Although I’ve enjoyed most of what I’ve played this time around, I can never seem to resist saving quite a few of the best for last. In case you missed the rest of my super quick reviews from the past week, part one is here, and part two is over here. If you were hoping to play any demos yourself, don’t dally – at the time this post goes live, there’ll be just over one day left in the event!
There was a lot of things to like about Dragon Forge, but the actual game play of it is very much not for me. I knew as soon as the game explained that I would continue earning resources while the game was closed, that it was not going to fit the way I play games. It is very pretty, though, and if you don’t mind some real time mechanics & a bit of a mobile game feel to your games, this might turn out to be pretty great.
While I didn’t dislike Dome Keeper, I tend to prefer my games to give me a little more direction than this one did. Since it appears to be a controller-required title, I played the demo on the Steam Deck, and it runs perfectly well. I’m still not sure what my actual goal was, but I like the loop of dig for resources to upgrade your base, and defend your base from the bad guys. It’s not a game I’m going to be in a rush to buy, however.
Farlanders is another game that seems to want to err on the side of explaining too little rather than being overly hand-holdy. It looks great, but it was just a little bit obtuse for me to get a good feel for the gameplay. You’re tasked with setting up a colony on Mars, and believe me when I say the planet’s surface is not inclined to cooperate with you. I like the idea of having terraforming as a key game play component; I just wish it were a little bit more transparent how exactly it works. I think this one might take a little time to warm up to, but I can also see myself losing hours upon hours to it.
I played the demo for The Spirit & the Mouse to completion, and it was everything I wanted it to be. It’s a puzzle adventure game with collectibles, and light platforming mechanics, and it’s highly likely to give you a warm fuzzy feeling. This one recommends a controller, but I didn’t struggle too much on mouse & keyboard. If this game were already available, it’d be in my shopping cart by now.
I can see a lot of potential in Above Snakes, but it definitely feels a bit rough around the edges right now. The core game play of explore, harvest, and build with survival mechanics is great, and the gimmick of building your world one tile at a time is fantastic. However, resource balance is not great in the demo build – one quest requires you gathering three of a specific resource to upgrade your workbench, and I didn’t encounter even one in my play time. Hunger & thirst feel a little overtuned right now as well, but assuming they work those kinks out, the bones of the game are solid.
Colony builders have just gotten adorable with Catizens. The current demo build showcases the objectives based campaign game play, and although it’s feels a little too micro-management heavy, it was enjoyable enough to play. Your starter cats have important jobs, and all your recruits have their own quirks. Right now, it looks like it’s aiming to land on the chiller, more wholesome end of the colony management spectrum, and that might just be enough to set it apart.
Potion Permit may just do for alchemy what Stardew Valley did for farming. Gather ingredients to brew potions to help a small town who’ve had a previous bad experience with chemists from the big city, and maybe make some friends along the way. The potion making mechanic is an untimed packing puzzle, rather than a set list of required ingredients, which I appreciated. Nearly an hour went by in a flash, and the demo feels polished enough that I wouldn’t be surprised if this title drops in a full release rather than early access.
No need to consider if I want to buy Roots of Pacha – I backed this one on Kickstarter! The game is currently already in beta, and is expected to hit full release before the end of the year. The hook for this life sim is that you’re part of a primitive tribe, and the members of your community will come to you for help with their ideas for progress, enabling the player to determine the way the society develops. You won’t be running to the shop for supplies, though, so plan to forage and craft whatever you might need.
I’m fairly sure at this point, my wish list contains more unreleased games that ones that are already out, and Next Fest certainly didn’t help with that problem! Even sticking mainly to my favorite genres, there were just too many great games out there to try out.
Did any of the Next Fest demos blow you away this time around?