Xbox Demo Fest Discussion Thread

So it looks like Xbox is having a demo showcase of upcoming games this week, similar to what Steam did a month or so back. I’m hoping to jump in this weekend and check out what’s in store. Is anyone else checking out the demos? What are your recommendations to check out? There’s a good list so far but it looks like the selection is only going to expand as the week goes on, so keep the recs coming!

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I don’t own an Xbox One but I am very interested in seeing Cris Tales! And I remember backing Raji: and Ancient Epic on kickstarter, back in 2017, though the campaign failed, it’s nice to see the game agian.

The only game here that really doesn’t interest me is Destroy All Humans which should have been left back in the 00’s as far as I’m concerned

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I downloaded Raji last night and am excited to check it out, and I’ll def give Cris Tales a shot!

Destroy All Humans does admittedly seem weird on that list as it’s a known quantity, but I remember enjoying it as a weekend rental way back when. If I remember correctly it felt like playing “Mars Attacks!”, but is there questionable shit that I forgot about?

There are a lot of homophobic jokes in the game, and a mission that has a rape joke.
They’ve added this warning to the game:


Which frankly, I really don’t like that they’re trying to be cute about it.

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Oh gosh, that’s really bad! I get wanting to preserve even the problematic portions of game history, but it deserves a lot more care than that crappy statement.

And to anyone still curious about the game, it’s thoroughly mediocre even without the shitty jokes. You’re not missing much if you skip it.

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Anyways, it looks like this is a full list of the other 70+ games you can play that aren’t Destroy All Humans?

Another one I’m interested in hearing more about is Genesis Nior I remember seeing this way back when and I’m really curious to see what it looks like now

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Will any of these demos go to Switch or PS4?

Increasingly getting the sense I’m on the wrong platforms…

A lot of these are in-development early access demos, so it’s a case of the platform holder allowing them to be released. The games themselves are mostly non-exclusive, so expect Switch and/or PS4 versions when they come out officially.

There’s always FOMO for platforms you don’t have, but there’s no “wrong” platform to have IMO. But hey, if you’re tempted, I will say I’m a happy Xbox owner!

I’m looking forward to trying a few of these demos out over the rest of this week/weekend. Pretty cool to get this type of ‘in-progress’ preview of a game long before it comes out.

Thanks y’all for recommending Raji: An Ancient Epic. The combat and platforming seem heavily inspired by the PS2-era Prince of Persia games (solidly adapted to a zoomed-out, top-down perspective), and the shadow puppet cutscenes are lovely.

Genesis Noir has an incredibly stylish demo, featuring simple puzzle solving which builds up to a few segments where you get to perform freeform jazz music, Plink-style. Feels designed for a mouse.

Kaze and the Wild Masks seems like a solid Donkey Kong Country-style platformer so far.

Klang 2 looks to be a promising rhythm game. The twist is that it’s framed as a platformer where each note requires you to point either in the direction of an onscreen target or a fixed direction before hitting the action button to the beat of the song, and the latter type makes your character jump around the stage. Which means you need to keep track of targets both as they appear, and in relation to where the song is currently putting your avatar. Couldn’t find any A/V sync options yet.

I also tried Ars Fabulae, which mixes first person segments exploring an abandoned theater with third person puzzle segments set within the plays once performed there and with thematic parallels to the real-world character’s lives. It doesn’t make the best first impression, with the first level combining a stereotypical avant-garde spoken word play with simple puzzles about moving lights to toggle stage elements. The second level is themed around a children’s sci-fi play about a pair of broken robots. It has similarly trivial puzzles, but more fleshed out character work and a unexpectedly sweet scene where after a few puzzles where you control both robots simultaneously, your robot partner controls you and solves a puzzle herself while talking about the future. Mixed feelings, but it’s an interesting premise and I’m curious where it goes.

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Kotaku’s got some recs as well:

Really excited to check these out!

God it’s annoying me how Haven demos are showing up everywhere except places I can access them.

