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Thread: Steam Next Fest

  1. #1
    Level 10,000 achieved
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Finland

    Steam Next Fest


    This time around I have played a number of COOL DEMOS, lemme tell you about em.

    El Paso, Elsewhere

    The new indie Max Payne has a demo and it's a fun one. It really does play almost identically to Max Payne 1. At first I though it wasn't quite as tight, but after a while it started feeling better. Lovely presentation and narration. It's a good one!

    New Heights

    Ever since playing the demo for the cancelled climbing-game Vertigo by Wildebeest Games in ~2010, I've been wanting something like this, even considering trying to make it myself. I had a Rock Climbing Expert (Jeshibu) play this demo and he said "closest I've seen a game come to bouldering". It's surprisingly intuitive and easy to pick up and play as well. Hold either mouse button to move your arms and search for a good grip. Hold Shift + mouse button to move your feet. Control your body with WASD. It's all about finding good grips and carefully navigating up difficult cliff walls. The demo is huge. Probably 3-4 hours of content if you wanna climb it all.

    what else

    what else lets see


    oh yeah, our boy YAKOOB has a NEW DEMO OUT!

    Leaf Blower Man

    Really just the introductory sequence of the game, I'm guessing, but it certainly does a nice job of introducing you to the magical world of BLOWING LEAVES. WOW!

    edit: did my dumb ass just go and put this in Comm Chat? MODS! SOME HELP HERE!

  2. #2
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: not here
    So hyped you put it in Comm Chat, eh.

    Also of note: Little Kitty, Big City, Shadow Gambit, Sea of Stars, and Hammerwatch II all have demos. I'll have thoughts on these, if I get around to them.

  3. #3
    Registered: Aug 2004
    Quote Originally Posted by henke View Post
    Really just the introductory sequence of the game, I'm guessing...
    It's actually a whole different level that's not in the game.

  4. #4
    Registered: Oct 2000
    Location: Athens of the North
    Quote Originally Posted by Sulphur View Post
    So hyped you put it in Comm Chat, eh.
    Now moved to a more logical home per request by henke.

  5. #5
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: not here
    Quote Originally Posted by Al_B View Post
    Now moved to a more logical home per request by henke.

    I played a few more things. Some thoughts:

    Venba - fuck me, this might be the first video game that features people actually from my home state, and one of the first words in it is 'aiyo'. Very cute. It's about a South Indian housewife and her husband as immigrants trying to make a life in Canada in the 80s. It seems a fairly straightforward mini-game and conversation-'em up, sort of in the vein of Night in the Woods or prior indie games whose names escape me. The art is nice-ish, immediately dousing every scene with pleasant warmth and life. I was tickled by the Tamil songs on the radio, but even more tickled by doing something in the game I've done as a matter of course in my life - making motherfucking idlis. Had to chuckle at that.

    However, the demo is very slight, and I'm concerned about whether there's enough depth in the structure to carry an entire slice-of-life game in it; the story will have to do some very heavy lifting here. I hope they lean more on how difficult it is to adapt one's culture, language, and mannerisms to a new place, too - especially for as deeply traditional a community as Tamilians can be.

    Eternights - the most anime thing I've played in a minute. It's a dating sim/action game, and if you think that's a weird combination, you probably haven't played Boyfriend Dungeon. Okay, so it's an unwieldy combination, but this game just makes it embarrassingly terrible. There's this calendar animation that plays every time you move to the next day or the current scene shifts to nighttime, and it's like a fade to a 3-second long screen and fade out every time. The structure of the game makes it cut between conversations and gameplay, and every time it switches, there's loading and saving, each of which takes a couple of seconds. When an interaction takes about 5 seconds to show someone's reaction face, and then you move back to loading/saving, it gets annoying fast. Also, most of the budget seems to have gone to the (admittedly nice enough) anime sequences, because the demo's environments are mostly poorly lit corridors with barely any detail to them. And the action is so nondescript, it resists my attempts at describing it.

