Steam Game Festival Thread

I still have my qualms with the whole idea of the Steam Game Festival (specifically I don’t understand why the demos have to be time-locked), but a whole bunch of new indie game demos is an alright thing in my book, so I thought it would be nice to have a thread where people can post any discoveries they’ve made.

I’m gonna recommend Dorfromantik, which plays something like a hexagonal, single-player Carcassonne. I saw it being compared to ISLANDERS, a title I still have in my regular rotation, and I could definitely see this becoming a go-to podcast game once it actually releases.

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Foregone seems potentially cool.

It’s not a metroidvania, at least from the demo. I dunno why people keep tagging linear platformers as metroidvanias. But the combat is pretty fun and it’s got a nice aesthetic.

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This thread is great timing because I just downloaded and started playing a bunch of the demos today.

Black Book has been my favorite so far. It’s a deckbuilder RPG based on Slavic myths where you play as a witch trying to rescue her husband from hell. It’s got incredible style and is the kind of game where I just want to post a dozen screenshots to show it to people because it looks so cool.

Luna’s Fishing Garden was another solid game. Very relaxing and cute fishing/gardening game. The gameplay all seems relatively simple but that’s probably for the best, to maintain the soft vibes. Very cute pixel art for it all. I love the big fox friend and the big seal fisher friend.

Minute of Islands was an interesting one. It’s an adventure game with a bit of platforming in it. The story seems to be that you play as a young girl named Mo who has to maintain various machines. But the machines stop working because the giants seem to be dying(?) so you have to go get everything started back up. It’s got a very strange and kind of gross artstyle but not in a way that I found off-putting.

Beasts of Maravilla Island is a wildlife photography game and has some great vibes. Chill and relaxing and very cute style. The controls are a lil bit janky and I wish the camera had more interesting functions to play with but for what it is, it was fun to play around in.

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I really, really enjoy the festivals because I love trying games out, even if many of them do have time limitations on them. Although this time around I’ve been somewhat busy with other stuff so I haven’t been able to check out as many demos as I’ve wanted but I’ve still played quite a bit! Here’re the highlights from what I’ve played so far:

Roguebook, a deckbuilding, card-battling rogulite set in the Faeria universe. If you’ve played any of these sorts of games before you’ll be able to quickly acclimate yourself to what this game’s doing but a lot of the particulars are actually super neat! You control a party of two characters, each with their own individual deck, playstyles and keywords attached to them, that you play in tandem with each other. So each turn you’ll draw from a combined pool of each hero’s deck into your hand and figure out what to do from there. There’s already lots of fun synergies to be had between the two characters in the demo, swapping them around to get the optimal damage and defense is already extremely fun. I think the enemy and boss encounters are designed in an especially messed up way that forces you how to get the most out of each turn.

I could easily see this game being the next highly talked about deckbuilder once it comes out later this year.

Boomerang X, a first person shooter where your only weapon is a boomerang. You’re relegated into these small-ish arenas where you have to destroy shadowy creatures in waves and the movement and combat is simply immaculate. You can throw your boomerang and recall it or dash to it while it’s in midair. Eventually you get the ability to slow down time when you’re charging your throw and it lets you pull off some incredible moves as you dart towards and away from the various of enemies that chase you down.

It’s so sick! The visual style overall and the atmosphere in the interstitial areas between the combat arenas is awesome too. Plus there appears to be some kind of lore about a race of insect warriors happening in the background, which you learn by conversing with a big friendly centipede-like creature.

Ice Cream Truck, a game where you serve delicious ice cream from an ice cream truck. This game kinda has a lot going on in every aspect of it? Actually making the ice cream is a somewhat involved and highly customizable process with lots of steps and ingredients to keep in mind. There’s a conversation system where you have to positively interact with the people who want ice cream to keep their mood up so they’ll give you more money and a gift at the end of the transaction. And all the characters are talking animals, most of whom are children, that have all sorts of problems that can only be solved by the emotional power of ice cream.

I mean that last part literally because you can serve them two scoops of banana ice cream to make a joyous cone to cheer them up and stuff like that.

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(At least a few of these games have non-time limited demos on itchio, if anyone misses the Festival or doesn’t make time for a few of them: check to see if they have pages there!)

