PAX East 2011: Boston Indie Showcase

by: Ben Berry -
I stopped by the Boston Indie Showcase, and frankly I was a bit disappointed. I guess I knew this in advance, but only 3 companies were part of the showcase this year; Team Uncertainty, Owlchemy Labs, and Retro Affect. Team Uncertainty's Blinding SIlence has you playing the role of a blind man whose cane can visualize sound waves. It's an interesting proposition, and the unique graphical style used to represent the cane's power is something that reminded me a bit of when most games were in scales of grey but with the occasional offbeat color mixed in like bright green or purple.


Owlchemy Labs, has had the power of controversy behind it's upcoming iOS/Mac/PC release Smuggle Truck. I played the iPad version of the game, and it's a very simple side-scrolling game where you drive a truck full of immigrants trying to get them across the border. The immigrants are shaped a little bit like weeble wobbles and fall easily out of the back of the truck as you avoid obstacles on a high speed ride to the border. It's not a difficult game to figure out, but it seems like it will be a tough one to master. I had immigrants falling everywhere out of the back of the truck.


Probably the most interesting offering was Snapshot from Retro Affect. Your character makes it's way through challenges and obstacles through your use of the camera mechanism which allows you take a picture of an object in the game in order to later place it in another location to help you complete your mission. It's really just like having a somewhat limited inventory, but with an interesting presentation as to how it's handled. It's enjoyable, and shouldn't get old too fast so long as the levels continue to be challenging beyond the one I played.


While the quality of the games was high, unfortunately there simply should have been more participants. Last year had twice the number of development firms. While the MIT GAMBIT project had it's own space this year, and BIS alumnus Fire Hose Games is about to let Slam Bolt Scrappers into the wild, I really would like to see better participation from New England gaming companies.
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