With the cancellation of many gaming events this year, online expos have become the hot new thing. First we had the Steam Game Festival in March where we had the chance to try out more than 40 demos; then there was LudoNarraCon in April, a celebration of narrative titles.

The latest has been the Digital Dragons Indie Celebration, an event which took place on Steam from 13 to 15 May 2020 last week. The attention was focused on 50 released and upcoming titles which were selected from over 200 submissions by a panel of judges. Players were invited to watch live streams by developers or try out 28 demos for themselves before choosing their favourite in the Community Vote – so what did I play, and which game did I vote for?

Ars Fabulae

I picked the Ars Fabulae demo from those available because it was set in an abandoned theatre, an interesting location for a game. An actress returns there years after she appeared on the stage to uncover an anthology of magical performances and hidden messages. I’m not entirely sure what to make of Punk Notion’s project though and it feels as though something didn’t quite click for me. I enjoyed the first section which was included puzzles involving light and shadow but I wasn’t so keen on the second, involving robots on wheels.

Children of Silentown

I really enjoyed the demo for Children of Silentown and added it to my wishlist immediately after playing. There was something about the dark, fairytale atmosphere of Elf Games’ title that drew me in straight away. The story revolves around Lucy, a young girl growing up in a village deep inside a forest where people frequently disappear, and there were just enough hints of something sinister happening in the section I played to leave me wanting more. Looking forward to this one when it’s released in full.

Not For Broadcast

Not For Broadcast by NotGames is the most unique title I’ve seen in a while. You take control of the National Nightly News as a radical new government comes into power, and it’s up to you to choose how you’re going to edit what the public see. The demo provided a nice overview of the mechanics involved and it came together nicely, but I have a feeling the situation won’t be so calm and steadily-paced in the full game. I think it would stress me out – so I’ll buy it and get my other-half to stream it instead!

The Blind Prophet

I must admit: The Blind Prophet had previously appeared in my Steam recommendations but I’d ignored it because it seemed too comic-book-like for me. I take it all back now though, because I was pleasantly surprised by ARS GOETIA’s project and it ended up being my favourite demo from the event along with Children of Silentown above. You play as apostle Bartholomeus and are sent to liberate the corrupted city of Rotbork, where things get very dark very quickly… this really isn’t one for children.

This is the Zodiac Speaking

After playing Ring of Fire during LudoNarraCon last month, This is the Zodiac Speaking by Punch Punk Games called to me (no pun intended). This thriller is based on the story one of the most famous and never-caught serial killers and involves elements of horror, stealth and detective modes. I didn’t get very far though. Although I’d picked up a key in my inventory, it wouldn’t open for me so I couldn’t get past a door; and the font used is so small that I had to strain to read the text. It sadly spoiled the experience and I stopped the demo early.

My vote: Röki

I had the pleasure of playing Röki at the EGX expo last year and, although I wasn’t sure about it initially, it managed to win me over. Polygon Treehouse’s game is inspired by Scandinavian folklore and features a heroine on a quest to save her family. The puzzles I experienced were logical, the story gives off a dark undertone and the artwork is lovely, with a similar style to other narrative-driven titles such as The Gardens Between. Although Children of Silentown and The Blind Prophet came close, it was Röki that ultimately got my vote.

Did you manage to check out any of the demos during the Digital Dragons Indie Celebration? If so, were there any you enjoyed and which game did you vote for? There are several online gaming festivals happening next month and you can check out the Side-quests page for more details.

Digital Dragons Indie Celebration 2020: a round-up

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