Although we’ve missed out on several expos this year so far thanks to COVID-19, gaming events are continuing online. The spring 2020 edition of the Steam Game Festival took place at the end of March with the next event scheduled for early June; and IGN are planning a Summer of Gaming too.
LudoNarraCon got there first though. Organised by indie label Fellow Traveller, the initial event took place in May last year and was hosted entirely on Steam. Forget lengthy queues and deafening noise (not to mention the sweaty bodies): here was a platform which celebrated innovative titles and replicated many of the benefits of a physical experience, but within a digital format. It was such a hit with fans of narrative video games that it made a welcome return and took place on 24-27 April 2020.
I was introduced to Whispers of a Machine after watching a broadcast by Clifftop Games and Faravid Interactive at the last event, and immediately bought the title so I could start playing it the following day. I also had the opportunity to play a demo for Neo Cab by Chance Agency and was sucked into its futuristic world of drivers-for-hire and emotional-tracking-devices; along with another for In Other Waters by Jump Over The Age, where you take on the role of the artificial intelligence (AI) rather than the controller.
That last game made a reappearance at this year’s LudoNarraCon and catching a session with the developer reminded me of how much I’d enjoyed the demo. I ended up purchasing it for myself and have been impressed so far. I love the way the controls are managed through experimentation and intuition, and the story is told through your scientific findings deep beneath the waves of an alien planet. I’m still playing it at the time of writing but there might just be a review coming in the near future.
Other games I tried for myself during the event were Lost Words: Beyond the Page and Ring of Fire. The former is being created by Sketchbook Games, a UK developer here in my very own Essex, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. Platformers aren’t usually my thing and my first impression was it could perhaps be slightly too ‘cutesy’ for my tastes; but I was persuaded to play the demo after hearing that the story was written by Rhianna Pratchett and I really enjoyed it. More about this one coming on Wednesday.
Ring of Fire on the other hand was far grittier and I knew I was going to love it immediately. This detective mystery is the work of Far Few Giants and asks players to keep a pen and paper handy, because the clues given aren’t always obvious or repeated. The fact that some of the characters wore masks, and that most people in 2062 London did this and had a legitimate alter-ego, instantly made me feel as though everyone had something to hide. I can’t wait to become an investigator when the game is released and figure out their secrets – post coming on Friday.
Although a demo wasn’t widely available, I spent some time watching a live broadcast by Mi’pu’mi Games about their recent release. The Flower Collectors is another detective title (they seem to be having a moment right now) but there’s something about the protagonist which makes the gameplay unique. His limited movement mean he’s only able to investigate crimes from apartment and balcony, and he must work together with another character to progress the case. You can find out more about this one on Thursday.
Perhaps my favourite title from LudoNarraCon this year was Beyond the Veil by Sun’s Shadow Studios. Thanks to a love of creepy stories (although I’m too scared to play scary games on my own) and a long-time desire to visit New Orleans, this text-based horror has earned its spot on my wishlist. Although much wasn’t given away in the live broadcast, the end of the alpha build made it clear that something bad was about to happen to the protagonist – and I’m looking forward to finding out what waits in store for her. Check out tomorrow’s post for more details.
LudoNarraCon is due to return once again in 2021 and you can join Fellow Traveller’s mailing list to stay informed. In the meantime, check out the gallery below to see some of the other games that were on display. Thank you to all the exhibitors for making it another great event!
LudoNarraCon 2020 photo gallery
Video game lover, Later Levels blogger and SpecialEffect volunteer. Big fan of wannabe pirates and fine leather jackets.