I always enjoy checking out the demos from these events. Has anyone else tried any yet? Would love to hear about any fun demos you’ve found.

  • SilverhandOP
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    158 months ago

    Tried out a lot of demos today, here’s some reviews!

    Jusant A very nice looking game about rock climbing, from Don’t Nod (Life is Strange devs), seems like a departure from their usual stuff. The gameplay in the demo was pretty good, the climbing is a lot more involved than the press forward climbing you’re probably thinking of from most games. You individually control each hand’s grip (think GIRP or Mount Your Friends, but less awkward), and can freely place spikes in the wall to attach your rope to which can save you from falls or give you places to swing from. You’re exploring this abandoned cliffside village, and there’s notes and stuff to piece together the stories of the people there, I didn’t pay too much attention to them in the demo because I’d probably just forget and read them again in the final game but it seems not bad as far as that kind of thing goes. Main complaint is that the performance was pretty bad, hopefully that gets polished up by launch.

    Alien Hominid Invasion I always look forward to anything new from The Behemoth, but was a bit skeptical about this one because I really did not enjoy the original Alien Hominid. It was brutally difficult while feeling quite shallow in gameplay. Thankfully, this is much better. I was immediately impressed by the movement, you get a dodge that turns into a long dive in the air, shooting in the air can boost you upwards, and a double jump that resets your other options. This doesn’t have the 2.5D movement of most beat 'em ups, which I’m glad for the lack of, and probably wouldn’t fit well with the chaotic pace here. The level structure is quite different as well, with bite-sized levels that you pick from a grid map for each mission, where you can select levels with varying levels of challenge and loot you can earn. You can use the loot to change your loadout, and it seems like there’s a bunch of different weapons, perks, and cosmetics. This mostly seems like it’ll be fun in co-op, and I did play it solo but the game gives you some AI companions. The level objectives seem like they could get a little repetitive, as I did see the same ones a couple times already in the demo, but maybe I was just unlucky or there will be more as you progress in the full game.

    Sea of Stars This is a turn-based RPG from the devs of The Messenger. I was a little skeptical going in with the genre being very hit or miss for me, but I’m pretty impressed. The game looks amazing, in a way that I feel like doesn’t fully come across just from trailers or screenshots. The traversal is pretty fun, you’re able to climb up and down ledges and jump over gaps, and the world has a lot of verticality. There’s also puzzles that you solve through a combination of that “platforming” and stuff like pushing boxes around and flipping switches. That aspect doesn’t seem as good as something like Crosscode, but did feel a lot better than the similar platforming in Chained Echoes. The combat takes a lot of inspiration from both Chrono Trigger and the Mario RPGs. It has the positional attacks and combos between party members from Chrono Trigger, with the timing mechanics from Paper Mario and the like of button presses on attacks landing or while defending, with some more involved little minigames for special attacks. The dungeon you go through in the demo was pretty fun, the puzzles were a little basic but I liked the structure a lot, and assume it’ll build up in complexity. While it doesn’t have the full heal/mana restore between battles of Chained Echoes, it does encourage you to spend your resources a bit more than most RPGs by giving you a pretty generous mana regen from your basic attacks. There wasn’t really enough story here to judge that yet, but it didn’t seem bad. I also want to acknowledge this being the best structured demo of any in this group, it gets you right into the game, and skips ahead to give you some variety rather than just making you play through a full intro section.

    Van Hellswing This looked like a promising little score attack arena shooter with some cool movement options. Unfortunately, I was pretty disappointed by the demo. You have some cool movement options like wall running, shotgun jumping, and a grappling hook. These really don’t feel natural to string together though, especially in the environment in the demo. I’m not sure if there will be more arenas in the full game but I felt like that really held the game back. There were a lot of spots to fall to your death, and one movement option not working exactly like you expected could kill you. There also seems to be only one weapon, and a severe lack of enemy variety. I’ve enjoyed a lot of similar games and there’s some good ideas here but I hope this one gets quite a bit more work before release.

    Beyond Sunset A boomer shooter made in the GZDoom engine, though don’t let that set your expectations for how it plays. Pretty movement heavy, with a fair bit of platforming and dashing around during combat. Your first weapon is a katana, and while you do get guns pretty quickly, you’ll be using melee a lot and it uses a system similar to modern Doom of special execution kills being your most reliable way of recovering health. The difficulty is kind of brutal, and even as a veteran of this type of game regret playing the demo on hard. I didn’t love some of the enemy types, but the combat is still pretty fun overall. It’s also very cool looking, I love the look of this engine and this is very unique to anything else I’ve seen made in it.

