Gamer's Notebook

PAX East and National Tabletop Day

By Chris O'Neal 04/17/2014


The Penny Arcade Expo, known simply as PAX, is a monster. What began as a small if not eager convention in Seattle has spread its tendrils across the country, setting up Comic-Con-size conventions in Boston and, soon, in the great state of Texas. Australia has its own PAX as well, in Melbourne. This festivity of all things gaming has become in recent years the prime location for developers to showcase their upcoming releases, and for consumers to get a sneak peak at some anticipated titles.


PAX East, in Boston, was held last weekend and showcased a few titles that should be on your must-consume list.


Transistor, the follow-up to the 2011 game of the year Bastion from Supergiant Games, maintains the top-down adventure-centric familiarity of its predecessor while introducing a totally unique form of combat. The world of Transistor is built on music, and your character has a one-of-a-kind ability to freeze time and plan out attacks.


Move from enemy to enemy in a world at stand still and watch as your character executes the attack. Music plays a large role in the world of Transistor and is what gives it the ability to, I don’t know, rupture ear drums? Either way it looks painful to the enemy.


Another brilliant title out of PAX is Below, a Zelda meets Diablo adventure that punishes you for arrogance. Think of the time you took a swing at your big brother only to be pummeled by a nerf bat for your insolence. Below drops you into a world of darkness with no tutorial, as if to say, “Here, you handle this.”


Explorers climb to the top of a mountain, fighting whatever the darkness sends your way. This is a hard-core game for hard-core gamers. Those of you looking for a challenge, keep an eye out for Below.


If you are looking for something a little closer to home, Ventura’s tabletop board game community is here to stay. On Saturday, April 5, National Table Top Day came to town.


Steve DeBaun, creator of the recently released Ars Victor tactical, one-hour board game, was on hand at an event hosted by The Armory, gamechurch.com and Seth’s Games and Anime at the Ventura Vineyard where several dozen gamers whipped out various board games and played to their hearts’ content.


My choice for the day was the card game Gloom, the point of which is to burden your family with as miserable a life as possible on a quest to reach the afterlife. After being devoured by bears and pursued by poodles, we took a stroll around the hall and found DeBaun’s still-in-testing Commies! (the game of political intrigue and deception) on display while others learned and executed games ranging from the easy to the seriously time consuming.


Board games are to video games what books are to movies. The reward in the end is being able to lose yourself in the world of a story unfolding as you create it.


Furthermore, yes, board games can easily double as drinking games, too.


Transistor and Below will be released in the coming months across various platforms. Gloom, the game of misery, can be found at Hypno Comics or Seth’s Games and Anime in Ventura. Commies! is still in beta-testing, while Ars Victor is available to pre-order at www.arsvictor.com.


Chris O’Neal was slain by an heir. This is not a Game of Thrones spoiler. Follow him on Twitter @agentoneal.

 

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