PAX West 2019 Game Reviews and Recommendations

We have just returned from another crazy weekend of PAX! Here is our list of games that we had the chance to try and wanted you all to know about :D

Official photo from Penny Arcade

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Arcade Spirits — https://store.steampowered.com/app/910630/Arcade_Spirits/

If you have followed my reviews for the last few years, you’ll realize that I just LOVE dating simulators. Honestly, stick me in front of a dating simulator with a glass of wine (or bottle, who knows) and I’m going to have a good night. Arcade Spirits stood out to me because of it’s unique setting and really fun character building. You are an employee at an Arcade, dealing with different entertaining scenarios with your good-looking coworkers (in the demo I had to deal with a children’s birthday party…ugh). It feels like you have more character development for your own person in the game compared to other dating simulators, where the character development is more focused on the person you are dating. At the end of every day the game shows you how your answers impacted your character and your relationships, giving a clear view into the progress in the game. The writing was immersive and all of the characters interesting views of ‘gamers’, which I got a real kick out of. The game is already out on steam, so if dating simulators are your thing I HIGHLY recommend this one.

*If I had to pick a favorite game from PAX West, Arcade Spirits takes the prize.*

— iLuffhomer

The character customization screen for Arcade Spirits

Boyfriend Dungeon — http://www.boyfrienddungeon.com/

Girlgamers got our first look at Boyfriend Dungeon back at PAX East 2018, and it’s exciting to see this game evolve since its announcement. While
it feels like there are many dating sims out on the market now (including a KFC dating sim?), this is one that I think has good gameplay behind the
dating sim to set it apart from the others. The dungeon crawler aspect is really fun, and the brief introduction I had to some of the dateable characters had me curious for more. They teased a little bit of character backstories in the demo, and it looks like there will be some rich and interesting stories behind the characters you’ll be dating. Whether you’re interested in this game because you’re ready to date your weapons or because you want to try out a new dungeon crawler, Boyfriend Dungeon will have something for you. — bananebelle

Fighting in the dunj of Boyfriend Dungeon

Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?! — https://store.steampowered.com/app/1000030/Cook_Serve_Delicious_3/

My hours in Cook Serve Delicious say enough about the kind of person I am. As a highly anxious person, I for some reason am really drawn to fast-paced games that stress me out. I think this is a tactic to avoid real life stress, but this game has worked WONDERS for that. I didn’t even realize a 3rd was coming out until I walked past the booth with all their chef outfits. You can read my previous review here from PAX 2017, but to give a quick explanation: CSD is a series of games where the player is placed in charge of a restaurant. You create the menu, design the eating space, and make ALL the food during some crazy shifts. The menu needs to be adjusted based on the weather and you work to gain ‘buzz’ to bring more people and money into the restaurant. CSD2 added multiplayer, which is really fun but a bit stressful (I can’t play with my boyfriend), as you both are working the same tickets in the restaurant. CSD3 is a new take on the game, placing the player in a food truck during a post-war ravaged United States. I couldn’t tell much about the plot from the demo, but the food truck idea added new features with much more prepping of food in advance of busy lunch/dinner rushes. My only pause on this game is that they’re releasing Early Access soon with a plan for Q3 2020 full release. I know I’m not the only person who has been burned by games going Early Access, so I hope the dev team has a clear plan going forward for how to bring the game from the testing stage to full launch. — iLuffhomer

An example of a menu item from Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?!

Disintegration — https://store.steampowered.com/app/536280/Disintegration/

Disintegration is a first-person sci-fi shooter where you play as a Gravcycle pilot, commanding a small battalion of ground troops below you. The Gravcycle is a big ship that you use to float over your ground troops, and in multiplayer there are 9 different ‘crews’ that you can pick from for your Gravcycle. I leaned a healing class that had great shooting power, but also a healing gun to heal my units and other pilot teammates. The whole flying+controlling ground troops was a bit tricky at first, but once I got the hang of it I really enjoyed the level of focus needed to play the game. The Gravcycle itself felt a little bulky in it’s speed and general movements, but it is a giant metal flying machine so I can’t be too picky :P The multiplayer was a ton of fun (you had to use/protect your ground troops to take a core to a certain base while the enemy defended), and I’m curious to see how these mechanics translate to the campaign that is also coming with the game. The game is being made by a team from V1 interactive including the original co-founders of Halo, and as a huge Halo fan I’m excited to see the next generation of sci-fi shooters. — iLuffhomer

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Disintegration is a game being billed as a sci-fi strategy-shooter born from the co-creator of Halo, Marcus Lehto. The demo had us play the Retrieval game mode, with Disintegration devs talking us through the basics of the game. You play on a grav cycle,with AI units that you order around to help you with your objectives.

