Following the spring event in March and a summer one in June, the Steam Game Festival made a return from 07 to 13 October 2020 with the Autumn Edition. Hundreds of demos were made available to gamers for the week along with livestreams from the developers.
As this weird year progresses, I’m finding myself less and less enthusiastic about digital expos like this. I miss the buzz that comes from thousands of people with a shared love of video games being in a packed exhibition hall and getting the chance to chat to creators in person. But I can’t deny that being able to play demo for such titles in the comfort and peace of my own home comes with benefits, a much better environment for experiencing the kind of narrative titles I love.
Here’s a round-up of the games that caught my eye this time around – and whether I promptly added them to my Steam wishlist or kicked them to the curb.
Buddy Simulator 1984
Not a Sailor Studios’ project earned its place on my wishlist as soon as I’d completed the demo and has left me intrigued. At first it seemed like an old text-adventure but there’s more to it: things started to take a rather creepy turn about 15 minutes in and I can’t wait to see to see where it leads. All I know right now is that there’s an artificial intelligence (AI) called Zelda waiting for me, and who’s extremely unhappy about being torn apart from ‘my friend Kim’ thanks to the end of the demo…
Dorian Morris Adventure
The reason I picked Forestlight Games’ project was its premise: not only is it an adventure filled with puzzles, it’s a coaching tool which features personality tests and knowledge about the human mind. It could end up being rather interesting in that it will possibly give players an insight into how they think but I’m going to wait and see what the reviews say first. Being thrown straight into the game without any explanation or tutorial threw me off, and the lack of response to my test was a little disappointing.
A pixelated point-and-click set in Victorian England? Of course I was going to end up wishlisting Cloak and Dagger Games’ project. I loved the atmosphere during the 30 minutes I spent with the demo and it seems like it could be an experience which leaves the hairs prickling on the back of our necks. After receiving a mysterious letter, barrow-digger Thomasina Bateman travels to the isolated village of Belway to excavate Hob’s Barrow – but she’s going to uncover more than she bargained for.
Land of Screens
The artwork used in Serenity Forge’s project was lovely and it could have a nice message at the heart of its story, but it’s a game I’m going to wait for rather than wishlist right now. Protagonist Holland wants to get away from social media after her channels have been set ablaze by her recent break-up with boyfriend Brian; but is that going to be possible considering how plugged in everyone else is? The demo gave me Night in the Woods vibes so it could either be really good, or a bit of a disappointment.
JamesGamesNZ’s project is a short atmospheric thriller which takes place after a virus has infected the world (sound familiar?). Part of the demo took place through a laptop interface which enabled protagonist Jill to communicate with her sister and friends, while the other moved to a 3D-environment and had her searching through a neighbour’s apartment. I want to wait to hear a bit more about how these different gameplay styles will work together before I wishlist the game but what I’ve seen so far is pretty good.
Lucifer Within Us
Both Krikket from Nerd Girl Thoughts and Frostilyte from Frostilyte Writes recommended I try the demo for Kitfox Games’ project – and their suggestions were good ones, because it got wishlisted straight away. I really liked the way this title combined futuristic technology with religious aspects and I’m always on the lookout for another detective adventure. Players step into the shoes of a digital exorcist who can see beyond our reality and into the alternate timelines of those accused, which helps her to purify their daemons.
Of Bird and Cage
Capricia Games’ project is the most confusing one on today’s list and I’m still not sure what to make of it. On one hand it seems like a much darker version of Life is Strange – something I’d probably enjoy – and I like the interesting concept of it being a music-based action-adventure. But on the other, there were far too many adult themes thrown into a 25-minute demo so I’m not sure how sensitively all of these will be handled in the full game. I’m going to sit this one out for now but I’ll be keeping an eye on the reviews out of interest.
This lovely-looking title by Khayalan Arts made it onto my list for the autumn festival thanks to its gorgeous artwork. It’s absolutely beautiful: setting the story beneath the sea has given the developer the chance to make use of some great effects and the ambient soundtrack suits it perfectly. Ultimately though, it’s not for me because platformers just aren’t my thing. I’d say it’s worth checking out if you enjoy more narrative-based entries in the genre but don’t go into it expecting a huge platforming challenge.
I honestly thought this one was going to be a favourite game from the latest festival – and I was wrong. Although Pillow Castle’s project seemed like just the sort of puzzler my other-half and I often end up playing together, we both came away from the demo feeling slightly underwhelmed. I can’t even explain why: the graphics were nice and the challenges made sense but it just didn’t seem to be that ‘wow’ factor. It might be a game I pick up during a sale at some point but right now, I’m not sold.
Did you manage to check out ant of the demos during the Steam Game Festival last week? If so, were there any that you enjoyed and are now anticipating the release of? It seems as though we may not get a winter edition this year but I’m sure Valve will be back with plenty more demos in 2021.