Crunching Koalas brought two offerings they are publishing to PAX West, The Gap and Techno Banter. I had the opportunity to play both, and I found it to be an interesting experience - one almost brought me to tears, and the other made me sarcastic towards wanna-be partygoers.
I’ll start with The Gap. The protagonist is Joshua Hayes, a neuroscientist, who fights to find a cure for his family, who are slowly affected by a neurological disorder. He traverses through different realities, reliving some awful memories. In each reality, you search for clues to understand what is happening, clicking on different objects that lead you to memories. These memories help put together the solution to find the cure. The game has a heavy tone as Joshua's obsession to find a cure also causes him to push away the ones he is trying to save. Some moments in the game choked me up, even though I only got to play a bit of it.
Techno Banter is like Papers Please meets a German nightclub. The game features a sci-fi punk-type feel and introduces players to a variety of peculiar patrons. As a bouncer at a techno underground club, you receive specific rules from your boss, a frog lady, regarding who is allowed to enter. Your task involves determining the intentions of the club-goers and, if they are deemed unworthy, using insults to usher them out.
And much like Papers Please, you’re rewarded with more money based on your performance. I didn't encounter any complicated morality issues during the portion I played, but it's not that kind of game anyway. Instead, you will encounter salesmen attempting to gain access to meet with your boss, or angry gorillas that will spoil the atmosphere on the dance floor. Once you have dealt with the line, you can explore the club and observe the consequences of your decisions.
While I liked the premise, I didn’t quite understand the mechanic around the insulting system - you need to select the phrases that will do the most harm to their ego, but if you don’t select the correct phrases, the characters will outsmart you and walk in. I think if I had more time with the game, I would have figured it out - but unfortunately, I didn’t have that luxury.
If you are a fan of techno nightclub music, you’ll love the music in the game. Techno Banter has a lot of potential to be fun, and I look forward to spending more time with it.