I’m just about to sit down and play a bunch of these demos (I downloaded like 30+ of them earlier!) but I did check out a couple that I haven’t seen mentioned here yet.
Hellscreen - a first-person shooter with an intense visual style and unique mechanics. The main theme about this game that’s a bit brain-bending is that at all times at the top of the screen is what is essentially a rearview mirror. It’s primarily there so you can see behind you when you’re getting swarmed by enemies but in the first handful of levels there’re a bunch of different uses for it too. Such as: certain enemies/pathways only being visible in the mirror and the mirror being your only source of unobscured vision when you’re in complete darkness. Super neat idea but I thought it was extremely disorienting!
GRAPPIN - a first-person platformer where you move around with a grappling hook. Normally these kinds of games are high-octane action but this game is so much more chill than I was expecting it to be. Although you can fling yourself around with different kinds of grappling hooks, the game emphasizes taking things slow since you’re also meant to explore the environment to find hidden items to unlock gates.
Anger Foot - an intense first-person shooter with lots of foot-based action. I was expecting the mechanics to be fairly basic or one-note but after messing with this one for a while and trying out the different shoes (abilities) you can unlock, turns out this game’s super sick. Most interesting part of the game for me though is the music during the levels. It’s all modern gabber and it seems to be either a bunch of random tracks or generated by some other means. The way it alternates between being “on” or “off” depending on whether or not you’re engaged with enemies is extremely propulsive and compelling.
Last Command - a game where you play as a sentient computer program in a post-human world (I think?). The gameplay in this is pretty unusual but it’s basically like if Snake (the classic Nokia game) was entirely made of bullet hell-adjacent boss fights. The dots you collect turn into bullets that you can fire at the bosses heart, which is an interactable object on the field, which fills a percentage meter. When you fill that meter you attack the heart by dashing into it and move onto the next phase of the boss.
It’s quite a lot to take in but once I figured out how to put all the individual pieces together it was exceptionally thrilling.
Thanks for all the recommendations, everyone!
Busy week, but I played Escape Academy which seems like a fun puzzle game. Very reminiscent of Safecracker as a game that throws a lot of different sorts of puzzles at you.
Also, Signalis which seems to be exactly my jam. What a cool demo that was. Love how naturally it switches from top down to first person perspectives. Could be the indie hit of October.
Alaskan Truck Simulator: I’ve never played one of these games before, but I’m guessing the others don’t start with you cooking reindeer meat? It has survival elements of managing health, hunger and energy (although you don’t have a toilet need like The Sims) so you have to pack food to eat and sleep during a job, either in the back of your cab or at a motel. It’s pretty hard to activate some things in the cabin like the heater while you are driving in first person, having to move the camera around the place, but I stuck to third person mode for the most part. I absolutely struggle with controlling the truck so I’ll settle for watching Alex dot Nextlander play this.
Gloomwood: Like ricotta mentioned above, it’s stealth with guns. I love how the there is so much sound around you, with wood creaking and pipes groaning, making you ever vigilant. Was that the building settling or is that an enemy around the corner? One QoL improvement I like is putting area and room names above doors, making it easier to find your way and letting you know what keys open what doors.
Togges: A bright cheerful 3D platformer with the twist that it’s not really about jumping skill. To actually obtain the collectables you have to drag a trail of coloured blocks with you, stacking them up to create paths towards fruit. The demo only has 2 coloured blocks, but the menu describes the others and it’s like they are Pikmin; some conduct electricity, some can go underwater, some can’t die but use more energy etc.
Melatonin: Rhythm game with chill vibes inside a dream land. I like the look and the music, but the game is too difficult for me. I managed to just about 2 star each level. I think only perfects counting for your score is too strict a requirement, I got 5 early notes while every other note was perfect on the first stage and didn’t get 3 stars.
Signalis: Already mentioned above, a Resident Evil inspired game in a sci-fi setting. There’s also some sort of FMV adventure vibes in the way the game switches to first person in certain locations when you need to inspect a layout of items. There isn’t a lot more in the demo than what Patrick and Cado played on stream but the final cutscene is worth watching.
Rytmos: Puzzle game where you are filling out lines in a maze, basically like the classic sliding rock puzzles you’ve seen in top down games where you have to push a rock on ice in a straight line. The lines has to pass through nodes which cause a sound to play, and doing six in a row completes a song. Each group of levels is dedicated to a certain type of music, the first being from Zimbabwe and the second from Germany. Wasn’t expecting some music history here but it’s really cool.
ive heard Anger Foot discussed a lot for the past week but i think “fps with lots of foot-based action” is my favorite description.
