I’ve really been enjoying the opportunity to sample all kinds of demos during online game conferences, but man, I never knew they happened quite so often! For this one, I decided to choose a day, and power through all the demos I could, to better simulate that con experience, and write up a few thoughts on what I’ve tried out.
I spent most of Saturday playing demos, and managed to play twelve different ones to the point where either (a) the demo ended or (b) I had seen enough to make up my mind. In the end, five of the twelve ended up on my wish list.
Warning: If you’re on Discord while playing this, your friends might contact you to express some … concern.
I know I’ve been complaining about the glut of deck-building card games, but here it works. What I’m less sure of is the tone – the whole concept of making your living as a streamer is heavily ridiculed by, well, everyone in the game except the player’s character. Gameplay is fairly polished, but the balance feels off in the early game (you will go into debt – deep into debt). This one didn’t earn a place on my wish list, but I’ll probably check on it a few months after release to see what people are saying about it.
Beautiful graphics, lovely music, and unfortunately, I found it really irritating to play. The demo does not explain the controls, and it doesn’t seem to behave quite like a point and click game, although I think that was the design intention. I managed to pass through the first yard, mostly due to randomly trying to make things work, and got stumped (and unable to even move) in the second. I think this game probably belongs on the spectrum between point and click adventure games and puzzle games, and having it marketed as a hidden object game is a bit disingenuous.
This one is an adorable little economic simulation focused on the breeding and trading of animals. The demo includes a multi-level tutorial, which is good, and the game play loop seems solid. With both a campaign mode and a sandbox mode, my concern with this one is that the concept is too niche to be successful at a reasonable price point. Unlike a lot of zoo-focused simulations, you’re looking at lists and budgets instead of watching cute animals be cute. This one aligns closely with my tastes, so I’m adding it to my wish list, but price point is going to be the biggest factor in whether or not I pick it up.
I think we should just file this one under “What was I thinking?” Now, I’m not saying the game itself is bad – in fact, it looks like it could be a lot of wacky fun when played in co-op. It’s just not at all for me. I’m not a huge fan of racing games and obstacle courses when the controls are tight – this one felt super floaty (which I’m sure is great when the goal is adding to chaos), and the screaming would drive me crazy in no time. I’m just not the intended audience for this game.
This one is creepy and stunning and – at least as someone who doesn’t play a lot of horror – pretty damn unique. I’ve added it to my wish list, but to be honest, this might be the type of game I enjoy watching more than playing. I can see myself getting frustrated by the trial-and-error aspects of the puzzles because the game doesn’t give you any indication of what the items are you’re picking up. I knew the answer to the first riddle, I just couldn’t find the thing I needed (despite believing I had it more than once). As a freshman effort from a small development team, this looks and sounds amazing, but I’m not 100% sold on how it actually plays.
I’m usually into anything that let’s you buy stuff, sell stuff, and negotiate for better deals, but I found Dealer’s Life 2 to just be underwhelming. You get a pitifully small number of transactions a day, and it all plays the same without ever giving you any real feedback on the choices you’re making. I guess it could make for a fine little timewaster, but I would rather replay something like Pickers or Barn Finders with a little bit of variety to break up the monotony.
I really wanted to be captivated by this one, but for me, it’s just missing the mark. Everything feels ok; nothing feels great. I do appreciate the devs inclusion of a straight-up story mode for people who don’t want to deal with the stealth/combat part of the game play, but I don’t know that there’s enough left without that to pull you through the story. The demo was very slow paced, with really obvious puzzles and a rather awkward UI, and I didn’t particularly want to keep playing.
This is probably going to be a really cool game, but it won’t be a really cool game that I play. I never realized how much movement controls factor into my first impression of a game, and although WASD & mouse-facing sounds pretty standard, it felt super awkward. I also tend to prefer a slower introductory experience, even in a survival-style game. I got stuck on every landscape feature while trying to run away from an enemy I was unprepared to fight, which didn’t quite manage to kill me before lack of oxygen did. I think I was supposed to be able to reach the quest target safely, but since I missed a directional cue (if there was one), I ended up going the wrong way. I guess I want a little more hand-holding to help me get started, and have the difficulty slowly ramp up, and I don’t want the biggest enemy in the game to be the controls.
Despite being absolutely right up my alley, I might have missed this one if Ctrl Alt Noob hadn’t give it a spin early this weekend. Despite the name, this seems to focus a whole lot more on doing renovation jobs than maintaining your own properties (at least in the early game, which is what you get in a demo). For me, that’s perfect. I really enjoy the chill gameplay loop of clean up / build / design / furnish. The time and budget constraints seem generous, allowing you to put your own touches on the requested renovations. I can see myself losing hours upon hours to this one. It’s absolutely going on my wish list!
Full disclosure: this one was already on my wish list, although I don’t recall how I first discovered it, or honestly, even putting it there. Granted, my time with it was short, but I definitely got Rimworld vibes from it. For me, that’s a good thing, but I also have some concerns about the scope – it’s easy for developers to shoot for the moon, and very often, they miss. What they have so far looks promising, and this might even be an Early Access pick up for me, depending on the launch price.
I really like the concept of this one – it’s a sci-fi spin on The Room series style of game. The demo is very short, but I found every puzzle within it both satisfying and logical, and am intrigued by the smallest hints of the story. I’m always interested in a solid puzzler with no time limits and some nice window dressing, so I’ll definitely be checking this one out when it releases in a few days – whether I pick it up or not depends on if I feel the launch price is worth the 3-5 hours of play time the developers anticipate.
I had saved this one for last, because I was probably the most excited about it, but it is – at best – half-baked. I actually think the graphical style is fantastic, but the tutorial is lacking (in fact, the store page tells you more than the tutorial seems to). The sheer number of people you have right off the bat is overwhelming, and no one is happy. It’s a frustrating place to have to start from. It looks like this is a solo dev project, and no where near being ready, so I’ll check back on it at a later date – possibly well after release – to see if they’ve managed to pull it off. Right now, it’s stuffed full of things that just don’t work right yet.