Impressions from the PAX indie showcase

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Historically, dying in games has been a punishment for failure. Capybara Games takes the idea of death and turns it into the potential for a reward with Super T.I.M.E. Force. In this pixel art platformer, one hit will kill you, but once you die, you play alongside that previous life, working together to get past that point. Even better, if you manage to save one of your ghostly selves, they will serve as a checkpoint for the level. The developers are saying as many as 500 iterations of the player can be on-sceen at once, so expect things to get bonkers, fast. Any game that incentivizes repeated death without making the player feel like a failure deserves a closer look.


Not Without You, from developer Bad Pilcrow (creators of last year’s Vanessa Saint-Pierre Delacroix and her Nightmare), tasks the player with controlling two or more Lilo and Stitch-esque blue monsters, called Pilcri, around a grid-based play area, and placing them each on an exit. The problem is, you control all the monsters simultaneously, and they must all stand on the teleporters at the same time to win. So while it might be easy to get one of your avatars to the goal, keeping it there while you navigate the rest is another problem altogether. Later levels add wrinkles like teleporters to the mix, causing non puzzle-minded gamers (like myself) to scratch their heads in confusion. The brain-bending puzzles are planned to come soon to PC, iOS, Windows Phone 7 and Xbox Live Indie Games.


Lawnmower Challenge

When you think of careers portrayed in games, the list is probably topped by space marine, mercenary, and treasure hunter. Somewhere a few hundred entries down the list is professional lawnmower. Lunar Enigma’s Lawnmower Challenge takes that premise and turns it into a pathfinding puzzle game. Each level takes place on an isometric grid, and concludes when the player has successfully covered every patch of grass with his or her lawnmower, much like PacMan being tasked with eating every dot. As you progress, the game becomes increasingly more difficult, with the lawns becoming more and more maze-like. Players who demand ruthless efficiency will like replaying levels to complete them in the fewest moves possible. The game is available for $1 on the Apple and Android stores.

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