[PAX EAST] Neowiz Games Showcase

Written by Derek Wright

Introducing… The Neowiz Games Showcase

While at PAX East this year, our team was granted time with many different publishers and developers. One booth that has stuck with me long after leaving Boston was Neowiz’s booth. I was able to check out two of their games, both retro inspired action games with rouge like elements. I knew from just looking at their titles that I would be a fan, but after playing through them, I was quite pleasantly surprised at how fresh they both felt. Without further ado, let’s jump into our coverage!

Metal Unit

When I saw the slick pixel art of the main protagonist, Joanna, juxtaposed against both the large imposing creatures and some smaller, cuter creatures, I actually got Dragon Quest vibes. These cute creatures were still imposing and although I skipped the tutorial, I was able to get through the “normal” level and halfway through the advanced level. The action provided quite the challenge. The game featured fast paced combat in a pseudo mech suit with a standard sword attack and several sub weapons.

Felix Soumpholphakdy, one of the programmers of Jellysnow Studios, the developer of Metal Unit, explains that they were inspired by classic games like Dragon Quest and even the likes of Kojima. This is evident in the logo of Metal Unit which is influenced by Kojima Productions’ own Ludens design. I am hoping the Kojima inspiration continues into the story, since I was sadly not able to see much of yet.

Seeing all the inspiration that Jellysnow is drawing from, I was very excited by my brief playtime with Metal Unit. I did not see any of the rogue-like elements as they were not present in the demo at PAX. Felix informed me that everything you find will be used to help move your character forward, who starts off weak and gets stat increases and other skills that will turn Joanna into a fortified beast. Metal Unit is slated for release on the Nintendo Switch, the date is TBA.

Skul: The Hero Slayer

Skul: The Hero Slayer puts you in control of the last member of the Demon army, a lone skeleton left behind from the hero’s crusade. Our lowly skeleton, named Skul, seeks to free the Demon King from the clutches of good-natured warriors. This is an interesting take, as you play the bad guy seeking to destroy the good guys. Regardless of Skul’s morality, I couldn’t help but root for this wimpy looking skeleton.

I was expecting the game to look a bit darker and bleak because of this, but what would a world look like that just had the Dark Lord destroyed? Quite bright and vibrant actually. This game looks like it could have been ripped straight from the 16-bit era, and I am all the happier for it. The beautiful pixel art makes it feel like this was actually a long lost SNES game. I know it’s not, as the tech behind it is quite impressive as the character animations and designs were breathtaking.

The action seemed simple at first, with Skul having basic attacks and specials, but once you destroy some enemies, you may get to take their skull. Doing so will open different classes to use. You can keep up to two different skulls on you at any time, while also picking up new ones as you find them. My favorite that I found was the archer skull which allowed me to use a bow and arrow. This class complimented my barbarian skull, which was an offensive heavy melee skull.

While I didn’t see much of the upgrade options in the demo, I did see the rogue like nature of the game. Having played three different runs, I noticed that the levels had a nice sense of verticality to the levels. Not just having corridors that go up and down, but levels that feel like they have mountains, cliffs and valleys. Again, this diversity in terrain made it feel like SouthPAW Games are making something truly unique. Skul: The Hero Slayer is releasing on Nintendo Switch in the near future.

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