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PAX East 2018: Living My Childhood Dreams with Sleep Tight from We Are Fuzzy

Every kid I know build pillow forts and pretended to defend their living room from something. Sleep Tight  by We are Fuzzy gives us the chance to relive those childhood memories in video game form. I was fortunate enough play a lengthy demo of the game and I came away very excited.

Sleep Tight is a twin stick shooter at its core. Players control one of a group of awesome kids, each with our own special abilities and starting weapons. The goal is to defend your living room from monster attacks each night. You do that my spending each day building defenses like pillow forts and setting up foam dart gun turrets to hold off the attackers. Once night falls you run around your room eliminating foes as you try to survive for one minute.

One. Minute.

That’s doesn’t seem like a long time, but when an unending army of monsters is attacking for that entire time it feels like an eternity. The challenge is amped up even further by your limited ammunition supply. Resource management and careful planning are key. I thought that would undermine the fast action, but it didn’t. I had to use everything available to me to be able to survive each wave. I barely survived my first few waves and eventually ran into a night where my defenses were overwhelmed (#steveisbadatvideogames). I wasn’t frustrated though. I knew what I did wrong in my demo right away and adjusted my plan immediately.

Another thing that helps Sleep Tight stand out from the crowd is the gorgeous visuals. The team is comprised of a group of developers including  Maxx Burman, whose credits include Far CryLeague of LegendsWestworld, and Titanfall. Disney character artists, including Dylan Ekren, who worked on Wreck It Ralph and Zootopia, and Ubisoft designer Oscar Mar, whose resume cites the Far Cry and Rainbow 6 franchises. It is easy to see why this game looks so awesome when you look at that pedigree. When I spoke to them at PAX East they told me that they wanted to make a game that looked like a Pixar movie come to life. Mission accomplished!

Sleep Tight is coming this summer to PC and to the Nintendo Switch and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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PAX East 2018 – Saving the World in Earthnight!

Earthnight, by Cleaversoft, is a procedurally generated infinite runner hand painted in an anime style set during a dragon apocalypse. coming to PS4, PSVita. and PC/Mac later this year. That sure is a lot to unpack, but it my demo was so good when I played it at PAX East that its worth digging in to every detail we can about it. The game has been in development for several years at this point. So long, in fact, that it started when infinite runners were just starting to pick up steam on mobile devices. The team  at Cleaversoft wanted to make a game together and decided on a project that improved on the genre by adding more depth. They wanted to take Infinite runners to new heights so they decided to go into space… with dragons.

 

The most striking thing about Earthnight is the art style. Every frame of animation is hand drawn by a brilliant artist in an anime style. The two main characters, a 14 year old girl name Sydney and a freelance photographer named Stanley, are beautifully animated. Their detailed running and jumping animations each help to give them as much personality as a few dozen pages of dialogue and backstory. Even the character selection screen serves to illustrate their character.

The level design is important, too. The team created something they like to call “hand-designed procedural generation.” They divide each dragon into three different core components: a beginning, a middle, and an end. Each of those components has at least five different hand-designed variations that spawn based on a set of rules. This means that players will be able to master the different segments as they play the game, but their time with the game will never be the same.

The action is also very fast. The characters run on their own so the only way that players can control them is through timing their jumps. Stanley, the photographer, is the easier of the two characters to control. He doesn’t have as many options for movement so it will be easy for even novice characters to pick him up and do well. Sydney, on the other hand, is incredibly difficult to control. I played a few rounds as Stanley and got cocky so I tried to take a turn with her. I paid for it at first because she controls very differently. The biggest difference between the two of them is that she can dash forward after jumping. This might not seem like a big deal, but the added choice mixes things up a bit. That dash can help you get onto far away ledges, but it can also land you in big trouble.

We will, hopefully, be getting our hands on Earthnight later this year. I asked the developers about other consoles and they didn’t have anything to announce at the time. I am hoping that this one finds it sway to as many platforms as possible. It is too pretty not too.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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PAX East 2018 – 20XX

What if someone told you that you could have more Mega Man whenever you wanted? What if that same person told you that you could have more Mega Man and play with a friend? If either of those questions earned a happy response then boy have I got a treat for you. 20XX by Batterystaple Games is, literally, the answer. It also happens to super fun to play and available right now.

