Indie gamers flex muscle at Boston expo

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BOSTON -- Boston hosted its fifth Penny Arcade Expo East over the weekend, cramming thousands of video game enthusiasts into the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.

There was no shortage of promising games. While larger trade shows such as E3 are dominated by high-profile games from large publishers, PAX East has a focus on the indie games scene. The Indie Megabooth, one of the largest booths on the show floor, housed dozens of developers who create, publish and promote their own creations. Most of these development teams consist of fewer than 10 people, and some were one-person efforts.

The show still has representation from larger companies such as 2K Games and Bethesda Softworks, but its indie presence appears to grow every year. The two scenes come together to show off exciting and unique content. Here were some of the best sights from the show.

* "Wolfenstein: The New Order" (MachineGames) -- While the first-person shooter genre continues to replace compelling stories with action-heavy multiplayer gameplay, the next iteration of the "Wolfenstein" series goes against the grain. The game has no multiplayer modes and focuses on an alternate take of World War II.

Captain Blazkowicz, a soldier for the American Army, is injured during battle. He wakes from a coma in 1960 to find that the German forces have succeeded in becoming the world's superpower. Blazkowicz begins his mission to join the resistance and lead in taking down the evil empire.

* "Evolve" (Turtle Rock Studios) -- "Evolve" is the follow-up to the popular "Left 4 Dead" series. The team is sticking with what it knows: team-based action shooters.

It pits two teams against each other. One team consists of four human hunters, while the other team is a giant, beastly monster called the goliath. The goliath can become more powerful while the hunters must use teamwork in using their members' unique roles.

* "Murdered: Soul Suspect" (Airtight Games) -- Most games at PAX East were easily categorized using typical genres, but "Murdered: Soul Suspect" is difficult to class.

Ronan O'Connor is a Salem, Mass., detective who is killed while chasing a suspect. He must solve his murder in an attempt to save his soul.

The bulk of the gameplay consists of exploring crime scenes and examining evidence. Successfully solving crime scenes reveals new clues to help Ronan uncover the secrets behind his death. These actions are reminiscent of 2011's "L.A. Noire."

* "Below" (Capy Games) -- "Below" has been a highly anticipated indie title since it was teased prior to the launch of the Xbox One. It's a gorgeous game that's all about exploration.

The character is dropped into a desolate island world with creatures that will kill the character quickly. The next life is the ancestor of the previous character. The player must learn from mistakes made in the prior life in order to progress.

* "Always Sometimes Monsters" (Vagabond Dog) -- Indie titles seem to be the best when it comes to storytelling, and "Always Sometimes Monsters" is no exception. The main character is on a mission to travel from the east coast to the west coast in the hope of breaking up the marriage of a past love.

The 16-bit art-styled game attempts to appeal to all kinds of gamers. Players can choose to make the main character any sex, race or sexual orientation. The type of character created will alter how the game world interacts with that character.

This was just a small sample of everything that was available to view at PAX East. Many of its games may appear at PAX South in San Antonio Jan. 23-25.

Max Parker is The Game Guy at Twitter: @GameGuyPGH.

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