Welcome back to the PAX West Fifty-Game Frenzy, where I run down a grand total of 50 Switch games I played at PAX and you can decide which ones pique your interest! Last time we focused in on what publisher Devolver Digital brought to the expo, and this time around we’ll be taking a gander at small publisher Ysbryd Games’ offerings (it should be noted that while it wasn’t present, their excellent cyberpunk visual novel VA-11 HALL-A is coming to Switch next year, too), as well as a couple other games that caught my eye. Let’s get to it!
YIIK: A Postmodern RPG
Developer: ACKK Studios | Release Date: Very Soon | Price: TBD | YIIK Website
Psychedelic and surreal urban RPG about conspiracies and the internet in the late ’90s.
The only game I played at the last PAX I attended that’s still around is this oddity odyssey. I’ve heard folks describe YIIK (pronounced like Y2K, not “yeek”) as EarthBound if made by Suda51, and from what I gather that seems to be an appropriate description. Players take on the role of a hipster frequenter of a conspiracy web board trying to unravel the truth around a missing woman’s disappearance — one he saw with his own eyes.
As somebody already familiar with YIIK, the glitchy, low-frame animation adds a particular aesthetic charm unlike quite anything else I’ve seen. Battles have Mario RPG styled timing prompts that are actually challenging, and the whole product is distinctly bizarre in an age when many things are indistinctly so. The game is confirmed to have gone gold by the developer, so it’ll only be a while ‘til it ends up in our hands. I’ve had my eye on this one for years now, and I’m intrigued to see where this game goes. More and more games these days are attributed as being ”EarthBoundian,” but YIIK seems to be poised to back that comparison up while standing on its own.
She Remembered Caterpillars
Developer: jumpsuit entertainment | Release Date: 2018 | Price: TBD | Caterpillar Website
Atmospherically zen puzzler with colorful little creatures and an enigmatic narrative.
For those looking for a cute, relaxing brainteaser, here’s your stop. She Remembered Caterpillars is a quiet experience involving moving various colored creatures across bridges and around obstacles to get them all on platforms. There’s little music and soft sound effects, creating a chilled atmosphere that you can get lost in while attempting to solve the small puzzles.
The narrative elements were a bit unclear from the few levels I played, alternating between two concurrent flashback threads with little explanation, but it certainly made me curious as to what was going on in the plot. She Remembered Caterpillars looks to be a nice time for anybody into more casual or laid-back games.
World of Horror
Developer: pantstasz | Release Date: 2019 | Price: TBD | Horror Website
1-bit horror RPG inspired by the likes of Junji Ito and H.P. Lovecraft.
You ever go so retro you hit upon an art style that never existed? World of Horror takes on the elements of Japanese horror — schools, urban legends, and monsters that slowly come from the dark — and infuses RPG elements and a Lovecraftian framing to make the entire experience both unsettling and mesmerizing.
The game follows an episodic format, with the demo putting me in control of a schoolgirl attempting to summon and defeat a scissor-wielding demon haunting the school. Actions take time and have consequences, both when it comes to exploration and combat — you have to pick and choose what you do with your resources carefully, lest you end up as food for monsters. I managed to barely eke out a victory, but (in true horror fashion) it didn’t end up much more rosy for it.
If you couldn’t tell, World of Horror was one of the games I enjoyed most at the show, featuring ideas and tropes not conventional to modern video games. While I’m a total scaredy-cat when it comes to horror, I’ve been sold on this one’s potential — mostly because it doesn’t rely on cheap jump scares for fright.
Developer: Digital Sun | Release Date: TBD | Price: TBD | Moonlighter Website
Roguelite action-RPG where the loot you collect can be sold or crafted for profit.
Sometimes, you just wanna run a shop. If you’re a fan of Recettear or the Atelier series, then Moonlighter should be on your radar — this RPG with lite rogue elements tosses in shopkeeping elements, allowing you to manage your merchantry business while you go looting dungeons. With some really nice pixel art and smooth controls, it looks to be a genre mashup with teeth.
My time with this one was admittedly short (I hurried through a bit of the dungeon in between meetings), but I could already get a sense of the core gameplay loop and how it operated. With limited inventory and the ability to set prices at your preference, the design seems flexible yet stringent with its difficulty, so keep an eye out for this one if you’re a fan of the genre.
Developer: Zoink | Release Date: Out Now! | Price: $19.99 | Death Website
Humorous puzzle-platformer about taking over for Death as a temp worker.
This was a game that had caught my attention during previous Nintendo Directs, but somehow slipped under my nose to release without me knowing. Flipping Death is a chuckling little adventure about a woman named Penny who, via a comedy of errors, takes over for Death as a temp worker. Most of the gameplay revolves around platforming about to collect little spirits and possess people, solving the issues that the dead face along the way.
This title’s wit and unusual visuals (which admittedly won’t be everyone’s taste) managed to give the game a sharply wry edge, and the ability to teleport around with the scythe was actually quite fun. And hey, it’s already out! You don’t need to wait if you want to pick it up! Go get it, you slacker!
That’s all for today! Join us next time as we trudge through more of the Fifty-Game Frenzy! Until then!
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