20XX is a rogue-like platformer that bears more than a passing resemblance to the Mega Man X series. I’ve had a chance to play it a few times now, most recently at PAX East 2018, and it has improved significantly with each iteration. It has been available on Steam for a while now, but I got a chance to play the game while it was running on PS4.

The biggest highlight of 20XX is the cooperative play. Mega Man has always been a lonely game. You were one lone robot battling against an army of robot masters. When the developers added a second player they changed the entire dynamic of the game. It went from a solitary experience to a shared one. I never knew how much I wanted that until we finished our first boss in the demo. It definitely made the victory sweeter. I can’t wait to play it with my boys.

My demo also included a new third character named Hawk. The first two characters, Nina and Ace, were direct analogs to X and Zero from the Mega Man X series, but this character is very different. She plays more like Simon Belmont from the legendary Castlevania franchise. Her primary weapon is a whip that not only deals melee damage, but drains weapon energy from the enemies she hits. This lets her use the special weapons she earns from bosses more frequently. She doesn’t need to worry about energy pickups like the other characters do. Instead, you really need to use the specials more frequently so you don’t waste the energy you drain from enemies as you naturally traverse the levels. This was neat mechanic. It really forced me out of my comfort zone. I play Mega Man games in a very specific way and have since I was a child. I am very conservative with my special weapons and only use them when I think it is “the right time.” I fell into tat same pattern before my demo partner (who happened to be a developer) reminded me about the energy drain.

20XX is currently available on Steam and is coming to PS4 soon. I asked them about other consoles (like the Switch), but they didn’t have anything to confirm yet.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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PAX East 2018: Projection by Shadow Play Studios

Puzzle platformers aren’t usually my favorite games. But, Projection by Shadow Play Studios is a game that looks like it will buck that trend.

Projection is a game about shadow puppetry. It isn’t about the artistry or performance, though. It is about controlling light and shadow to help explore a 2d environment. This is a 2d puzzle platformer that is reminiscent of games like Inside and Limbo.

Each level is presented as a shadow puppetry stage. You control a shadow puppet with your left control stick and and a light source with your right. The gameplay is built around moving the light source behind the stage and creating shadows that you can use as platforms, elevators, etc. I didn’t get a chance to spend a lot of time with the game, but I could tell that this mechanic left a lot of room for interesting puzzles. Small changes in the environment can have a big effect on the puzzles since shadows rely so much on perspective and angles. I can’t wait to see what Shadow Play Studios has up their sleeves.

Another thing I found intriguing about their pitch for Projection was the varied art-styles. Shadow puppetry is a dying craft that exists all over the world with subtle differences in the technique by region. Projection promises to show off these varied art styles and traditions as players explore the different stages in the game. The environments will include the thick jungles of Indonesia and the smoggy skies of industrial era London. These diverse locations will provide interesting environments for shadow casting and new artistic traditions to explore.

 

Projection will be available on PC, Mac, and consoles next year. This is definitely a game to keep our eyes on as we get closer.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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Engage!: A Family Gaming Podcast! Episode 127: PAX East 2018

Hello and Welcome to Engage!: A Family Gaming Podcast! This is episode 127. This week we are talking video games and Stephen pitches Jonathan his favorites of PAX East

Host:

Stephen Duetzmann @EFGaming

Co-Host:

Jonathan Tomlinson: The Man Behind The Curtian

 

Around the Horn

 

Stephen

Mages of Mystralia

Nintendo Labo preview thoughts

Alto’s Odyssey

Jon

God of War preview thoughts

Assassin’s Creed Origins Final Thoughts

The Room: Old Sins

 

PAX East

Projection

Earthnight

Trailmakers

20XX

Brawlout

Lightfall

Sleep Tight

Tunic

Overland

Stephens Article on The Messenger from PAX east

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

Follow us on Facebook!

Like us on Twitter!

Follow us on Instagram!

Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Subscribe to our Podcast!

Check out this episode!

 

 

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Rive, by Two Tribes,  is a platformer coming to the Wii U, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Steam that features a spider-tank with a machine gun that can also hack nearby electronic devices. You control the tank as you infiltrate an enemy base filled with kamikaze robots, traps, and massive robot bosses all bent on your destruction.