    As for the story... well. You're this dude whose friend's trying to set you up on a dating app. He's got dreams of a pop idol one day swiping right on him. You meanwhile are seemingly a hopeless smartass no matter what dialogue option you choose. Meanwhile, there's this new drug coming out called Eternight that stops aging (great name, A+ marketing), and after some banter you go to sleep, whereupon you have a weird dream in which your arm's cut off and you fight some monsters (yes, that's right, and no, I'm not explaining that). Then you wake up and go outside, at which point the world's Eternight facilities explode, a gigantic wall shows up across the country, and people turn into *gasp* monsters. So you run to a shelter and coincidentally run into the pop idol (literally), and then your dream comes true. It's... uh, something. Whatever that something is, it's ungood.

    (Props to stealing the sudden wall thing from Darker than Black, I thought I was the only person in the world who'd seen that anime.)

    Broken Roads - the demo was available before the Next Fest, so maybe it'll be around after it's over. So: an isometric RPG set in the strayan outback post-apocalypsism, which, uh, doesn't look all that different from it does now (sozzles, Ozzles). Seems Disco Elysium-influenced, but really it's more in the vein of Obsidian RPGs.

    Anyway, nice art, acknowledges indigenous peoples in the splash screens, etc. The big marquee gimmick is that it features a very literal moral compass, with four quadrants: Nihilism (nothing matters, so be a selfish bastard), Machiavellian (my group uber alles, so all everyone else is a means to an end), Utilitarian (treat overall happiness for everyone as an optimisation problem), and Humanitarian (everyone's dignity is important). Immediately, you can see that those descriptions don't necessarily match up to the labels as we'd traditionally define them, and there's the thorny question of 'what if I'm in between any of those?). Well, the game's answer is magnitude - making decisions that are wildly different from your current alignment have a larger impact on your current moral disposition, and also open up more options in dialogue. Decisions that are within your current quadrant make you more 'narrow-minded', conversely, and make some choices unavailable, but offer you higher-level options in conversations.

    So how's that work for the game? Well, it's a fun idea, but the execution is as dry as sun-bleached bones. The writing is fine to pretty nice, but the reactions to your moral choices aren't particularly interesting. There's also the issue that neatly delineating conversation options and labelling their moral stance gives you a sense of being constrained by the system - though I see why they went with it, because not labelling the options means players might get upset at choosing a response and their compass shifting to something they didn't expect. The demo does the expected thing of judging your actions at the end through a fairly didactic conversation with an NPC I barely knew, where I felt like I was being lectured about choosing my own path by the game first, then the character. About as subtle as a sledgehammer, and I couldn't see the point of it - it failed to encourage me to question my decisions, like Kreia did in KoTOR 2. In summary, a lot of telling, and not enough showing... but in a game that's literally telling you who you are every step of the way, I suppose it would be silly to expect anything else.

    I got into some combat at one point, and the mechanics need some work. It's not easy to see how many AP/MP you have, the NPCs had pathing issues with one dude just moving back and forth because he couldn't melee attack my party, and I couldn't intuitively tell what parts of a battlefield gave me cover without hovering my mouse around the area first. There's also QoL issues in that you can't highlight interactables, NPCs are named but you can't see their names if you hover the mouse over them, there's no run/walk toggle, buying stuff at shops doesn't let you split a stack by entering the number of X item you want (you have to right click and drop one of whatever repeatedly until you're happy with the number you're buying), and a lot of other things.

    In short, needs work, and the core conceit seems to project the appearance of depth, but the execution does not. The voice acting is fine, and while the characters are all very mildly written, the prose is decent, and we need more games where you can hear Australianisms peppered throughout a conversation.

    Edit: yes, I should have mentioned, it's essentially trying to be Australian Fallout. Which is cute, given Fallout was itself inspired by Mad Max.
    Last edited by Sulphur; 22nd Jun 2023 at 06:29.

  6. #6
    Level 10,000 achieved
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Finland
    Thanks, Al!

    Played a bunch of stuff that I don't have much to say about but I'll say it anyway.

    Little Kitty, Big City - not as slick as Stray. I kinda wanna play Stray again btw.

    Bike Out - bicycle physics are tricky to get right. This game doesn't even TRY. Boo!

