It seemed out of the blue, but Steam decided to hold a “next festivalweek of demos and developer streams, showing what’s to come in the seemingly endless marketplace. I did my due diligence and went to try what was just a drop of what was on offer and here are some impressions of what I was able to play.
gigabash – This one was something I had been watching since I first saw it at Pax East 2 years ago (before masks and vaccines were in vogue). It’s an arena brawler with destructible environments, characters that pay homage to various Tokusatsu genres. If words like Godzilla, Ultraman, Power Rangers, and Destroy All Monsters conjure up happy thoughts, this title is for you!
I am your president – Saints Row 4, Metal Wolf Chaos, video games have placed players in the role of GM with explosive results, but this title takes a more grounded and realistic approach. Choose your cabinet, make or break your campaign promises, sign bills. This title will determine if your face deserves to be on Mount Rushmore or if you want your term to last less than 30 days. Unfortunately, my foray was more of the latter as I couldn’t send a man to Mars because I valued life too much and my attempt to quell an outbreak of affluence resulted in a collapse of the economy. Maybe the job is harder than I thought…
Super Catboy- The title is quite appropriate, you play as a cat boy, but I’m not sure what makes you so “Great”. Maybe it’s the naming convention found in the 16-bit era, because visually the game looks like it could fit into the SNES era. Fight your way through beautifully animated levels collecting coins, pieces of a golden maneki-neko statue, and teach many bad dogs a lesson.
Defeat Hazard 3 – Beat Hazard has the distinction of being one of the first titles to grace my Steam library. This rhythm-based twin-stick shooter will generate enemies and attack patterns based on the song used for the level and it can even use your mp3 library to create endless levels, but in the era where everything the world broadcasts, who has mp3s? This game will still give anyone who is prone to seizures the whole episode, so those who have it, keep your distance from this one.
Funtasia: Hairy Road – Think S(n/m)uggle Truck with a penchant for the environment. This Trials-like game has you driving around cleaning up pollution sent to the planet Funtasia by the inhabitants of a neighboring planet. I don’t think this demo was tuned too well because I don’t think it’s meant to be beaten all at once because it took an almost fully upgraded car and about 40 minutes to complete the singular track and fight against the demo boss. That’s not to say I didn’t have fun, and I certainly enjoyed the trippy yet grotesque art style the game was presented in.
Last installment – Possibly the game whose premise made me laugh the most. In Last Slice, you are Rosa, a delivery girl who doesn’t make many deliveries thanks to the fact that pizza is banned. Her life gets a little spicier when she teams up with Victor who decides to run an illicit pizza delivery service. Since it was banned, anyone who drinks a slice will go wild, doing anything to satisfy their hunger. Think Hotline Miami with far fewer animal masks.
Ghost Breaker: Omnia – I was introduced to the Phantom Breaker IP through the SD-Sidescroller that was released on the Xbox 360 and it looks like it’s been going on for a decade. Omnia is actually an update of a 1v1 fighting game released in 2013 (Phantom Breaker: Extras). Although the execution is simplified (special moves are direction + attack), the game compensates for this with 3 selectable styles that can color the type of defensive techniques and stat differences your character will have. I can see the title finding its niche in the FGC and can’t wait to see tournament footage from this match.
Puck Off – Alliterative noun, CHECK! Promises of violence, CHECK! Intuitive gameplay… as you navigate in front of the net. My interest in hockey peaked with NHL94/Mutant League Hockey, so any time a developer promises arcade action with a tinge of violence, I’m ready to hit the ice. Puck Off definitely does something unique with its tank controls, unique character control, and the ability to throw your stick at will, but maybe that’s my own lack of skill, my sessions with the title had zero goal and zero fights. Spending the game chasing action and trying to start fights to no avail didn’t exactly heighten my interest. Although the post-discontinuation demo of the game promises some interesting things in the full version. So when the puck is ready to throw, I might want to be in the arena.
