With COVID-19 having a huge impact on the world right now, many expos over the next few months have been postponed or cancelled. MCM Comic Con has been pushed back to July; and Insomnia66 has been pulled, the organisers choosing to wait until Insomnia67 in August.
They’re not the only events that have changed on our calendars. The London Gaming Market still went ahead last month but with my other-half and I taking the decision to not attend this time around, I instead looked at the traders’ websites and ordered some games online for my PlayStation 2. And with EGX Rezzed being postponed until the summer, I published a similar virtual round-up for the expo last Friday and shared the titles I’d have checked out if all was well and it had gone ahead.
These postponements and cancellations may be disappointing but they’re for the best: it’s important we look after ourselves and each other right now. But it doesn’t mean we can’t get that expo-feeling. With the first LudoNarraCon taking place last year, many organisers are following suit and setting up online events. The spring edition of the Steam Game Festival took place from 18 to 23 March 2020 and gave everyone the chance to try out more than 40 demos – here are some brief thoughts on those I played.
Horrifying crimes in a dystopian world? Check. A disgraced policeman protagonist who’s seeking redemption? Check. Cinematic pixel art? Check. I should be all over Divisadero by Team2Bit but I’m sorry to report I’m not sure whether this one is going to be for me. It felt natural to press the return key at certain prompts but rather than respond to them, it kept opening the inventory; and I’m not particularly keen on the visual style. Still, I’d be interested to see what the reviews say about this one.
I had some trouble with Hazel Sky by Coffee Addict Studio and eventually had to stop the demo because the motion-blur and fuzziness was causing nausea. But seeing someone else play it on YouTube afterwards made me add it to my wishlist straight away. Although different in visual style, I’m getting some real Eastshade vibes here and it looks like it’s going to be a chilled experience. The story focuses on a young man named Shane who must pass the Trials and return home as an Engineer or face banishment from the flying city of Gideon.
We should talk.
It’s easy to tell that We should talk. by Insatiable Cycle is a title about relationships, but it’s hard to get a real feel for it during the short demo. This only showcases its main mechanic: the ability to choose what you want to say to other characters or send via text message, by selecting options for each part of the sentence. Not much of the story was revealed other than you’ve gone to a bar for a drink while your girlfriend is at home. It’s therefore difficult for me to recommend this one right now but perhaps it’s a game to keep an eye on.
Alongside Hazel Sky above, Moncage by OPTILLUSION was my favourite demo of the festival for its mechanics and lovely artwork. Players manipulate a cubic device where each face displays a separate scene and you have to find the connections between them. Rotating it means different angles can be used to match up, with each new action discovered revealing a story told through photographs that seems to be about a father and son growing up. Another game which has been added to my wishlist.
When The Past Was Around
Back in summer 2018 I wrote a post about free games on Steam, and one that was featured was A Raven Monologue by Mojiken Studio. I knew that When The Past Was Around was by the same developer as soon as I saw its hand-drawn visuals. Each scene in this point-and-click is like a different memory in which a young girl seems to be in a relationship with an older owl male; and I kind of get the impression that however it ends, it’s going to be just as bittersweet as the creator’s previous work.
Did you manage to check out any of the demos during the Steam Game Festival? If so, were there any that you really enjoyed? The second LudoNarranCon will be taking place from 24 to 27 April 2020 so stick the date in your diary for your next virtual expo.
Video game lover, Later Levels blogger and SpecialEffect volunteer. Big fan of wannabe pirates and fine leather jackets.