PAX Australia is always a delight to attend and this year was no exception, with so many new and exciting games to enjoy on the floor. It’s no surprise that many of these new and exciting games come from the PAX Rising area, where indie developers from all around Australia and beyond come to showcase their works. This year I was fortunate enough to play all four games on offer from Australian game developer Cardboard Keep, and I enjoyed every single game. Each of these games had their own unique feel and provided some of the most enjoyable gaming I experienced all weekend.
Having already played Witch Thief, I had a fairly good idea of what to expect when I sat down to play this time around. Using one of the newly released witches for the game (which I had not used before), I made my way along the winding path, trying to snatch up all the magic I could, while avoiding spells coming at me from every angle. Witch Thief certainly kept me on my toes, as even the slightest hit from and an enemies magic was enough to do me in.
Cardboard Keep strives to have Witch Thief stand above other bullet hell games with their unique 3D map that players can roam about in. For a more immersive experience, players can even edit the perspective angle of the stage. Doing so allows you to see more of your surrounding but will limit how well you can see your enemy targets.
Puzzle Puppers was certainly a highlight for me, thanks in large to my love for both cute puppers and brain games. This interesting puzzler had me using my smarts, by moving my body-stretching pupper and trying to snatch up all the ham hocks on the grid-like stage, before reaching my yummy food bowl.
The first few rounds of Puzzle Puppers began easily enough, learning the basics and easing me into the swing of things. It started getting harder with the inclusion of additional dogs and underground tunnels, to name a few, which allowed me to bypass obstacles when used correctly. The cute art style, coupled with challenging puzzles made this game one of my PAX Rising highlights.
Playing Warden: Melody of the Undergrowth next made for a nice change of pace. This quaint little action-adventure game tells the tale of a young hero tasked with the job of freeing the god of the forest by overcoming the obstacles set before him. The gameplay, itself, was reminiscent of the early Nintendo 64 Legend of Zelda games, with colourful locales and quirky character sprites.
Warden plays very easily, with the game taking its time to explain what you’re required to do to progress. However this isn’t to say it’s an easy game, since I had a bit of trouble in the beginning when it came to fighting enemies. Learning the movements of my foes made for an easier experience, and once I got into the swing of it I had no trouble felling those in my way.
Attrition: Tactical Fronts was the most challenging game I found at Cardboard Keep’s stall. This enjoyable turn-based tactics game placed me in a hex-tile, board game-like skirmish, pitting me against an opposing miniature battalion. The game required me to blindly progress across the board until happening across the enemy, at which point I needed to manoeuvre more cautiously. In the end, with some creative positioning and necessary sacrifice, I came out victorious! Not too bad for my first go. Attrition: Tactical Fronts is a fun game that you can pick up and play a quick 5 minute game or two in your down time, so it’s well suited for a game on the go.
You can play Attrition either on campaign mode which comes with 17 unique missions, each designed to help you play with more precision. Better yet, play a few short skirmishes that pit you against your opponent with each of you getting a mix of randomised infantry. You can also play online against other people, and even create your own map to play with either by yourself or multiplayer online.
Cardboard Keep has certainly been busy over the past year, since we last saw them at PAX in 2017. All four games, Puzzle Puppers, Warden: Melody of the Undergrowth, Witch Thief, and Attrition: Tactical Fronts are available now for download and play on Steam for PC and Mac. Not only that but Puzzle Puppers can also be played on iOS and Android phone devices, and Warden: Melody of the Undergrowth is currently under development for consoles, first arriving on the Nintendo Switch – news I’m personally psyched for since I’m super keen to play more of it!