    Surmount - a more arcadey physics climbing game. Has a lot of fun stuff in it, but the main swinging-mechanic is wonky.

    Necrogolf - 3D golf game set during a zombie apocalypse, which just means you'll have to pause your golfing to swing golfballs into the heads of attacking zombies from time to time. Fun concept, but the golfing is kinda underbaked. Eh...

  7. #7
    Level 10,000 achieved
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Finland

    New Next Fest, new DEMOS!

    Go Mecha Ball - been following the development of this twin-stick BALL EM AND SHOOT EM UP for a while and it was nice to finally get my hands on it. Gameplay is incredibly slick and it looks and sounds great, buuuut honestly it's maybe a bit too fast paced for ol' henke. Not really my jam.

    The Enjenir - physics based building and platforming game which plays like Bridge Constructor meets Human Fall Flat. The game's building mechanics were made by actual engineers, which is good! The game's comedy was also made by actual engineers, which is bad. Despite my eyeballs threatening to roll right out of my head whenever any story or narration was happening, I had a really good time with this. Building things and then using them to complete a task was a joy. Wishlisted!

    Foodboy - it's Paperboy, but with a lot more twerking. I'm so-so on the pizza throwing system.

    goblinAmerica - It's... really... something.

    edit: have some screenshots!

    I'll leave it up to you to figure out which game is which.
    Last edited by henke; 10th Oct 2023 at 13:55.

  8. #8
    Registered: Oct 2020
    Location: Russia
    That goblinAmerica is just... Reminds me of that kind of dreams, where it's you they want to catch, but here you are taking sweet revenge. Similar feelings David Szymansky's games evokes in me. Or American McGee's ones. This project is something in the middle between them, IMHO.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by henke View Post
    Ever since playing the demo for the cancelled climbing-game Vertigo by Wildebeest Games in ~2010, I've been wanting something like this, even considering trying to make it myself. I had a Rock Climbing Expert (Jeshibu) play this demo and he said "closest I've seen a game come to bouldering". It's surprisingly intuitive and easy to pick up and play as well. Hold either mouse button to move your arms and search for a good grip. Hold Shift + mouse button to move your feet. Control your body with WASD. It's all about finding good grips and carefully navigating up difficult cliff walls. The demo is huge. Probably 3-4 hours of content if you wanna climb it all.
    Might be worth trying the demo for Jusant if you haven't already. I'm not a climber myself, but when I got into it, I felt like there was a certain rhythm to it. It's not purely about climbing, though.
    Last edited by qolelis; 10th Oct 2023 at 17:21.

  10. #10
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: not here
    So I played a few things.

    Flashback 2: from Microids, though apparently this is being done in collaboration with Paul Cuisset. The demo's clearly unfinished, with things like the mouse cursor not being hidden during cutscenes, and the controls acting weird for me at times. Those are fixable, but the core game... iunno. Remember Flashback? In that game, did you want the protagonist to keep piping up all the time with obvious observations, obnoxious VOs, and lore to find with computer terminals that have bootup animations longer than a second so you immediately lose interest and close the terminal before you even read anything? No? Well, too bad; also, these are the minor niggles. The big one is this takes '2.5D' literally - so it presents like a traditional 2.5D platformer initially, but instead of being locked to a 2D movement plane, you can also move in the Z plane forward and backwards a few feet. This is perfectly calibrated to be fucking annoying, because if Conrad isn't perfectly lined up in the depth plane with a ledge, it won't let you ledge grab. Oh, also, forget both moving and grabbing an overhead ledge. Just like Flashback, you have to amble up to it so you're exactly in line with the lip, and then jump to hoist yourself up. This was fine during the SNES days, but today it isn't. The combat also moves the game to a sort of twin-stick shooter mode, but with a kind of isometric viewpoint, so aiming is pretty terrible, and the entire experience is just... ungood. And it only lasts about 15-20 minutes!

    Also, it runs like a one-legged dog in a pool of molasses. There is a lot of work to be done, but I don't think this is going to be fundamentally fixable.