Coming from mostly playing shooters and not really playing many RTS-style
games before, it was a little jarring to start and figure out how to best fulfill the objective.However, it didn’t take long for the game to click and for me to start having fun. There are several different classes you can choose to play from, with some being more technical than others, and each one can bring something unique to the team to help meet your goals. The gunplay is really tight and commanding your units are straightforward. It reminded me a little bit of Overwatch with its objective and team-based mode, but having units to command added a nice flavor to the usual team-based shooter modes.
The nice thing about having units to help you out is that you never felt like you had to micro-manage them. Instead, they felt like a nice addition to help you focus on shooting and get to the objective.

Disintegration is scheduled for release in 2020, and it’s definitely a game worth keeping an eye on. While the trailer looked like it was similar to Anthem, Titanfall, or Destiny, it played like an entirely new game and I’m looking forward to seeing where this game goes. — bananabelle

A view of the combat from the Gravcycle in Disintegration

Evolution — https://www.northstargames.com/products/evolution

I had met the lovely ladies of North Star Games at PAX East 2017 when they were just showing the card game version of Evolution. In January, they released the full online version of the game and I fell in love. . You play the game as a species of animal that needs to evolve to stay alive at a watering hole. You can become a carnivore and eat the competition, or build protections to defend a herbivore against vicious enemies. I’ve found that the people in the game are incredibly friendly and helpful in team chat, which was useful as I am a bit of a tabletop game noob. Additionally, the game has a wide range of diverse character avatars, which was not something they needed to do for the game itself but makes it feel inclusive and I greatly appreciate that. At this PAX, they announced a Switch version of the game (!!!!) and I am so excited! The Switch version will allow for couch co-op where you pass around the controller to play, which is going to be my new favorite game with friends. For more competitive players, they’ve also been implementing monthly tournaments. Can’t wait to see how this game continues to grow! — iLuffhomer

Game board from the tutorial of Evolution

Final Fantasy VII Remake — https://ffvii-remake.square-enix-games.com/en-us

The Final Fantasy VII Remake is a game many of us are looking forward to that we thought might never actually come out. Episode One is set to release in March of 2020, covering the story of Midgar. Getting my hands on the demo was a special moment full of excitement and it did not disappoint. The demo was set during the first mission of the game, and the gameplay felt like a very modern take on a classic game. The combat felt similar to Kingdom Hearts 3’s combat system, with a new take on ATB (Active Time Battle). Your real time actions fill up your ATB bar, which then lets you “pause” the game to select special actions like magic and abilities that take up your ATB. You can also switch between characters (the demo allowed us to switch between Cloud and Barrett) so you can use each character’s abilities and attacks. Although a little confusing at first, the new battle system felt very smooth once you got used to it. The cinematics were also very well done, with voice acting being a great addition while feeling true to the characters. Overall the demo shows that the game stays true to what made Final Fantasy VII a classic in the first place, with enough of a twist to keep it interesting for a modern gaming audience. — bananabelle

A fight scene with Tifa from Final Fantasy VII

Gloomhaven (Digital) — https://store.steampowered.com/app/780290/Gloomhaven/

Gloomhaven is a well-loved board game that has recently launched into the digital world. It’s very Darkest Dungeon-esque, mixing tactical-RPG with a dungeon crawler. To be frank, I’m not sure I enjoyed this iteration of the game very much. Part of this could be due to the dev seeming annoyed that I wasn’t super familiar with the base board game, part could be the lack of tutorial for what are very confusing game mechanics. For each action phase, you need to pick two cards. The first card is your initiative, and then you choose the top action of one card to play and the bottom action of another to play. This is similar to how the board game itself is played, but in the PC version absolutely none of this is clear unless the dev is behind you explaining it to you (I’m lucky he was, or I would have been pretty lost). While I enjoy a good tactical RPG, this one felt a bit lackluster compared to other games in the genre (I’m a big Darkest Dungeon fan, for example). That being said, if you’re a fan of the game then this is another way to play it, and definitely much cheaper than the board game itself. — iLuffhomer

A poison attack in Gloomhaven’s digital version

Haven — https://store.steampowered.com/app/983970/Haven/

Haven is an adventure RPG made by the developers who brought you Furi. It has a linear story that tells the story of a couple who escaped to a lost planet, with some open world exploration of the planet mixed into the story. It plays really well as a single player game, but a second player can jump in for co-op at any time. Haven has a robust battle system with peaceful music that accompanies the smooth gliding movement that takes you around the very colorful and beautifully designed planet. Its battle system requires some skilled timing with stacking attacks and defense, which I could see could be tricky to coordinate with a partner, but it’s very satisfying when pulled off correctly. Activities within the game include crafting, cooking, gathering resources, and pacifying creatures (and yes, you can pet them!) as you explore around the world around you. Doing things in the game with your partner levels your relationship up, and your characters also level up and gain more abilities are your relationship levels up.

