Last weekend at PAX East, I scoured the show floor for indie game demos great and small. I previously played Omensight, Spearhead Games' time travel murder mystery, and chatted with the developer last Friday. Here are five more games I can't wait to play in their entirety.
Image: Intergalactic Space Princess
Beautiful Glitch's Monster Prom is a multiplayer competitive dating sim that gives you and up to three of your frenemies three in-game weeks to seduce a prospective prom date. You're a monster attending a monster high school, and as the game's tagline says, you have to "be your worst self" to win a date with an icy Gorgon gal or a smug demon boy. You and the other players take turns choosing dialogue options with an aim to impress your would-be dates, as each of you navigates gym class, drama club, or skipping school to murder some hapless humans. Smart dialogue tree selections will rack up your points in "coolness", "charm", "money" and so on. Different monsters prefer different personality types, so you'll have to pay attention to how they respond to your actions - and you'll also have to out-do anyone else competing for your crush's affections.
You don't have to play the game with three other people, but it's pretty darn fun if you do. Show floor highlights included an onlooker shouting "this is esports!" at me and my pals as we scrambled to get seats next to our crushes in the cafeteria, and also the woman who won a date with the stoner ghost Polly and announced, "This makes up for my actual high school prom."
Monster Prom will be available for PC, Mac and Linux on 27 April 2018.
Cococumber's cooperative hack-and-slash dungeon crawler Riverbond feels like an all-ages party game. Up to four players explore and demolish multi-coloured villages and forests, knocking down walls, trees and any enemies in their wake to collect sparkly treasures and power-ups. Riverbond has an "invincible" setting for players who just want to smash through the world without stopping, as well as higher difficulty settings for anyone who wants the boss fights to feel more frantic. Every structure in the cutesy, grid-like world is as destructible as a big pile of blocks. It feels great to swing a big goofy weapon (such as a ham on a stick) and collect treasures and secrets.
Riverbond will be out on PS4, Xbox One and PC in 2018.
Rhythm Doctor sounds simple enough: Just press the spacebar on the seventh beat. But this one-button rhythm game has plenty of ways to confuse the player away from that task, both through disorienting visuals and complicated glitch music drops. The game is set in a hospital, and your spacebar-presses align with a patient's heartbeat, which helps illustrate the surgical precision and coolheadedness that Rhythm Doctor requires.
Rhythm Doctor will be out on PC and Mac in 2018, and there's a short demo available on Itch.io.
With an "I hate cops" refrain in the announcement trailer, you'd think that Rico would have the option to play as two up-and-coming crime lords out to make a payday, but nah, you gotta play as the cops. Ground Shatter Games' cooperative first-person shooter sets up procedurally-generated areas full of baddies for you and your partner to eliminate as fast as possible. The most fun part of the whole set-up is that every time you enter a room, you get to kick the door down, which triggers a brief slow-motion sequence that lets you take out as many enemies as you can before the speed picks up again. It will make you feel like John McClane, except there are no sequences where you have to leap down an elevator shaft. At least, not in the demo.
Rico will be be out on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC and the Nintendo Switch in 2018.
Image: Intergalactic Space Princess
Intergalactic Space Princess is a point-and-click adventure game about 14-year-old Meline, who is not an intergalactic space princess, although she'd like to be. It's a cute and funny blend of mysterious sci-fi elements and real-world teenage clique drama. The story starts on Halloween, with Meline wearing her own hand-crafted space princess costume, even though she isn't invited to any parties. She gets roped into running an errand for her mum, and on the way home, she runs into a massive alien monster. It looks like a classic case of "be careful what you wish for", but I get the impression that Meline will be able to handle it.
Intergalactic Space Princess has simple signposting for interactable objects, even for players like me who aren't well-versed in the point-and-click genre. While I waited in line to play the game, I confessed to the game's creative director Izzy Gramp that I couldn't solve most of the puzzles in Grim Fandango without help. Luckily, ISP does not require the player to interpret clever wordplay in order to advance the plot. I completed the demo without feeling lost or confused even once.
The game was supposed to be available for iOS in 2018, but Gramp told me that it's looking closer to 2019. Let's hope it's ready soon, because I want to find out what the aliens think of Meline's outfit.