    Unawake: Very pretty. Runs on UE5, so you'd expect it to be. Fantastic production values for the first cutscene. Unfortunately, it also plays like a prototype. First person sword action RPG is a fine idea, but the mechanics need to be solid, and this one just feels grotty. Hits have little impact or feedback, the enemies seem braindead, and everything just feels unsatisfying. There's no oomph, it's like swatting things made out of cardboard, and when you die, it's usually a surprise (which is a sign that there needs to be more feedback, again). It's an alpha, so things will improve, but I'm not seeing a mechanical framework with much depth or enjoyment here as is.
    Last edited by Sulphur; 11th Oct 2023 at 01:30.

  11. #11
    Level 10,000 achieved
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Finland
    Quote Originally Posted by qolelis View Post
    Might be worth trying the demo for Jusant if you haven't already. I'm not a climber myself, but when I got into it, I felt like there was a certain rhythm to it. It's not purely about climbing, though.
    Somehow I didn't play Jusant last time it was in the Next Fest, so thanks for the reminder. Yeah, it was lovely!

  12. #12

    I have a couple of demos lined-up for playing.

    Already played:
    The Beekeeper's Picnic, cute point'n'click about Holmes and Watson as they get older and less agile.
    Between Horizons, investigative sort of side-scroller in space. Not exactly point'n'click, but kind of. Yep. Similar gameplay as in their earlier game, Lacuna.
    Europa, Wholesome, relaxing, third person exploration game with some platforming and flying, jumping, gliding, sliding.
    The Inspector, cool in a weird kind of back to the roots kind of way. Mhm. Made me think back to a golden era when I was still new to the whole indie-scene. I liked this one especially. Some language issues here and there, but I'm seeing past that.
    Urban Explorer, has issues, but also potential. More stealth than urbex. The title feels misleading. Some parkour thrown in too. The devs seem to be still deciding what kind of game they want to make.

    Yet to play:
    The Midnight Crime, ...
    My Work Is Not Yet Done, ...
    Simpler Times, ...
    Snufkin: Melody of Moominvalley, ...
    Three Minutes To Eight, ...

  13. #13
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: not here
    Asura the Striker: A Space Harrier-'em up, and if you like that, you like that. You slide Asuka Langley Asura all across the screen to hit enemies with your attacks, avoid theirs, and not bash into ravine walls. Asura is a 'humanoid battle weapon' shaped like a Japanese teenager's wet dream in a robobattle suit, and her abilities include being able to shoot shit, slow down shit, and knuckle shit, the last one of which I didn't figure out until the final boss. After ~12 minutes, I reached the end of the demo, which had me slapping around a dragon, getting pummelled by another dragon, trading air with a wicth (not a misspelling - not mine, anyway), getting bounced into the screen by balls, and knuckling a battleship for the coup de grace. Groovy tunes, looks all right, will probably never play it again. I rate it 7 knuckles out of 2 and a half fists.

    My Work Is Not Yet Done: Okay. I dunno. I have zero nostalgia for 1-bit aesthetics, so I usually approach such things with an attempted tolerance flecked with tempered distaste. This seems to be a survival horror survival adventure simulation game exploring the 'imbrication and dissolution of human identities/meanings', according to the store page.

    So, you start off this thing in the middle of something having happened, that being a member of your expedition disappearing, probably down a cliff. Immediately, problems present themselves: there's a sort of VHS tape overlay on the visuals with a bit of chromatic aberration, which is fine; but the visuals are monochrome pixels, and the thickets and woods you're in are densely illustrated, and so also nearly impossible to navigate. What's traversable, what isn't? Fuck knows, find out by rubbing your dude with a super slow walking speed against everything, and then tediously walk around a rock, a tree, a bush. Sometimes, what looks like a non-traversable rock face ends up just being a level rock floor. The second problem is that trails and paths aren't always clearly marked out, so finding a screen exit is a chore. Screens also loop back around, which is realistic given how geography works, but also highlights that the signposting for paths is non-existent. Yes, if you liked King's Quest and Hugo's House of Horrors and all those games from that era along with the old Apple 1-bit things, you're probably gonna be nostalgic for the bumbling around. I ain't.