    • SilverhandOP
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      88 months ago

      Unidentified Falling Objects The spiritual successor to Super Puzzle Platforming Deluxe, an old favorite of mine that I think about 5 other people played. It’s a falling blocks arcade puzzle game, except rather than control where the blocks fall, you control a little guy who platforms on top of them, can kick them around to set up combos, and shoot blocks to break them. The core gameplay still feels quite similar to the previous game, which is not a bad thing, but the main new thing here seems to be a meta progression system where you unlock new weapons and abilities to create a loadout. Didn’t play a ton of this one because I was already pretty sold just from loving the previous game, but it seems good so far.

      Shadow Gambit: The Cursed Crew A new game from the devs of Shadow Tactics, which I haven’t played but have heard very good things about. This seems similar to what I know of the gameplay from that, but with a pirate theme and magical abilities. The gameplay was fun, it’s good about giving you full information so it’s more puzzle-like, and the built in quick save system works well to remove the frustration of any trial and error. You also have some fun abilities like being able to teleport to enemies and being able to freeze enemies in time to sneak past them. It makes your character feel very powerful, but sets up scenarios that are still puzzling to solve. There was too much focus on story in the demo, which I mostly ignored as I just wanted a taste for the gameplay and will pay more attention to that in the full game. Not the best structure or pacing for a demo, but the game itself seems fun.

      Ebenezer and the Invisible World A metroidvania where you play as Ebenezer Scrooge is such a ridiculous concept that I had to check it out. Unfortunately, it’s pretty rough. It opens with a movie length cutscene setting up an unnecessarily convoluted story, after which NPCs still constantly interrupt you with dialogue. The gameplay feels very clunky, the movement and attacks aren’t fun, and the enemy types are very frustrating to fight. I did get one movement ability that seemed potentially fun, but you could really only use it in predetermined spots and there wasn’t that much creative to do with it. It also had some very frustrating backtracking. Not the smart metroidvania kind where you get a new ability and go somewhere you remembered to use it, but the kind where it’s unclear where to go and you hit a lot of lengthy dead ends.

      En Garde! This sword dueling game is just as lovely as it looks. You can immediately tell the effort that went into the animations, everything looks and feels great and there’s a lot of character to it. The dialogue is short and amusing. There’s some light platforming, which feels pretty good, but the main focus of the gameplay is the sword fighting. At first I thought it was going to be too easy, with a very generous parry timing and easy ways to stun enemies, but the game pretty quickly started kicking my ass. The fights get pretty chaotic with multiple enemies involved, but in a way where it doesn’t feel unfair and when you do execute everything successfully it feels great. There’s a lot of fun options to use the environment to your advantage, like kicking crates and barrels into enemies, knocking enemies off of cliffs or into hazards, throwing a bucket over an enemy’s head, etc. It really makes the combat stand out from similar games that you need to be running around the arenas a lot, sliding over tables and kicking things into enemies. Fighting dirty is encouraged and it’s very fun. Really loved this one and will 100% be playing the full game.

      ArcRacer I’ll play any new anti-gravity racer that comes out, and I somehow hadn’t heard of this one until now. On the F-Zero to Wipeout spectrum it definitely leans towards the former. The standout differentiating feature seems to be how your boost works, there are little orbs around the track you collect and you can spend all of them that you’re holding for a boost with the intensity depending on the amount you had. This adds some decision making to your racing lines of whether you want to go for the mini-boost pads or gather orbs for a larger boost. These are also shared between all the racers, so if someone is in front of you they can grab all the orbs. This seemed to give a little too much of a snowball effect to first place, but the game is only focused on singleplayer so it’s probably not a huge deal. The handling of your ship also feels a bit looser and more floaty than most games in the genre, I’m not sure that’s entirely a bad thing, just different. The visuals are decent, not as standout as F-Zero GX or BallisticNG, but not bad. There was only a tutorial, one track, and one ship in the demo, so not a lot to judge there but I’ll probably check out the full game.

    • @imbrucy@lemmy.one
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      18 months ago

      Thanks for the great reviews! You definitely got me interested in a few I probably would have looked past previously.

  • Leigh
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    108 months ago

    Never even heard of this before, but I’ve been a console gamer for a long time until my Steam Deck. I’ll check this out, thank you so much for linking!

