Due to COVID-19 making large gatherings difficult, if not impossible, in many parts of the world, gamers were recently treated to a one-of-a-kind online Penny Arcade Expo, most commonly known as PAX. PAX Online began on September 12th, and ended on the 20th in a replacement for PAX West and Australia. Over the span of the event, a myriad of game demos were made available to try out on Steam. After trying out a variety, I encountered three co-op games in particular that left me undeniably hyped for their eventual releases.
Developed by Stonewheat & Sons and set to be published by Sold-Out Software sometime in 2021, KeyWe is an absolutely adorable puzzle game where you play one (or two, if you eschew the game’s co-op mode) kiwi bird working in an unorthodox post office. There are two main game modes that use similar controls to complete jobs. In one mode, you are tasked with operating a telegraph by hopping around and pecking (or occasionally slamming) keys and sending messages. The other mode invites you to search for pieces of words to construct letters, which you then send out for a delivery via cassowary.
My co-op partner and I found KeyWe deeply entertaining and were saddened when we reached the end of the demo. I’m eagerly awaiting the full game and can see myself easily sinking hours into this addictive puzzle-fest.
At first glance, Innchanted’s art style reminded me of the 2005 Gamecube game, Harvest Moon: Magical Melody. This initially drew me in, but I quickly realized that was where the similarities between the two ended. Developed and set to be published in 2021 by Dragonbear Studios, Innchanted feels like if Overcooked existed in a high-fantasy world. It can be played co-op, or in a more management sim style by one person. You join a mage apprentice Taram, who has recently learned that a Wizard has taken over her uncle’s inn! You then are tasked with running the inn in an attempt to thwart the Wizard.
The game is very fast-paced, with an already engrossing story. I’m excited to see how the finished game handles all the exposition the demo set up.
Out of all the game demos I tried during PAX online, PHOGS! appealed the most to my sensibilities as a gamer and lover of all things silly and cute. With a funky art style and equally zany concept, I liked PHOGS! before I even booted up the demo. Developed by Bit Loom games and set to be published by Coatsink later in 2020, PHOGS! features two dogs named Red and Blue who are linked by a long, stretchy belly who traverse a variety of lands solving puzzle after puzzle. Red and Blue are controlled individually, and should you choose to play co-op, each of you controls one dog. A fair amount of coordination is needed to successfully pilot the two together!
Beyond the fun gameplay, PHOGS! is packed with beautifully designed landscapes and whimsical characters. I can’t wait to experience the game in full, and explore exponentially more in-game locations.
The demos for all of these games are still available and free-to-play on Steam, so, if any of these caught your eye it may be worth giving their demos a quick play yourself! Maybe you’ll find something new to add to your wishlist.