Dorfromantik and Luna’s Fishing Garden are two I’m definitely adding to my wishlist.

Floppy Knights seems like a decent deckbuilder, it’s a little more open than most of them. Sort of reminds me of a tRPG, but with cards. Also, it’s very cute.

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Loop Hero completely enraptured me for maybe 10 hours before I managad to clear the demo.

Steel Assault is an classic retro romp that was really tough on arcade mode

Dap seems weird and strange but very interesting and unique.

CW Alcohol

So I haven’t played many demos as most of my time was spent this weekend with Magic, but I’ve had Hundred Days on my wishlist for a long time. It’s a wine making game, and it’s so much more board gamey than I was expecting and I really love that! One thing that’s a bit weird though is that there might be a story? There was a longer intro at the beginning than I expected and it kinda threw me. Nonetheless, it’s purdy and I’m real excited for the full release.

Hundred Days - Winemaking Simulator on Steam

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I carved out some free time before the festival ended so I spent some time digging into more demos! Here’re the standouts I tried:

Princess Farmer, an arcade puzzle game starring a cast of anthro bunny girls. The extremely adorable pixel art lead me to believe this would be an extremely chill match 3 game but it’s actually kind of intense and has some cool ideas! Each stage has you match 3 vegetables of the same type on the board by pulling them out of the ground and replanting them in the ground. It took me a bit to realize but most of the matching you’ll want to do isn’t by replanting but by pulling up veggies to make matches underground! Some of the stages are set up specifically so you have to learn how to do that, which is neat!

Also, this game appears to have some sort of dating elements in it because you can talk to various characters between all the puzzling and at the end of the stage you can view where their relationship status with you is. Pretty sure every character in this game is gay too!

Godstrike, a twin-stick bullet hell boss rush shooter where your time is both your life and a currency. Instead of a health bar or lives, you start the boss in the demo with an allotment of time (around 5 minutes) which you can trade for offensive abilities you’ll be able to use during the fight. Getting hit subtracts time (about 15 seconds) and once you run out of time the next hit you sustain will kill you. Very interesting idea but I dunno if I was totally sold on this game. The perspective makes dodging certain projectiles difficult and the lack of a quick restart makes retrying more annoying then it needs to be.

I did like playing it… after I switched to the mouse as I wasn’t a fan of the controller layout. Will definitely keep an eye on this to see what state it’s in when it comes out.

Sumire, an adventure game about a girl who awakens a flower spirit capable of granting her wishes. This demo just start with no setup but as far as I can surmise the premise is that after the death of her grandmother a young girl named Sumire accidentally brings to life a flower spirit who can commune with her grandomther’s spirit. To do so, she has to spend the day with her new friend travelling to places where her memories of her grandmother resonate the strongest… or something along those lines. Along the way, you can converse and make choices with the various talking animals and inanimate human-shaped objects (statues, scarecrows, etc.) that are around and help them with their troubles or be a total jerk to them if you so choose.

I found the demo to be extremely endearing on all fronts! I really like the writing, which is often very amusing but will very frankly approach heavy topics like grief with some amount of tact. I also like that Sumire’ll write and draw in her journal as you take on tasks or move to new places. Looks really gorgeous too!

Lorn’s Lure, a first person climbing game about an android that’s spent centuries trapped inside a decrepit tower. The atmosphere in this game is incredibly unnerving and frightening and rightfully so because you’ll be doing a lot of precarious jumps and falls between platforms. These are made especially scary because if you land on inclines you’ll slip and fall to your death. You can, occasionally, save yourself from plummeting with the pair of climbing picks you get later on but you can’t climb everything and you’ve got to deal with a stamina meter too. The climbing does seem pretty freeform and the world is extremely open. Very excited to see what this looks like when it comes out!

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Hey folks, apparently the next Steam Game Festival is happening from June 16th to the 22nd according to the preview page for the event!

Real glad they threw up a preview page because I kinda felt like that last one popped up out of nowhere. I was gonna give it a quick glance and post a couple of games that looked cool… but there’s honestly way too many games to choose from! Some of the games I looked even have demos up already. So I highly recommend taking some time before the event starts to see if any games that catch your eye do too!

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I am bumping this thread yet again to say that Steam Next Fest starts tomorrow!

