The whirlwind phenomenon of PAX Aus took over the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre this past weekend, mesmerising video game enthusiasts mind, body and soul. It’s a fact that some of us naturally gravitate towards story-centric experiences, and luckily, 2017’s lineup of narrative games absolutely delivered. From Orwell‘s spine-tingling surveillance to android rebellion and sipping lattes with the dead, these tales aren’t afraid to question the fabric of our existence. We chose four of the best that are likely to resonate with you long after you’ve played them.
Detroit: Become Human
- Developer: Quantic Dream
- Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
- Platform/s: PS4
- Release: 2018
When it comes to emotionally charged journeys, Quantic Dream has built quite a name for itself. With titles like Heavy Rain and Beyond Two Souls under its belt, the pressure to raise the bar is immense; but after spending ten minutes immersed in Detroit: Become Human’s world, I can promise you it’s going to be something special. On the morning of October 29, 2017, I stepped into the future. In 2038, androids are as commonplace as smartphones. They look human, sound human, but they’re infallible machines. All androids were created to be incapable of emotion, but a design fault resulted in ‘deviants’, defective androids who think and feel for themselves. As police android Connor, I examined a crime scene for clues, virtually reconstructed the sequence of events, and bargained with one of my kind, desperate to dissuade him from plunging to his death and taking a young human girl with him. In the climactic final moments, I remember feeling an intense cycle of betrayal, self-doubt, and accomplishment, but most importantly, the frightening realisation that sometimes the line between right and wrong is very, very thin. A newly released gameplay trailer from Paris Games Week unpacks another riveting scenario from Detroit: Become Human, firmly positioning it as a highly-anticipated dramatic work of fiction.
- Developer: Route 59
- Publisher: N/A
- Platform/s: PC, Mac, Nintendo Switch
- Release: 2018
This 3D visual novel might just have one of the biggest twists you’ve ever heard. Set in a magical, alternate version of Melbourne, Necrobarista‘s story brews in a supernatural cafe where the living and the dead come to socialise over coffee and hard liquor. Inspired by the high school anime genre, Necrobarista lets you vicariously ‘live’ and breathe the Melbourne cafe scene, without distinguishing which of its diverse cast of characters is actually alive. Naturally, your role is the barista. Aside from serving the dead caffeine, you’ll get to make a series of choices that unravel the different motivations that possessed each one to stop by your terminal.
- Developer: Feral Cat Den
- Publisher: N/A
- Platform/s: PC, Mac
- Release: 2019
The birth of poetic adventure game Genesis Noir miraculously coincides with The Big Bang, but introduces players to a very unique problem: you’re an infatuated cosmic being who needs to stop the expansion of the universe to be with your true love. In this monochromatic world of exploration, telephone calls, and pattern recognition, choices matter, and not just in the scientific sense. Your name is written on destiny’s lips, but you’ll still have to wrestle with your creative side to make your dreams come true. Genesis Noir has already picked an award in the New York State Game Dev Challenge and been recognised in the Strasbourg Indie Game Contest.
- Developer: Osmotic Studios
- Publisher: Surprise Attack
- Platform/s: Windows, Mac, Linux
- Release: Out now
George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four was a frightening exposition of government surveillance and the impact tyrannical power structures can hold over an unsuspecting public. In Osmotic Studios’ dystopian tribute, you become Big Brother. Your task is to assist the government with improving national security, which involves scrutinising the digital footprints of potential culprits, listening to private conversations, and submitting relevant information to Orwell, an insatiable database that remembers everything. While Orwell originally launched last October, PAX Aus gave players the chance to try out Orwell: Ignorance is Strength, the second season of the chilling thriller which examines the nature of truth in a climate of fake news.
For more PAX Aus coverage, make sure to check out the following: