ICYMI: Top Indie Game Picks From PAX West 2016

Posted on by Chris Lessard

Overall this PAX was a blast, with AAA titles showing their stuff, VR making an impact, and indie titles holding their own, PAX 2016  was for the masses. I do have to say, the indie games were AMAZING this year. Up on the 6th floor the PAX 10 showed why they were chosen. Here are my favorites:


1979 Revolution – iNK Studios

From iNK’s website “The year is 1978, the place is Tehran, Iran. You play as Reza Shirazi, a young photojournalist who returns home to find his people in a cold-blooded uprising against the ruling King, the Shah. Your efforts to take photographs entangle you into the underground web of revolution as you meet a vivid cast of characters who challenge your morality.”

I played chapter two, the interrogation, and preceded to die in about 5 minutes (I usually pick every negative choice though). The game was developed by Navid Khonsari, whose work includes Max Payne and GTA, with those artistic influences seen in Revolution. Khonsari considers this an “interactive story” and I could not agree more.

This game sets itself apart from the Telltale series by making your choices have more impact. A lot of the choices are on a pretty quick timer, so each choice feels more intense than the last. With great graphics, and amazing story, and some really cool dudes behind it, 1979 Revolution is a must have.

This game is out now, do yourself a favor and pick it up!

Splitter Critters – RAC7

This game captured my heart, and blew my mind. This goes to show that a simple concept and simple gameplay is all you need. Splitter Critters started as a Ludum Dare entry not to long ago. They created the game in a couple days, and submitted it to PAX. Don’t let the length of development fool you though, their last game Dark Echo, a PAX10 selection last year,  started as a game jam game and won a multitude of awards for its innovation. One of the developers, Jesse Ringrose, mentioned that most of these games come from “a beer and a lunch.” He mentioned that high-pressure situations like game jams help motivate the developers.

This game has notoriously been difficult to explain, but I liken it to Lemmings. The game-changer here is you actually split the screen and move it so your Critters can get to your ship. It gets a lot more difficult as you move on, as the later levels require multiple splits. Cute characters, simple gameplay, and overall fun make this game great.

Splitter Critters will be released later this year, but you can play an early version on their website.


Last but not least is Cryptark. (from their Steam profile) “Cryptark is a 2D sci-fi roguelike shooter where you take on the role of a heavily armed privateer seeking to earn government contracts by boarding deadly alien space-hulks. It’s up to you to strategize a plan of attack, pick an equipment loadout, and destroy the central core to be victorious.”

Every ship is procedurally generated and provides a unique experience to every player. This game was developed by 4 guys at Alientrap Games. They even created their own engine to create in! (Take that, Unity!)


What drew me to Cryptark originally was the art. It was awesome how they made beat down, rusty, and unpolished environments look so great! The UI was pretty simple to use, and this is important because these ships are MASSIVE. The weapons that you collect remind of of SEGA’s Gunstar Heroes, or Contra (on a much smaller scale). I was unable to see a ship actually explode, but I was assured everybody would get their “Death Star” experience.

You can find Cryptark on Steam Greenlight, with a potential release later this year or the beginning of 2017.
Chris Lessard

A former preschool teacher, current marketer and forever gamer, Chris works at Bolder Games in Colorado.

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