There’s currently preview page up for the event that has some genre trailers for games that’ll be playable during the event but I mostly wanted to say that there’s already tons of demos made for the event that are up right now!

I’ve been occasionally checking out the list of new demos on Steam and there’s already tons of cool stuff up right now for Next Fest. Gonna share a couple games that’ve shown up on streams this past week or that the Waypoint crew has mentioned during their E3 coverage!

Sable, which appeared during Keighley’s Summer Games Fest stream.

Wolfstride, a turn-based mecha dueling game that was mentioned on the podcast that went up today.

Severed Steel, which was also mentioned on the podcast, a very intense acrobatic FPS.

Shutter Stroll, which might’ve been in the Wholesome Direct but seems like it would easily fit with those sorts of games. It’s a photography game where you take photos of colorful, procedurally generated landscapes.

I’ve played through a couple other demos that were very cool but I’m gonna wait until the event actually starts before I start recommending more things. Very excited to see and hear what games stand out to y’all once this things kicks off properly!

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I played a bit of Len’s Island today. Really interesting mix of things to do in this game! It starts out feeling like a standard survival game, hitting trees to get wood, but the second you turn around and see the store it becomes obvious there’s a bit more to it. And wow, even just the demo has a very respectable range of decoration open to you - some of the screenshots on the store page show off more than is in the demo, and I could see myself spending a week gathering resources just to build a villa.

Pro-tip if anyone decides to try the demo: you can dodge roll in the middle of a jump for more distance.

When does Next Fest start, time wise?

Didn’t realize we’d be getting a Sable demo; that ones been on my radar for a long while, I’m exited to finally get to try it out.

Also, it makes me very happy that “photography” seems to have emerged as a real genre in the indie scene.

The event went live at the top of the hour at 10AM Pacific, which is also the time Next Fest will end and the time limited demos will deactivate on the 22nd!

me, forty minutes ago: I’ll download a couple of demos, but it’s only a six day event so I should try to keep it to the games I’m most interested in.

me, now:
image_2021-06-16_152107

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Alrighty, time to share some of the things I’ve played from Next Fest!

Spent most of the day building furniture in real life so I didn’t get to play much so I’ll throw in the games I played ahead of the event too. In no particular order:

Sephonie is the next game from Analgesic (Anodyne, Even The Ocean, All Our Asias) about a trio of scientists who find themselves stranded on a mysterious island. It’s a parkour platformer/puzzle game which is unlike anything else they’ve ever made and at the same time intensely reminiscent of the dreamlike strangeness of Anodyne 2. I wouldn’t say the platforming is out of this world, it’s easy enough to figure out and feels very strange to use in spots, but I did have fun trying to wrap my head around it. Same with the puzzle game portions, which you do to spiritually(?) commune with the various lifeforms on the island.

Novena Diabolos is a horror visual novel about a journalist who stumbles into becoming a part of a satanic ritual in a quiet village on the outskirts of South Korea. To avoid becoming a human sacrifice, you have suss out which of the five women he meets in the village is a human and which of them are demons in disguise, which is randomized on each playthrough. I was interested but also extremely skeptical of this one based on the premise but the demo, which is essentially the setup for the game, didn’t immediately raise any red flags for me. So I’ll at least keep an eye on this one to see how it shakes out upon release.

Okinawa Rush is a martial arts themed brawler that feels like it belongs on the Amiga in every way except for how it plays. Instead of the multi-plane/z-axis movement style that a lot of modern brawlers go for to try and emulate classics of the genre this game is strictly 2D with a lot of highly technical aspects to the fighting. You can parry almost every attack if you time it right and there are a bunch of moves you can do with special inputs. The game also just moves incredibly fast. Initially I thought it was broken but it’s just a ridiculously fast-paced game in a way I kinda can’t deal with but I’m also extremely into.

UNSIGHTED is an action game about an android in a world overrun by malevolent machines who has forgotten her true self. Visually and mechanically this is my favorite demo I’ve played so far! I really love the look and everything about playing it. Looking at it I assumed it would play like Crosscode or Hyper Light Drifter but it’s specific brand of parry-centric, dodge-heavy, stamina-restricted close quarters combat is incredibly different than the cadence and feel of either of those games. Systems wise it seems like there’ll be all sorts of fun things to mess with in terms of upgrades such as dogs you can raise that’ll help you out during combat. Extremely impressive demo, hopefully I can immediately cop this one whenever it comes out.

