Disclaimer: I wrote this over the course of many months.
I know it’s late, but writing this annual feature is a tradition for me, and I couldn’t miss it.
Thank you for understanding and reading nonetheless!

Ahhh, the Penny Arcade Expo. Good old PAX. Where else can you get your hands on multiple unreleased games, eat some of the most delicious food truck fare in the world, and watch as a man runs behind a Mario cosplayer, shaking his hat at him and yelling “Mario! You dropped this!” What a beautiful place.

It was great to finally be back to PAX East! As you may know, this Bostonian convention was the last big event I laid eyes on before COVID reared its ugly head in 2020. After moving it online last year, PAX East felt ready to return this past April, and while the nostalgia feels were there in full force… I can’t say the same about the games.

Nevertheless, I was able to play exactly 10 games at PAX East this year, and today I’m going to let you know all about them! Also, for your viewing pleasure, I shall scatter in some footage from my trip, previously exclusive to our VGU Snapchat (which you should go follow immediately for future reference). As always, this list will be in no specific order, just a hodgepodge of what I saw and what I felt about what I saw. Let’s get to it!

Credit: Steam

Cursed to Golf

My feelings on Cursed to Golf are not what were intended when I entered that line queue. I had seen this game in some digital showcase before and I had a pretty good idea of what to expect: the “critically-acclaimed” Golf Blitz mobile game turned into a fully-fledged console game, complete with a story and characters?? Sign me up!

Thankfully, this still seems to be the case, however I did not get a taste of this pie for myself. Instead, I took a wrong turn after waiting nearly a half hour to play, and I ended up wasting my demo in the training room. So as I hit balls around a wide side-scrolling locale into holes that delivered no satisfaction (stop), I tried my best to take in the atmosphere of Cursed to Golf and make myself fall in love with its premise. I did get to see how the game used a card-based system of upgrades for the golf balls, including rocket shots you can aim and multi-balls. I’d be lying if I said the game wasn’t fun to play and really enjoyable to look at. I just wish I’d known what I was doing! Luckily, Cursed to Golf is out now on all platforms, so I can give it another shot!

Credit: Steam

Shredder’s Revenge

The next three games are also special because you can play them right now! That’s the perk of procrastinating on this list and releasing it so late! To be honest, these games coming out so fast surprised me a lot, but I think they were sufficiently ready to go gold, from what I saw! If you’re not familiar with Shredder’s Revenge, the game was made by Tribute Games and is meant to harken back to the good old days of arcade beat ‘em ups. I won’t go into crazy detail, as you can literally see it for yourself now on game pass, but according to our very own Josh Miller – certified turtle superfan – the game is extremely faithful to the feeling of games like Turtles in Time.

The game supports local and online co-op for up to 6 players, and I can’t express enough how fun it is. From the fluid combat to the comic book-style visuals to the incredible detail in both the settings and the background characters, Shredder’s Revenge is truly a labor of love, and it shows. Don’t miss out on this one!

Credit: The Day We Fought Space

The Day We Fought Space

Following my tried and true PAX formula of “look for any open controller and go,” I found myself playing this little gem on an iPad in the middle of the convention floor! The Day We Fought Space follows a crew of space travelers as they take on a hostile force from the stars. Players are tasked with building a ship and taking it out on side-shooting adventures (think the flying segments from Cuphead) complete with intricate tap controls. Fly with one hand and shoot with the other, using various gestures like pinching to focus on targets, for example. Throughout the levels, you can start to really dive into ship customization, by which I mean not only the color and style, but also the perks that your vessel has on offer. From ammo and shield boosts to add-ons that attach passive melee weapons to your already well-equipped gun-toting bringer of death, the game is packed with enough content to keep the action feeling fresh for quite some time.

As I said before, The Day We Fought Space is out now on mobile stores, and it only costs $5. Here I was thinking paid apps had gone the way of the dodo, but I’d happily pay this small fee for such a unique adventure to the stars. Did I mention the art style makes it look like a comic book? Simply gorgeous.

