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The Indie Megabooth is always one of my favourite places at PAX to find hidden gems just waiting to sparkle. Inside the Megabooth is the Minibooth, where small teams have the hope of capturing a small slice of the 70,000 attendees’ attention. Wintermoor Tactics Club was there, nestled into a corner but standing out with bright colours and a bold statement: “What if we took the snowball fight from Final Fantasy Tactics Advance and made a whole game around that concept?”
When I played the game at PAX 2019, I was cautiously optimistic; the game had great structure, but badly needed polish. To mine and many others’ surprise and delight, when the game eventually released on PC and consoles in 2020, it had truly bloomed into its own, with delightful characters that leapt out of the game into my heart, witty dialogue, interesting side quests, and plenty of satisfying TRPG combat. With all that in mind, perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised Wintermoor Tactics Club scooped up our Biggest Surprise award.
With 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim in development for almost six years, RPGamers had plenty of time to wonder if Vanillaware’s take on science fiction would be a success. The answer is a bigger yes than virtually anyone expected, as the game swiftly became a favorite of a number of staff members when it launched in the west in September. Each of the thirteen protagonists has a unique story, which are intertwined in interesting and unexpected ways. Characters are full of personality, allowing them to pop out of the TV screen like real people. The story is so well written that combat almost seems like an afterthought, but Vanillaware made it engaging enough that players will find themselves glued to wrecking kaiju with their giant robots. The game is a definite recommendation for any fan of science fiction, anime, giant robots, or strategic combat.
by Anna Marie Privitere and Kelley Ryan