Overall, it’s a very relaxing and peaceful game that I’m really looking forward to get my hands on. The music pairs really well with the game’s setting, with movement and gameplay contributing to the tranquil environment of the game. While at first glance it looks like it needs to be a co-op game, you really do get a rich and full experience playing this as a single player game, so don’t sleep on this game whether you have a gaming partner or not! — bananabelle

A screenshot from the game Haven

If Found… — https://store.steampowered.com/app/1041920/If_Found/

I absolutely adored the art style of the new Dreamfeel game ‘If Found’. It is an interactive novel focusing around a character trying to find identity, even when her choices have often isolated her from her family. The core game mechanic is using your mouse as an eraser. You can erase everything in front of you on the screen to move forward in the story, and there never feels like any rush to get there. The writing is beautiful and the music is a futuristic soundscape in the background that grows and shrinks to add to the emotion behind the words. This greatly reminds me of Gris, and I love the new genre of storytelling games with deep emotional connection that have been coming out lately. This was also one of my favorites from PAX, and I look forward to more information on it’s release. — iLuffhomer

An example of the art within the game ‘If Found’

Six Ages: Ride Like the Wind — https://store.steampowered.com/app/881420/Six_Ages_Ride_Like_the_Wind/

Six Ages is a strategy game set in a clan of your making. Your goal as the clan leader is to grow and expand your clan, making alliances or enemies with other clans along the way. As they advertise on their steam page, “ Part role-playing, part resource management, you’ll always be making decisions with long-term consequences, for you and your clan.” The game was unforgiving for my dumb strategizing (I’m really not good at strategy games please help) but I loved how much story was included in each choice I made. At the end of every season and at the end of most actions a detailed story was provided to share how my clan had fared in the wild. You have a set of other clan leaders who provide advice and can lead you down different paths. Are you going to be a dangerous warlord? A safe farmer? A spiritual leader in the world? That all is up to you, and based on how many options I had even in the short demo I can see this game being an excellent time filler when I’m avoiding grad school homework. — iLuffhomer

An example of some of the stats you need to focus on in Six Ages

Super Crush K.O. — http://www.vertexpop.com/supercrushko/

Super Crush K.O. is a fast-paced brawler set in a colorful and vibrant universe. The main character looks like an icon I would’ve loved in the 90s (and still love now because the 90s were great) and I found the combat to be super smooth. You can use ground, air, weapon or ‘super’ attacks to take out enemies, so the combinations are endless (and you are scored on, so get some legit combos in there ladies!). For people who are competitive, there will be an online ranking system and leaderboard so you can have a goal in each level beyond completion (which as someone who likes to replay games I appreciate). The game will be coming to Steam and Nintendo Switch early 2020. — iLuffhomer

Shooting some bad guys in Super Crush K.O.

Superliminal — https://www.epicgames.com/store/en-US/product/superliminal/home

Superliminal is a first-person puzzle game where you need to solve levels using your perception and the depth of the space around you. Every level involves the player needing to pick up and move objects, trying to use the angle and your perception to change the size, shape, or orientation of the object. You can create big stepping stones, ramps, or seemingly endless other creations to reach the end of each level. This game is very similar to Portal 2, and the developer even noted that this was something he hears often when talking to players. Honestly, this one is a bit tough to write about because it’s a personal experience for the player, and a fun one at that. I’d recommend watching this trailer to gain a better understanding of the game than I could provide with words :P — iLuffhomer

An example of a level in Superliminal

Untitled Goose Game — https://goose.game/

Have you ever wanted to be a goose and cause mayhem? Good because a game has now literally been made for that. Untitled Goose Game (which launches September 20th on Switch and the Epic Games Store) places you in the body of a goose trying to complete different tasks that may or may not annoy every human being in the level. There aren’t a ton of instructions, which adds to the madness and fun of this game, as you try to move around and pick up/move every object just to see what happens. It’s funny and unique and I found myself laughing out loud during the demo. If you like a cute little game to pass the time, this is one to keep on your wishlist.

You get to be an annoying goose in Untitled Goose Game

Reviewers:

iLuffhomer — https://twitter.com/iluffhomer

bananabelle — https://twitter.com/ellebannana

A delightfully polarizing term for women who game. Check us out at https://www.reddit.com/r/GirlGamers