PAX West 2019: Headup Games

Sunday, September 8th, 2019

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As a fan of eclectic indies, I had to meet up with Headup Games at PAX West. They have published a large library of quirky games, some noteworthy ones including Dead Cells, The Textorcist and Vambrace: Cold Soul. The only thing these games have in common is their zest for creativity and unique art styles. With that in mind, I played two very different games courtesy of Headup Games this year. One was a retro infused Western, the other an aquatic Metroidvania with very distinct mechanics and challenging bosses. Let’s start alphabetically with the first game, Colt Canyon.

Headup Games | Colt Canyon Windmill

The first word that comes to mind when playing Colt Canon is YEEHAW! This game has a lot of Western flair, but it’s also liberally dosed with rogue flavor. It’s hard as nails and unrelenting in many ways, but it’s also pretty fun. Though the demo didn’t feature this, you will gradually unlock features and items to make gameplay a bit easier. In my experience, the longest I would live was about 5 minutes, and that was if I was lucky enough to explore an enemy free area. When I found a large congregation of foes, be they Native Americans armed with bow and arrow or bandits armed with guns, things tended to go badly. Usually I could kill a few, but attrition wore me down. That’s in part due to the fact you don’t have unlimited bullets.

Colt Canyon | Boom

One of the things I liked about Colt Canyon was finding enemy weapons and taking them. A good example is a hatchet that had unlimited uses, but only if you could pick it up after hurling it at something. You also had a lot of classic weapons like a shotgun, pistols and even TNT bundles. Overall I did enjoy my time with Colt Canyon, and think I can see why Headup Games has decided to publish it. This game has a lot of heart, and it’s cool that it’s mostly being developed by one man, a college student known as Retrific. If you like what you’ve heard, Colt Canyon is slated to release on PC in 2019 and PS4, Nintendo Switch and Xbox One in 2020.

Colt Canyon | Firefight

Outbuddies | Headup Games

Though I appreciated what Colt Canyon accomplished, I primarily visited Headup Games to play another game, Outbuddies. Reason being, I’m a massive Metroidvania nerd, and pretty much feel compelled to play every one I discover. The premise of the game is you’re an explorer in a lost world of Old Gods. You find yourself in an under city and armed only with your helpful droid, you have to find your way out. Things get more complicated, as you find an enslaved alien species, but the game never forces how you explore this nonlinear experience.

Outbuddies | Map

The art style really appealed to me in Outbuddies. It reminded me a bit of another Metroidvania, Xeodrifter, but with a lot more angst and dark nuance. Also, thankfully this game is set to be a massive experience, unlike the very short and linear Xeodrifter. The monstrous creatures I faced in the game all really popped, and most of the ones I saw looked like some subspecies of Elder God. Lots of aquatic horrors, plenty of claws and tentacles to go around. In my demo I learned to wall jump, swim around and use my droid buddy’s telekinetic powers to lift massive stone blocks. I also got a blaster that helped me keep foes at bay.

Outbuddies | Uncle Topa

After my demo, Headup Games’ head honcho showed me several of the bosses that are in the game, and they’re all massive, terrifying and powerful. But he pointed out they are all completely fair, once you learn their patterns. In fact, you can technically beat every boss in the game without taking any damage, but that’s for the more patient among us. As it is, I was really impressed with Outbuddies, and totally understand why Headup Games is publishing it. My only minor complaint was that some of the more advanced techniques weren’t as intuitive as I would have liked, but I’m sure that sort of thing will become second nature with more practice. If you are interested in Outbuddies, it’s slated to first release in October of 2019, with console releases coming later on. And by consoles, I mean PS4, Switch and Xbox One.

Outbuddies | Razoth boss

I’m quite happy I was able to meet with Headup Games at PAX West, and eagerly look forward to both of these releases. If you like quirky and interesting games, you should familiarize yourself with their work. And to see why I found both games so interesting, check out their trailers below!

About Josh Speer

Josh is a passionate gamer, finding time to clock in around 30-40 hours of gaming a week. He discovered Operation Rainfall while avidly following the localization of the Big 3 Wii RPGs. He enjoys SHMUPS, Platformers, RPGs, Roguelikes and the occasional Fighter. He’s also an unashamedly giant Mega Man fan, having played the series since he was eight. As Head Editor and Review Manager, he spends far too much time editing reviews and random articles. In his limited spare time he devours indies whole and anticipates the release of quirky, unpredictable and innovative games.