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For a handful of games, I couldn’t find the bright green “Download Demo” button and finally discovered that - for whatever reason! - on a handful of games they have placed it in the sidebar above the info box that says if it’s Single/Multiplayer, if it supports Steam Controller, etc. God I hate Steam’s interface…

Just tried Death Trash. I’m intrigued by the world building and character systems. so. much. meat. a little iffy on the combat. the combat feels a little stiff and slow compared to how quickly enemies can kill you. i do like the isometric-fallout-but-with-action-combat concept a lot, so i’ll keep my eye on this.

sable has captured my interest with its art style and open world. i figured they’d stop the demo right at that point, but I want to ride my new bike so bad!

black book seemed ok. i haven’t played much deckbuilders, but the strategy seemed pretty basic/easy so far. the voice acting is pretty hit n miss, especially for your grandpa who you hear talk a lot

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A few more I have played:

Sable was lovely to explore, and I can tell I will like it. Some minor performance issues in the demo, but nothing that seems like they couldn’t finish it before it’s release date.

Wolfstride is outstandingly stylish, and I find it being an RPG helps get past the hurdle a lot of mech games like this - where you are building your own mech out of a big supply of possible parts - because you get a lot of raw numbers and it’s easy to see how they apply in battle, in ways action games can’t always do.

To the Rescue looked cute, but… (cw animal death) can’t say I loved opening up the options menu and having my first thing be a toggle for if I want to Euthanize dogs or ‘send them away’. Felt kind of strange to control, too, so I’m going to pass on this one.

Common’hood feels like it needs a bit of polish, but wow! What is there is incredible, I really love the vibe of this community and the building being so fine detailed is really interesting. You could see the sort of wild builds people could do in this if it ever picks up.

Terra Nil is fun, great concept and really lovely visuals. I want to see how deep it gets or if it’s one of those games where the maps are just going to get harder and harder to get perfect. Either way, excited to see more of it for sure.

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Toem
Saw this following Summer Games Fest and thought it looked great. It basically has you playing an top down view within these small 3D black and white environments and requires you to solve puzzles by taking pictures of things in the game world. It’s a really charming game and is beautifully presented. Has a very easy going vibe like Short Hike. Would recommend.

Dark Templar
90s ass retro shooters are ten a penny these days. I’m not sure what Dark Templar does differently to set it apart from the likes of Prodeus, Strafe or Dusk. Maybe bullet time. But as far as negotiating dark Hell mazes at blistering pace whilst shooting monsters in the face with a shotgun, whilst being served up a metal soundtrack it’s very that. Levels are full of secrets and optional encounters - you get a pair of swords that you can combine together into a throwable staff, when you hit an enemy with it, they just explode. The problem with these games is that they are always going for that Doom feel and most give you that. But there’s just not much else to it. I dunno, what if you could talk to the monsters.

Robocorgi
Side scrolling R-type style shooter. I saw this and immediately thought of Catoroboto. It’s not as good, but it’s colourful and the music is really good.

Warhammer 40K: Battlesector
This is another turn based strategy based in the 40k universe. Think Xcom but instead of managing single units, those units are squads. Feels very adapted from the tabletop game, to the point that they call the squads models. The story is set on the Blood Angels homeworld of Baal (red space marines, who at some point in their life times will regress into a ‘bloodrage’ where they thirst for blood based on some genetic memory of their grand daddy getting killed by Horus some 10,000 years ago). Your mopping up Tyranids (40k xenomorphs) in the wake of the planet being ravaged by a larger tyranid invasion. Like most GW licensed games, the units look really good - and I especially like how they introduce the new primaris space marines coming to help the first born space marines out (Primaris are newer bigger versions of regular space marines who are supposed to be of a more ‘purer’ genetic strain and more deadly in war). The primaris blood angels are no longer affected by the bloodrage, so they make the first born a little redundant. Anyway, old space marines becoming more obsolete as technology outpaces them, is extremely my shit. That’s an interesting thing to do with space marines. Otherwise this is a fairly decent turn based strategy game that is very on with the new line of space marines. I have no doubt they’ll add to the game with other races and units as time goes on.

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