Pins Tags – For a game set in a storybook world, you would expect a light and airy story, but apparently there is an underlying layer of darkness in this seemingly peaceful town known as Beacon pines. The art of the game caught my eye, the storybook aesthetic piqued my interest again, and the game mechanics completely hooked me. You control a young orphan, Luka (dad is dead, mom is missing) and a mishap on the first day of summer will forever change his life and that of the citizens of the small industrial town. Collect words (Charms) and do something like crazy libs to make in-game choices (Turning Points). As you find new charms, you can revisit situations and find branching paths. A sample will be, are you exploring the abandoned fertilizer factory alone, or will you have your friend Rolo by your side. Small decisions will have big consequences. Will Luka discover the truth behind the Foul Harvest or the fate of his parents? I can’t wait to see how this story ends.
souldiers – Grunts must always pay for the failings of those in higher positions. In Souldiers you are a nameless warrior of the Zargaian army, a sudden change of strategy led you to die an ignoble death. You wake up in Terragaya, a realm between life and death. You are then tasked by the Valkyrie to find the Guardian in hopes of joining their forces when Ragnarok arrives. Souldiers caught my attention because of its beautiful illustrations and kept me going with its extremely capable gameplay. It’s one of many metrodvania-ish titles from Next Fest that have been permanently settled, but the fact that I was aware of it before led me to start it first, thankfully those first impressions turned out to be right and I will look forward to any updates I get regarding the progress of this title.
Bio-Pistol – Some people will do anything for their pets and DocX takes it to extremes. After his beloved dog is infected with the Dooper virus, he develops a sensitive vaccine to fight the virus. You are Bek, said sentient virus derived from pig DNA. Armed with your Cytro Blaster, you’ll be injected into DocX’s hound to eradicate all traces of the plague in this twinstick shooter-tinged metroidvania set in a world similar to Osmosis Jones.
Legends of another world – Why only use one character archetype when you can use them all is probably what the developers of Otherworld Legends were thinking when they were developing this title. Swordsman, check, Martial Artist, check, Wizard, why not, if there’s a character archetype, it’s in this roguelike dungeon crawler. Although the camera was a little too zoomed in on the action for my taste, otherwise it’s a thrilling experience where you don’t know what the next room holds.
neon white – Mankind’s dredgers are presented with an opportunity for salvation, all they have to do is win the Ten Days of Judgment Tournament. Kill the enemies of heaven and whoever does the best is forgiven, can’t question a deal like that. You are the amnesiac neon known as White and you inexplicably find yourself participating in the tournament. Along the way, you’ll meet other neons who seem to know you when you were still on your mortal plane. Participate in missions, find and give gifts and learn more about your past. The way the game’s levels are set up I can see it being a favorite of speedrunners and a bane to uncoordinated people like me, but the world the game presents is fascinating enough that I’m doing everything I can to get myself out of it.
The “After Hours” demos
Look, Steam has a lot of these games, and I’m a damn man! All I will say is that both hands were on the keyboard/controller at all times during these demos. Here’s a quick look at some of the age-restricted demos that were available during Next Fest.
pum pum – Connect 2 (with 3 lines or less) and unlock more naughty art drawn in a style that mimics the works of Sakimi-Chan.
forever yours – Use a deck of mystery cards to play a game that will bend any woman to your whims, think Death Note… with mind control and coitus.
Witch of the Mysterious Tower – Ascend the tower that has haunted your dreams and do non-consensual things to any entity that hinders your progress by defeating them in match three.
Horney Chain – A real-world loser is warped into a fantasy world where he must rebuild a village with sexy results.
Slimy Sextet – You are a slime called out for revenge for a breach of contract, hunt down renegades and bend them to your will. I’m sure it won’t be too difficult a task…
Long Hard… Summer – A rare game where the main character is not a complete bastard (although he pees in the bathtub) and there are actually game mechanics.
A man can’t do much (and has little hard drive space), so even though many new titles have been added to my Steam wishlist, even 7 days hasn’t been enough to make me try out the sea of titles that were available. So here is a list of titles that caught my eye and maybe you, dear reader, can take a look, assuming these demos will still be available after the festival ends.