PAX AUS 2018: Twelve exciting indie games we saw on the showfloor

While tabletop gaming, pop culture and cosplay all have their place at PAX Australia, video games are often the centerpiece of the annual Melbourne convention. Here are our highlights when it comes to the video games that we saw at this year’s PAX Australia:

Ashen

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

Though we played through an early slice of Ashen back at last year's PAX Australia 2017, the build playable on this year’s showfloor was much closer to the final product - which developer Aurora44 say is due to launch before the end of 2018.

Set in a moody fantasy setting, Ashen is a riff on the grungy dark fantasy combat of Dark Souls spliced with the aesthetics of Absolver. Again, no specific release date for this one but it’s definitely worth keeping an eye out for Ashen as we head into the holiday season.

Double Shot

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

Like the best VR games, Double Shot is the kind of experience you could only really get away with pulling off in virtual reality. It’s a shootout game where you’re a bartender who has to fight off goons while also mixing a few drinks.

Developed by Aberrant Realities, Double Shot is currently available in early access on Steam.

GRIS

Due for release on Nintendo Switch and Windows later this year, Gris is gorgeous and surprisingly intuitive side-scroller from Nomada Studios and publisher Devolver Digital.

The game’s got an incredibly striking and well-realised aesthetic to it that’ll likely see it endear itself to you whether you’re a fan of the genre or not.

Necrobarista

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

Necrobarista is a cinematic and stylish 3D-visual novel from Melbourne-based developer Route59.

Like the name might suggest, the game tells the story of “a supernatural Melbourne cafe where the dead are permitted to return for one last night to walk among the living and enjoy one last cup of coffee.”

It’s a great premise, and one accompanied by a unique ‘keyword’ system that promises to let you lean into the parts of the story that most intrigue you.

Table of Tales

A bold attempt to combine the best of both the digital and board gaming worlds, Tin Man Games’ Table of Tales: The Crooked Crown is a turn-based RPG experience that plays out in VR.

Guided by the game’s feathered game master Arbitrix, Table of Tales sees you make both tactical and narrative decisions as you guide a party of adventurers. The game is currently slated for release on PSVR in early 2019.

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

Infinity Heroes

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

Lightmare Studios’ Infinity Wars was one of the earliest alternatives to Blizzard digital juggernaut Hearthstone, and now the developer are back with a more mobile-friendly follow-up.

Though Infinity Heroes does feature the same simultaneous pacing and fictional universe as its predecessor, the new game does take the series in a few new directions.

Hero selection is the hook here. Each match, players choose three heroes - each of whom bring their own creatures, spells and abilities to the fore - and can switch between them as the game goes on - adapting to meet the challenges their opponent throws at them.

Infinity Heroes is currently available on Indiegogo.

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Dimension VS

Originally envisioned as a parody of Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros franchise, TeePee Games’ Dimension VS has since grown into its own take on the fighting sub-genre.

Up to four players are able to throw down on a variety of stages, with each playing as one of a wildly assorted cast of characters. It’s a lot of fun (peppered with plenty of in-jokes for fans of the genre) and currently available in early access on Steam.

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

Soundfall

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

Referred to by some on the showfloor as ‘Disco Diablo’, Soundfall is a top-down action RPG where you have to fight through enemies in time with the beat.

Despite this moniker, it only takes a glance to see there’s plenty of shoot-em-up DNA in the mix as well. Still, there’s a vibrant graphical style, multiple playable characters and full-blown a co-op mode.

As for single player, the developers told us that the game would feature a deeper loot system that’d allow you to upgrade and customize your arsenal as you go.

Totem Teller

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

A 2D action-adventure game with an incredibly striking vibe and cryptic-but-intense sense of tone, Totem Teller isn’t so much a game that you play as one you experience.

After awakening in a surreal and ruined landscape, you explore your surroundings to the queries of an ambiguous narrator. The overall aesthetic here is “glitched out” - in both a thematic and literal sense - which can make the game feel uniquely unsettling.

At-times, Totem Teller feels like an echoes of titles like Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP and Hyperlight Drifter but at other points, it felt like something else entirely. Regardless, Totem Teller definitely one to watch.

Dead Static Drive

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

An isometric horror survival game with a slick cartoon art style and Lovecraftian sense of horror, Dead Static Drive has been shown off at several PAX events now but continues to look tantalize us.

Our time with the demo for Dead Static Drive was brief, but even during this time we got a sense that the game’s environments were filled with fun interactions and neat environmental storytelling. If nothing else, Dead Static Drive looks startlingly original - even among the usual impressive crop featured at this year’s PAX Rising booth.

For better or worse, no word on a release date yet.

Hyper Jam

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

A neon-lit futuristic arena brawler that’s retro in vibe but modern in feel, Hyper Jam is a fast & furious multiplayer experience that pits four players in a fight to the death.

Each round players scramble to acquire weapons and blast away their foes to the tune of a sizzling synth soundtrack. It doesn’t take long for things to get hectic and it didn’t take us long to add this one to our list of games we hope come to the Nintendo Switch.

Lethal Lawns

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

DimeStudios’ Lethal Lawns: Competitive Mowing Bloodsport (yes that’s the full title) actually launched on Steam earlier this year, but the team brought the game to this year’s PAX Australia anyway ahead of the game’s impending major update - which is set to add online multiplayer to the experience.

Like the title might suggest, Lethal Lawns plays out like a cross between Splatoon and Happy Tree Friends. After jumping in for a few minutes with it on the show-floor, there’s no way we couldn’t sneak in a mention to it here. If you’re a fan of wacky multiplayer games like Gang Beast or Mario Party, Lethal Lawns is definitely worth a download.

Disclosure - MSI covered the cost of our flights and accommodation for PAX Australia 2018.