With the COVID-19 pandemic once again putting dreams of a return to a proper event out of reach, PAX Aus 2021’s online event has kicked off with plenty of digital content to engage with, streams and panels to watch and of course video games to check out. While the lack of a show floor means we’re not able to wander around the always-fantastic PAX Rising booths and try out upcoming games in the flesh, PAX and Steam have at least provided a way for gamers to download and play a selection of PAX Aus-exclusive game demos. You can view the full PAX Aus Online 2021 landing page on Steam right here, but below we’ve highlighted just five of the titles that we’ve loved from the demo event and think you should download:
Conscript is a dark and brutal old-school survival horror experience with grim and gorgeous pixel art developed in Melbourne by Catchweight Studio. Set across the Battle of Verdun in 1916, Conscript uses its unique setting to present players with not just the horrors of war but psychological manifestations and a general sense of oppressive foreboding. It feels like a combination of top-down PC ARPGs and the PS1-era survival horror games with its mix of isometric action and item management and it’s well worth checking out if any of that sounds like your jam.
Brisbane’s Mellow Games is crafting an adorable 2D platformer that deals with some fairly heavy themes such as trauma and depression, but in a way that’s honest and accessible. It’s got gorgeous art and music that set the tone perfectly as you experience Blueberry’s memories and journey up the Tower of Life. You’ll need to click the Request Access button on the Steam page to download the demo for Blueberry, but you should get access to it straight away.
Riftbound is an adventure through a magical realm where players must ally with Elementals and rise through the ranks of a spellcaster to battle an ancient, awakend foe. It’s a lane defence game not unlike Plants vs Zombies where you’ll strategically summon elementals, place and evolve them to battle incoming waves of the undead. Riftbound comes from another Victorian developer, Barrel Smash Studios.
Exo One is Aussie developer Exbleative’s sci-fi exploration game that’s all about mastering movement and momentum in trippy, alien spaces. The short demo will give you a good taste of how the game feels to play, which is something that isn’t quite conveyed in the trailer but really needs to be experienced first-hand. It’s quite simple, and very strange, but incredibly satisfying and addictive to play.
Blackwind is a slick looking top-down action game about a teenager forced to don a prototype battle frame when his planet is invaded by an alien horde. The action is fast, frenetic and brutal, and the game features co-op play where a friend can control your Battle Frame’s drone. The demo is a great taste and the full game will include heaps of skills, skins and opportunities to forge your own playstyle.