Credit: Steam

Dumpy & Bumpy

This one’s going to be a bit difficult to talk about, as with most puzzle games I find myself wondering what exactly is going on. The beauty of PAX is being able to play games alongside their developers, however with Dumpy & Bumpy, I found myself falling into a random chair and struggling to figure the gist out for ten minutes. In so many words, Dumpy & Bumpy follows a dinosaur who looks eerily similar to the ones in Bubble Bobble. The dinosaur in question’s task is to light up various tiles spread around the playing field, utilizing the ability to push and throw said tiles around. The gameplay is entirely top down, looking like something out of Bomberman or… Bomberman. Yeah, it’s basically Bomberman. Even in the physics themselves, where explosions form a large beam that shoots out in a vertical/horizontal fashion. Remember that in Bomberman? Yeah, it’s a lot like that. (Edit: I recently found out this style of game is called “sokoban.” The more you know!)

This is not to say I didn’t have fun with Dumpy & Bumpy. While I’ll admit the name and the cutesy colors lured me in at first, the tricky gameplay kept me addicted to moving further, and with every successful level end I felt more and more excited by this basic little indie. If any of this sounds exciting to you as well, you can find Dumpy & Bumpy available right now on itch.io, and it was even included in the recent Ukraine bundle.

Credit: Steam


Remember those challenges back in computer class, when a game would try to test your typing speed and accuracy? Remember how frustrating it would be to watch words fly by the screen, and you would frantically smash your keyboard in hopes of completing every one in time? Remember when someone set this hectic formula against a post-apocalyptic background, full of the undead? (See: The Typing of the Dead)? Well, if you have a soft spot for this wild way of life – as I do – then Outshine is the game for you! Outshine takes typing so seriously, you literally have to write “S-T-A-R-T” to begin. No mouse? No problem! Outshine doesn’t call for a mouse, ever!

Typing fast is the aim of the game, as your character endlessly runs through a world of quick-moving obstacles and plenty of complex words. The player is tasked with typing as many of these as possible, while simultaneously navigating the hazard-filled lanes. Upon being met with checkpoints, you’ll have to type out full sentences within the time limit, and at the very end of each level, you’ll be met with a spinning gate covered in complicated words. These gates require the most skill, as you’ll have to type them all within the fleeting time limit if you wish to succeed. Outshine is thrilling, vibrant, and unique – a true indie gem that I can’t wait to get my hands on again.

Credit: The Loadout

Die by the Blade

If you’ve seen every E3 digital showcase in recent years, then chances are you’ve heard of Die by the Blade. I believe this was announced at a PlayStation State of Play, and it was met with instant curiosity. A 1v1 fighting game in the style of hits like Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter, Die by the Blade tasks players with pure, simulated sword fighting; trial by combat. Stance is everything in this game, as whatever form you take can spell your victory or your doom in the blink of an eye. Seemingly inspired by the combat system of For Honor, Die by the Blade employs a gameplay method that relies heavily on quick thinking and rapid-fire decision-making. It’s one thing to strafe about the arena waiting to strike, and it’s another to actually advance on your opponent and leave yourself open while making a move. Heavy attacks and quick attacks shake up the severity of the action, and even after a tense staredown that lasts multiple minutes, a single well-placed blow can lead to dismemberment and an instant end to the round.

It’s this aforementioned tension that makes Die by the Blade so much fun. It follows the “perfect party game” formula so well, allowing for quick sessions that provide as much entertainment in a short burst as anything longform on the market today. I cannot wait for more of this beautifully bloody game.

Credit: Steam

Right to Rule

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. You’re wandering the show floor of a gaming convention when you see an open PC. You take a seat, and begin exploring a Skyrim-esque – albeit fairly basic and empty – open world. You encounter some bandits and the occasional skeleton and wonder what the overall task is, seeing as the player before you left you stranded with no rhyme or reason as to your objective. You carry on as best you can, walking around sneakily so as not to alert the aforementioned enemies, and ultimately coming across some treasure. You take the treasure back to a quest-giving NPC whom you’d apparently met before, and as your screen turns to “Victory!” you can’t help but notice the group of guys next to you exclaim in disappointment and throw their controller down in defeat. As you turn to view their screen and they do the same to yours, you both look at each other and say, “Wait, that was you??”

