The 8 Hottest Indie Games at PAX East 2020

March 6, 2020

There are plenty of things for gamers to enjoy at PAX East every year. But one of the best things about this annual expo is seeing (and playing) some of the hottest new games.

At this year’s PAX East, held Feb. 27 – March 1 in Boston, Massachusetts, there were a few obvious contenders for the hottest game, including the Final Fantasy VII remake and Animal Crossing: New Horizons. However, most of these big-name games are ones we have known about for a while.

The best games of PAX East were the diamonds in the rough. These are the smaller and more unexpected indie titles that will offer you brand new gameplay experiences in the next year.

If you’re ready to get a taste of your gaming future, these are our favorite indie titles that were on display at PAX East 2020.

The Big Con

Release Date: TBA 2020

Platforms: PC, unspecified consoles

Sometimes, indie games focus too much on a younger audience. Every now and then, though, a game comes along that is catnip for older gamers. And The Big Con, the first game from Toronto developer Mighty Yell, is a great example.

Mighty Yell describes The Big Con as an adventure game taking place in the ’90s, where you play a teenage girl trying to save her family’s video store from gangsters.

In spirit and tone, The Big Con seems much like the “point and click” adventure titles of yesteryear, like 1987’s Maniac Mansion. That comes through in the visuals as well, as the game looks like the artists put your favorite ’90s kids show into a blender.

Whether you miss adventure games or are nostalgic for the past, The Big Con is sure to excite. And the multiple ways of achieving objectives (like getting money for a train ticket) means there will be plenty of replay value.

30XX

Release Date: TBA 2021

Platforms: PC, unspecified consoles

30XX is the sequel to (what else?) 20XX. The sequel isn’t necessarily very innovative — instead, it serves to refine the run-and-gun vibe of its predecessor. And the result is an even prettier installment of the world’s best Mega Man/roguelike mashup.

Stages are procedurally-generated, and a single death sends you back to the beginning. Along the way, you earn money and purchase upgrades while mastering the different gameplay challenges.

Come for the pixellated aesthetic and stay for the addicting gameplay (including cooperative play so you can share the fun and frustration with a friend).

Gamedec

Release Date: TBA 2020

Platform: PC

The cyberpunk genre is currently having a moment. Thanks to the hype for Cyberpunk 2077, gamers are hungry for more titles that scratch that Bladerunner/Shadowrun itch in the back of their brains.

Gamedec is an isometric RPG in which you play as a detective in a world filled with bizarre technological puzzles and crimes. As you play, your choices help you both solve these mysteries (such as why a video game is making people sick) and define your character’s personality.

For players who like more narrative and less action, this looks like a fresh take on an old genre.

Boyfriend Dungeon

Release Date: TBA 2020

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC, Mac

Every great game starts with a great idea. And if you don’t have a great idea, a really weird is the next best thing. At least, that seems like the driving force behind Boyfriend Dungeon.

This game has a simple conceit: every single weapon you pick up is also a person you can romance. In order to effectively conquer dungeons, you have to find weapons that suit your personality and then spend additional time building up the relationship to unlock new abilities.

It may be a hit or it may be a flop, but we can’t wait to try this fusion of dungeon crawler and dating simulator!

Fuser

Release Date: Fall 2020

Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC

Speaking of something that may be a hit or a flop, did you know that Harmonix is developing a new game?

Their company helped define the musical genre with iconic games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band. However, it’s tough to really innovate with music games. The best example of this is when Activision debuted DJ Hero to absolutely dismal sales back in 2009.

Now, Harmonix is ready to give the DJ game their own spin. Fuser is a game where you select up to four songs and then mix different sections (such as vocals, percussion, and rhythm) as you see fit.

It would take a lifetime of playing to discover each possible combination. But only the best DJs can produce new songs with Fuser that actually sound good.

Spiritfarer

Release Date: TBA 2020

Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC

Spiritfarer is another game that blends multiple styles in a visually-stunning package. In this case, adventure and exploration meet base-building and resource management.

Your character Stella has a ferry, and your job is to ferry the souls of the dead to their eternal reward. These spirits come in different shapes and types, though, requiring you to make changes to your ferry for each new spirit.

The dead can’t rest, though, if they have unfinished business in the world of the living. To bring them peace, you’ll embark on different quests across multiple islands. You’ll also need to keep that peace by managing the different relationships of your assorted passengers.

We’ve never quite seen anything like this game, and it’s one that you can enjoy with a buddy thanks to some intuitive co-op.

A Space For the Unbound

Release Date: TBA 2020

Platform: PC

What if Inception had been a coming-of-age anime? It probably would have looked a whole lot like A Space For the Unbound.

Your character Atma can go inside people’s minds. Instead of stealing secrets, though, you help them work through depression, anxiety, and other major problems.

Gameplay is presented in a sidescrolling, pleasantly-pixellated format. In short, A Space For the Unbound looks innovative, beautiful, and thought-provoking.

Ghostrunner

Release Date: TBA 2020

Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Did you think you had escaped the cyberpunk genre? Not yet: Ghostrunner is another game offering fresh experiences through the lens of a cyberpunk dystopia.

As a game, Ghostrunner blends the run and gun of Doom with the wall-running antics of Mirror’s Edge. The result is a game where you must fight, dodge, and jump at just the right time, all while moving at breakneck speed.

If that doesn’t sound challenging enough, this is a game where everything dies in one hit. While that includes your assorted foes, it also includes the player! Beating these levels takes a ton of time and patience, so n00bs need not apply to this game.

Which of these indie games are you most looking forward to? Sound off in the comments below!

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