When virtual game festivals became the big thing last year, I jumped in with both feet. The first few, I made an attempt to try out absolutely everything that even vaguely interested me. After all, I loved the idea of having all these demos I could play right from my home computer! No crowds, no travel, no waiting in line.
And obviously, it something that has been working out – at least well enough – for the developers, because it feels like these events are happening more often, and each time, there are oodles of games that had managed to fly beneath my radar. However, my demo-consumption pace turned out to be unsustainable. I went from choosing upwards of 20 demos to try out, to restricting myself to a dozen, and finally, in this iteration, choosing only a handful. One seemed to me to be broken, which left me with only five games to report on, but on the upside, all five were pretty great in their own way.
Beasties was actually on my wishlist prior to this iteration of the Steam Next Fest, but to my knowledge, this was the first time a demo had been available. It plays a bit like a fusion of the Pokemon games and Puzzle Quest – instead of your standard turn-based monster battles, you get turn-based match-3 battles instead. The demo is short – my 21 minutes played saw the available content through to the end, but I like the idea, and this one stayed on my wishlist.
Prose & Codes is a game of cryptograms – classic letter substitution puzzles. However, it takes its phrases from the pages of classic literature that is in the public domain and available to read via Project Guttenburg. In fact, there are links directly in the game that will take you right to the book in question, which is honestly pretty great. Even better, a portion of the game’s sales will support Project Guttenberg. The demo only had a handful of puzzles, but the full game is supposed to have over 350, so – at least for me – price point is probably going to be the determining factor of if I grab this one right away, or wait a bit. Nothing groundbreaking here, but it is the only demo I went back into after closing it the first time. I do like a good puzzle.
If you ever wanted to play a time-management game in the universe of Sweeney Todd, you’ll want to keep an eye on this one. You control both the husband and wife team, who have just opened up a combination tailor shop and pub. He kills customers, tosses their bodies in the basement, and repurposes their clothing for sale, while she grinds the meat, cooks the pies, and serves the customers. In its current state, Ravenous Devils suffers from some translation issues, and it was unclear from the demo what the failure conditions might be. Still, it’s definitely a unique game idea, and I’ll be interested to see the finished product.
I might have passed over this one entirely if I hadn’t read Magi’s thoughts on it in his second Next Fest review post, and I’m so glad I did because this one went immediately on the wish list. You wouldn’t think a game about identifying plants and reading letters would be quite so riveting, but I was all in from the get go. Primarily, it’s a puzzle game – you need to figure out which plant is which from customer descriptions while also unraveling a much larger mystery. Only the first few days of gameplay are available in the demo, but if it maintains the level of interesting things happening, it’ll definitely be one I’ll struggle to stop playing.
Wytchwood is a crafting-focused adventure puzzle game. You play as a witch, who awakens from a nap to find a goat has eaten her recipe book, and it just gets weirder from there. The early game (and store page) hints at some farming-sim type content, but I mostly picked up ingredients from the ground, used my special sight to figure out environmental puzzles, and wandered around, gawking at the gorgeous art work. Unfortunately, the release year for this has already been pushed back a few times, but the demo felt both playable and rather polished, so I’m going to remain optimistic that this game isn’t too far out now.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get around to trying these demos out until the Festival was just about over, however, I’m glad I found the time to play this handful of games, because every one of them now has a spot on my wish list. However, I’m hoping that some of these demos will stick around for a bit after the Festival’s official end!