Steam Nextfest demo-all

I wanted to start a thread where people could share their thoughts on different demos that they've downloaded and played. I went through a bunch of these last year and while most of them were duds, I found a fair number of hidden gems that I wouldn't have otherwise noticed.

Currently downloaded:
Lightyear Frontier
Pacific Drive
Stellar Settlers
Cyber Manhunt 2: New World
Rogue Racer
Final Factory
Drive Rally
Breachway
Synergy
uh...Homeworld 3
Star Trucker

Bonus pre-Nextfest demo: Immortals of Aveum

Outcast - a new beginning has a demo. I planned to snag it but then FF7:Rebirth had its demo release yesterday so I had to play that!

And someone should get the demo for Millennia and tell me if it is fun. It looks neat.

Here's what's made it onto my wish list so far:

Duck Detective: The Secret Salami
Stellar Orphans
Antipaint
#DRIVE Rally
Beserk Boy
Daemon Sigil
Breachway

I wish I had more time - this NextFest is aligning with an exact period where game time will be extremely limited for me.

Though, I do not to chime in the Immortals of Aveum is terrific. I dipped into the demo and am having a lot of fun with it.

I've not played the demo yet, but I already had Crown Wars: The Black Prince on my wishlist. It's a turn-based tactics and strategy game set during a reimagining of The Hundred Years' War.

Tasty Pudding wrote:

I've not played the demo yet, but I already had Crown Wars: The Black Prince on my wishlist. It's a turn-based tactics and strategy game set during a reimagining of The Hundred Years' War.

The Hundred Years War has some bonkers individuals to draw on.

I was expecing info on Stormgate

Played so far:

Pacific Drive: Immaculate vibes. This is one of the more hyped games in Nextfest and it's easy to see why. It has a very clear style and vision, and it's a great world to poke around in. That said, I feel like this game is really going to hinge on its ability to generate threats to the player, and the demo looks like it cuts off right before that ramps up. Still one to keep an eye on, but not necessarily a day one buy from the demo.

Monster Scout: neat idea, poor execution. You basically scout out players for monster soccer, only it's not clear what, if anything, any of the players are good at, and the whole thing's kind of a mess.

Breachway: I liked this despite my dislike of the deck-builder genre. It's probably a skip for me, but I suspect if that's your bag, then this one's really going to get you. Really solid art direction on this one. It's a Hooded Horse game, and I don't think I've seen them make a bad game yet.

Dough: I took a peak at this one and backed out after a few minutes. It looks pretty complicated and not in a fun way. I think it may also be loaded with AI art--I don't know that a human would have generated anything that muddy and indecipherable. The tutorial uncle character is a visual nightmare, a sort of outline with the suggestion of a face and maybe a shotgun? Honestly didn't play it long enough to give a solid judgement, but initial impressions were extremely bad.

#Drive Rally: Beautiful art style on this one. But man, I was not thrilled with the driving dynamics. The thing I find with a lot of arcade racers is that by simplifying controls they kind of deaden the driving experience. You need a bit of slip to be able to pull off a decent drift or to take a tight corner. Maybe I need to mess with the settings on this one, but it really feels too arcadey for me.

Immortals of Aveum: Really pushed my admittedly older machine to the limit and past it. I'm starting to understand why there are so many different opinions on the narrative in this game--it's wildly uneven. The early pacing is really weird, they go from nice little interactions between characters to stiff, forced lore dumps. I think the (excellent) voice acting is carrying a lot of the writing. I need to give it another go, as I haven't really gotten very deep into combat yet. The setting is kind of interesting, but also feels a bit like someone's D&D setting from the game they've been running since they were a teenager.

Lightyear Frontier: Beautiful survival crafter farming game. I'm not sure it's doing anything terribly new in the survival crafter space, but it's nice to have a survival crafter with an interesting theme and setting that doesn't look like sh*t. I love the giant tractor mech. I'm curious if you end up doing any kind of mech battles in this. I can see how the engine might support that.

I tried one game. Underspace that Veloxi recommended. Rough so far.

I gave BioGun a spin and it has promise enough to go on the wishlist. It's a metroidvania with quite a bit of environmental puzzles/hazards, and double jump is nowhere to be seen in the demo. The weird part of BioGun is you are playing a pig microorganism inside a female dog, going through the different internals including bladder, womb, fallopian tubes. One of the envornmental puzzles has you raising and lowering a yellow fluid in the bladder. It's pee. You swim in and control pee levels. You even have a race against a swimmer that lost the big race. It's weird, and the control scheme is also very weird. Your gun is mapped to the right stick and most actions like jump are mapped to the shoulder buttons.

