Zoom in / The Nintendo Corner at PAX West 2022; it’s hard to get a complete picture of the entire show floor, especially one that includes all eight games profiled in the article below.


SEATTLE—In-person video game conventions are back! A kind of!

Nerdy conventions and other physical events began to reappear in public halls late last year, though what a difference a year makes. PAX West 2021 was my first in-person convention since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the event was a ghost town filled with empty, darkened spaces and huge gaps in the pitching staff. Last week’s PAX West 2022, on the other hand, finally felt like the real deal and was thankfully greeted by a vigilant mask-wearing crowd.

Some gaming companies have apparently pulled out of local conventions, with Microsoft and Sony not hosting booths at PAX West (although they each attended the raucous Gamescom 2022 in Cologne, Germany last month). Consequently, this post-PAX “coolest upcoming games” feature is far from comprehensive, due to both missing companies and specific games not performing well in packed convention halls. However, we’ve released enough diverse dishes to feel comfortable calling out solid highlights at PAX West.

Necrodancer’s Rift announcement trailer

Necrodancer’s Rift
Release date TBA; platforms TBA | Official site

The studio behind the 2015 indie hit Necrodancer’s Crypt is clearly interested in new ideas in the well-worn genre of rhythm games. This was proven by the promising world gameplay premiere at PAX West of the new spinoff Necrodancer’s Riftwhich essentially looks like a greatest hits collection of other popular rhythm game concepts, only enhanced by the genre experts at Brace Yourself Games.

This week’s demo features three modes and each directly compares to a previous hit: Guitar Hero, Rhythm Skyand Punch Out!!. The first looks deceptively familiar. Musical notes fall from the top of the screen to a line at the bottom, and when they cross that line, you need to tap the corresponding beat button to clear the note.

But what if the notes were monsters – e.gach with their own personalities and movement patterns, thus jumping or shifting as they approach the clear line? This tweak of Guitar Hero the formula feels right for Necrodancer series that originally combined top-down monster battles with rhythm-based tapping, and already in the new demo, the spinoff’s take on that concept feels incredibly fresh. Each monster has a unique pattern as they slide to the beat of catchy tunes, and the fun begins when multiple types of monsters fill the screen. It may take one tap two or three times to clear, moving right or left after each tap. Another may constantly move between lanes during its descent.

A ruptureboxing mode combines familiar Punch Out!! struggle with rhythm-based responses and I’m shocked no one thought of this before. Punch Out!!, after all, revolves around memorization and pattern recognition, which is similar to the hardest challenges in rhythm games, and I was immediately enthralled by the feel of dodging, blocking and countering with memorable tracks as reference points. If Nintendo won’t do a Punch Out!! sequel soon, then this already seems like a good alternative.

Meanwhile, the mode that mimics Rhythm Sky it feels a little less unique, but that’s not a complaint. The sample level I played looks and feels a lot like Nintendo’s niche hit, especially in terms of upbeat tunes and detailed, charming animations for tapping buttons. It’s unclear if BYG has any other mods or surprises for the final version of A rupture; the game is apparently early in development, so we’re a long way from any such confirmations, let alone a release date or confirmed platforms outside of Windows. But we’re already excited about the possibilities of this spinoff.


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