    Anyhoo, in the middle of all this groping around a forest, it starts raining, And when it rains, the screen - that is to say, the camera overlay you are perceiving the game through - gets progressively more and more blurry, until you can barely see anything. In a game that's already hard to navigate, this cheesed me right the fuck off. Anyway, I continued, because I was supposed to get to the 'camp', and not having a map, that means you just plod into scenery until you find something. I found a bunker, camera footage, and the blossoming realisation that I may in fact have ADHD. Anyway, you eventually find the camp, and then you change your clothes, decontaminate, change your clothes, take a shower, go to bed, and then the demo ends with a video of abstract viz that goes on for so long I got to check my phone for new messages and consider my next grocery order.

    What was that all about? Who knows. It's either set on an alien planet, or Earth being beset by something alien. There's a lot of unnecessary detail that you can glean by inspecting items around you. This seems to also be the primary way the developer provides you with backstory, but it also leads to ridiculous parts like this:

    That, folks, is the game's description of a kitchen sink.

    There's an attention to detail here that speaks of a level of nerdery beyond belief, and this extends to the (actually really fantastic) sound design. The wind rushing through the trees, the rain pouring down all around you, the sequence of unbuckling your belt, unzipping your pants, pulling them down, hearing stuff plopping in water, and then the flush, and then putting your pants back on when you use the toilet. It's all there, in gratuitous detail. Very impressive!

    But also, Sutemi Productions: hire a second designer and get an editor, please. And get me one while you're at it... how long is this fucking post, jesus.
    Last edited by Sulphur; 15th Oct 2023 at 03:22.

  14. #14
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: not here
    And qolelis: I guess all of that game might actually be up your street. Take it away! (from me, that is)

  15. #15
    Hehe, yep, I've played it now and liked it. Maybe not every little bit of it, but I'm always up for an experience like this. Something out of the ordinary. Someone who dares make a game like this. The developer is mentioning the art scene of where he lives, so I'm guessing he might be coming into this more from that than a gaming scene.

    I'm still waiting for Memory of a Broken Dimension, but in the meantime, this might scratch that itch a bit. And look at you, it made you write all that. I mean, it was a good read. I can definitely see where you're coming from. The language is so purple that even Marcel Proust would have had a hard time with it. It's like the sentences never end even when they do. And yes, the art style makes it hard to navigate. I bumbled around quite a bit before finding that station. I wonder if not the scanner tool could have been put to more use other than finding the surveillance equipment. That could make the place easier to navigate, but still keep the sense of being lost—if that's what the developer was after. Maybe that's part of the nature of that place and its... other presence. I could swear the tiles had shifted around the second time I played the demo. I actually quit my first run prematurely and never found a way back to my camp until my second run.

    If the developer's intent was to project the character's confusion and bewilderment through the screen onto me, I'd say they made a good job out of that. I like that feeling—although only so far as to eventually start making sense out of things, figuring out the rules governing my surrounding, however alien these rules might be. The rewards seem few and far between here, though, testing my patience a bit.

    While the minutia of everyday life might turn into a grind, I might not be able to stay away, because of the pure mystery of what's out there, waiting for me while I'm on the shitter, plopping a big one. I will definitely keep an eye on the full game when it releases.
    Last edited by qolelis; 15th Oct 2023 at 12:46.

  16. #16
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: not here
    Thanks, and for all my criticism, I do in fact appreciate the game for the same things you've pointed out. It's a bold and idiosyncratic vision, rendered with the sort of detail that shows the dev's really pouring a lot into it. It's worth appreciating for that alone. But I'm also not sure it's for me, really. I don't like friction when it persists through the entire experience just for the sake of making the game more deliberate, but I can see that as a design choice, and something that might work with a different player's temperament.

    Re: the prose, I'm actually not that fussed about it, even if it's quite florid. The thing that sticks out to me is, in a traditional adventure game, you click on items to get a short description of what the thing in question is, situated within your current context. It's both a practical thing for playing the game, and a narrative thing to add detail and richness to the story (usually through your character giving a short quip on the point of interest). The issue is that clicking on an item or an environmental interaction spot often gives you an entire page's worth of writing, which is not only an immediate disconnect with the expected practical use, it also kills your interest in what the item is if for each thing on the screen (and in the camp there are many) it takes an essay of historical context to work them out; viz., it shortchanges you on the expected use of practical information, and longchanges you on narrative information. I don't think that's a good balance. Maybe since they're written as musings, they should be kept in a diary that can be read at will.

