Previews// PAX Round-Up: Hob, Kingdom and Lords of New York

Posted 1 Oct 2015 16:10 by
Chris O'Regan, host of The Sausage Factory podcast (which takes a deep dive into the development process with games studios, you should listen to it), has travelled to the future to sample the games that will be interfering with your older brain. When we say the future, we mean PAX Prime. When we say 'interfering with your older brain', that is exactly what we mean. Read on for what he found...

Developer: Runic Games
Format(s): Windows PC

There is something is rotten in the state of Hob, and it is up to the player to rid the realm of this festering pox. This can only be done by navigating a series of traps and hazards, some natural others not, by wielding a mechanical claw device that is spliced onto your hand without your permission. At least that's how things work in Hob, the new title from Torchlight developer Runic Games.

Hob was making its public debut at PAX Prime 2015 and it attracted a huge amount of attention from the attendees. Waiting lines swirled around the relatively small booth on the sixth level, and for good reason as Hob turned out to be a personal highlight of the show for me.

Hob has been built using a heavily modified version of the OGRE open source 3D engine that the Torchlight games were built from, but that is the only similarity between the two titles.

Hob is set in an unknown world that, as my introduction explained, has gone rather sour. The player takes control of a character who never speaks and all of the communication to the player is via events that unfold into the world, with only the odd tool type and guide to teach aspects of how to use newly acquired items and powers.

The player is armed with a sword and shield, which are used during real-time dynamic combat. If any of this sounds remarkably familiar to you then you've probably played a Zelda game at some point, which Hob does borrow from to a great extent. But what marks it out is the tone, visual styling and the heavy Runic Games footprint that is embedded within it.

I played the full length of the demo that was being showed off at PAX Prime 2015 and found it to be a very satisfying and rewarding experience, with fluid and tactile controls that fed back to the player exactly what was going on. This is very much testament to the pedigree of the people that make up Runic Games who have been making games for decades. With Hob being in such safe hands I personally have great hopes for it when it arrives in 2016 on Windows PC.

Developer: Noio Licorice
Format(s): Windows PC, iOS and Android

One of my favourite parts of PAX is the Indie Megabooth. This is a vast section of the expo hall that is sectioned off exclusively for small indie developers to show off their creations. It's in here I discover new games that in some cases have me gasping. Kingdom was one of those games as it caught not only my eye but many others as a significant crowd grew around it as it was being played. Why was this? It's all thanks to a horse.

Kingdom is a sandbox adventure game that has the player trying to balance building a Kingdom while defending it from rampaging hordes of creatures, who are quite determined to steal the crown the character the player controls has adorned their head with.

Presented on a 2D plane, Kingdom has a pixel art style that is very common in indie games, with the difference being the animation in Kingdom's is extremely detailed with every fleck of hair, cloak and creature exquisitely animated. It's an amazing sight to see. On top of this there is a very complex game that is easy to play, but very difficult to master.
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