So, the Steam Next Fest came around again and I didn’t find the time to play any of the demos until today… so, I wanted to showcase a couple of highlights from today!
As always, I’ll say a few things about the games – and until tomorrow, you can check out these games yourself on Steam. Some of these games may even have their demos up longer than that.
Regardless of that, all of these games are bangers and I’m excited about their releases! Please make sure to wishlist and/or follow them on Steam to support the devs ahead of release. Wishlists influence how much the algorithm recommends these titles… and it helps with discoverability, meaning it’s a great way of supporting devs even without spending any money!
This one just hits all the right buttons. Honestly, I’m not too fond of Creature Collectors, since a lot of them just seem like they’re trying to replicate what Pokémon does without really adding too much to them. Cassette Beasts, however, is just an entirely different beast.
In this game, you’re essentially stranded in an unfamiliar world and you get attacked by little monsters. Luckily, a friendly face saves you in the nick of time, handing you a cassette player that turns you into a monster yourself, meaning you can now defend yourself! Huzzah!
You can see the influence of Digimon and Pokémon in the game, but there are a lot of other aspects that Cassette Beasts adds to the game that just feel great – including the capturing, raising and fusing of monsters, building up your relationship with other people on the island, and honestly just lovely convos and a banger soundtrack. Frankly, I was sad when the demo ended but I may already have found my favourite game of the upcoming year!
Every game with fishing is a good game. And DREDGE is just much more than just fishing, even if it initially may come across like that. You’re stranded on an island. The ship you travelled on is wrecked beyond repair… and the new ship you get as a loan comes with a bit of debt. Hence, it’s upon you to fish, sell fish, and pay off that debt…
And that in itself would already be an amazing gameplay loop… but DREDGE has a darker “Sunless Sea”-like vibe to it. The debt is paid off quickly, so you spend your time exploring, earning money, and buying upgrades for your trawler so that you can catch fish in deeper waters or maybe drive faster.
More than anything, DREDGE plays around with the fear of the unknown and the unfathomable, big parts of what makes Lovecraftian Horror so enticing… pair that with a mysterious fog that causes you distress… and then add mutant fish, ominous lighting and suspicious people into the mix… and now I’m excited about this game… which may also become my favourite game in 2023, lol.
Now, from the makers of Gato Roboto comes Gunbrella. This one is a 2D Noir-Punk Action-Adventure where you are looking for information on the mysterious insignia found on your gunbrella – all the while shooting cultists!
You may be wondering what a gunbrella is… and honestly… it’s quite easy. it’s a gun inside of an umbrella. You can glide around, dash in different directions, boost yourself upwards, zip around on ropes, block and reflect shots, and do a lot of things with it… Oh, and you can shoot people.
Frankly, I had a blast playing the demo and I’m excited for the full release in 2023. It’s incredibly polished. The art looks stellar, the soundtrack is good, and the movement just feels so… darn… good… I love it.
Much like Luck be a Landlord, Fhtagn Simulator is a Roguelite Deckbuilder that combines takes the roguelike deckbuilding idea and combines it with… gambling? Whereas the former game requires you to play a Slots-Machine to earn rent, Fhtagn Simulator has you create a deck to play Roulette and harvest souls in order to summon an ancient and un-nameable God!
Every turn, you spin the roulette wheel and collect souls from your monsters, spells and humans. Different humans do different things while monsters either destroy humans, growing in the process or invoking other effects. The whole idea is that you essentially build up an efficient deck and survive for long enough to make it through the end of the game.
The comparison is fair here, I think, as it takes an easy-to-understand and relatively addictive gameplay loop and adds layers to it with synergies, cool relics, interesting spells, and a bit of complexity that goes beyond “number goes up = good”. This one’s releasing on October 21st and I can’t wait to play it!
Against the Storm is a dark fantasy city-builder roguelike where you must rebuild civilizations in the face of apocalyptic rains. As the Queen’s viceroy, you have to lead various races to reclaim the wilderness and secure a future for your people – and all of this works out incredibly well.
“Roguelike” and “City-Builder” doesn’t necessarily mash well together… but Against the Storm makes it work with some degrees of procedural generation, random rewards and objectives, as well a fair bit of strategy. The core gameplay loop consists of you fulfilling royal decrees to earn rewards that help you on your journey to reclaim what was taken from your kingdom.
More than anything, I was surprised at the depth that some of the mechanics have. Beavers, Lizards, Humans, and Harpies have different needs that need to be covered. They are also better at specific jobs and overall, I found it rather fun to explore this demo, even if it only allows you to play two campaigns in total.
Last but not least, Manor Lords is a medieval strategy game featuring in-depth city building, large-scale tactical battles, and complex economic and social simulations. You lead your people as a medieval lord, build up all the necessities to take care of your population’s needs, and erect a powerful domain that can eventually go into conquests.
I’ve been looking forward to playing something that is in the vein of Banished (such a great game) and Manor Lords sort of fits the bill. I love the way housing works in this game as well as how resource progression goes… but more than anything, Manor Lords just does city building “right”. It’s intuitive and fun without it feeling too easy nor too hard.
Sadly, the demo didn’t let me save nor did it let me continue for a long time. The bits I played were fun and I’m excited about the full release. A lot of the features that are promised (like conquests and economic/social simulations) aren’t actually in the game yet but given the state of the demo, I’m sure it will be rather polished and a lot of fun.
I played a bunch of demos during my stream and enjoyed a whole lot of them. These here were probably my highlights but there are also many other great demos. Sadly, the stars didn’t align and I didn’t have time to cover all of them. I may play more tomorrow and write about all the other demos I found then… but for now, these are the ones I really want to recommend to you.
There were a few demos like Flat Eye and Potionomics that looked incredibly promising and that were a lot of fun but were sadly too short for me to find much to write about…
But I may write about them once they’re fully released. Both of those aforementioned titles are gonna release soon and I love their premises… the demos just didn’t offer me much to judge the games based on, I guess.