Didn’t quite get a chance to give ample time to every demo I downloaded but I did manage to find a handful of neat looking games over the weekend. Such as…
Boneraiser Minions - a zero-stick shooter (term I made up to describe games like Vampire Survivors) where you play as a necromancer and summon skeletal minions to fight for you. Unlike other games in the genre, the upgrade paths in this are quite different. You summon a minion after collecting enough bones and can choose to level it up or summon more minions. As you get more out of game upgrades you can do fun stuff like combining minions or upgrading them along different paths. The pace of the game’s extremely fast as well. Runs in this ramp up and dissolve in the blink of an eye. The writing’s also incredibly silly and full of juvenile humor. Be warned that there are lots of boner and boner-adjacent jokes.
The Many Pieces of Mr. Coo - a visually exquisite point and click adventure game. Even if you don’t play this demo find some way to put your eyeballs on this game because it just looks so cool. Tons of slick animation in plenty of different styles, even the hint screen in the game (which I absolutely had to use after a point) looks incredible.
Furquest - an RPG(?) where every enemy(?) encounter is its’ own unique mini-game. Depending on your disposition, you may find the writing and character in this game to be fun and charming or annoying and aggravating. I think it’s pretty fun! It leaves a bit of room for a potential dark turn much like the game it is very clearly inspired by but even without that it looks like it’ll be a fun time.
Pry Into The Void - a turn-based RPG set in a dream world where you can recruit enemies as your party members. Every enemy you fight starts in an incomprehensible state. Attacking it with an element it’s weak to will make it comprehensible so you can “Pry” it. Prying enemies (which range from stuffed animals, regular animals and pugilistic vegetables) puts you in a memory where you have to establish a connection by sussing out the right dialogue choices/actions for the scenario you’re placed in. Lots of interesting systems to engage with in this but I’m not 100% sold on the game’s story from what I saw in the demo.
GHOSTWARE: Arena of the Dead - a narrative driven first-person shooter where you play as a one of six players trapped in an abandoned 90s arena shooter. Hands-down the coolest premise and execution of said premise I’ve seen in all the demos I played this week. The only thing I’m not all the way in on is the writing because the “fake” shooter you play and all the stuff built around it are directly up my alley. Apparently it also comes out in Early Access in just a few days from now too. Really looking forward to getting my hands on this one.
Nine Sols won’t work on my SteamDeck and I’m devastated. That’s one of the coolest-looking games shown at E3.
Do demos normally work on the Deck?
I’ve played about half a dozen demos and most of them ran fairly well. Cult of the Lamb had a color TV test pattern appear every so often, which I thought was a design decision, but it seems to be the Steamdeck’s default “we don’t know how to show this image” back-up. (Cult of the Lamb is really good, btw, maybe the combat is too tech-y and demanding for a game attempting that many systems.)
Nine Sols would launch to the menu screen, but the gameplay was all Test Pattern.
Seems like an interesting take on the life sim, except instead of a farm you’re running a bathhouse for spirits. Your job is to keep the boiler running, guide customers to their perfect spots, maintain supplies of clean towels and more. Could be fun!
Could be a cool side scrolling action game? The loop concept of following up on leads every day in new areas is interesting. But god, do they run straight into every boring cyberpunk trope imaginable. Except for making you play as a cop whose appartment makes him seem super rich. Developer is based in Beijing at least so maybe there’ll be something new to chew on beneath the surface.
I’m a sucker for life sims. You give me a place to run and resources to gather in a small country side village and I’ll spend dozens of hours in it. I like this ones take on brewing potions by solving mini puzzles, and investigating patients’ symptoms to decide on treatment. It’s a bit twee, perhaps?
Fabular: Once upon a Spacetime Dream
Is this called an FTL-like? Instead of a crew you pilot a single ship as in a twinstick shooter, though. The narrative elements are interesting (lizardmen guards! autonomous androids needing a lift to a new home!) and the art is really gorgeous. But I’m not sold on the action itself? It’s sluggish and with at least three forms of timings to consider. Could be the starting ship that’s slow, but it’s not a great first impression for me.
Roots of Pacha
Farming life sim but with more of a sense of community than Harvest Moon or Stardew Valley. More narrative elements, as well? Good portrait art.
Cultic blends mild narrative elements with shooting. Maybe interesting? Not sure what sets it apart from others in this booming subgenre. Slayers X aims to be as obnoxious as Drawn to Death. Didn’t care for it. Metal: Hellsinger didn’t boot.
I was half paying attention to a friend streaming some of the Steam demos yesterday. He switched to a new game, I thought “Weird, this sounds like an Angerfist song” and then he said “And now we’re going to play this game called Angerfoot!” It has to be intentional, but I don’t see anything on the Steam page about it, so I’m guessing it’s just a joke by a dev that likes gabber.
Lots of CWs on Angerfist’s music, but there’s no vocals in the game from what I saw.
24 Killers looks great. There’s been a boom in offbeat lifesim/RPG indies lately but I’m rarely as taken with them as I was with this.
Moon RPG seems like a big reference point. Demo is still up as far as I can tell - give it a look. (in dev since 2014, apparently!)