Pepper Grinder was an interesting puzzle platformer where you have a drill that tunnels through designated portions of the ground to get around and jump further given your momentum. It's like a part of Ori and the Will of the Wisps where you do that.

I'm looking forward to Biomorph, which I've read some good things about.

Also, Homeworld 3 has some sort of demo out, but it appears to be something akin to a multiplayer horde mode.

There are a few I tried and gave up on fairly quickly.

I played Berserk Boy and #Drive Rally and I don't think either are for me, but I see they have some appeal.

I enjoyed this rundown:

farley3k wrote:

Outcast - a new beginning has a demo. I planned to snag it but then FF7:Rebirth had its demo release yesterday so I had to play that!

And someone should get the demo for Millennia and tell me if it is fun. It looks neat.

I tried Millenia. It needs to bake in the oven a little bit more. Not in love with some of the movement of units on the map. Also my time with the demo wasn't really long enough to get into more complicated systems (only 60 turns). I'm going to pin my hopes on Ara: History Untold instead.

I played Pacific Drive; started off a little slow and I agree that the demo ended right before it seemed to be getting interesting.

Willow Guard - wanted to try it, but it keeps crashing on me before I get into the action part of it. It's somebody's take on Redwall. Seems cool from the previews.

Rogue Racer - Seems like an Outrun style racing game. Kind of mixed feelings. The driving feels good to alright. It does capture that Outrun flavor of racing game while still feeling like you're driving something like a real car. But the tracks aren't super interesting. One of the featured tracks is just a featureless brown plain with no obstacles. I think the appeal of this one is supposed to be the characters, but the little bit of character work they put in was beyond bland and anime tropey. Really put me off the whole game. A little bit of charm would have gone a long way here.

Space Trucker - European Truck Simulator---IN SPAAACE! I don't know that this is going to have the same meditative quality of ETS. I loved the design of it and the physicality of all the levers and buttons you're pulling and pressing. But the actual mechanics of the game replicate the fiddliness of docking a space shuttle to the ISS, and not in a super rewarding way.

Synergy - This is a ecological city builder. The theme with a lot of these demos is that they've got off the charts style, and Synergy is no exception. It has the look of Scavenger's Reign, or maybe Sable. The trick with Synergy is that you're working with the land to create your city, not just exploiting it. You research the plant life and learn to harvest it without destroying it, creating a, uh, what's the word? Oh well, I'll think of it later. I'm intrigued, but I'd like to hear how it plays once you've had more than a few hours with it. Do the mechanics stay deep or gain depth with more time and complexity? I could see this potentially becoming a real grind if it's not tuned right. Definitely one to keep an eye on though.

Stellar Settlers - Again, a lot of style with this one. But I think the demo is already pushing the depth of its complexity. It feels like it was developed as a really good mobile game, but unless there's a lot more to show in the finished product, there's just not much to it.

Cyber Manhunt: New World (2?) - I was kind of reluctant to boot this up based on the name alone. But it's my favorite of the Nextfest demos hands down. It's a hacking game, but less about surfing the black node, and more about finding out someone's birthday from their public Toothbook (they call Facebook Toothbook. yeah, I dunno) and using it to hack their email. It's a really delightful puzzle game in the vein of something like Obra Dinn, and I'm in for the full thing when it releases.

Metroidvania fans, be sure to check out the Biomorph demo. If you played the short demo before, this one is much longer. The mechanic of morphing into your defeated enemies is a nice way to change up your moveset. Really looking forward to seeing where they take this one.

NeverGrave is a somewhat similar concept in that you are... a hat and you posses a body / can leave it behind to make yourself smaller and then summon it to continue on. It seemed to be more of a roguelite and I wasn't up for that so I didn't get very far.

Also, I will echo kazooka's take on #Drive Rally. Too arcadey in the wrong way.

Forbes wrote:
farley3k wrote:

Outcast - a new beginning has a demo. I planned to snag it but then FF7:Rebirth had its demo release yesterday so I had to play that!

And someone should get the demo for Millennia and tell me if it is fun. It looks neat.

I tried Millenia. It needs to bake in the oven a little bit more. Not in love with some of the movement of units on the map. Also my time with the demo wasn't really long enough to get into more complicated systems (only 60 turns). I'm going to pin my hopes on Ara: History Untold instead.

