PAX Aus 2018: Blowfish Studios offers a buffet of experiences

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You can’t tell me Blowfish Studios didn’t come prepared with their booth at PAX Australia 2018. Showing off five games the Australian studio came with not just five similar titles but rather five extremely different experiences. I was lucky enough to get hands on with three of the titles they had on offer and even that showed a team with a diverse range, from a platforming puzzler to a brutal metroidvania and then a game that simply asked you take a moment to enjoy simple tasks. I was also lucky enough to chat with Sam from the team which you can listen to on our podcast all about our first day at PAX Aus.

The first game I was invited to enjoy was a familiar one for me. Projection: First Light was part of the Indie Showcase at PAX Aus 2017 and was a delight to play that year. Projection is a delightful platformer that uses world manipulation as part of it puzzle mechanics. Based off of shadow puppets you control Greta, a small puppet, as she navigates the world in search of self enlightenment. However you won’t just be controlling Greta, you’ll also be controlling a small light source which you will use to cast shadows through the landscape creating platforms or openings for Greta to traverse.

Last year Projection had only shown one of the locations you would be visiting but the game is priding itself on visiting an array of cultural landscapes, each inspired by the shadow puppets form that culture. That was the main focus of the demo this year highlighting five different regions, spanning from Malaysia with a few stops along the way as you head for Britain. The use of the light to make your platforms is still as smooth as ever but you will be inching the light closer to a ledge to create just the right shadow before going to far and sending Greta to her doom. Apart from being lots of fun to play the game looks gorgeous and I’m very excited for what comes next from this one.

Next up I sat down with a Nintendo Switch and got to enjoy JackQuest. You take the reigns of the titular Jack who, during a fateful walk through the forest, watches his love Nara kidnapped by the orc Korg. Without hesitation you dive into the depths of Korg’s underground kingdom and discover a strange blade that joins your quest against Korg.

In terms of gameplay JackQuest invokes the meteoroidvania of old mixed with some fairly difficult combat that is reliant on quick reflexes and precision timing, reminiscent of Hollow Knight. In my time with the game I got to explore a starting area and battle a gelatinous blob that proved to be a really challenge, never in a cheap way and every time I died I knew it was my fault and was straight back into the action. The idea that such a tight little game can come from what is essentially a one man development team is astounding.

For my third and final experience I had a rather extreme gear shift. We’ve spoken about Storm Boy when it was first announced. Based on Colin Thiele’s 1964 children’s book, Storm Boy takes place on the beaches of South Australia where a young boy rescues and then befriends a pelican by the name of Mr Percival. The book is well known and beloved by a good portion of the Australian Public so it’s always important to hit the right tone with the adaption.

Storm Boy feels like less of a competitive game and more of a mindfulness game. Asking you to take a moment and enjoy the activity you are doing instead of seeking reward. While most likely aimed towards younger audiences I can’t deny that taking the moment to watch Mr Percival fetch the ball I threw or riding down the beach dunes. The soothing audio and calming artwork just added to an experience. Keep an eye out because Storm Boy will be releasing this week!

With that my time with Blowfish Studio was over, three different games that brought three entirely different experiences. It can be easy for studios to stick to a singular specific style of game so it was exciting to see such wide variety. And that was just the three I played. There were two more games that I didn’t get a chance to go hands on with.

Qinoto

I actually got a chance to play an early version of Qinoto two years ago at PAX Aus. This origami puzzler tasks you with folding the world to find solutions to your problems, like if the whole world was a that back cover of Mad Magazine. A beautiful looking puzzler with an interesting mechanic the anthropomorphic characters are brimming with charisma and every picturesque scene is filled with charm.

Subdivision Infinity DX

While I’m not familiar with the title the experience is certainly one I can get behind. Watching some footage showed off a colourful expanse of space for your ship to dodge and weave through combat. Offering 40 missions through the expansive void of space there will be plenty to keep you busy. Smooth graphics and fast paced combat made this look like a SciFi fans dream.

Blowfish Studios certainly had a lot to show at PAX Aus this year and every time I passed by there were people lining up to try things out and chat with the passionate team. It’s always nice to see the public engaging with local production companies and developers like this. Companies like Blowfish Studios really embody the reason that PAX Rising exists, a team who love the industry they work in and can’t wait to give a platform to a variety of new ideas. You can find out more information about Blowfish Studios as well as all of their upcoming titles and release dates at their official website.