While writing Part 1 of my PAX 2020 coverage, I wondered: How many more of these essays will I write? I was excited about many games while wrote that essay, but when I continued for this essay… I wouldn’t say it was burn-out as much as playing one disappointing or mediocre demo after another. I think I played five or six demos that I almost instantly disliked? I covered the ones I had something positive to say…
As I mentioned in Part 1, I planned on skipping the panels, lectures, and et cetera.
Although I was found all of the livestreamed content in archives I wanted to find, the streaming system was confusing. When I attended PAX in-person the three times I did, I would look over the schedule to see if there were any “must-sees” and plan my schedule around that. I was able to get a good seat to PAX 2016 since I got there early. Otherwise, though it wasn’t often accepted, they would let people drop into events so long as you weren’t disruptive. When I dropped into livestreamed events, as I did for the three PAX channels about one hour ago, it wasn’t clear what I was watching, and the online schedule wasn’t great for helping me figure these things out.
I’d also like to address the demos I didn’t cover.
They all tended to have similar traits. The first was excessive load times while the game took up my entire screen, and sometimes, there were no options to adjust this. That’s fine, but when the game is sucking up enough of my time with either a generic plot, needlessly complex gameplay mechanics, or whatever the case was, I found that if the demo was dragging along, the load times felt excessive. Some of the games below had load times that were tolerable, so it’s not that I hate them universally, just… I would say the difference between a good and bad demo answers one major question: Does the demo respect the player’s time? If not, then we wait while various credits load, wait while the game meanders along, and eventually, by the time we get to the gameplay, we’re bored.
Let’s cover those reviews before you get bored:
There Is No Light [2/5]
This demo was an overly technical display of confusing action-adventure combat mechanics. Will the whole game just have us executing combos on some dudes? Or is there a story or anything of substance? I suppose there was, but the dialogue and humor didn’t interest me at all, so I’ll pass.
This demo follows in the footsteps of myriad point-and-click games, including its adherence to bizarre videogame logic. The visual style is its greatest strength, but also distracted me from understanding what I needed to do next, so it might be a weakness unless puzzle clues were highlighted in a polite/easy mode.
Raji: An Ancient Epic [3/5]
This demo had a good balance of story and gameplay. The gameplay felt underwhelming to me; it was either too easy or too difficult to do certain actions. While I like the attention to detail regarding Indian culture, I’ll wait to play it after a sale or watch a walkthrough.
This demo reminds me of Full Throttle, were it a higher-production game. I appreciate the hint system to clue you into what you can interact with throughout this point-and-click game, which helps prevent the gameplay from actively interfering with the story, which was compelling here. I’d play through it sometime.
This demo has potential, between its story and gameplay, but I think there’s too much going on. My theory is the typeface is too small, meaning there’s more room to cram story elements, making it too heavy in its presentation. Balancing the story presentation would help. The gameplay feels nice.
The Rewinder [3/5]
This demo takes the contemporarily popular style of rendering graphics in high-resolution pixel art and uses it well to show a story steeped in Chinese culture, but the point-and-click gameplay mechanics don’t help tell the story well. I got to a point where I was stuck without clear next steps.
Warriors of the Nile [3/5]
This demo shows nice, high-definition graphics with slick tactical RPG gameplay. The tutorial showed off the gameplay without being overwhelming or overly simplistic, but without a story keep me invested, I honestly got bored after figuring out the mechanics. I would play it again with a story attached to it.
If I were to give a review to PAX 2020, it’d be a 2/5. ★★☆☆☆. 2-star.
As I mentioned in Part 1, I think they should keep the week-plus long online portion of PAX, even if we’re able to figure out how to safely go to expos for 2021 and it can be responsible to have a 3-day, in-person event. I wouldn’t mind having paywalled exclusive content livestreamed online, but it must have better production qualities than what we received this year. Their website was terrible for searching for things, so I just clicked around until I found things I was interested in watching live, which led me to eventually get so frustrated that I limited my coverage so that way I could publish these two essays and move on with my life. I could go back to watch stuff, but watching things live is fun, even if you don’t directly interact with the panelists or performers.
There is something fun about having physical items, so how could that be done going forward?
Let’s say they had the various passes – Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and 3-Day – along with an Online pass. That Online pass could be sent out along with a care package of PAX merchandise at around the time the online content would start being livestreamed. That, along with generally advertising PAX other than a small ad on Steam a few days into the event, would lead me and maybe others to take the online attempt more seriously. As it stands now, it was fine.
If PAX 2021 were the same as PAX 2020, I wouldn’t be excited for PAX 2022.
|Sources: My subjective PAX experiences.|
|Inspirations: This was much less of a positive journalistic effort mainly because I’d explored my thoughts already on the expo, so when one game after another let me down, I felt frustrated over the whole thing and wrapped it up early. No Part 3 because of that.|
|Related: Other Media Meandry essays. PAX 2020, Part 2 of 2. Read Part 1.|
|Screenshots: Leading screenshot from the PAX website, with additional screenshots from games as cited.|
|Written On: 2020 September 18 [Throughout the day: Prepped format then wrote first three reviews.] 19 [Past midnight: More prep work. Late afternoon: wrote the remaining reviews starting with Rosewater. Wrote the essay: 11pm to 11:27pm]|
|Last Edited: 2020 September 19 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]|