The Penny Arcade Expo (aka PAX) is a gaming convention that started in 2004, and has since grown to become one of the most popular conventions in the industry. What started as a single annual event has turned into an international series of expos. Presently, there is PAX Prime (held in Seattle, Washington), PAX South (San Antonio, Texas), PAX Aus (Melbourne, Australia), and of course PAX East (Boston, Massachusetts) each year, with rumors of another venue in the works.

This year, from April 22-24, PAX East once again took over the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center (BCEC) for a weekend dedicated to celebrating gaming culture. In this article — Part 1 of a 3-part recap series — we’ll be highlighting the best-looking games on display at the event. Without further ado, here are The Best Games of PAX East 2016:

Pit People

Developed by The Behemoth, the maker’s of such popular hits as Castle Crashers and BattleBlock Theater, the team’s latest project is attempting a feat no previous game has been able to accomplish. Pit People is a tactical strategy game, and if that series of words makes no sense to you, you represent a large portion of the world. Strategy games aren’t typically very accommodating of people who haven’t played strategy games before, which makes them hard to play and difficult to be interested in.

Where Pit People makes its mark is by being the first strategy game that is not only accessible, but also incredibly fun for both non-gamers and avid gamers alike. Amassing an army of colorful, whimsical, and above all, silly characters while in the constant company of a hysterically maniacal narrator is an experience unlike any other. At PAX East, Pit People showed off a two-player cooperative option for the first time, which means that you and your non-gaming partner can experience all the fun together. For more information about the game, be sure to visit the official Pit People website.

Pit People

Masquerada: Songs and Shadows

According to the developers at Witching Hour Studios, Masquerada is a “colorfully grim song of masked deception, set amid a Venetian-inspired city haunted by the shadows of civil war, misplaced faith and fey manifestations.” The “Fey” mentioned are a type of monster plaguing the city. Gameplay-wise, Masquerada is a pause-for-tactics role-playing game (RPG), which in non-gamer speak means that you literally play the role of a predetermined character, and you have the ability to pause the game to select your tactics before resuming combat.

The game had a playable demo at PAX (which will be uploaded to the digital gaming service Steam within the next week or so to try for free) which gave a fair introduction to both combat, setting, and the characters that players will journey alongside. What makes Masquerada so impressive is that the small team behind it doesn’t have “double-digit man-years of game making experience,” as they describe it. And for a team that hasn’t been making games for very long, the level of polish and enjoyment Masquerada offers is nothing short of praiseworthy. You can see more at

SEVEN: The Days Long Gone

If your eyes glazed over from seeing “tactical strategy game,” make sure you’re sitting down for this next part. SEVEN is dizzyingly classified as a non-linear, sandbox, 3D isometric RPG. (Wait, don’t click away yet!) Once the room stops spinning, you’ll be happy to know that the only important takeaway from that description is that you can choose where you want to go and which activities you want to complete in the order that best suits your playstyle.

Developed by Fool’s Theory, a small team made up of ex-CD Projekt RED developers who most recently worked on the massively popular game titled The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, one of the greatest qualities of SEVEN is that players can climb on top of just about everything. If your objective is to get inside a building, you can be sure that there are at least half a dozen ways to infiltrate it. Whether that means finding a secret underground tunnel, scaling adjacent buildings and jumping onto the roof before working your way inside, using a lockpick to open a window, or pickpocketing a guard for his keys and walking in through the front door, SEVEN is all about player choice, and being sneaky. Check it out at


Dead Years

Dead Years

For all the movies, TV shows, and games centered around the apocalypse, few have ever paid any mind to one critical detail on everyone’s mind: What happened to all the pets? Dead Years, an action-adventure game developed by ZeroByte Inc., tells the story of a young girl and (wo)man’s best friend on a journey of survival filled with danger, limited supplies and, presumably, a fair bit of belly scratching. Both the girl and her canine companion have independent skill trees, which means that as they gain experience surviving in the world they unlock new abilities to make their journey a bit easier.

If you like to collect things, you’ll be ecstatic to hear that Dead Years allows players to constantly scavenge for items and resources that can then be crafted (i.e. repurposed) into survival gear and food. Both the girl and the dog can wear armor, while the girl can wield close combat weapons and guns to defeat enemies. In the aftermath of a virus outbreak that has turned most of the world hostile, it’ll be a doggone miracle if these two can survive. (#Sorrynotsorry) To learn more about Dead Years, be sure to visit the official website.

Dead Years PAX East

Want to see more highlights from the best New Jersey events? Catch up on our recap series, The Best of!

Hero (Top) Feature Image (and additional Images): © Vinny Parisi / Best of NJ
Additional Media (Screenshots & Trailers) Courtesy:
Pit People / The Behemoth
Masquerada / Witching Hour Studios
SEVEN / Fool’s Theory
Dead Years / ZeroByte Inc.

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