    • @LemmyAtem@beehaw.org
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      88 months ago

      Deck crew unite! Also, if you find something that looks interesting but says it’s unsupported, do a search for it anyway. A LOT of games run perfectly fine despite being “unsupported”, and there’s often recommended settings and proton versions available online!

  • lyraast
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    58 months ago

    I really like the idea of them providing demos for games. I feel that this is something that used to be really popular but that faded out

  • @LemmyAtem@beehaw.org
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    58 months ago

    HELL YES. I’ve found so many hidden gems (and some stinkers, but that’s okay) through next fest, can’t wait!

  • @fdisk@beehaw.org
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    48 months ago

    I gave Sea of Stars a try. It’s from the developers of The Messenger. I’m really liking what I played so far. After Chained Echoes, I think this will be my next big hit for retro jrpg. The pixel art is gorgeous and the music is really good so far. I’m not big on timed attack in turn-based game, but I suspect that I’ll get over that quickly.

    • blaise
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      28 months ago

      Thanks for the heads-up, I’ve had this one on my wishlist for a while! Yasunori Mitsuda is involved with the soundtrack from what I’ve read, so there’s lots of potential.

    • @aokon@beehaw.org
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      18 months ago

      I played the demo for this on the switch and it was great! The changes they made to combat make it so good imo.

  • BadlyDrawnRhino
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    28 months ago

    Is there a way to view the different categories via Discovery Queue? The Store Page isn’t great for checking out multiple different games in quick succession, particularly since the lists reorder themselves every time the page reloads.

    • SilverhandOP
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      8 months ago

      I typically browse steam in my web browser using AugmentedSteam which adds all sorts of useful stuff like price comparisons with other sites, and you can have multiple tabs lol. @scartol@beehaw.org

  • Here’s what I’ve tried so far:

    Botany Manor – low poly indie game where the puzzles are figuring out how to grow plants. the low poly is done well and feels very painterly and cozy! the puzzles feel very short and easy to solve, and I suspect that won’t really change in the full game. I’m hoping it’ll be a $10 to $15 dollar game that I can pick up and complete in a weekend.

    Jusant – a slightly janky but enjoyable rock climbing game. I’d be very curious to know if actual rock climbers feel it was represented well here? I think rock climbing in general isn’t usually the focus of an entire game so it’s neat to see it become the main game mechanic here. the physics can be a bit janky if you do things that you’re probably not supposed to do (eg. I almost got stuck with the rope under a metal support beam once) but as long as you don’t try to break it, things go well. If this releases around the $20 to $30 price point it’ll be a definite buy from me.

    Sticky Business – create your own stickers and sell them! the final game needs a much broader range of options for your sticker creation, and needs a better UI view of all your stickers once you start packing them for orders. the writing feels a little clunky and generic, but it helps provide a little motivation for why you’re selling the stickers. also has a slider for music in the options but was dead silent in the demo?? honestly got my fill of it during the demo so I can’t see myself picking up the full release.

    Haven’t played it yet, but I’m looking forward to trying the demo of Stray Gods – it’s got the Greek Gods vibe of Hades, and I’m a Dragon Age fan so have to give it a shot for David Gaider’s writing.

    Oh and I also have to plug the demo for Horticular! It’s a relaxing, gorgeous, and satisfying garden design sim. I’m super excited for the full release of the game whenever it comes out; I played ~10 hours straight last year when the demo first launched, and it looks like it’s been well polished for this year’s Next Fest.

    • SilverhandOP
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      18 months ago

      Nice reviews. I hadn’t heard of Botany Manor or Horticular and they both look interesting, I’ll check them out. Getting 10 hours out of a demo is crazy, really good “selling” point to check it out.

      • The game mechanic loops around unlocking new plants in Horticular are very satisfying to me, and I especially enjoyed building habitats to attract new animals to the garden. Wanting to collect all the plants and animals in the demo really sucked me in! :)

  • Essence_of_Meh
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    8 months ago

    Reverse Collapse: Code Name Bakery demo is finally here!

    Not sure if there are any Girls’ Frontline fans here but RC is a turn based strategy (well, tactics) game set in the same universe.
    Haven’t played much yet but it’s pretty fun so far - graphically looks like a mix of improved GFL and XCOM, gameplay is easy to grasp and looks like it might be a bit of a challenge when aiming for all bonus objectives on higher difficulties.
    Also works perfectly with proton!