    I posted my ramblings above in the Steam forum, and the author replied with a lot of good points to it. I'm pleasantly surprised, and am keeping an eye on this even if it may not, in the end, be for me.

    (I also looked up his history. He made a Hotline Miami mod called Midnight Animal... and hoo boy, there was some drama there. Glad that's done, or seems to be.)

  17. #17
    Level 10,000 achieved
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Finland

    Next Fest NOW

    The Next Fest has been on for a few days, and is still running till Feb 12. I played some demos. 3 of them.

    Star Trucker - You deliver cargo from station to station, and occasionally get up and swap out the batteries in your spacetruck, or do a bit of spacewalking if you need to patch up some holes. It's great. I played 2.6 hours of it already.

    Grippy Golf - a Katamari-esque golf platformer. Plays great and is very polished. It quickly becomes addictive trying to get a hole in one on each course. This is a tiny lil zero-budget indie game that deserves to do great, so check it out!

    Zero Below The Sun - PS1-style survival horror. Looks a lot like Fade To Black (1995). Very janky tho, can't really recommend it. Hopefully the dev gets it in a much better state by the time of release.

    Any other great demos out there? I know Pacific Drive has one, but I kinda wanna go in fresh when the full game releases.

  18. #18
    Registered: Apr 2011
    i was very glad Pacific Drive had a demo, because it wasnt quite the game i thought it was going to be. in my head it was Jalopy x STALKER, with similar strange and lonely vibes to them. but the vibes werent there. there were very chatty npcs always commenting on things through the radio. its not a continuous world, you have (maybe roguelikey? unsure) expeditions into separate levels from your base. theres an overwrought crafting system through which all your scavenging is filtered. and theres a ton of hud all over the screen, which further dispelled the vibes i wanted. i had fun with the demo, but im not going to be in a rush to buy the full game.

    other demos i liked:

    INDIKA - the gameplay is a bit uninspired, very vanilla action-adventure, but the story and setting got me hooked: a fantasy 19th century russia, and youre a nun with a taunting narrator in your head, and the unwilling travelling companion of a wounded soldier who talks to god. ironically, i probably wouldnt have tried it if i had looked at the store page first, the description there is not compelling to me—i gave it a try solely on the strength of how odd its banner picture was.

    Menace from the Deep - a card-based battle game, lovecraft themed. if youre thinking Arkham Horror x Slay the Spire, thats pretty much what youre in for—although it looks like the full game might have a more overarching story rather than a pure run-based thing going. from the demo, it didnt seem to do anything particularly novel with its card mechanics, although i liked that the between-battles progression has more scope for thought and choice than simply following a slay-the-spire-like branching path.

    NULLPTR - a hacking-themed action puzzle game. one of the best hacking-themed games ive ever played. the demo was twice as big as i expected. excellent puzzle design, with many unconventional and interesting mechanics. great, evocative writing. if the rest of the game lives up to the promise, then this is going to be an incredible little gem!

  19. #19
    Level 10,000 achieved
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Finland
    Ok you spooked me into giving the Pacific Drive demo a go. Just played a little bit of it. I'm also expecting Jalopy x Stalker, but a more mainstream, accessible and slightly cartoony version of that, and yeah I think it fits the bill. There is indeed a lot of NPC chatter, but I'm expecting that's probably mostly in the opening tutorial bit. I'm sure there'll be more solitude once the game gets going.

  20. #20
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: not here
    Quelle coïncidence! I just tried it too, and nope. If the structure's basically head out, survive, scavenge, find parts, repeat <n> times until game over, I'm not sold. It's not a compelling loop at least from this small slice. The fiddly car interface is neat, the fiddly inventory is... interesting, the fiddly crafting and blueprints and car parts management and space restrictions are so not my jam that it's, uh, mustard. A peanut butter and mustard sandwich.

