Apogee Entertainment Showcase | PAX West

Introducing: Apogee Entertainment Showcase

My first appointment at PAX West was with the promising up-and-coming publisher, Apogee Entertainment. While not a new name in the gaming industry, Apogee rebranded with Entertainment and a singular focus to publish indie developed games with a boost. Despite the hectic buzz of the surrounding participants, the Apogee team were energetic and excited to talk about all of their announced projects that are coming down the pipe. It was great to see their passion as a publisher and hear how they want to catapult indie games into more success. And to prove that, they had the developers onsite for each game. I was able to get some hands-on time and chat with each of them. PAX West 2021 had officially kicked off for this humble writer and I have a lot to show you.

First up to Bat – Turbo Overkill

I sat down with Sam Prebble of Trigger Happy Interactive. An apt name for a development company focused on hyper-violent first person shooters. His first game is slated for the second half of 2022 and was a surprise announcement for PAX. Turbo Overkill harkens back to the FPS classics of Doom, Quake and Duke Nukem with nods to Apex Legends. Sliding around a map does more than just get you out of harm’s way, however. With a chainsaw attachment to your leg, you can expect to do major damage as you slip between hordes of enemies.

Turbo Overkill also draws inspiration from gritty neo noir films such as Blade Runner. Despite these heavy influences, Turbo Overkill very much stands on its own. The use of colors and neon throughout the levels was cleverly implemented. The enemies present a decent challenge and the mechanics keep you on the move. Beyond sliding and running around, your character runs alongside walls and can double sprint in the air to gain better vantage points or clear wide chasms.

Turbo Overkill makes good on its titular promise of overkill. Enemies will explode into pixelated bits of blood and gore. There’s a decent range of weapons and I got my hands on a few of them. One thing I liked is how Sam designed a secondary use for each gun. It even made the starting pistols relevant throughout the levels. So once I snagged a double uzis or smgs (yet to be officially named), I found myself constantly swapping back and forth depending on the situation.

Turbo Overkill is shaping up to be a great shooter with a lot of unique elements and environments. Again, the target release date is Q3 or Q4 in 2022 on Steam/PC. Both Apogee Entertainment and Trigger Happy Interactive see the value of getting Turbo Overkill on as many consoles as possible so seeing it on Xbox, PlayStation or Switch hasn’t been ruled out.

Second to the Table – Elements

The next game I got the test out was a charming open world adventure called Elements. I dropped into the world as a purple haired girl armed with a bow. Surrounded by a huge open world with a few buildings and a settlement dotting the horizon, I set off on adventure. After firing a few arrows into the sky and straight into the air, I decided to dive into the lake separating me from the nearby village. Fortunately, I could swim. Once I made my way to a small settlement inhabited by small gremlin-like creatures, I discovered the ability to craft. Working with the local blacksmith, I soon had materials to build a small house.

Devon, the founder of Wreckit Games explained that he wanted to create an exciting world inspired by Breath of the Wild but give the players more control. Having the ability to add on to settlements not only gives you a place to call your own, you’ll also be able to use these locations as fast-travel points. Elements is certainly a grand undertaking and is in early stages of development. The anticipated launch date is between Q3 and Q4 of 2022. He’s hoping to have it ready for all major consoles by Christmas next year.

The most important thing to Devon is having something he can play with his kids. As such, Elements will have strong focus on multiplayer via couch co-op, where you can play as either Naia or Beckett who are based off of his own children. There’s still a lot of hard work ahead for Wreckit Games as the game is in its early stages but it’s one I’m certainly excited for and can’t wait to see the final version. It’s impressive to see what one person can create and how the passion of gaming and their family can drive them onward.

The Third Satisfying Serving – Below the Stone

I was soon cut loose to test out the next game. Pixelated roguelike Below the Stone was on the menu. Below the Stone mixed things up once again. Where Turbo Overkill was first-person and Elements was third-person, Below the Stone gives an isometric view looking down on a valiant dwarf tunneling through procedurally generated dungeons. Artist/Producer/Director, Mike Carrol sat down with me after I faced several deaths to offer some pointers. As the game is still in its infancy, a lot of the NPCs aren’t available. A lot of the home base is designed giving a good look at what’s to come.

Below the Stone gives off vibes from and notes Terraria, Enter the Gungeon, and Nuclear Throne as games that share a commonality with what they are creating. The levels are grid-based and completely destructible. Meaning you can tunnel your way into pre rendered fortresses and other structures that might randomly appear. Seeking new ores can be used to craft better weapons and armor allowing you to survive deeper and darker biomes. Mike was very enthusiastic about the level of detail in the variety of enemies. Saying he was satisfied with simply reskinning and changing their colors, he wanted to give each enemy a fresh coat of paint based on the biome they inhabit. So the ice slime is shaped like an ice cube. In the apiary nest, the slimes take on the guise of honeycombs.

The demo didn’t have the bosses or levels to advance deeper but those are a few of things that are coming. Magic is also planned with ways to craft new spells. With a three man team, Below the Stone is planned to release on Steam Early Access with Nintendo Switch, Xbox and PlayStation following later. When is the release date? When the fat dwarf sings. You can also check out the Kickstarter here.

Last but Not Least – Dead Fury

Dead Fury capped my time with Apogee Entertainment. Paul Cousins, the creator and showrunner of Dead Fury and Creative Director for Funder Game Studios walked me through some gritty zombie mayhem. Dead Fury looks to be a promising entry in the zombie slaying shooters many of us have come to love. Though the team is mainly comprised of two, there have been several others who have lended expert hands in helping craft a quality zombie survival game. The primary target of this fast paced first person shooter is a solid single player experience with an added horde mode. Paul said they would look at multiplayer if the community seemed interested in it but going solo is the design.

I wasn’t able to test out the campaign mode for Dead Fury, but it follows the gameplay loop of Days Gone where you have time to set up defenses, such as sentry turrets and claymores, and prepare to survive waves of aggressive zombie attacks. Horde mode gave a decent sampling of the shooting mechanics and just how easily the Zed’s can take you down. There was a decent variety of weapons to pick from and a lot of ghoulish zombies to blast. Development has been ongoing for three years with one year really putting the pedal to the metal. This is Paul’s first project and he’s learned a lot in a short time. Release is a bit out as he wants to hone the game over another year. He’s hopeful that the game will hit Steam Early Access by September of 2022, if not sooner.

An Apogee Ent Wrap Up

That’s a wrap for Apogee Entertainment. We got a good look at four of the games on show; Turbo Overkill, Elements, Below the Stone and Dead Fury. Apogee certainly has a mixed bag of games covering several genres, and they couldn’t look more different from another. Again, my biggest take away from each developer and the publisher is just how excited they are to be working on their passion projects with that hopeful glint in their eyes to see how many people can enjoy the countless hours of work they’ve sunk into these various titles. I’ll be watching the development of each game closely and wish them all the best luck and success in their careers.