    Now to test it with Deck…

    Update on Deck:
    Game runs pretty great, with two caveats:

    • UI during combat sections (mostly dialog) is a bit small
    • videos in tutorial prompts don’t show up at all
    • game defaulted to KB+M controls scheme, had to change to gamepad

    No other issues so far, plays great with normal gamepad preset. Battery life is also rather nice (~4 hours in my case).

  • SilverhandOP
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    18 months ago

    New batch of demo reviews for stuff I tried today:

    Memori Basically a Celeste clone, everything from the art style to a lot of the mechanics seem to be just trying to copy that. Not necessarily a bad thing, because Celeste is a great game and I’m always down for more pure 2D platformers, but this one definitely needs some work. The basic controls aren’t bad, but they’re nothing amazing either, and interacting with any of the special mechanics in the levels it starts to feel really bad. A lot of the mechanics in the demo are basically copies of level mechanics from Celeste but not executed as well, and the few more unique ones felt really awkward to use as well. Hopefully it has a while until release and can get polished up.

    SteamWorld Build I’ve liked most of the other SteamWorld games I’ve played, and while this one didn’t look too interesting to me on the surface I figured I’d give it a try. The first half of the demo is a pretty basic city builder, didn’t really feel like it had much of an interesting twist on the formula and was pretty easy. When you get access to the mine it gets a lot more interesting. The mine basically plays like a second city, with resources shared between the two areas and many only available from one or the other. Rather than building houses, you have tile by tile zoning control for different types of mining camps. You can choose which walls to dig out and have to build support structures to stop cave ins, and bridges to cross chasms. Planning paths with your limited resources to most efficiently dig minerals out of the walls feels like a great adaptation of SteamWorld Dig to another genre. This part of the game was way more engaging, and while I like the idea of having to balance the two areas, it was only really an annoyance when I had to go back above ground and plop down some more buildings to keep things going in the mines. It’s not as innovative for the genre as something like Against the Storm, but it does have a pretty unique hook that is worth checking out if you’re into this sort of game.

    SokoSolitaire This is a Sokoban (block pushing puzzle) game, with the main twist being that the blocks are now cards. Cards have to go in specific locations, and sometimes form solitaire-like sequences. The main mechanic other than that in the demo are these special tiles where you can stack multiple cards, but only if they’re in numerical order, and you can push them out in a last-in-first-out approach. The puzzles pretty quickly got quite difficult for me, I’m familiar with this genre but usually bounce off of these games after a while, and while this seems like a decent one of those I don’t think it’s really for me. You probably already know if you’d be interested in this or not. Also, you play as a cat wearing a suit.

    Vampire Hunters A first person shooter take on Vampire Survivors, this got my attention from seeing the screenshots of your character holding a dozen guns with them covering half the screen. Unfortunately, it’s not really as fun as that sounds. The guns don’t feel particularly good, and the gameplay entirely consists of walking down a narrow corridor and shooting incredibly basic enemies that just move towards you in a straight line, which doesn’t really translate well from top down games to this. There’s also a pretty bad lack of variety here in all aspects, and the meta progression seems very grindy for some very uninspired upgrades. Hopefully this gets a lot more time in development, because it could turn into something pretty fun.

    Peaks of Yore A monochrome first person mountain climbing game, with some intentionally awkward Bennett Foddy inspired controls. You have a book of mountains of varying difficulties to pick from, and the starting few at least are quite short but quickly get more challenging. You get a stamp to put in your book for each climb you complete, and go back to your cabin between missions, where you get unlocks and decorations delivered to you in packages. I think this is really well executed, and while it’s more fun to play than most games of this type, I’ll probably enjoy watching someone play it more than playing more of it myself.

  • GreenPlasticSushiGrass
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    18 months ago

    I’ve been waiting for a good deal on Disco Elysium and Escape from the Backrooms. I might pull the trigger this time.

    • HidingCat
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      28 months ago

      In the middle of a Disco Elysium game (bought it during Spring Sale), and it’s fantastic. Really interesting setting, and definitely can see the dev’s real-world inspirations.

  • momoo
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    18 months ago

    I tried Eternights so far and it wasn’t bad. It felt like a lower budget Scarlet Nexus

  • missingno
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    18 months ago

    Pocket Bravery has been on my radar for a while, just eager to see any new fighting games come to Linux. Can’t wait to finally try it out.