I played Pacific Drive; started off a little slow and I agree that the demo ended right before it seemed to be getting interesting.

I played just a few min of Millenia instead. Still very early. When I played, it just made think why I'm not playing Old World or Civ 6 instead.

Alcyone: The Last City - This is sorted as a city builder game, but based on the demo, that's a mis-categorization. It's more of a visual novel, kind of a second rate Citizen Sleeper. I'll probably end up messing around with on release because I'm a sucker for visual novels with stats, but I wasn't particularly blown away by it.

#BLUD: Man, this is such a charming little game. It's basically an action-platformer/adventure game with the aesthetics of an old Cartoon Network show. It's really funny, all the little social networking mechanics are great, and it's just an overall pleasant experience. Highly recommended.

Cryptmaster: This may be the funniest game in Nextfest. It's a bit difficult to describe, but your character (who is dead) is trying to remember words in order to interact with his dungeon environment. So you're guessing if something is a shoe, and based on whether you guess correctly, you get letters from the word shoe that you can use to figure out that you are able to "strike". You then use that word, literally typing it out, in a first person dungeon crawler ala Wizardry. It's a clever mechanic, and really well executed. Also, the visual style is again really great. The game is in black and white, but it doesn't feel muddy or dark because it's done in a print style--not grayscale. Give it a spin because I think it's pretty great.

Duck Detective: I'm a little hot and cold on this one. It's a mystery/adventure game where you're trying to collect clues from the environment to put together answers to the questions that your case is asking. So it's like a comedy version of Case of the Golden Idol. Only...the demo wasn't very difficult, and while the voice acting is good, I'm not sure that the game is charming enough on its own to overcome overly easy puzzles.

Faraway Lands: Rise of Yokai - I'm not sure the demo gives you enough time with this one to really put down an opinion. I liked what I played of it, but I could see it souring pretty badly if it wasn't decently tuned. And it moves really slowly for my tastes. The underlying concept is neat. This is Kingdom, with a more robust set of actions and interfaces for interacting with the world. Really curious to see what this is like on release.

The Land Beneath Us: Interesting concept. This is billed as a cross between Hades and Into the Breach and maybe Superhot, which, great, right? You move through a Hades-esque series of levels. Every time you move a square the enemies move one square, and you can see which squares they're about to attack. Also, you have different weapons for each direction that you move. It's a solid concept, but I rolled through the demo level without any real difficulty, and I didn't find the experience all that interesting. The enemy behavior isn't complicated enough to create the real brain-burning situations that Into the Breach could manage.

News Tower: I really liked this. I don't know if it's something other people will click with, but it really sank its hooks into me. This is a game in the vein of SimTower, a genre which I don't think has ever actually worked well, but it does here because the tower has a unified and coherent purpose: producing a newspaper in the 1920's. So each of your little rooms and desks are generating tasks that all build up to releasing your newspaper at the end of the week. And you're not just plopping down rooms and fixtures, you're sending reporters out on assignment, prioritizing stories on the front page and responding to requests from your community and the, uh, mafia. It's great! Really great! Please give it a shot, this is exactly the type of game that dies on the vine without having gotten any buzz or notice.

Also dipped back into Star Trucker a bit, and I think my initial read on that game may be off. I enjoyed it a lot more the second time around.

Think I'm done demoing for now
Sword of Convallaria - Kinda looked interesting and then--it's a gacha game. Basically it's gacha Fire Emblem. I was kind of digging it until the gacha showed up. IME, gacha mechanics undermine the integrity of a game so that it's no longer focused on gameplay or story, but on pushing you into buying more pulls. But if you're a gacha-head, this is probably worth a look.

Terra Memorium - this is an retro-RPG in the vein of Sea of Stars and a few other recent releases. tbh, the recent games in this genre have really underwhelmed me, and this wasn't doing anything any different for me. I'm in the minority on this, though, so I'm not sure I'm the one to pass judgement here. I did like the time-based conceit of the battle system. I could see that working well.

Final Factory - Factorio in space. I found this one a little more compelling than Factorio. Factorio always felt a tad aimless. There's an old cautionary tale about an AI who's directive was to produce paperclips and who converts all matter on the planet into paperclips, overcoming all obstacles in the way of its paperclip goal. Factorio always felt a bit like a simulation of that. Here the goals feel a bit more concrete, and I don't have to care as much about conveyer belt lengths.

