PAX East is always a huge event for multiplayer games; the convention environment is perfect for showing them off and there are always plenty of people to play. This year was no different, and in fact, we saw so many good multiplayer games, we’ve split them in to two different sets: Couch Co-op Games and Multiplayer Party Games (coming next week!).
In this article, we’re highlighting 4 indie games that struck us as the perfect experiences to pull up a couch and pass a controller to a friend. Not all of them are exclusively multiplayer, but to us, that seems like the right way to play these games.
Like always, this is a purely subjective decision process: These are by no means the only co-op games that were at PAX East, so if we’ve missed one you particularly loved, let us know in the comments!
Title: With Friends Like These
Developer: Shy Kids Club
Platform: PC, Mac, Linux, Nintendo Switch
Release Date: TBD
With Friends Like These (Formally known as The Incredible Journey of You and I) is a game that lovingly forces co-operation. You and your bestie have decided to take everyone on a trip to crazy time planet where everyone can let off some steam. Unfortunately, things go wrong and you crash into Super Chill world, your friends don’t realize they’re on the wrong planet and start to cause chaos. It’s up to you and your pal to collect up all your friends before they cause too much damage and drive the super chill residents insane.
With Friends Like These is a charming game I saw in the Indie Minibooth, with a fantastically simple, yet challenging base mechanic. You and a friend act as the two pilots of an alien ship. One friend is blue, one pink. When you are in air tinted pink, the pink player will pilot the ship, and the blue player will take up the gunner’s chair, firing blue colored bullets. However, if you fly into blue tinted air, flight control immediately transfers over to the blue player, and the pink player immediately has to start shooting pink bullets. Enemies appear in the same two colors and, you guessed it, pink bullets affect only pink enemies, and blue bullet affect only blue enemies.
This sounds simple, but it’s surprisingly tough at times, and forces you to communicate and talk if you’re going to have any hope of being really successful. The game also gets clever with these tinted skies; sometimes an environmental NPC might suddenly spray a gout of water into the sky. Suddenly, you’ve got a strip of blue tinted sly to float into and rattle off some pink bullets.
I had great fun playing the game and cannot wait to see what further tricks are thrown at the pair of alien pilots as the game progresses!
Cosmo’s Quickstop is a goofy, fast-paced, 3D animated time management game where players manage a bustling truck stop…in space. Play as Morvin, the harried manager of Route 66 Million’s most popular pitstop. Keep the vending machines stocked, the glorp rooms clean, and the hot coffee showers running and your alien customers will happily hand over Space Cash for your goods and services. But fall behind and things can get messy– fast.
Speaking of alien pilots: Cosmo’s Quickstop was probably one of the most surprising games I saw at PAX East this year. The game, for some reason, isn’t really done justice in screenshots, and once I saw it in action, I was blown away by how good it looks. It’s got a cartoon-y, almost Futurama-like aesthetic and sense of humor, which comes across beautifully, even when things get hectic.
You can play Cosmo’s Quickstop solo, but in watching and experiencing it both ways, I found playing with a co-op partner, much more fun. Your goal in Cosmo’s Quickstop is to run an intergalactic service station. This involves filling fuel and oxygen, giving lost travelers directions, cleaning the space bathrooms and many many more tasks. And if you expected alien travelers to be patient about this, you’re kidding yourself. The different mini games you need to perform for each task are varied, but simple enough that they don’t get in the way of juggling your many tasks.
PHOGS! takes you and a friend on a vibrant, cartoony adventure as a double-ended dog. Stretch your co-op abilities as you learn to work together, sharing a controller and a body in a bizarre and puzzling world!
PHOGS is something akin to Cat-Dog, minus the cat and seen through the lens of a enriching kids program about puzzles. There are two dog heads, one with a red collar and one with a blue collar, each player controlling one head. It’s your goal to solve the puzzles in each level and then exit by being by a eaten by a giant snake-lizard.
Okay, yes, it’s a bit odd, but incredibly fun.
Many of the puzzles involve coordinating your movements between each head, or using one head to collect something (water/light), and letting is be puked/pooped (I have questions) out by the other head. I was very pleasanlty surprised to see that even in the game’s short demo, there were puzzles presented with multiple avenues to completion, which is a very good sign if you ask me.
Riverbond is a hack-and-slash dungeon crawler that combines a hand-crafted adventure with a destructible voxel world. Adventure solo or together with friends with drop-in / drop-out couch co-op, and embark on a heroic campaign to help rid the evil that has befallen the land.
Ever wanted to be a bonut wielding a giant ham hock? What about a banana beating up pigs with a lollipop? If you answered yes to either of these, first I’d have concerns, and then I’d suggest you keep an eye on Riverbond. While not specifically a multiplayer game, Riverbond supports drop-in /drop-out couch co-op beautifully, and seems far more fun with four, rather than one.
A highlight of my time with the game at PAX East is when my group entered a mine and found dynamite. Dynamite, which can destroy large hunks of Riverbond’s voxel based world. Dynamite, which can be hurled at the hordes of enemies. Dynamite, which can 100% damage and kill your own teammates.
There’s massive potential to screw with your friends within Riverbond, maybe not to Magicka levels, but certainly enough to end in bouts of hilarious laughter. The game also has a ton of content and secrets to find, if the demo is any indication, and there are tons of character skins to unlock and use, some even shot outs to other indie games!
Make sure to check back in with IndieHangover soon, because we’ll have compilations not only of our favorite Multiplayer Party Games for this year’s PAX East, but also a compilation of our favorite Puzzle Games too!