PAX East may be the second most famous PAX, but the star power shown off this year certainly doesn’t indicate it. Over the next few days, I’ll be posting my thoughts on some of my favorite games at PAX East this year.
Child of Light
I had almost entirely forgotten about this charming, storybook-esque game from Ubisoft until I saw it on the show floor. I took advantage of being one of the first in the door to snag a hotly contested seat at the demo kiosk and was pleasantly surprised by what I saw.
I was expecting the art direction of the game to appeal to me, but I didn’t expect how cohesive it would be. From the art style to the music, Child of Light brings the charming qualities of storybooks to video games. They even give characters their own textual inflections to give them more characterization, something I dig.
The exploration aspect of the game is effortless. Aurora, the main character, can fly through each of the areas with ease, eliminating frustrating platforming and keeping the focus on the RPG/puzzle solving elements of the game. As for combat, the system is a more interesting, engaging version of the time bar system we’ve seen in games like Penny Arcade’s Rain Slick series and Grandia. Actions and interrupts all work in the same way, but Igniculus, the blue star/flame companion to Aurora, can slow down enemies, heal the player characters, and collect more HP from in-stage flowers all on the fly while the battle continues. This mechanic adds a new level of depth to combat since you only have a certain amount of power and have to decide how to use it, by slowing down enemies to interrupt them, heal your wounded, or save it for when you’ll need.
All in all, Child of Light looks wonderful and I can’t wait to own it.
Developer/Publisher: Ubisoft Montreal
Release Date: April 30, 2014
Marc Ten Bosch has developing Miegakure for somewhere around 4 years now. PAX East is one of the view venues in which the public can experience the title first hand, and I jumped at the opportunity to do so.
The concepts behind Miegakure are sometimes difficult to fully grasp. Essentially, you have to solve puzzles in each stage by switching between in and out of the fourth dimension. Imagine four different landscapes. Pressing B will take slivers of those four different landscapes and line them up. When you stand on one of those slivers, that landscape will expand to its full size. Though it may sound straight-forward, it can be difficult to wrap your head around which landscape to push what block to in order to get on the correct side of some object in another landscape.
If you have any familiarity with anime, this game is like the Mushishi of video games or a cup of hot chocolate — best enjoyed slowly and quietly. The visuals are vibrant, yet simple, and are heavily influenced by Japan. I didn’t hear any music, but in my mind, the Minecraft soundtrack fits in pretty well. All in all, it seems like an interesting title.
Miegakure only really has two problems — its movement speed and its release. The main character moves very slowly, which may fall in line with the aesthetics, but I found it frustrating since I wasn’t in a calm mindset already. Maybe that could change if the mood was right, but it was still frustrating. And the release has never had a nailed down date. Though it’s been shown off a few times, there’s no solid word on its release and the creator has explicitly said that he doesn’t want to do an alpha/beta and the concrete release platforms are rather vague (the word “consoles” implies a lot). Once it’s actually released, I’m sure it’ll be a great experience, but for now, I’m worried we may never see it
Developer/Publisher: Marc Ten Bosch
Release date: TBD
Whooooa man was I amped for this game. I saw it on the show floor and heard it was like Skyrim, but for wizard fighting, and that painted a clear picture in my head of a badass mage fighting off hoards of zombies with cool spells all “PEW PEW PEW TAKE THAT FOUL BEAST, BZAM”
When I played the game, what I got was “Okay, get the enemies to chase you, hold down this button, and then press that one to do a spell. Okay they’re not dead yet? Keep running and doing that until they are. Oh you’re done? Walk forward 20 feet and do it again until the end of the level.” I couldn’t find an official video for Lichdom Battlemage, so look at this guy play it. He seems to enjoy it, but it presents multiple problems to me.
In short, it was boring. I really wanted to like it. It seemed like just the junk food fantasy I enjoy, but the gameplay mechanics are just horrendously boring. Left mouse button fires a spell. Hold right mouse button, then press left mouse button for an AOE attack. Use scroll wheel to select spells. That’s basically the whole game. And I wasn’t exaggerating when I said all you do is kill a group of skeletons, walk forward, and repeat. The level I played was a curvy line, littered with enemies every twenty feet or so, until the very end. Just when I thought “oh man, maybe we’ll get a cool boss fight.” Nope. Just more god damn skeletons. Four waves of god damned skeletons.
Come on guys, you did the hard part. You came up with a great name that conjures a cool image. Lichdom Battlemage says to me badass wizard who returns the dead back where they belong with awesome spells and swift kicks to the chest. What you delivered was a mix of the worst parts of Final Fantasy XIII and Skyrim.
The amount of positive reviews on its Steam Early Access page make me think it’s better than what I played, but if that’s true, why show off the worst part of the game at a giant expo? Nothing about this makes sense to me. I’ll give it another look when it’s closer to release, but at the moment, I’d much rather stick with Skyrim.
Developer: Xaviant Games
Release Date: Early access on Steam right now