Homeworld 3 - I played through the tutorial--I think they made the controls worse than the original? Surely I'm remembering this with rose-tinted glasses.

Didn't get to/Probably not going to get to:
The Darkest Star and United Penguin Kingdom. I poked at both of these, and having gone through a whole bunch of tutorials already, I didn't really want to jump into two more complicated rulesets. Neither one felt bad, I just couldn't be bothered after flash-reviewing a couple dozen demos. That said, United Penguin Kingdom is a city-builder where you are penguins. Like, not anthromorphasized at all, just penguins with little flipper wings building markets and such. So that's great.

I tried the Outcast: A New Beginning demo on the steam deck - it was the worst performance I have ever had on the deck. Hopefully when it releases it will be in better shape.

Eden's Guardian - an action metroidvania with fast melee combat. They handed out a bunch of really nice feeling mobility powers and brought you to a boss in a short demo and it was all pretty good. The abilities included a dagger teleport, dagger wall hang / wall jump and dash/air dash that they made good use of throughout and it all feels pretty smooth. Immediate wishlist.

mrtomaytohead wrote:

Eden's Guardian - an action metroidvania with fast melee combat. They handed out a bunch of really nice feeling mobility powers and brought you to a boss in a short demo and it was all pretty good. The abilities included a dagger teleport, dagger wall hang / wall jump and dash/air dash that they made good use of throughout and it all feels pretty smooth. Immediate wishlist.

I also tried this and absolutely hated the dagger toss bounce teleport move. My brain just doesn't work for those button presses together. Also, do NOT confuse this with Guardians of Eden. Verrrrrry different game.

I played a bit of Stormgate. It sure is Star-crafty.

Thanks for all the impressions. It sounds like I had less luck than the other people in this thread!

Breachway: I liked this despite my dislike of the deck-builder genre. It's probably a skip for me, but I suspect if that's your bag, then this one's really going to get you. Really solid art direction on this one. It's a Hooded Horse game, and I don't think I've seen them make a bad game yet.

Breachway - Coming from Cobalt Core (another space-themed deck builder), I thought this was quite interesting mechanically, but lacked personality. Disabling enemy sub-systems (weapons / shields) is novel, but the writing, worldbuilding, etc felt rather generic.

Forbes wrote:

I tried Millenia. It needs to bake in the oven a little bit more. Not in love with some of the movement of units on the map. Also my time with the demo wasn't really long enough to get into more complicated systems (only 60 turns). I'm going to pin my hopes on Ara: History Untold instead.

Balthezor wrote:

I played just a few min of Millenia instead. Still very early. When I played, it just made think why I'm not playing Old World or Civ 6 instead.

Millennia - Yeah, agreed -- I found Millennia underwhelming, although I couldn't put my finger on why. Dated graphics? Lack of a unique "hook" (whereas I really liked, say, the Neolithic period in Humankind)?

Tyrian wrote:
mrtomaytohead wrote:

Eden's Guardian - an action metroidvania with fast melee combat. They handed out a bunch of really nice feeling mobility powers and brought you to a boss in a short demo and it was all pretty good. The abilities included a dagger teleport, dagger wall hang / wall jump and dash/air dash that they made good use of throughout and it all feels pretty smooth. Immediate wishlist.

I also tried this and absolutely hated the dagger toss bounce teleport move. My brain just doesn't work for those button presses together. Also, do NOT confuse this with Guardians of Eden. Verrrrrry different game.

I can totally see that. I struggled with the button combinations a bit too, and it left me thinking that they maybe stitched a bunch of the game together and it might be more spread out in the final game. Or they have a lot of surprises up their sleeves. To me it felt like things were handed out really quickly.

Mullet Mad Jack was a ton of fun. Nails the anime vibe and the FPS is just plain fun. Nothing like getting an Uzi and then ricocheting bullets.

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PWAlessi wrote:

I played a bit of Stormgate. It sure is Star-crafty.

Am I able to play it atm?
I am sooo much looking forward to this game!

Darkhaund wrote:
PWAlessi wrote:

I played a bit of Stormgate. It sure is Star-crafty.

Am I able to play it atm?
I am sooo much looking forward to this game!

I don't think so. They had open beta during the next fest. Maybe if you contribute to the Kickstarter?

Thanks for the input! I will look into it

Immortals of Aveum demo played. Game bought.

If you want to get it on sale, you have 1 more day. Go play the demo and decide.