PAX West 2022: Thunderful Hands-On Preview

Thunderful Makes it Rain at PAX West


Thunderful Logo

As a fan of all things indie and pretty much any sort of compelling new vision, I was more than happy to stop by the Thunderful booth at PAX West. They had several games on display, though for the purposes of this piece I’ll only mention the ones I got to play. I managed to play 4 games in total – Planet of Lana, Worldless, Swordship and Togges. I’ll spend some time talking about each of them below, starting with the one I played first, Planet of Lana.

Thunderful | Planet of Lana Featured

I don’t always play puzzle platformer games. But I was instantly captivated by the visual style of Planet of Lana. It’s like a watercolor painting come to life. You play as young Lana, aided by your alien friend Mui. The entire game uses a cobbled together pidgin language for the two to communicate, and I instantly adored this feature.

Planet of Lana | Explore

Lana will beckon Mui to her, tell him when to sit still and together they solve all sorts of challenging puzzles. You’ll especially have to be careful, since if either Lana or Mui is killed, they both fail, forcing you to retry that puzzle. While I was nonplussed one time Lana perished, I got emotional when the monkey-like Mui was devoured by a dangerous alien species. If you like what you’ve heard, you’ll be happy to hear Planet of Lana is coming to PC and Xbox later this year.

Thunderful | Worldless Featured

The next game I demoed at Thunderful was one that got announced mere days before the convention. It’s called Worldless, and it’s a really refreshing take on the Metroidvania genre. It takes place in a reality set between stark opposites in never ending conflict. While I loved navigating in this abstract world, double jumping, dashing and the like, the real draw was the unique turn based combat.

Worldless | Combat

I wasn’t sure how turn based combat would work in a Metroidvania, but Worldless handles it pretty effortlessly. You basically have turns, and in them can chain attacks together, both physical and magical. Then when the foe attacks you, good timing helps reduce the damage inflicted, with great timing eliminating it entirely. Once you fight foes, you can absorb them and empower yourself. There’s also an expansive skill tree to help customize the experience. Honestly my only small complaint, especially after playing this captivating demo, was that Worldless is so far only coming to PC and Xbox. I personally think this would be amazing on Nintendo Switch. Regardless, those that want to try it out can do so in 2023.

Thunderful | Swordship Featured

Next up at Thunderful was Swordship. It’s essentially a Shmup where you can’t fire a single bullet. Instead, your job is to seamlessly evade enemy attacks by bursting underwater and trick them into defeating each other. While that’s happening, you pick up and deliver packages to increase your score. At the end of each run, you can deliver the cargo, or keep it to acquire bonuses.

Swordship | Dodge

Swordship is a simple game, but also incredibly difficult. I can see how the core loop could translate to something really addictive, especially to hardcore Shmup fans. Unlike the first two games I demoed, Swordship is coming to several consoles besides PC. Those include Switch, PlayStation and Xbox consoles. Swordship will be arriving sometime in 2022.

Thunderful | Togges Featured

The final game I demoed at Thunderful was Togges. It’s also the weirdest of the bunch, and honestly the only thing I can kind of compare it to is Katamari Damacy. You play a little roomba-looking creature that has to solve puzzles and collect items by spreading blocks. You can spread in any direction, just so long as you maintain contact with your swarm of blocks.

Togges | Fruit

I liked the concept of Togges, but found it a little hard to execute. That said, it was colorful and different. So if you don’t mind a bit of a learning curve, I think you’ll enjoy this one. It’s coming to PC sometime this year.

And there you have all my Thunderful demos from PAX West! Be sure and check out the trailers below, and stay tuned for HPP’s ongoing PAX West coverage.

Josh Speer
Got my start in the industry at oprainfall, but been a game fanatic since I was young. Indie / niche advocate and fan of classics like Mega Man, Castlevania and Super Metroid. Enjoys many genres, including platformers, turn based / tactical RPGs, rhythm and much more. Champion of PAX West and Knight of E3.

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