Steam Next Fest (June 2022) – Part 2: My Highlights!

So, I played a bunch of demos – and as announced in Part 1, I’ll now talk about my highlights. Generally speaking, I was amazed at how many long demos there were that were playable repeatedly for an hour or longer, even. I uploaded a few already to YouTube with more to release in the next few days… and the uploads took ages because of how big the files were. Either way, it was fun. There were also a bunch of demos with seriously great soundtracks, which was also quite amazing. The experience overall with the games I picked was more than just nice. My battle plan for today is to talk about my favourite demos and the most interesting games I played which means that I won’t talk about specific others that I either didn’t like or that I did enjoy but not as much as these if that makes sense. Generally speaking, I think it’s better to showcase great ones rather than dunking on bad ones if that makes sense. I may talk more about other demos as time goes on as I haven’t played all of the downloaded demos quite yet (again, most of the ones I played were very long in their playtime^^), so there might be another post coming eventually but for the time being… this is fine. These are my highlights.


Roadwarden

Truth to be told, I’m not the biggest fan of text-based or text-heavy RPGs… but Roadwarden really caught my eye and doesn’t want to let go of me. It stays in my mind with its worldbuilding and the general vibe and I love it to bits. Roadwarden is an illustrated text-based RPG that utilizes isometric pixel art and mechanics from RPGs, VNs and adventure games to essentially create a very captivating experience. You play as a so-called Roadwarden – someone that works as a messenger, merchant, guard, and more on the roads, risking their lives to keep the roads safe. After being sent to a wild peninsula, you embark on a journey to fulfil the mission that was given to you: Explore the peninsula and report back to your lord within 30 days. But as you go on and explore the world, you meet new faces, friends and foes alike, who may task you with another quest or who may help you out. There is always a risk though. Do you trust everyone you come across or do you keep to yourself? At the same time, you’ll take care of resources such as rations, equipment and materials. You’ll need to watch your gear status, vitality, nourishment, and your cleanliness. These parameters have an effect on your actions and it’s honestly incredibly intriguing.

Overall, Roadwarden may not be something I’d usually play but the pretty art style and the good writing really hooked me – and I can’t help wanting to play more of this game. I highly recommend checking this demo out if you’re into RPGs and interactive fiction.

Power Chord

Power Chord is a party-based roguelike deckbuilder that is all about rock ‘n roll. The story is about demons being defeated and sealed off by a rockstar who used a legendary tool and climbed the tower to save the world. He never returned though and after a lot of time passed, some of the surviving demons are trying to get to the tower and open the gate to the demons’ dimension, which is why you need to stop them! At its core, this game plays like other card-based roguelikes, i.e. Slay the Spire or Monster Train. The key difference here, however, is that you choose characters to join your band and that you need to have four units in your party. These four fulfil a set role each and you need one of each to start a run. Drummers (Tanks), Basists (Assassins), Vocalists (Support), and Guitarists (Damagedealer) are necessary to beat up demons, after all. Each hero has their own set of cards based on their archetype or role… and your deck is essentially a mix of all those cards, meaning that you may draw only cards for the drummer or a bunch of cards for the vocalist at some times. Hence, adding specific cards, removing others, and building up your deck is important to stay alive. Each character has their own health bar as well, which is why the game can get somewhat overwhelming at times… but once you make it through a short tutorial, it’s a lot of fun, especially with all the fun synergies, mechanics, and concepts that made it into this game!

If you like party-based games like Darkest Dungeon and if you like roguelike deckbuilders like Slay the Spire, I highly recommend checking out Power Chord. It’s fantastic!

Midnight Fight Express

Midnight Fight Express is a Beat ’em Up that was announced during the Summer Game Fest a while ago. In this game, you’re a former member of the criminal underworld who is lured back into “the life” by a mysterious drone claiming that you have until sunrise to prevent a citywide criminal takeover. Sounds rough, right? Well, you also got taken into custody by (presumably) the police, so you’ll have to answer questions in cutscenes between missions, re-telling your story. Combat feels incredibly nice with you building up rage over time and with you being able to perform pretty darn cool combos. Enemies will come at you bare-handed, with grabbles and punches, as well as with weapons such as knives, batons, and guns. You’ll have to fight your way through a plethora of levels to clean up the streets and prevent this criminal takeover. At the same time, you can unlock skills to utilize new combos, grabbles, counters, and more – while also unlocking costumes that will make you fight with style. It’s all about style, isn’t it? Honestly, the isometric perspective of the game really worked wonders for me. Usually, I have issues with isometric games as depth perception is a little bit hard to get used to but Midnight Fight Express kind of nails it and whatever you do in this game feels great. You can punch enemies to break down their guard, use a finisher at the end of a long combo, and throw them off a building. At the same time, you can also utilize their weapons, throw objects, and cause mayhem as you go through the game…

It’s just good ol’ fun, really, which is why I’d recommend Midnight Fight Express to anyone who likes to punch their way through the streets in games. It’s pretty darn great, especially with this amazing soundtrack accompanying it.

