PAX Rising 2016 highlights: Birdsketball, Brief Battles, Dead Static Drive

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It’s that time of the year again, Lining Up for Games Simulator 2016, also known as PAX Aus, is upon us! Considering this is only day one, these highlights from PAX Rising (the indie area of PAX) are the ones that caught my attention in the opening hours, expect more volumes over the weekend.

Birdsketball

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For those at this year’s convention, you can’t really miss Birdsketball, not just because of the stupidly amazing name, but because the top of the booth has robotic birds flapping around.

It’s one of those ridiculously simple, yet hard to master local multiplayer games that could become a sleeper hit. It brings up memories of Starwhals in terms of both style and gameplay, which is totally a good thing.

Supporting 1-4 players, Birdsketball truly is easy a local multiplayer gem. I played 2v2 in a chaotic session which started out as a baffling affair (picture Flappy Bird shooting hoops), but left me feeling hooked. Combining awkward flight and lobbing basketballs into goals, you have speed boosts and long trajectory throws in your arsenal of moves.

Zooming about offensively and defensively, Birdsketball truly is chaos, but it felt like it would never get old. A variety of maps were on display, including a pong themed one with moving goals, and a more conventional attack/defend layout. For those into level design there is also a simple looking map builder function.

The good news is that Birdsketball is in early access now on Steam, for only $4.99. I can’t recommend it enough.

Brief Battlesbriefbattlesmountains

Another local multiplayer game, Brief Battles is all about playing with friends… and underpants, because as I was told by two man dev team Juicy Cupcake, “why not underpants.”

Reminiscent of Super Smash Bros in a lot of ways, Brief Battles is another simple yet addictive game that is sure to be a hit amongst groups of friends. The ridiculous underpant themed title has you fighting for upgrades as you take your friends out.

Playing with the devs and fellow LoadScreen Editor Tom in a free for all, I wasn’t sold on the game at first. The gameplay seemed too simple and there didn’t seem to be all that much strategy, yet after a couple of rounds it really grew on me. Maneuvering around the maps is strategic as all hell. The main attack in your arsenal is leaping into the air and slamming down on your opponents, so maintaining height over other players is paramount.

On top of this you can cling to walls and earn upgrades that give you special attacks, such as the ability to shoot fire. Environmental hazards thrown into the mix add another element which makes this a really fun little game.

Brief Battles is scheduled for a 2017 release.

Dead Static Drive

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Very much in early development, Dead Static Drive, is a road trip game inspired by Twin Peaks and The X Files, which was enough for me to lose my shit over alone, but what is on display this early on shows immense promise.

Birds eye gameplay, much like the original GTA games, mixed with solid driving mechanics and creepy towns filled with monsters is pretty much the core of Dead Static Drive. The build you’ll play at PAX is a little rough, this is the first time the game has been demoed, but you’ll be able to clearly see the tone and elements that should make it a hit.

The story puts you in control of different people upon each playthrough, but the goal is the same, to drive across America and see your estranged family. Along the way you’ll find villages with “monster of the week” inspired events, such as a town taken over by a witches coven. RPG elements will allow you to not only take out the coven and eliminate evil, but also the option to join them and become the leader.

Developer Mike Blackney told me he always saw the game as being “Grand Theft Cthulhu” which again is possibly the best sounding thing in existence.

Dead Static Drive has a tentative release window of late 2017.

Follow Charlie in real life at PAX… or on twitter @clbraith and don’t forget to follow @load_screen and like us on Facebook.

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