    Maybe it works better in a longer, more atmospheric segment separated from all the craft-y preamble, where all of this starts to pay off as you explore and find yourself using these systems on the open road to make it a real adventure, but the onboarding's a bit too frontloaded for now, and I'm not a fan of fiddling around with everything in the world just to make it work.

  21. #21
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: Cathedral Row
    I played through a few dungeon crawler demos in the last few days. Monomyth is looking good and seemingly has tons of features, but the demo I tried seemed very unoptimized and shaky on performance. Hopefully they will iron that out soon. I also tried out Neverlooted Dungeon, which quite frankly was a little boring and kind of underwhelming. It's never fun when the introductory AI in a tutorial like level (in this case, a rat) its just kicking your ass to the point of ridiculousness.

  22. #22
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: not here
    Played the demo for Until Then, and it hits a certain... something.

    Let me elaborate: it's sort of similar to A Space for the Unbound, but where that one's nominally about growing up in Indonesia and dealing with tragedy, this one's about being a schoolkid in the Philippines and dealing with a mystery/tragedy. They're both side-scrolling adventure-ish VNs, but that sells them short, because they both do the small, observed details that make these places feel real. Until Then has its street carts hawking local foods, train stations with a sort of lived-inness in how there's litter and no one's bothered about it, al fresco tables next to supermarkets, and a lot more that contribute to making the sense of place feel effortless - like I really was in the Philippines, even if I've never been. Maybe it's because culturally there's a few similarities between India and the Philippines, but also...

    The main reason it resonated with me is because you play this kid, Mark, who's a huge slacker but clearly smart, and he manages to help crunch out slides for a class book report in ten minutes after hearing a summary of it (Crime and Punishment, no less) on the day the report is due. Which... well, that was basically me during school (he might be smarter than I was though), leaving things to the last minute and slapping them out because I had to, and not doing too badly despite that. Cue teachers going, 'you've got so much potential, I don't know why you aren't trying to...'

    And that's actually why it's pretty good, in my opinion. Because that might have described you at some point in school, or someone you knew. It's universal in its specificity, and it draws its characters with similar astuteness, they feel like people you might have known in another life, or remind you of people you did know in this life. The dialogue makes the entire thing work, and if it didn't, I wouldn't have as much to say here. Mark's friend circle has conversations I know I've had in the past, even if they weren't on the (nicely detailed representation of) social media app on a phone. Again, attention to detail - people you meet later on will comment that you liked their post, if you happened to give them a thumb. It's all woven into conversation naturally, too. Even the obvious eccentric you meet is somehow charming, and the entire thing is helped by how it uses its environments to ground the experience - school days are framed by areas rendered in shades of bright, sun-kissed concrete and blue sky; Mark curls up in bed and lies on his side, his face lit by mobile screen glow as he scrolls his feed, occasionally spotlit by the glare of headlights from cars and bukyos, I think, streaming in through the window, momentarily drowning the soundtrack with engine noise as they pass by.

    And there's the mystery, of course. The demo only teases it, along with some political commentary on how the Philippines dealt with a series of catastrophes in the game's universe, because clearly those will be paid off over the course of the full game. As is, it was insubstantial enough that it didn't matter, but what did matter was that, for at least a few minutes, I was transported to a time when I was a smartass kid in school with equally smartass friends, and the days were all sunshine and peals of laughter endlessly spooling away into the horizon.

    So yeah, you bet I wishlisted it.
    Last edited by Sulphur; 13th Feb 2024 at 13:14.

  23. #23
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    There's a Steam Next Fest demo out for Escape Simulator VR, the VR version of a non-VR escape room game. I'm really curious to try it out, but I'm especially curious about the game proper coming out, because it'll allow for coop between VR and non-VR players. I've had some great fun with the TTLG gang playing some amazingly janky VR escape room games, and it'd be cool to extend that to those of us without silly-looking headsets in a more polished game, which Escape Simulator seems to be.

  24. #24
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: not here
    Sure sounds like you're implying a sort of something, Thirith.

  25. #25
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    No escape, Sulphur. No escape.

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