Good news, everyone! I made it safely back from PAX East. Hopefully everyone else there can say the same. I wish I had some pictures for you, but it was kind of a whirlwind tour for me this year… I did get to check out the things I wanted to check out, but it was absolutely crazy this time through! That’s what I get for going on a Friday instead of a Sunday. On the other hand, I had no problem getting T-shirts in the size I wanted. Took me a whole year to get that Bastion shirt I coveted the last time I was at the Supergiant booth, but I got it.

Speaking of Supergiant… they had a MUCH bigger booth this year, and I’m very happy for them, because Bastion remains one of the best action RPGs I have ever played. You’ve probably heard by now, but they’re working on a brand new game called Transistor, of which they had a playable early demo at their booth. Sadly, I did not get to try it out, because (like every other booth) their booth was insanely busy. I did get to watch it a bit, though, and I’m excited to eventually play it. It looks great, but that’s no surprise, really, is it? As far as I know, it’s slated for release sometime in 2014. So maybe I’ll be able to try it out at next year’s PAX East?

One game I did try out this year was Fractured Soul, and I’m glad to say I got to play it early, because it looks very cool indeed. It’s essentially a classic 2D platformer (in the vein of Mega Man or perhaps Contra) with a twist; you play on a split screen, with two versions of the current level side-by-side. Take a look at their Steam Greenlight page and you’ll see what I mean. So you have the two simultaneous levels, which are very similar but have subtle differences in the layout of their platforms and barriers, and you have to nimbly warp between the two to finish the level. It’s difficult to accurately describe, and the video on the Greenlight page does a  much better job than I can, but I liked the concept of it and hooked me right away. I only played a really early level, but I can see it quickly becoming insanely difficult. Which is a good thing. I should mention the studio is Endgame Studios; you may want to keep an eye on them, because with any luck, they’ll be a lot bigger at this time next year. Fractured Soul is a very neat game, and it deserves attention. If you have a 3DS, I think you can buy it buy it right now on their eShop. And if you have Steam, I recommend you take the time to vote for it on their Greenlight page. I want to play more of it, so I’m voting it up right after I finish this post. Scratch that… I just upvoted it now. 

Overall, I noticed that there were many more Indie games at PAX this year, and I think that’s a very good thing. I love it when people who love games are also able to make games, and it seems like more and more people are able to do that and find success. It’s a good time to be a gamer.

Although my friend Jed was not at the Zpocalypse booth on Friday, I did still stop by the booth, say hello, and talk to one of the other developers a bit about the game. It’s been so long since I’ve played a table-top game, I felt a bit out of my element, but Julie the Dark Duchess of Discipline was very nice and answered all of my stupid questions. I’m so impressed at how a small group of people can make such a high-quality product; hooray for digital printing! I wanted to pick up a copy, but table top games are expensive now(!). I saw another booth that was selling Axis & Allies (one of my favorite board games of old) for 60 bucks… 60 bucks! It’s interesting how table-top games have gone from being a mass-market toy product to more of a niche industry. Like I said, hooray for digital printing, because it allows people to occupy that niche. I guess I’m willing to pay a bit more when I know I’m supporting a group of gaming enthusiasts, rather than a giant toy company. I haven’t picked up a copy of Zpocalypse yet, because I want to see if I can gather enough friends who will promise to play it with me once I buy it, but I would like to pick it up soon, because it looks super fun.

Did anyone else pick up a copy of Bioshock Infinite yet? I got mine yesterday, and though I’ve only played for a couple hours, I can tell it’s good; like… really good. Possibly “Game of the Year” good. Maybe it’s a bit early for such strong words, but I think you know what I mean when I say sometimes you can tell right away when you’re playing a game. It just hooks you immediately in a certain way. For me, they really nail the atmosphere; Columbia is a superbly well-realized game world. The music is also excellent, and there’s that weird sense of humor that I liked so much from the first Bioshock.

Since I don’t want to spoil anything, and since I can’t really spoil much anyway because I’m not far in the game, I want to give you just one spoiler-free anecdote. I was using a newly-acquired “vigor” (this game’s version of “plasmids”), one which possesses your enemies so that they fight their allies instead of you. I had also upgraded this vigor so that your target, after doing your bidding, will commit suicide at the end of the effect. The thug I used it on had only a baseball bat as a weapon, and I watched him attack his friends, and then I watched him beat himself in the head with his own bat afterwards, yelling and gibbering. His helmet flew off and everything! That’s the sense of humor I was talking about.

Would you kindly smack yourself in the face with this skyhook?

I’ll probably have much more to say on Infinite next week, but I’ll leave you with that for now. Because it’s the start of my weekend, and I have to go play it some more. Cheers!