PAX East 2023 was full of fun games for showgoers to try out. Whether you’re in the market for higher-profile games or small indies, the show floor had plenty of variety. We’re talking everything from zombie-slaying in Hell-A to a car combat deckbuilder. The smorgasbord of ideas was staggering and, while I couldn’t see everything, I was able to try out a large handful of new games that have me very excited for 2023. Here are the eight best games from PAX East 2023.
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Amanda the Adventurer
I didn’t play DreadXP’s Amanda the Adventurer, but I did watch someone play it while the PR person delivered an exceptional elevator pitch. Essentially, this is Blue’s Clues but a horror game. Amanda and her pal Wooly will lead you through several lost episodes of their children’s cartoon, but things quickly turn terrifying when they start to talk to you through the screen.
Dead Island 2
A few weeks ago, I got to check out the beginning hours of Dead Island 2 and came away excited about the sequel that’s been more than a decade in the making. The PAX demo moved things forward, giving a taste of the mid-game and I was even more impressed by the weapon crafting system. There are some truly wacky murdering tools you can build and I assume it’ll get even more ridiculous. Plus, the murderous clown I fought at the end of the demo was probably the scariest moment of the weekend.
Death Roads: Tournament
What if you took Twisted Metal and turned it into a roguelike deckbuilder? That’s basically what Death Roads: Tournament is. You’ll work your way across the dystopic United States, fighting off other cards and drones with your deck of cards. It doesn’t perfectly scratch the car combat itch I’ve said since the PS2 days, but it gets very close.
I went to the Ysbryd Games booth mostly to check out World of Horror, and that game remains great. However, it was Demonschool that caught my attention with its tactics RPG combat. The fights require careful planning, but it didn’t seem overly obtuse. Along with that, the art and characters are very fun, making this a game that’s immediately rocketed onto my radar.
Outcast 2 – A New Beginning
This sequel to the 1999 cult classic might look a little Euro-janky on the surface, and, to be honest, you aren’t wrong. That said, I had a blast flying around with the jetpack and the developers were talking up all the nifty upgrades you can get as you progress. As a sucker for a great jetpack in video games, this is one I’m keeping my eye on.
Paper Ghost Stories: Third Eye Open
Paper Ghost Stories’ use of the “paper theater” aesthetic is immediately eye-catching. The game is a joy to look at and I love the way it weaves in Malaysian culture. The portion I played was a little slight on gameplay, but the tale developer Cellar Vault Games presents is intriguing enough to carry the game.
Pizza Possum put a stupid grin on my face that no other game at PAX could rival. I wouldn’t call it the best game I played, but it was incredibly silly. If you’re looking for something to play with kids or non-gamers, this is one to watch. I mean, you’re playing as a possum who’s sneaking past dog police to find food, what’s not to love?
Unannounced Train Game
This game doesn’t have a proper title yet, but as a sucker for Desperados 3, I’m very excited to see how it shapes up. The developers let us play one of the mid-game levels on the show floor, which was meant to show how brutal the Train Game can be. I was, supposedly, the nineteenth person to finish and I can confirm that it takes careful planning and a solid understanding of how your troops work. While I can’t tell you much more than that, if you’re a fan of tactical stealth strategy games, put this on your wishlist as soon as it’s officially announced.