At the show this year, I got to play several games that will be ones to watch for later in 2022. In the list below you’ll find a quick rundown of games that stood out at PAX East 2022, including the next Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game, the peculiar platforming game Tinykin and Souls-like parody The Last Hero of Nostalgaia.
Be sure to check back with CNET for more updates. I’ll be adding to this list as I discover more exciting games at PAX.
Developer: Flying Wild Hog | Release Date: TBD 2022
Developer Flying Wild Hog honed its craft for fast-paced action gameplay with the Shadow Warrior reboot trilogy, and now it’s taking that know-how to the Wild West with the action-horror game Evil West.
Set in a supernatural Wild West, you play as a vampire-hunting bounty hunter who uses classic cowboy weaponry and advanced gadgets to slay demons of the night. Evil West is a third-person shooter that deftly blends shooting gameplay and melee combat, which opens up slick moments where you can disarm enemies and launch demons into the air with ease.
This game came out of nowhere for me, and I like its pulp-style horror take on the Wild West. I’m very interested in seeing more of it later this year.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge
Developer: Tribute Games | Release Date: TBD 2022
There have been a plethora of games based on the popular Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series over the last three decades, but none have matched the impact of arcade beat-’em-ups. With the upcoming TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge, we’re getting a spiritual successor to the classic beat-’em-up games directly inspired by the 16-bit era.
Developed by Tribute Games and DotEmu, this throwback game looks stunning, and the gameplay offers that satisfying thrill of barreling through Foot Clan ninjas — something the classic games did so well. However, it also introduces some slick modern touches to the gameplay, giving you and your teammates some added skills and defense to help fight off Shredder’s minions. This was a real blast to play, and it proves just how great TMNT games can be.
Developer: Massive Work Studio | Release Date: May 20, 2022
It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that FromSoftware’s Elden Ring — and other Souls games — has made a massive impact on the gaming industry. So much so that other devs are taking a crack at making their own Souls-inspired games. One game coming from Brazilian developer Massive Work Studio and published by Prime Matter is Dolmen, a sci-fi take on the genre.
In the far future, you play as a mercenary who travels to a planet hosting crystals that spawn multiple timelines. The gameplay will feel familiar to players of FromSoft’s games, but combat is spiced up by the addition of firearms and energy powers. This might be one to watch out for if you’re itching for a Souls-like with a change of setting.
The Last Oricru
Developer: GoldKnights | Release Date: TBD 2022
One particular frustration with Souls games: They tend to have a fairly complex approach to co-op multiplayer. There’s usually a story behind it, but simply put, adding another player to the game isn’t easy. That’s one thing The Last Oricru, another sci-fi Souls-like, is looking to remedy — with couch co-op.
On an alien world, you must decide which faction you’ll side with during an increasingly hostile war. But you won’t have to take on the fight alone. One skill the key protagonist has is summoning a hologram copy, which another player can control. Split-screen co-op is possible along with online play, which means you and a buddy can pair up and endure steep challenges and harsh defeats together.
Developer: Splashteam | Release Date: TBD 2022
One game that surprised me at PAX East was Tinykin, a peculiar but visually impressive puzzle-platformer. Mixing 2D visuals with 3D environments, this game sports a style that looks right out of an animated film such as Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
Playing as a shrunken-down explorer, you team up with miniature critters to overcome platforming challenges and explore the world within a human’s house. The story and gameplay seems to borrow heavily from Nintendo’s Pikmin, but the game does present clever and surprisingly heartwarming twists on that premise. It looks like it’ll be fun for all ages, so keep it on your radar.
The Last Hero of Nostalgaia
Developer: Over The Moon Games | Release Date: TBD 2022
Yes, it’s another Souls-like, but it’s my favorite from PAX East 2022.
The Last Hero of Nostalgaia is set within the world of a high-fantasy Souls-esque game, in which you play as a hilariously undefined protagonist that looks like a walking stick figure. With no class or backstory, you make your own tale within a game that has a self-aware narrator who is actively trying to stop your adventure. The Last Hero of Nostalgaia is a parody game, and its fun combat is boosted by solid writing that pokes fun at the cliches and formulas of fantasy games. Playing this was a riot, and I’m keen on seeing where this oddball will go when it’s released later this year.
Developer: Rose-Engine | Release Date: Fall 2022
One of the most eerily atmospheric and unnerving games I got to play this year at PAX East was Signalis. Coming from developer Rose-Engine, this game is a throwback that pays homage to classic survival horror games like Resident Evil and Silent Hill. As the main protagonist awakens from her cryosleep, she’ll have to uncover what occurred on the ship and the planet it had crash-landed on, all the while avoiding grotesque creatures that have taken over the former crewmates.
This game’s impeccable atmosphere shows shades of 1979’s Alien and the classic anime film Akira, and I think that’s such a great mix for a horror game. Signalis features a retro-futuristic style that showcases an analog, industrial-style vision of the distant future. That gives it a unique aesthetic that feels so unorthodox for its genre, yet it works well in motion. Even when I was getting spooked by creatures lurking in the shadows, I couldn’t help but admire the game’s rich design and visuals. It’s certainly a game that’s right up my alley, and with its fall release it could end up a great, moody game pick for play during the Halloween season.
Developer: Black Mermaid’s | TBD 2022
Black Mermaid’s Moonscars is a gorgeously grim 2D action game that really impressed me.
Set within a slowly crumbling fantasy world, you play as a resurrected clay warrior that’s tasked with seeking out an elusive sculptor who can reveal what has happened to the world — and the meaning of the protagonist’s existence. As you explore more of the world, you’ll unlock new powers. However, doing so will also require leaving a piece of yourself behind, which will then take on a life of its own and seek retribution further down the line.
The setting and plot take place in a bleak world, but I couldn’t help but admire the richly detailed 2D animation at work in Moonscars. The visuals are just so stunning in motion, and it made exploring and engaging in combat such a delight. The action gameplay can be quite challenging, and as another Souls-style game, each death offers a lesson, and learning from your defeats can give way to satisfying moments of triumph. If you’re into a 2D action game that revels in its atmosphere, then Moonscars is definitely one to watch.
No Place for Bravery
Developer: Glitch Factory | Release Date: Fall 2022
The 2D action-adventure game No Place for Bravery has been in the works for some time, and it’s finally on its way to release later this year. What’s kept the game on fans’ radars is its lush and colorful fantasy world to explore, but also that its focus on combat and tactics gives it a bit of a different flavor compared to other 2D action games.
Taking inspiration from Norse mythology and the classic manga of Lone Wolf and Cub, the story focuses on a veteran warrior named Thorn who’s haunted by his daughter’s disappearance. After discovering clues about where she might be, Thorn embarks on a journey to rescue her, but he’ll also have to keep his disabled son safe along the way.
My time playing the game at PAX really clued me in on the artistic and gameplay design craft at work in No Place for Bravery, which blends the sense of exploration of classic Legend of Zelda with the challenge and brutality of combat. This is an awesome combination in my book, and it’s got me excited to see more of the game later this year.