The Game Developer Expo (GDEX) is an indie game developer showcase and conference held annually in Columbus, Ohio. It has been around for a handful of years, previously known as the Ohio Game Developer Expo. The re-branding this year brought a fresh theme to the event, more exposure, and an expanded schedule. GDEX is one of the best collections of indie game developers I have ever been a part of, and there were definitely some great games to be had.
I can legitimately say, of all of the tables and booths our team stopped at, there was not a single game I wasn't impressed by. The level of craftsmanship and dedication these indie developers put into their games really shows. We played A LOT of games at GDEX. From table top card games, to mobile games, to simulations, RPG's, FPS's, and party games. GDEX had it all. Here are just a few of our favorites.
Collapsus is a new puzzle game from Wraith Games based out of Hamilton, Ohio. When you first pick it up, the UI and the objectives feel very familiar. The primary objective is to break blocks, attempting to line up (at least) four in a row. The more you line up, the higher your score, and the higher you level up. There is no time mechanic like you see in a lot of block breaking puzzle games. Rather, you are given a certain amount of lives; and each time you fail to line up 4 in a row, a life is taken away from you. When you do line up 4 in a row, a life is granted back to your bank. I really prefer this over time mechanics, as it allows me to take some time to strategize my moves. Which is really, really important in Collapsus.
The team at Wraith Games did an excellent job showcasing the game to us when we stopped by. We picked up the demo tablets and started playing. As I mentioned before, it felt familiar, so I thought I was going about it alright. After I failed to complete the first level, I learned about the gravity mechanic. Let me tell you, it is a complete game changer. You can rotate the tablet any direction, and the blocks will always fall down, as if pulled by gravity. So if you're having a hard time getting the blocks to line up, you can rotate 90, 180, or 270 degrees to get a new perspective. I then proceeded to continue playing and monopolizing the tablet for the next 20 minutes. Sorry, everyone in line behind me!
Collapsus is scheduled for launch by the end of the year. It will ship with a Tutorial, the main Puzzle mode, as well as various Challenge modes. Look for it on iOS, Android, Fire Tablet, Windows Phone, Mac, Linux, PC, Wii U, 3DS, and Web (also potentially Xbox One and Nintendo Switch).
For more information on Collapsus, head over to http://www.wraithgames.com/2015/08/collapsus.html.
If you'd like to learn more about Wraith Games, check them out at WraithGames.com.
Also, stay tuned to the Gaming page, as we will have continued coverage of Collapsus, including a full review and some tips and tricks, as well as coverage of some of the other games the studio is working on!
Tipsy Raccoons is one of the more unique games we saw at GDEX. I will admit, I didn't have the opportunity to spend too much time with Adam Wray, the developer from GlitchBit, as their booth was completely swarmed. The version of Tipsy Raccoons we played at GDEX was housed in a custom arcade cabinet and allowed up to 6 players to play simultaneously. Combined with the awesome retro art style, the cabinet is what initially brought us over to the booth. It was the gameplay that made us stay.
The idea is relatively simple, but the execution was perfect. Each time you 'Ready Up' to play with 5 of your friends, you're committing to 13 rounds of various different mini games. You assume control of a raccoon, with the ability to move any direction and you have a single button to jump. The mini games range from collecting items, to last man standing, and a handful of team based activities. The mini games are expertly balanced. They're the perfect time length, and no matter what the overall score is, you always have a chance to grab some wins and stick it to your friends.
The real interesting part of Tipsy Raccoons is what happens at the end of each round. There were cases and cases of root beer stacked up at the GlitchBit booth. Halloween was only a couple of days away, so I thought it might just be a clever booth giveaway. In a way it was, but you needed a can of root beer to play Tipsy Raccoons. The arcade cabinet has a pressure sensitive cup holder above each joystick for each player. At the end of a round, if you were on the losing end, you have to drink. You can drink whatever you want, but the game knows whether you drink or not. You can just imagine how much fun the game can get to be when you're several rounds in and more than a few sips in.
Check out this video of our team playing Tipsy Raccoons at GDEX:
The primary objective is to make it as far as you can without getting eaten by a shark, whacked by a stapler, or pierced by a pencil. Along the way you will also be collecting gems you can use to unlock in-game items. There are quite a few different characters to choose from; most of them have to be unlocked through in-game objectives. All characters auto walk forward, and you have to use the device's accelerometer to navigate through obstacles. Each character has their own special ability, which you activate by tapping the screen. Be careful of when you use the specials, though, as they do have a cool down. For example, Little Britt has the ability to Jump, Ma has the ability to slow down her speed to precisely tip toe through danger, and Roman can roll side to side. There are upwards of 50 different characters all using some variation of those base special abilities. The team at SLG also adds event specific characters and items as well, which constantly keeps the game fresh. Given that Halloween just passed, I now have unlocked a Candy Corn hat that any of my characters can wear.
I find myself picking up my phone and launching Smile, Inc anytime I have a few spare minutes. It's a great balance of fun and frustrating, that keeps me coming back. Oh, and when you do finally meet your demise, the animations are gruesome and hilarious, as the base art style for the game is very Minecraft-esque. The game also records your run and you can quickly share it with friends, which is a really nice touch.
If you'd like to check out Smile, Inc hit up the links below to give it a download:
Thanks for reading guys! If you attended GDEX, let us know what some of your favorite games were in the comments below!