While this year’s PAX South may have seen a resurgence of local multiplayer, that’s not to suggest that single player games didn’t have a strong showing. Here are the best solo-experience games we sat at PAX South 2015.
Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D (and the new 3DS)
Remember when Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D came out? Well this is that, but for Majora’s Mask.
Oh what, I need more detail? Fine. Selfish.
Just as with its spiritual predecessor’s re-release, Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D features the same game you love with completely updated textures, bringing the game into the current generation in the most beautiful of fashions. And maybe I just didn’t notice the difference with Ocarina of Time, but Majora’s Mask looks even better because of an improved lighting engine that has Tatl casting shadows and brightening up spots nearby. You know, like a real light-casting mythical being. The improvements really make the game look gorgeous — even better than Ocarina of Time 3D.
The demo had Link with all three of his main character transformation masks in the middle of Clock Town. As I went around the city, I also noticed a lot more Bomber kids, and finally realized that there’s a new feature in the game which makes the Bomber’s Notebook way less useless. As you talk to more kids, they’ll give you tips on the goings on in town and hints on what to do next, so if you get stuck or really don’t remember how to start a quest line, chances are there’s a Bomber tip to help you out.
But wait, there’s more!
This demo was running on the new 3DS, the terribly named upgraded version of the 3DS with a faster processor and a camera nipple (or nub or whatever it’s called). I don’t really have a basis of comparison for whether or not the processor makes a difference, but the camera nubbly works like the ones on a laptop — you can’t really move it about, but you can press with varied intensity to whip the camera about in different directions. It wasn’t terrifically useful for Majora’s Mask as the camera is already pretty good, and it was impossible to use when rolling as a Goron, but it’s a nice feature to have for the rare times when you need it.
The improved, but often overlooked, 3D feature was also rather impressive. Instead of projecting to a static area in front of the machine, the new 3DS will track your head and point that area directly at you, meaning if you tend to move around a little bit, you don’t have to lose 3D viewing immersion. To be honest, though, even if it was a lot better than the previous iterations, it still wasn’t good enough to get me interested in keeping the 3D on from now on.
Release Date: February 13, 2015
Platforms: Nintendo 3DS
This side scrolling platformer looks visually similar to Limbo or Orphan in its separation of background and foreground. Where Limbo has stark greys against deep blacks, this game takes place at night, presumably for most of the game, so the foreground is black, whereas the background varies. It’s interesting to see the background be almost the center of visual attention for the game.
You play as a boy running across a dark world at night, jumping over obstacles and trying not to die. Your quest is narrated by someone who seems to be omnipresent and not happy about you being in his world causing a fuss. As the level progresses, the narrator seems to warm up to you, even giving some history to the landscape, slowly layering on story.
The mechanics are pretty traditional for sidescroller — running, double jump, and wall jump — but also feature a cube you can make appear below your feet if you triple jump. The cube adds an interesting dimension to platforming, but it’s scary as hell. I’m not sure if it’s because that’s how it works, or if it was buggy when I played, but about 10% of the time, the block wouldn’t appear below me when I jumped. I’m pretty sure it’s because the block didn’t have enough room to spawn, but that meant every triple jump was terrifying. You can also manually control the block to block lasers and go through obstacles, adding a neat puzzle solving element the game.
Overall, Light Fall was pretty fun and I’m looking forward to it coming out at some undetermined time in the future.
Release Date: TBD
Alongside local multiplayer games, it seems space fighters are also resurging. Rebel Galaxy is a lot less Rogue Squadron and a lot more Skyrim, featuring a quest system that will have you running all over the galaxy to do tasks for loot. It even allows the player to choose how they want to accomplish a mission. For instance, I did a quest where I had to pick up some whiskey from a transport ship. As I pulled up, the dev who was guiding me through the demo told me I didn’t have to pay for the whiskey, I could just kill the guy instead. And what’s better than free whiskey? I ended up decimating the guy and cleaning up before the police force arrived and I got in trouble. A scumbag bootlegger died, I’m taking dangerous liquid off the street, and the boys in blue have less work to do. Seems like a win win win to me. Really, I should be paid for my philanthropy.
The combat in Rebel Galaxy isn’t quite as fast paced as other space fighter games, rather taking a sort of Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag approach in which you need to maneuver this lumbering ship to hit the enemy with cannons on one of two sides, and always want to expose your most armored side in a fight. You can also toggle shields, hit with different weapons, or lock with one set of weapons and fire at one enemy and immediately after, shoot with a different weapon at another enemy. It may not be fast paced, but it’s really hectic and stressful. If it was any faster, I think it’d be unmanageable.
The game features a main quest line, a ton of side quests, and discoverable areas so while you’re cruising around space, you don’t get too bored ala the original Wind Waker. I kind of wish you could stumble on a quest and it gets added automatically to your list. The game may have that feature, but if it doesn’t, that’d be nice. The only other complaint is that you really don’t get to walk around at stations or have combat when not in a ship. Each station pops up as a menu, allowing you to purchase weapons, go to the bar for intel, or grab more quests. This system doesn’t really offer a break in action or any non-mission things to do so that you don’t get burnt out on fetch quests, making it dangerous that you’ll be inundated with so many quests of the same ilk, that you stop playing altogether. I don’t foresee it being a terribly big problem, but it would definitely be nice to see.
Release Date: 2015
Platforms: PS4 and PC. Maybe Xbox One (Dev’s words)