I had quite the experience on my first day of PaxEast. So for those who don’t know, PaxEast is a gaming convention in Boston Massachusetts. It features a variety of games from the recently released and also upcoming gems to keep your eyes on. You can go around playing the demos for the different games to get a feel for them and hopefully find something to look forward to. As a member of the media, I was invited to try out the games and get an interview with reps from the studio. This was a cool experience both on the networking side and getting to play these wonderful games. Many I had no idea even existed. On the first day, I played some AAA games like Dead Island 2 and The Lord of the Rings Gollum. Neither game really blew me away and both gave me the feeling that they were going to be just OK games. All that said, here were is my Day 1 PaxEast Impressions and the day one MVP.
On the flip side, the indies came out to impress. Demon School a 2d turn-based RPG felt like a fusion of Yu Yu Hakusho and Persona which speaks to the 90s kid in me on every level. The 2d artsyle had a great splash of color and the game’s dialogue felt modern. The tactics were fun and challenging without being overwhelming. I loved that you could plot and preview your whole team’s moves for a turn and see how that strategy would work out for you HP-wise without having to learn that in retrospect afterward. If you don’t like the preview of the strategy you did then you can back out and try another. This is a smaller RPG to keep an eye on.
DoomBlade is a fast-paced twin stick platforming Metroidvania that gave me some Ori and the Will of the Wisp vibes. I didn’t get a solid feel for the game’s story, but the game feels good to play. In DoomBlade, you use the two analogue sticks to aim and zip towards your enemies; the ones that are in the air and the ones on the ground. The game is gorgeous to look at with its vibrant colors and detailed 2D artstyle. The twinstick platforming aspect will take some time to get used to, but I’m eager to play more when it’s released.
Another game that left a solid impression is Mahokenshi. This challenging and well-designed turn-based strategy game from Game Source Studio was released in January 2023. I admit that this game’s release went under my radar, but it’s one that I’m excited to dive into now. While it’s different with its deckbuilding aspects, this game speaks to the Civilization/turn-based strategy fan in me. Don’t sleep on this game as I did. At the end of my demo, I caught myself yearning for one more turn with the game.
Ocean Drive Studio showed up to impress with two solid indies, Blackout Protocol and Lost Eidolons.
Blackout Protocol is a top-down Diablo-style shooter with cool power-ups and a solid variety of guns. I played multiplayer with the community manager and the lead developer. It was a good time and thankfully they assured this hermit that you can also play solo, but it would be a tougher time. Each character has a special ability that they can use and there is a solid variety of guns at your disposal. I played with mouse and keyboard which isn’t my preference and I still had a good time with Blackout Protocol.
While we’re at it, the studio also let me get hands-on with their latest version of their turn-based Tactical fantasy game, Lost Eidolons coming soon on Xbox. This game reminded me a lot of Dragon Age and Fire Emblem. Imagine Fire Emblem’s Three House’s gameplay with Dragon Age’s vibe and artstyle. Gameplay-wise, Lost Eidolons feels like a highly-polished AAA experience that offers strategic flexibility despite having deep gameplay mechanics. I was able to speak with the team behind the game and they shared that there is relationship and character building. They also explained that the game can be a bit on the tough side.
I really enjoyed what I played of this game on the Xbox and the Steam Deck. Honestly, this is the perfect Steam Deck game. It looked good and felt like the perfect handheld strategy game. I was a bit disappointed with Fire Emblem Engage’s lack of character relationships compared to Fire Emblem Three Houses. Lost Eidolons looks like everything I wanted and more from a that type of strategy game.
I also played a game that the game director/founder, Mike Papagathangelou described as Mad Max meets a city manager. That game is called Homeseek. This is a post-apocalyptic survival strategy set in a dystopian Earth. In this world, water has become a scarce commodity and as a result, its become as valuable as gold. You have to figure out how to manage and construct your area to gather water all the while watching your back from the world’s dangers.
I played this and completely understood the Mad Max vibe that the director was talking about. Over the years I played a lot of City Skylines and while Homeseek doesn’t play exactly like that game, it scratches that craving that I get when I want to play a City builder strategy game. The fact that this game has real stakes makes me yearn for it even more. This is definitely a game that I could see myself pumping tons of hours into.
Another tactics game that impressed me was Twin Otter Studios’ Arcadian Atlas. The game is perfect for fans of Final Fantasy Tactics.
It’s set in the fantasy world of Arcadia, where each decision impacts the world and other characters, whether those results are intended or not. You have to gather a group of heroes and battle enemies for the people you love and your ideals. In Arcadian Atlas, or at least what I played of it, empathized that choices are going to matter and shape the world around you.
The game has a dope jazzy soundtrack, cool character classes and a strategic grid-based battle system. It seems like a game fantasy RPG fans can easily lose all sense of time playing.
Overall Day 1 impressions and the Day 1 MVP:
My first day was filled with a lot of tactics games and RPGs. As a person who thoroughly enjoys games of those genres, I had a blast and I now have many titles to look out for. I like that each game had its own unique twist on familiar tropes.
While all of them are games I’m looking forward to playing my MVP of the Day goes to Mahokenshi. The fact that this game gave me Samurai meets Civilization vibes, which is a franchise that I’ve spent a thousand hours playing speaks to me on a very high level.
So that’s it for my Day 1 impression of PaxEast. It was a good time and it made me look forward to a solid list of RPGs. Stay tuned for more PaxEast Impressions right here and on the Single Player Experience Podcast!
Check out our Day 2 Impressions and the Day 2 MVP!
Until next time stay safe, keep gaming, and enjoy the Single Player Experience.