Right to Rule is one of the few indie games to ever completely blow my mind at PAX. It wasn’t even the best game, seeing as it could use a fresh coat of paint, some polish on the controls, and a better sense of quest direction. However, the ability to deliver a synchronous multiplayer experience under a veil of anonymity (much like an old PlayStation indie darling I love) gave me chills and a smile that wouldn’t go away for the rest of the weekend.

Credit: Steam


What can be said about Spiderheck that hasn’t already been addressed by me? I will first point you in the direction of the Steam Next Fest video I made in late 2021. I immediately fell in love with this game, as the concept of something being both so simplistic and so unique just blew me away. Well, color me surprised when I came across my old friend Spiderheck at the tinyBuild booth this year! Thank God someone picked up this game and said, “I need to help publish this.” Now, this perfect little party game will get the exposure it deserves! Hell, with the booth presence it had all weekend, I think the hype was accomplished.

To describe the game briefly, Spiderheck plays in a similar manner as, say, Starwhal or Duck Game. The aim is to kill the other players and be the last one standing. Rounds play out across various maps, each with their own obstacles, traps, choke points, and weapon drop locations. The game moves fast, which makes every level as chaotic as the last. I suppose the ability to web swing adds to that chaos, too. Oh, did I forget to mention you play as a spider? Yes, a gun-toting spider, even. It’s already the greatest concept of all time, but you really need to experience it to believe it. Spiderheck should hopefully find its way to all consoles by the end of the year, and it already has a guaranteed day one player.

Credit: Steam

Rhythm Sprout

Rhythm Sprout may very well be my game of the show this year at PAX East. Not to toot my own horn, but I got up in front of that long line of visitors and rocked the house down. Rhythm Sprout is a game for any one of you who grew up playing Guitar Hero on your Nokia cell phone, then moved onto things like Rock Band Unplugged on PSP before really delving into rhythm games properly on big consoles. Maybe you’ve got musical talent, maybe you don’t; one thing’s for sure, though: you got rhythm! Now, with that rhythm, you must output it into titles like the beautiful little slasher, Rhythm Sprout!

tinyBuild’s biggest surprise of PAX East 2022, Rhythm Sprout follows a knight, er, ninja, er, turnip(?) who follows a path of treachery and deceit, set to a funky beat. Jokes, puns, and rhymes aside, the game tasks players with pressing (at least) three buttons that correspond to the colors onscreen, producing a beat when tapped in time with the music. It’s no easy feat, I assure you, and with the pressure of nearly a hundred eyes focused on your backside, it’s a terrifying feat, as well. I hope there’s more news from this game soon, as I can see myself diving headfirst into its toe-tapping soundtrack and sharp difficulty curve, especially when away from such a demanding crowd.

Credit: Steam

The Courier

I sadly don’t have much to provide about The Courier, other than it being a charming little indie darling in the works. I didn’t get to play much of it, as the line was fairly constant, so I’d say that speaks to its reputation already. The Courier takes the fun of riding around on a bicycle – think… Yo-Kai Watch? – and delivering mail to people. It’s not Paperboy, and it’s not Tearaway; The Courier isn’t like any mail-delivering game you’ve played before. The isometric, colorful world of The Courier takes our protagonist on a journey to carry letters to neighbors and establish new relationships, all the while jumping fences and breaking into gardens you shouldn’t be in.

There’s a certain calmness to The Courier, one that even drew the attention of my Animal Crossing-loving girlfriend. I believe this could be the type of game for any kind of gamer, especially one looking to kick back, relax, and take in a sweet little narrative, maybe doing some sweet bike tricks along the way. A demo was available in the Steam Next Fest not too long ago. I know Allan tried the game out and was quite pleased… until a game-breaking bug was encountered while fishing, and that poisoned the experience a bit. I would suggest checking it out if you get a chance, as The Courier is shaping up to be fun, quaint, and dopamine-inducing. Just maybe stay away from any ponds.

Thank you all so much for reading, and thank you even more for your patience in my posting it! I know it’s been several months since the show, and a lot of these games are already out in the wild, but I love making this list every year (it was the first thing I ever wrote on my personal blog; the reason I got into writing about games!), and it means a lot to me. Please check out our coverage of these games and more in the future by visiting VGU.TV, and I will be back next year with another PAX East list!

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