With the impressive number of demos on offer during the Steam Game Festival, there was just no way to play everything that looked good, but boy, did I try. All told, I managed to download and play 30 demos during the 6 day long event.
The games in this post are ones that intrigued me enough to try out, but for one reason or another, didn’t quite grab me the way I had hoped. With one notable exception, I didn’t think any of these games were so deeply flawed as to be irredeemable – they just weren’t for me.
I previously wrote about the demos for BattleCakes, Lumberhill, and Paradise Killer, but decided to keep the rest all together in this post.
Anomaly Hunter – Estimated Release Date Q4 2020
A time-travel hidden object game that had me stumped more often than not. You’re tasked with finding the things that went wrong and fixing them, jumping back and forth in time to do so. Definitely could use a more robust hint system, especially at the start of the game when it relies far too much on the player comprehending how everything works. I like the idea, and there’s plenty of time for the devs to put some more polish on it.
Potentia – Estimated Release Date November 2020
I have been known to play a post-apocalyptic action adventure game a time or two, and I liked the look of this one. The environmental graphics so far are gorgeous, but the actual people inside the world are a little on the blocky side. The voice acting is downright awful, and the controls are not as smooth as I would like them to be. I died more times in the demo than I care to admit (apparently, fire hurts), but the saving grace for me is a piece of music that was part of a cut scene for the intro level was so beautiful and perfect. I’m not sure if I’ll buy the game, but I’m damn sure going to keep an eye out for the soundtrack.
Model Builder – Estimated Release Date Q4 2020
I am absolutely not the target demographic for this one, but I just had to see it. Virtually building models is an idea that has so much potential for the right audience, and it seems to capture that pretty perfectly. You need to cut the pieces from the sprues, then put them together piece by piece, just like you would an actual model. It looks like the modeling desk enthusiasts would kill for, and I can see this just being a meditative experience for folks who love this sort of thing but don’t have the time, space, or money to be able to do the real thing.
Imagine Lifetimes – Estimated Release Date September 25, 2020
This one felt like more of an experience than a game, despite the inclusions of some clever mini-games in between making choices. I think the play through I did got stuck at the end, as all I could do was click the light on and off, but there didn’t seem to be any sort of progress after that point. Although the demo is supposed to have 9 different endings, I lacked any enthusiasm to go through the early stages of just blindly picking things more than once.
Grounded – Estimated Release Date July 28, 2020
I didn’t actually expect this one to blow my skirt up, but it’s absolutely visually stunning, and absolutely not the game play style I gravitate towards. If you’re a fan of first person melee combat, base building, and survival mechanics, though, this looks like it’s going to be a winner. I just got eaten by bugs because of course I did. I do have to give bonus points for the relatively in-depth accessibility options and the arachnophobia warning.
A Little Shop in Squirrel Town – Estimated Release Date August 6, 2020
This one gave me some Stardew Valley vibes, and I would have liked to check it out, but sadly, the demo wasn’t available in English (although according to the Steam page, the final game will be).
UEDI: Shadow of the Citadel – Estimated Release Date Q1 2021
I didn’t not like this one, it just felt kind of average. The movement controls were a little less tight than I wanted, the shooting was good enough, and I liked the aesthetic. But the writing (or translating, I’m not sure) wasn’t great, and there was nothing that made me desperately want to play more. I just felt like I was playing some pretty but generic shooter, and I didn’t much care about what was going on.
Unforgotten – Estimated Release Date Autumn 2020
If I wasn’t sure before, I am now – I am so very much over the Tinder-style swiping in games. It makes even less sense when there’s a lot of “cards” that are exposition instead of choices, and timed events where you have to make a decision almost as quickly as you can read the card. The story seemed interesting enough, but the vehicle they chose for it is a huge turn off for me. To top it all off, the translation work was mediocre at best.
Lord Winklebottom Investigates – Estimated Release Date Q1 2021
Probably not a game I would pick up for myself (and I strongly doubt the comparisons to the Danganronpa games that Steam is implying in the “similar to games you’ve played” area), but looks like a delightful comedic point-and-click mystery. I felt clever when I figured out the puzzles (ah, adventure game logic), but as the demo still lacks a hint system, I didn’t get very far at all. I loved the look and sound of the game, and I can see it being a hit with adventure game lovers.
Just Die Already – Estimated Release Date Summer 2020
At least for me, this one is just too much. Super gory sandbox with a neat (if dystopian) concept – perform challenges to finance your retirement living expenses. Pretty much the first thing I did was decapitate myself on a ceiling fan, and it didn’t get less messy from there. This one would probably be more fun as a sort of perverse party game, but I think I’ll stick with the devs earlier title – Goat Simulator – if I want pure mayhem.
Lovingly Evil – Estimated Release Date Sometime in 2020
Nope, I still mostly don’t care for dating sims. Sure, it’s cool you get to chat with Satan, and I appreciate the inclusion of a few mini-games, but I’m just not that into the idea of a super-villain conference where I can learn how to be more evil and try to pick someone up. It seemed polished enough and probably will be good for fans of the genre, which I keep forgetting that I am not.
Mr. Prepper – Estimated Release Date Unknown
This one feels a little too possible, especially if you’re living in the U.S. right now, and I was vaguely uncomfortable with the meme-y-ness of it. That said, the game play felt pretty solid – follow your plan, turn household items into materials to build your bunker, or trade and forage for supplies. Basic crafting & placing of objects was serviceable. Movement was a little janky, but having to remember to hide the evidence of your subversive activities was a nice addition. If I’m completely honest, I might have been more jazzed for this one had I played it earlier in the week – as is, I am content to say it’s interesting and move on.
Nuts – Estimated Release Date 2021
The idea of a squirrel surveillance simulator is intriguing, but the game play is kind of tedious. I think I’d have more patience with it if the day time color scheme was a little less headache-inducing, and/or if there was a “return to trailer” button once all your cameras were placed. It’s still got a while before the planned release, so maybe they’ll add in some alternate color schemes, which would solve my biggest issue with this one.
Freshly Frosted – Estimated Release Date 2020
An adorable if somewhat simplistic puzzler about automating donut production. The demo features only one relentlessly happy tune which started to grate within the first handful of puzzles. This game was designed for controller input, but feels like something better suited for touch screen on a mobile device. Without knowing the price point and the total number of planned puzzles, it’s hard to say whether or not it would be worth the purchase, but I have plenty of simple puzzlers in the backlog already.