PAX South: tinyBuild Proves That it Can Do Both Ultraviolence and Whimsy

The only way someone could miss the large, orange tinyBuild booth on the show floor would be to intentionally avoid it because of an acute allergy to fun. The space their display took up was dedicated to pure gaming bliss. Friendships were being destroyed with rounds of Speedrunners. A large machine dedicated to testing the strength of punches earned itself a long line in honor of the excellent Punch Club (I brought shame to my family, in case anyone wants to know) (Wife’s note: So much shame). Many of their instant classics were on display, but they were also showing off their upcoming titles.

Next to a model train (“The only one on the show floor,” I was enthusiastically told.) was The Final Station. Developed by Oleg Sergeyev and Andrey Rumak, this post-apocalyptic 2D game takes a few things from This War of Mine and gives it a new flavor. The player is traveling the land on a train with other survivors. Here, the player is responsible for feeding and providing medical supplies to the passengers. However, these are finite and occasionally the track is blocked by a station. Here is where the meat of the game lies. In a deliberately paced 2D section, the gamer must explore the town. Supplies must be collected and the passcode unlocking the way forward must be found. These sections are rather tense. Unexplored areas are blacked out on the screen and there can be any number of monsters laying in wait. Smart use of weapons and thrown environment items is the only way to survive. Those who are careless about ammo usage will find themselves fodder for the disturbingly fast octopus things. The Final Station is shaping up nicely and I look forward to get more time in with it in the future. It’s certainly on the right track. (Har har.)

The Final Station
Also up for play was Clustertruck. As I imagine I’ve proven, I enjoy torturing the English language with terrible, terrible wordplay. Therefore, the title of this one meets my enthusiastic approval. This Landfall Games developed title places the player, in first person view, on top of a truck with more along the highway. The goal is to platform to the end of the stage on top of these moving vehicles.

The catch is that these drivers have not received the best training. Crashing into each other, walls, and anything else available, if these guys can fail, they will do so in spectacular fashion. Of course, touching the ground equates to instant failure. While simple in theory, the actual gameplay requires a high level of taking in the action and reacting quickly. With unlockable abilities like slowing down time, it will be manageable. Kudos for the well chosen title.

With the last new title that I saw, I was unable to get hands on time. Attendees just couldn’t keep their hands off of Torched Hill’s Road to Ballhalla and I didn’t feel right booting someone off. This title puts players in control of a marble. Here they must avoid hazards that trigger in time with the music, and solve puzzles.

I find the graphical style appealing with its use of bold, almost Tron-like coloring something I wish I would see more often. It also looks to be properly challenging; I watched one player struggle with a difficult part for a few minutes. When she finally figured it out and made it past, the look of joy on her face told me that Torched Hill is onto something.

Road to Ballhalla
It’s no secret that tinyBuild knows what they are doing. The company focuses on signing and publishing high quality, fun experiences. The tastemakers on staff have an eye for enjoyable experiences and quirky humor. This extends to their dealings with the public. They engage with their audience, freely joking and jibing with anyone from the public that walks up to them. The fact that they work to foster a friendly rivalry with publisher Devolver Digital by sending fans over to ask stupid questions or wear as much tinyBuild swag as possible adds to this. This is a company about fun and these new titles extend that. Look for all three to release later this year.