That’s like my most anticipated game now…

Alright, managed to play a bunch of demos last night and this morning. Might as well jot down some thoughts while they’re still fresh:

  • Raji: Probably the game I went into the fest with the highest level of excitement, but actually came away a bit cold on it. Hindu mythos have a big appeal to me, and I’ve always wanted a game that delved into it like we often see with Viking or Greek myhtos. And in that department, Raji delivers. The art is gorgeous and the use of Durga and Vishnu as narrators is really clever. But the gameplay is just PS2/PS3 era God of War. It’s not bad, just uninspired. I can see myself still playing it on the basis of the story and style, but I’m definitely feeling over the moment-to-moment actions in the game.
  • Road to Guangdong: You’re on a road trip with your feisty Guu Ma, or aunt, as you visit your relatives in preparation for you to take over the family restaurant. Your car, affectionately referred to as Sandy, it a delightful hunk of junk that is in constant need to repairs and refueling. Drive too fast and the old girl overheats and parts get damaged. It’s freaking great, especially at a time when I really can’t road trip to visit relatives due to the pandemic. Also, you can get into radio fights with Guu Ma over what constitutes “good” music. 10/10 cannot wait for release.
  • Sail Forth: A delightful little sailing adventure with some fun ship-to-ship combat. I’m not the biggest fan of naval games, but when the game looks like this:

    Well, that’s just not fair. They just ripped off Wind Waker and I’m not even mad. Gimme that cel-shaded water and wind wisps and I just can’t say no.
  • The Vale: Shadow of the Crown: A super interesting game about a princess who is without sight but finds herself 500 miles from home in hostile territory. Since it takes place entirely from her perspective, there are no visuals to speak of, and you are left to navigate mostly by way of audio. Exploration feels great, combat is surprisingly nuanced, and the voice acting is superb. The one issue I’m leery about is that the princess is clearly coded by her voice as European, likely white, while the outskirts of her family’s empire appear to have lot’s of people coded as Middle Eastern with accents to match. I’m worried that this game, despite its inclusivity with regards to visual impairment, will have a large colonial-sized problem that is never addressed. I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt here and wait for release, but so far I’m pretty intrigued.
  • Ponpu: Yo, what if I told you you could play Bomberman but it looks like Tuca & Bertie? Because that’s what Ponpu is and I am 100% here for it. The single player campaign seems quite fun from the few levels I played in the demo, and I expect that this will be a party staple for a lot of folks. God, that animation looks so good!
  • Haven: A cute couple on a deserted planet with cool-ass traversal, a genuinely interesting take on turn based battling, and fantastic art direction. The premise of lovers on the run is pretty intriguing and I am genuinely curious to see how the story plays out.

Overall I’ve come away pretty impressed with most of the demos. Some bugs here and there but these were really polished experiences on the whole. I’ll probably check out a few more of these today and maybe will pop back into this thread with more thoughts.

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I played a few more games!

  • Cristales: A really cool RPG where the past, present, and future are displayed at the same time in thirds on the screen. Actions in different time periods affect others, and while your character can only stay in the present, you have a dapper frog companion who can jump between timelines (and cutely ages accordingly) which allows you to make decisions upon the world that have immediate impact. Combat also seems to work in the time shenanigans, such as throwing water on a shielded enemy and then sending them to the future where their shield will rust. The time mechanic has a lot of potential and I’m looking forward to how they iterate on it in the full game.
  • WarriOrb: It’s a 2D dungeon crawler where you play as a little orb who can roll around, bounce, or jump through the environment, often in combination with one another. The bouncing is particularly fun as the game seems to have a full physics engine as well. Combat is just your character swinging axes and wasn’t the most engaging, but it’s fine. Think I got my fill in the demo for this one TBH.
  • Clea: Honestly, not really sure about this one. You’re a creepy little girl and you’re walking around your family’s house with your little brother, trying to avoid these skeleton dudes in robes. The demo didn’t really give me much instruction so I just walked around the house for 10 minutes until a skeleton caught me and I got a game over. Probably my least favorite demo of what I’ve played this weekend.
  • Freshly Frosted: Ok, this was a great bounce back game after two disappointments. The point of this game is to build a conveyor line, kind of like in Big Pharma or other conveyor games, such that you make donuts with certain ingredients (i.e. frosting, then sprinkles, then whipped cream). It’s pretty satisfying to come up with solutions to tricky requirements, like ensure half your donuts have frosting with sprinkles while the other half have whipped cream and cherries. I’m looking forward to playing this full release, but honestly I think I’d rather play it on a touch device.
  • 9 Monkeys of Shaolin: I had to recheck this game’s title, as there are no monkeys in it from what I played. There are monks of Shaolin, which I suppose is close, but you can understand my disappointment here. In any case, this is a pretty responsive brawler with an art style reminiscent of the Star Wars Clone Wars show. This is definitely a “fans of the genre” style pick, so if you have that River City Ransom/Turtles in Time itch, this may scratch it.
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