Yes, I realize I’m late, but better late than never! The February 2022 edition of the Steam Next Fest ran from February 21st through February 28th, and featured a whopping 628 demos. Usually, I spend a few hours poring over pages of available demos and carefully curating what I want to try out. This time, I went primarily for games already on my wish list, and plucked a few gems from fellow bloggers Magi and Paeroka, and decided that would be more than enough for me this go around with everything else currently on my plate. I followed my typical pattern of playing the demos from the ones I was least sure of my interest in to the ones I was most looking forward to in order to keep myself motivated through all eight titles.
I think the idea of a word game roguelite is fantastic, but there was something about Writer’s Block that didn’t grab ahold of me. I played through the first few battles before I realized that letters didn’t need to be touching to be used, and I think that took the game from frustratingly difficult to perhaps a bit too easy. It may have been something I really got into if I were in a particular word-game sort of mood. I may have only played for a handful of minutes, but I did toss it on my wish list.
It hasn’t been too long since I was on a pretty significant simulator game kick, and I love photo-focused games, so Birding Simulator should have been a perfect fit for me. What threw me off was the heavy story-focus – not at all what I expect from a realistic sim title! I got frustrated when I was still in the tutorial section (at least I think I was) when I couldn’t manage to find the correct bird to study. For a game with so many aspects that are right up my alley, I’m afraid that this one probably isn’t going to be for me.
I realize it’s weird to say that a game I played for less than five minutes was one of my favorites, but I really liked Robo Maestro. More of a toy than a game, really, you’re really just playing around with music by pressing buttons in its main Maestro mode. In creative mode, you can really set up just about any kind of combination of sounds you like. Depending on release price, this could be a day one purchase for me.
Dragon’s Wandering Tavern feels like the sort of game I could absolutely devour, but some kind of quirky controls mean I’m not completely sold just yet. The retro art style takes a bit of getting used to as well, but I love the whole idea of wandering around a cursed forest, foraging, trading, cooking, and helping people. Hopefully, it’ll smooth out a bit as it comes closer to release, and there’ll be another demo to try. Otherwise, I’ll be waiting for some reviews to hit, but I’m definitely going to keep an eye on this one.
I like the idea of taking the life & farming sim formula and putting a science-y twist on it, but, for me, the demo for Research Story felt a little bland. The graphical style didn’t do anything for me, and I had difficult navigating the map and distinguishing the low-poly character sprites from the background and from each other. I didn’t encounter anything deal-breaking, but I also didn’t find it so compelling as to make it a must buy for me.
Stardeus is where my plan went off the rails completely. I usually try to spend no more than 20 minutes or so per demo (especially when I put off playing them all to the night before the end of the festival), and I spent almost a full hour on this one. It already feels like a pretty fleshed out colony sim, and it drops you right into the middle of a crisis – your ship has been damaged and you must set the robots to fixing it before all the colonists wake from cryo-sleep and die from exposure. If I didn’t still have two more demos to get through – and my most anticipated two at that – I could have lost multiple hours on the demo alone. This is a likely day one purchase for me.
It already has a place on my most anticipated games I’m expecting to release this year, but I probably didn’t give World Turtles demo a fair shake. I did find the building controls a bit clunky, but nothing that would dissuade me from playing it when it releases. I’ve been really craving a good, peaceful city builder, and I still expect this will fit the bill nicely.
I finished up my demo-palooza with a quick look at Fata Deum. I’m already full invested in this one – I backed it on Kickstarter what feels like ages ago. So far, the mechanics seem solid, even though the controls are still a little finicky. I expect the learning curve to be pretty steep, but honest-to-goodness god games are such a rarity, and this one seems to really get what makes them work. I didn’t want to get too involved in the demo, but I am definitely still very much looking forward to this one.