My main issue with these virtual game conferences being so damned short is that I find I either need to be really particular and miss out on stuff, or I’m going to end up playing some demos when I’m just not feeling them. Which, I suppose, is also an issue with non-virtual game conferences, but it somehow feels worse to miss stuff when you can play at home in your pajamas instead of waiting in line all day.
This batch maybe didn’t get me quite as excited as they might have on a less brain-foggy sort of day, but I also think I was successful at figuring out which ones I would be most likely to enjoy.
Zombie Cure Lab is a game I think I’d really enjoy if I were in the mood to figure things out. As is, the tutorial could use tweaking – it dumps the information, and then you seem to need to close the tutorial box to progress. I got hung up on the early building, and realized I’d probably need to restart, but I liked that it combines both pre-fab buildings you drop down with some you need to actually design & build one wall segment at a time. I’m not 100% sure about the zombie-cure premise, but I’ll keep an eye on it as it gets closer to release.
Paper Trail is every bit as lovely as I had hoped, but it leans far more towards pure puzzle gameplay and away from a compelling story to go alongside the beautiful art. Unfortunately, it didn’t take too long for me to get stuck – I’m not sure if I just couldn’t figure the puzzle out at that point, or if I did something to soft-lock my progress. Changing things via folding the background felt great, though.
Alchemia: Creatio Ex Nihilo feels like the next step in the evolution of the deck-building roguelite. Instead of drawing cards, you draw elements from your pouch, and use those elements to craft spells. I played through one run (which ended in my death), and while I’m not sure how much staying power the gimmick is going to have, I was glad to see there’s some meta-progression. I also really liked the spell book mechanic; I feel like there’s probably some benefit to memorizing combos if you play a lot, but you can also just have the game remind you of what the spells you know during a run look like.
Thus far, Spirittea was the biggest let down for me this time. Everything about the control scheme was completely unintuitive, and having to WASD my way through an onscreen keyboard while I was playing with both a mouse and an actual keyboard kind of ruined the character creation for me. The opening was super slow, and when I couldn’t find the destination of my very first task, I gave up in annoyance. This might be a great title for someone with more patience than I have, but the demo experience completely turned me off rather than left me wanting more.
On the other hand, I played the Escape Academy demo right up until the end. I managed to get through the first three escape room puzzles, and I thought they were clever, if not particularly challenging. Price relative to length is probably going to be the biggest factor in whether or not I pick this one up early or wait for a discount as I don’t expect it’ll be very replayable.
Lonesome Village feels like it has a lot of potential, if it can manage to get out of its own way. Everyone has disappeared, and it’s up to you to rescue the whole town from a creepy puzzle tower utilizing a few tools and the power of friendship. I expect the puzzles to become more cerebral as you climb higher, but you’ll need to take frequent breaks from your mission to help out the folks you’ve already rescued, and to find the resources the tower requires of you to progress. It’s a great concept, and the artwork is fantastic, but the controls are a bit clunky, and everything feels like it’s running at half speed.