by walking over sections. At key points, a random player can pick mutators to make things even more chaotic, and online spectators will be able to do the same. Speaking of online, if you can?t get enough friends (or foes) onto your comfy couch, you can jump online and play against others.

All of those variables are what helped make Move or Die both exciting and competitive as I faced off against other PAX goers (and won). Congrats, Those Awesome Guys, you?ve got me wanting a second look at your game?and anyone out there looking for something new to break out when friends are over may want to do the same.  ? Mollie L Patterson


Zombie Night Terror
Developer: NoClip | Platforms: PC

What it?s about?

A mad scientist has created a new super drug that he hopes to get the populace hooked on. It has an unforeseen side effect, however, in that it causes the users to desire a craving for human flesh, turning them into mindless zombies. Unfortunately for the world, the scientist does not care, striving for the goal of getting as many people hooked as possible?and you?re going to help him.

What sets it apart?

Zombie Night Terror is basically a modern version of the classic puzzle game Lemmings. Here, instead of adorable creatures, you?re guiding a mindless zombie horde. Players start by infecting a select number of humans on screen, and then guide them around the stage infecting more and more humans until they have consumed all human flesh and move on to the next stage. Unsurprisingly, many humans can defend themselves with various guns or melee weapons, so it?ll take a mighty big horde to overwhelm these more determined defenders.

There?s more than just human dangers you?ll have to contend with, however, as conveniently-placed gaps will see your zombies fall to their doom, requiring some careful planning in your progress. In addition to infecting people, you?re also in charge of upgrading certain zombies, leading them to mutate in different ways that can help your zombie horde overcome even those pesky bottomless pits. If you love puzzles games, Zombie Night Terror?s twist on an old classic is surely worth a look down the line.  ? Ray Carsillo


Super Treasure Arena
Developer: treasurearena.com | Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC

What it?s about?

Up to four players can hop into the world of Super Treasure Arena, an arena-based action brawler where players not only have to worry about each other, but also each area?s array of enemies, and the rush to collect as many coins as possible.

What sets it apart?

There?s a long-standing hole in the hearts of many gamers that?s been left from the death of the Bomberman series, and while they aren?t directly similar in terms of playstyle, I can?t help but feel like games such as Super Treasure Arena are trying to fill that hole. There?s something comforting about the simple tactics on display here, and the top-down view even negates any need for extra layers like platforming. While the original Treasure Arena started as a web-based game, Super is beefing up for its wider platform release, bringing with it new modes and characters, updated graphics and control, and additional modes and multiplayer options. Super Treasure Arena is the kind of game even non-gamers will be able to join in on, but there also seems to be enough going on to still challenge more accomplished players.  ? Mollie L Patterson


Shadow Warrior 2
Developer: Flying Wild Hog | Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC

What it?s about?

Set five years after the first game, Shadow Warrior 2 again has players assume the role of modern ninja Lo Wang as he battles a demon horde from another dimension.

What sets it apart?

When you hear a game is being published by Devolver Digital, it?s easy to think ?smallish indie game,? but Shadow Warrior 2 shows it is anything but. Like you?d expect from any sequel, everything is bigger and better than the original, with massive levels to explore and new traversal mechanics like wall climbing and double jumps which allow Lo Wang a chance to check out every nook and cranny. Each level that is not integral to the story is also procedurally generated, so if you go back and replay missions to help level up Lo Wang and his weapons, you?ll still get a fresh experience every time. Speaking of weapons, over 70 different guns and melee weapons will be featured, with more than a half dozen able to be stored in your weapon wheel at once?giving Shadow Warrior 2 an old-school, over-the-top shooter feel. Throw in weapon modifications that allow you to stack things like ice, poison, or fire damage, and taking down demons based on Asian mythology has never felt (or looked) so good.  ? Ray Carsillo


Thumper
Developer: Drool LLC | Platforms: PS4, PSVR, PC

What it?s about?

Thumper?s official website proudly displays three short statements in large tan-colored text: ?Thumper is a rhythm violence game. You are a space beetle. Kill Crakhed!? While that may do little to explain this new project from the team at Drool LLC, it isn?t exactly easy to fully convey the journey of a metallic beetle from the future as it travels a world of music-infused distress.

What sets it apart?

While I didn?t get the full VR-powered Thumper experience?me and those headsets just don?t mix, sadly?I still got to play a game that sucked me into a strange and surreal world even in the middle of the sensory overload of the PAX East show floor. Drool?s creation of ?rhythm violence? is about pressing buttons to hit note markers in time to the background music, but there?s a lot more going on here than just that. Unlike other music games where you keep an eye on the note path, here you ride it into the distance, as the environment around you shifts and morphs the deeper you get (or better/worse you play). I told the Drool team that I could best explain Thumper as the band Journey meets Tron meets Rez in some sort of unnerving fever dream, and while that description may only make sense to myself, it helps to show just how hard this game is to pin down. I have no clue how Thumper will play out as a full-length and fully-finished release, but it seems like it could turn out to be one heck of a freaky, fun ride.  ? Mollie L Patterson


Mekazoo
Developer: The Good Mood Creators | Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Wii U, PC

What it?s about?

A magical world made up of animal and machine hybrids called the Mekanasphere has been invaded by a mysterious force that has turned some of its Mekanimal hybrids evil. Taking on the power of the armadillo, pelican, frog, wallaby, and panda, players will have to restore the natural order of things as they work their way through the elaborate environments, mixing and matching each animal?s unique abilities.

What sets it apart?

The cyber-organic design of the world and creatures is a sight to behold, as neon lights are strung up through treetops and line cave walls while your creatures bounce through each level. A straight-up platformer in the vein of the Donkey Kong Country games, Mekazoo allows players to control two animals at a time, and unlock more options as they defeat the evil versions of other animals. Players are able to switch seamlessly on the fly between animal forms with a press of a button, and the world also changes to adapt to each form you choose, even though certain forms are better than others. For example, a cannon will fire the rolled-up armadillo across a level, but will turn into a bar the frog can latch onto and swing from via his tongue. How obsessed you get with collectibles may also dictate which form you wish to take, as certain items can only be snagged by using certain forms. If you love old-school platformers with plenty of secrets to find, and multiple ways to beat each stage, then Mekazoo might be for you.  ? Ray Carsillo


The Metronomicon
Developer: Kasedo Games | Platforms: PC, Mac

What it?s about?

After putting together a team from a selection of eight ?newly graduated masters of the rhythmic combat arts?, players battle an array of fantasy foes by using the power of music to attack, defend, cast spells, raise stats, and more.

What sets it apart?

There?s been a growing library of games that mix music/rhythm elements with RPGs, and it?s a trend that I?m quite a fan of. With some similarities to Square Enix?s Theatrhythm franchise, The Metronomicon has four RPG adventurers lined up and facing off against a rotating selection of enemies. During each stage, players can focus on any of their four party members at one time, and as you hit the notes in time with the beat for each character, they?ll perform their special abilities?with more powerful skills triggering the longer string of note hits you get. Win battles, and you?ll get to level your characters up and unlock even deadlier combo techniques.

And, of course, there?s the game?s soundtrack, which promises to offer a mix of songs from indie bands and tracks specifically crafted for The Metronomicon. Best of all? Kasedo Games? rhythmic RPG could potentially double as your new exercise routine, as the game is fully playable using DDR dance pads.  ? Mollie L Patterson

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