That description likely evokes a dark and gritty gaming experience for a lot of you, but I am pleased to report based on my brief demo that Rive is nothing of the sort. This is a fun arcade platformer that made me think more about Contra from my time playing on the NES of my childhood than Call of Duty or Battlefield.

The most striking element of Rive is the use of color. This isn’t exactly a Geometry Wars clone by any stretch, but the lead artists use vibrant neon colors whenever possible and the result is a much brighter and more cheerful game than anything involving a spider-tank has any right to be. I don’t mean that is a bad way either. My demo was short, but it was gorgeous. Every fight resulted a cool splash of neon lasers and explosions.

Rive Screenshot

Just look at it! Beautiful!

Gameplay was simple enough that my oldest was able to make his way through the demo, but it was apparent that they had a lot of design space available to ramp up the difficulty. Rive controls like a twisted hybrid of a twin stick shooter like Geometry Wars and a platforming game like Guacamelee. You have a machine gun that can rotate 360 degrees which makes bouncing around the levels blasting robots to bits a blast.

What really sets the game apart from other arcade style shooters is the hacking mechanic. The tank can go into a “hacking” mode that can interact with switch boxes to open doors. It can also hack repair bots to follow it around and heal damage. The devs only showed a few of the hacking options in the demo, but it is safe to assume they will include more in the full game upon release.

I think this one has a lot of promise and look forward to playing it when it comes out. Keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for a review when the game releases this summer!

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Pax East 2015 Preview – VIKING SQUAD!!!

Brawlers are a great genre for families. They give more skilled parties (be they parents or children) the chance to help the less skilled players enjoy the game experience together. Castle Crashers has been a fan favorite for years, but Viking Squad looks like it has the chops to help carry the torch even longer.

Viking Squad, by Slick Entertainment,  is a three player cooperative brawler that is themed around viking warriors who are trying to wage war on supernatural horrors.

There are four different playable characters: a grey-haired character who fights with a sword and shield, a berserker who duel wields battle-axes, a warrior maiden who fights with a massive hammer, and a lithe male archer who looks to offer a change of pace to the other three bruisers.

Viking Squad characters

She’s awesome isn’t she?

The three non-archers are monstrous and intimidating figures. All of them, the maiden included, feature broad shoulders and a low stance that tells everyone around them that they mean business. This is especially important in that the female character is a rough and tumble brawler. The developers could have left her as the archer, but they took the chance to make her a melee character in favor of bucking the industry trend. (Huzzah to that!)

I am sure that a lot of parents hear about battle axes and viking warriors and are imaging a gritty game with a lot of blood. Fear not! I spoke to the developers and was told that the current build includes a toggle to turn blood off. They are even considering dropping the blood entirely in an attempt to draw in a wider audience. This is a great sign for dads (or moms!) who want to rough up some bad guys with vikings!

I spoke to the lead artist at PAX East and he let me know exactly what we can expect. He called Viking Squad “A big dumb name for a big dumb game.” This will sound bad to a lot of different folks, but I love it. Sometimes you just want to hit some buttons and make things happen. This looks like it will be a great experience.

We are a huge fans of the brawler genre so you can count on a lot of coverage for this game including some developer interviews, concept art, and other great stuff as this game comes closer to release on the PS4 and PC.

Keep your eyes here on Engaged Family Gaming for further coverage and a review once the game comes out!

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Some games depend on complex premises and grand narratives to entice players. Some of them rely on advanced tech and gorgeous graphical fidelity. Sometimes a game just needs a goat.

Toto Temple Deluxe is a small game built by a small team on Unity to be released on PS4, Xbox One, Wii U, PC, and even the lonely OUYA. It is also a game build around crashing around small environments and trying to capture a goat and keeping it away from the other players. This premise is just as silly as it sounds and the game is all the better for it. I loved playing the game, and I spent a good half hour watching other people play as well. This is by no means an e-sport, but I could see watching this game streamed on Twitch by competitive players.

Players can move orthogonally and they have a boost button that allows them to crash from in a given direction until they bump into an obstacle. Some of these obstacles will break and a lot of the different levels feature obstacles that you have to break in order to reach the objective.

