PAX South was full of an incredible assortment of games and services. Here are a few more worth mentioning.
Loot Crate had a much bigger presence this year with a larger booth and a presentation in the main theatre to debut their newest product line, Loot Gaming. Promising around five to six premium items along with a t-shirt, this new gaming box is looking to give subscribers items with more collectability rather than the more regular items of other crates. Because of this, Loot Gaming subscriptions will run a bit more expensive at $30 shipped for a one month subscription. Loot Gaming may be the most recent addition to the Loot Crate family, but the subscription service has been busy over the past year, adding pet and anime boxes, apparel and accessory subscriptions, a Firefly-themed box, and an assortment of limited edition boxes.
Also present at PAX South with a bigger showing was IndieBox. Occupying a booth next to January's game developer Vambleer with Nuclear Throne, IndieBox showed off a few of their previous collector's edition boxes and previewed February's game, Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime. While subscription prices for IndieBox have increased slightly over last year, the service is still one of the best gaming boxes around. IndieBox has been gradually increasing the quality of their items and has swapped out their previous credit card style USB drives for custom, game specific ones. Another great addition to the recent Nuclear Throne box was the inclusion of PlayStation Network codes for the game. Though IndieBox hasn't said anything else about additional platforms for future titles, it was a very welcome bonus and one I hope to see again. Finally, IndieBox gets my "Best PAX Exclusive" award for their $20 PAX South box which included five quality Steam indie games and a premium IndieBox t-shirt.
Deckbound - Browsers
While games with card based battles aren't anything new, EVA Plexus's Deckbound hopes to make huge ripples with its novel approach to collectable card games. Utilizing a system that locks each card to a unique Bitcoin transaction, Deckbound seeks to give each card a sense of presence and ownership that is rarely present in digital card games. Since each card is individually tracked, players will be able to level up, upgrade, and trade their cards with other players across a variety of games. Deckbound Heroes, a player versus player only game, was showcased at PAX South. Battles revolve around controlling ability nodes while attempting to defeat your opponent. Two other games are currently in the works, including Deckbound Quest, a single player dungeon exploration game. Early alpha testing is set to begin soon and pre-launch card packs are currently up for sale.
Happy Chess - Mobile
If I was giving out an award for obscene levels of cuteness, I would have to give it to Happy Chess by Replayable Games. At its core, Happy Chess is your standard chess game where players are able to compete against each other or AI opponents. Where Happy Chess differs, though, is in its reactive chess pieces. Drawn in various styles that include angels, demons, and zombies, each piece reacts to its current situation by changing the expression on its face. This friendly and accessible system is especially well suited for new and novice players as they can easily see which pieces are able to attack or are in danger of being attacked themselves. Chess can often be an overwhelming game to learn and Happy Chess is able to guide players to a better understanding of the game through cutely telegraphed hints. Happy Chess is currently gearing up for alpha testing on mobile devices.
Death Stair - PC/Consoles
One of the most unique games I played was Death Stair by RnD Labs, which was successfully Kickstarted last year. Pitched as a 3-on-1, stair climbing party game, Death Stair is a single tower, third-person tower defense game. Each round pits up to three stair climbers against one defender who attempts to stop climbers with an assortment of cannon-shot projectiles. Climbers are able to dodge to either side in their attempts to make it to the top before anyone else. Currently Greenlit on Steam and planned for Xbox One and PlayStation 4, Death Stair is looking pretty neat.