Just like every other time, this year’s first Steam Next Fest has been somewhat chaotic – with timing that couldn’t be worse for me personally (exam season, hooray!) and with way too many demos and way too little time. Alas, today’s the last day and I wanted to write about my personal highlights of the Steam Next Fest.
If you wanna check out some of these games for yourself, go ahead and check out the storage pages – and don’t forget to wishlist the game in question while you’re at it. It helps the developers a lot!
So, right away… Dungeon Drafters is probably by far the best demo I’ve played this time around, which is also why I wanted to feature it first.
Dungeon Drafters is a “Mystery Dungeon” style tactical RPG. Think Chunsoft’s Pokémon Mystery Dungeon but add deckbuilding to it as well as some tactical turn-based combat. As a fan of the Mystery Dungeon games and as a huge advocate for tactical RPGs like them and Roguelikes, I just had to give this a try… and it was amazing.
In the demo, you don’t build your deck but rather select one of many different characters, each presenting a mix of two archetypes. Whereas the Maga features “Oracle” and “Attack” cards, the Bard is all about summoning and mobility, for instance.
Moving around consumes Action Points. These can be recovered with certain actions… different cards also consume AP and once you’re out of them, the enemies play out their turns before you’re at it again, ready to strike enemies, dodge abilities, and plan out your turns.
What I found incredibly interesting is that cards essentially “exhaust” when played. You do have a melee attack, like in PMD, but your abilities cannot be used endlessly. You may refresh your deck, however, by activating certain statues.
Overall, I found the game to be incredibly in-depth with many different aspects and mechanics to it, not to mention that it’s just a treat for the eyes and ears given its lovely soundtrack and the amazing Pixel Art aesthetic! And on top of that, “Fressato”, one of the developers I talked to, showed me a few cards that aren’t in the demo that are incredibly fun to play around with, so I’m super excited to play the full release!
Another highlight this time around was this medieval social-based village management sim named Lakeburg Legacies where you play Matchmaker and handle your village’s most important resource: Love.
This demo is rather cute. The art style looks absolutely adorable with many different UI elements that are quite easy on the eye – and the menus that you have access to not only make sense in terms of their design and the way they’re accessed but they also look incredibly charming in terms of their “notice board”/”book” aesthetic.
But as far as gameplay goes, this one’s… interesting.
You manage a village that has a lot of different needs from clothing to wood to different kinds of food, etc.
To meet those needs, you require a solid labour force consisting of individuals that can operate the farms, hunt in the woods and work as lumberjacks, among other occupations. So, you essentially hire people to join your village and you make use of their skillsets in the most efficient way… but you also need to play matchmaker so that Lakeburg’s residents don’t stay terribly single!
The mix of town management and… love management… is a ton of fun.
It’s a shame that I couldn’t find an option to rename people or anything like that but it’s been a lot of fun to watch the village grow as your villagers get to know new partners, creating life and stories… and their children grow up as well, eventually turning into apprentices and making connections with other people.
I AM FUTURE
I Am Future is a Life Sim of a different kind… Humanity has departed from Earth and you awaken many years later from cryosleep, seemingly after having been left behind. Equipped with Memory Loss and a robo-arm, you now have to find means to survive by fishing, farming, cooking, crafting and building… all while trying to figure out who you are, what happened to you, and what to do now…
Overall, my experience with I Am Future has been incredibly chill and lots of fun, although I did find the lack of direction a little worrying. There were moments where I really struggled for certain resources – and instead of progressing through the demo, I had to scour the abandoned skyscraper roof in this flooded city for plastic of all things…
Really? Plastic is what I’m struggling to find?
But once I found whatever roadblock I encountered, I’d often progress smoothly, uncovering little bits and pieces of the story and lore of this world as I went on… there were times when I found it tedious to protect crops from the mutants emerging at night but I’m sure there’s things you can do about that later on in the game.
Essentially, I had fun. I liked the general direction of the gameplay a lot but I found the game to be too wordy in terms of its story which lead to me skipping past whole sections. It was a tough read…
And while I did enjoy the majority of the features (especially the resources that do respawn!), I would have liked it if there was more freedom in terms of what you can place down and how you decorate your base. I Am Future is releasing on May 18th, so I’m quite excited about this even if I had a few minor issues with it.
What did I just play?
Voidtrain is a survival sim about navigating a train through space, and it’s honestly so fucking wild… I just can’t believe something like it didn’t come out earlier!
After taking shelter from a snow storm, you stumble across something that wasn’t the light switch and you end up opening a portal to another world that essentially swallows you and transports you onto a handcar! Hooray!
So, you now scavenge for scrap metal, wood, and other resources, research techniques, build work stations, and advance through space on your little train.
At some point, I thought that this core gameplay loop is a ton of fun and that I’d love to just do this… but as my pump trolley moved along the tracks, we encountered this sort of HUGE IRON STRUCTURE that reveals itself to be a station of sorts. There, I not only found German text but also a revolver that we suddenly had to make use of on the continued journey against monsters that were eager to nibble on my “train”.
And yes, I went from handcar to pump trolley here to signify an evolution because, yes: You can upgrade your train. Add parts to it, more wagons, and I’d imagine that there will be an engine of sorts later on…hopefully? I’m quite excited either way, especially as Voidtrain reminds me of Breathedge but without the bad jokes and the 7th-grade humour!
There wasn’t much story yet in the demo but the core gameplay looks cool and it appears that there are bigger fish to fry in this game based on the final section of the game’s preview… I’m so darn excited!
Last but not least, I already wrote about Townseek a good bunch in this post over here but at the time, I was only talking about my excitement at it in a listicle post… I haven’t actually played it yet and to my surprise, there’s a demo available, too, not to mention that the game is now published by Super Rare Originals!
For anyone that isn’t in the know, Townseek is an Exploration-based Management and Trading game heavily inspired by Merchant of the Skies where you embark on a journey to find out more about the world and to discover the long-lost legacy of Sir Reginald Sharkingston… or to get rich super quickly.
Honestly, the game has a ton to offer, just like its inspiration, with some cute story-telling, incredibly adorable art, as well as lots and lots of satisfying mechanics!
There are a ton of Indie References as well, lots of things to collect, a lot of money to be made, lots of stuff to trade, fish, farm, and mine for… and quests! It seems quite thought-out and it’s just the sort of game that I could get lost in four hours and hours without any issues.
As always, there have been way too many demos to talk about and to play. I did try out a lot of games this time but I just knew that I can’t download 70 demos and also play all of them… if anything sticks around for a while longer, I’ll definitely play them and write about them some more.
It’s just that with thousands of demos coming to these events, I can’t play all and write about them, especially if you only have one week of time to do so… and especially not when the timing is so bad that you write the majority of your exams this semester in that specific week.
I liked a bunch of demos but also noticed that some demos weren’t to my liking. There were a few with very interesting approaches that frankly made my eyes and head hurt with their presentation… One demo in particular had this cool motion effect in place that sounds awesome on paper but in reality, I’d rather turn it off as it makes me dizzy.
So, I tried to dial down how many demos I download (this time around, I downloaded 27, I think?) and I then decided to narrow it down to only five demos in the end because it’s just too difficult to give every demo the same amount of attention.
I will, however, also be live now on Twitch if you wanna hang out for a while over here on my Channel.
I’ve got a bit of time on my hands today and figured it’d be a good opportunity to check out some other demos. If you’re into that, come hang out!
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.
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