Cult of the Lamb

As I already mentioned in Part 1 and in the past, Cult of the Lamb is a phenomenal roguelike-action game with dungeon-crawler and base-building elements. After wiping out all other lambs, the priests of “The Old Faith” put you to the blade as well to prevent an ancient prophecy and alas, you die… or so they thought because you’re actually still alive thanks to a deal you took with a demon, essentially fulfilling the prophecy and now starting a cult in his name to strike down The Old Faith and free Him Who Waits, the demon that helped you. Runs are relatively simple with a magic-like “Curse” Attack and a physical attack using your weapon. You’ll roll around, strike enemies and build up your fervour to then unleash powerful curses that will assist you. As you go through a dungeon, you’ll come across new weapons and curses to choose or skip as well as tarot cards that will grant you unique bonuses. At the same time, you’ll forage for resources and bring some back when you die. Resources can then be used to build up your cult’s base where your followers (that you save along the way) will need to eat, rest, and pray.

Cult of the Lamb’s combat is swift, fluid and fun. The roguelike mechanics are solid and I can see myself sinking hours into this title. At the same time, the art style is incredibly cute whilst the themes and topics of this game are rather morbid… and overall, it’s just an amazing game with an incredibly nice soundtrack!

NAIAD

NAIAD is a relaxing, minimalist, and colourful exploration adventure. As the guardian spirit of these waters, you’ll swim around, interact with this mysterious river’s flora and fauna, discover secrets, and generally, you’ll just go with the flow… and it’s incredibly wholesome and nice. You can reunite frogs and ducks whilst helping the forest and different animals by stopping humans from destroying nature or disturbing the animals. At the same time, you’ll come across little poems and memories as well as a rather relaxing and nice soundtrack that lasts for a long time. It doesn’t really get boring or annoying. It’s just a good vibe overall. NAIAD’s demo lasts for an hour or so but you can in theory let it run in the background to “meditate” in a manner akin to ABZÛ.

If you enjoy wholesome and relaxing experiences, NAIAD is definitely a game you gotta try. It’s a non-violent and minimalist adventure with a cute and pretty art style as well as a unique idea!

Necrosmith

Necrosmith is a Necromancer simulator where you actually build Zombies, Skeletons, Orcs, Harpies, and other creatures from scratch! Go out there and collect body parts, assemble them and breathe life into your creations… and before you see it, you’ll find new parts, new areas, new resources, and upgrades for your tower. In a way, it kind of reminds me of a deckbuilding-roguelike game when in reality, you’ll mostly make units and send them out, hoping that they’ll find anything useful… or controlling them to explore on your own. At the same time, you can hurl spells at enemies and you’ll need to defend your base against foes invading your lands. The idea is fun and a successful run can go up to an hour-long, which is pretty cool.

Honestly, the premise is simple but I had way too much fun with Necrosmith and I highly recommend this to anyone interested in a different kind of Roguelike experience.

Lone Ruin

Lone Ruin is a phenomenal experience overall. Combat is fluid, roguelike mechanics are solid, and above all, it’s not only beautiful but also incredibly challenging. You combine spells and use them to survive for ten minutes against alien hordes that come at you. Spells either use charges, cooldowns or ammunition. Some spells can be upgraded to shoot out multiple shots or have more damage, bounce between enemies, split up, or to even have more impact thanks to crits and stuff. Frankly, for a demo, this twin-stick shooter/roguelike is already incredibly fun and polished and I find it more than just entertaining.

If you like Roguelike-Shooters in 2.5D, I highly recommend checking out Lone Ruin’s demo!


Either way, that’s it for my highlights. I really enjoyed these demos as well as some other ones but I had my best times with these few right here and highly recommend, checking them out. I might write more in the near future about some other ones depending on how much time I have available but for now, that’s it for this re-cap. What were your favourite demos?

This post was first published on Indiecator by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken. If you like what you see here and want to see more, you can check me out on Twitch and YouTube as well.

11 thoughts on “Steam Next Fest (June 2022) – Part 2: My Highlights!

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  1. Naiad is one of the demos I tried and A Little to the Left when it comes to indie games. I also have tried demos for Destroy All Humans 2 Reprobed and Metal Hellsinger. Impressive stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I loved DAH2 on the Xbox, so I didn’t try that out. A little to the left was great but felt unintuitive since “Hints” would spoil the solution and some were kinda obscure.
      Metal Hellsinger looked cool but I don’t have the storage for it, haha.

      Glad you found some good ones :)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Well I never felt like there were any hints in A Little to the Left but one last puzzle was harder than others. I’ve already put an hour into the DAH2 demo it makes me think is the entire campaign on this demo? I hope not.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Probably not! They wanna make money after all :D Also the original DAH2 was fairly long in its content. I beat DAH1 (both the original and the remake) in 11 hours but DAH2 had well over 20, if I remember correctly?

      As for A Little To The Left, you can hit “Escape” and then click on “Hint” and then it shows you the solution. Or… well… one of the solutions… which is not good for a puzzle game. :) Like,… don’t spoil the game, devs! :D

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It wasn’t, turns out I had one mission left before reachinf the demo’s end. I liked the gameplay more than in the remaster of the first. Nice to not always have Pox breathing down my neck if I do something wrong.

        Funny I never used the hints, just figured it out on my own so I’m gonna have fun with it.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you liked it! Honestly, it’s quite over-the-top in its writing and I love that. Also, the mechanics are fairly interesting and runs last quite a while. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on it!

      Liked by 1 person

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