The demo I played on the PAX show floor was amazing. I, and the players around me, was nearly driven mad by the frantic action. My poor play even drew cheers from the crowd! I donʼt expect it Toto Temple Deluxe to dominate the charts upon its release this coming summer, but it is definitely going to be a fun game that families will enjoy.

Keep your eyes here on Engaged Family Gaming for more info and for a review once the game comes up!

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Runbow_Logo_MultiColour_RGB

I had the opportunity at PAX East to play a whole lot of different games. Many of them were interesting. A few of them were great. But, only one of them was truly revolutionary: Runbow.

Runbow, by 13am Games,  caught my attention for two main reasons.

  1. The art style is awesome. The entirety of the game is brilliantly colorful and is, in fact, built around the different colors and the way they interact with each other. All of the characters look as though they were ripped right off of a poster from the 60s or 70s.
  2. Runbow is a nine player game. Yes. I just said that. It is a nine player competitive game. The developers made this happen using the Wii U gamepad alongside four wii-motes with attached nunchucks or Wii Pro controllers.

My demo was relatively short, but I havenʼt played anything so interesting in years. There are a variety of game modes, but each of them were built around short bursts of platforming. The key is that the majority of the platforms are colored blue, green, cyan, and so forth. The background is constantly changing and if it happens to change to the same color as a platform it will essentially disappear. This makes each round very chaotic as all of the players not only race to the end, but they fight to survive.

Runbow Character Art

The Runbow character art is fantastic!

I also got a chance to play a “Color Master” mode where one player uses the gamepad and competes against all of the other players to prevent them from finishing the race. The only way to score points as the color master is to prevent everyone from finishing the race. I played as the color master and enjoyed a whole host of tools through my demo. I could drop bombs. I could create my own character to run and attack players. I could even paint different colors on the background to make platforms disappear.

The whole experience was a lot of fun and I was playing with complete strangers! I immediately imagined the insanity of my entire family and some of our friends playing this game. The younger players might struggle with some of the platforming, but each level is so chaotic that just running through them would be fun enough to keep it all going.

I cannot wait for this game to come out. Keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming as the year passes for more in depth information.

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Resistor_ is a two player card game with a theme that some of our readers might find questionable. In it, players find themselves taking on the role of a pair of supercomputers. Each computer is trying to hack its way into the other in an attempt to prevent “mutually assured” nuclear destruction.  In short: You are trying to make your nukes go off while the other guys nukes are left as duds.

Light stuff huh?

The reality is that the concept is abstracted enough by the card playing mechanic that if the theme is problematic for your family you could easily replace it or just not discuss it at all. The choice is yours.

All theme aside, Resistor_ is an amazing game that will challenge your mind and memory in ways few other cards games can. This is accomplished through a few different mechanics that all pile on top of each other and nicely squish your brain to mush (in a good way).

First, the play area is set up with a series of seven cards laying flat on a table between the two super computer cards. These cards are double sides and all of them are printed with red and blue wires that help build a path. The goal is to make a continuous connection of wires from your computer to theirs using the same color wire. At the end of a turn if that connection exists, then you earn a point (play goes to five points).

As you can see, the play area can be a bit of a mess.

 

Second, the cards are double sided and you cannot look at the backs of your cards (your opponent can though)! The backs of your opponents hand (and likewise for you) are playable cards throughout the game making disrupting your opponents strategy a regular part of each turn. 

Double Sided MAYHEM!!

 

Lastly, during each turn players must take a series of actions in any order. They must flip one of the double sided cards. They must draw a new card from the deck and discard a card. They must also exchange a card from the lineup with a card in their hand.  These three actions keep both players engaged in the game. 

Many games allow you to shut off your brain during your opponents turn while you wait for their actions to resolve. You simply cannot do that in Resistor_. Failing to pay attention might mean missing out on knowing what is underneath a given card and cost you a point. You have to be sharp and stay that way.

I was lucky enough to play the game at PAX East 2015 with the developers. I have to admit that the crowded show floor was less than ideal for a game that requires a significant level of concentration. (Read: I got my butt kicked.) But, it was clearly a polished game experience. I cannot recommend this one enough for people who enjoy head to head competition.

You can head over here to Kickstarter and back it. They have already reached their goal, but they are climbing towards stretch goals quickly.

 

 

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