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Steam Game Festival Summer 2020 Edition: a round-up

With gaming expos being impossible this year due to COVID-19, we’ve seen an increase in the number of digital events lately. I might be feeling drained by them but I’ve got to admit: it’s nice being able to try a game in the comfort of your own home away from a noisy exhibition hall.

Following the cancellation of GDC’s Indie Megabooth, Day of the Devs and more, Valve decided to showcase more than 40 demos planned for the events during the Steam Game Festival back in April. It returned again last week with the Summer 2020 Edition and gave players the opportunity to check out over 900 games for themselves. Although I didn’t have time to play all of them, I did manage to check out several which looked interesting – and here are my thoughts.

A Space for the Unbound

The prologue for A Space for the Unbound by Mojiken Studio came onto my radar after a discussion with another blogger about their projects and those published by Toge Productions. Having already played A Raven Monologue for a post about free titles in July 2018 and the demo for When The Past Was Around for the spring 2020 Steam Game Festival, I really wanted to like it – but I didn’t. I’m afraid to say that I caught myself nodding off a couple of times during my half-hour playthrough so I don’t think I’ll be picking up the full game.



LOVE

The demo for LOVE by Rocketship Park may have lasted less than ten minutes, but it was very sweet and resulted in the title being added to my wishlist. Players get to know the inhabitants of an apartment block by rotating its floors to solve puzzles and see moments from their past and present. I get the impression that this is going to be one of those quieter games a lot of people will miss out on, but those who come across it will find something which tugs at their heartstrings and has an emotional impact.



Mutropolis

Point-and-clicks with science-fiction storylines always appeal to me so it was no wonder I tried out Mutropolis by Pirita Studio. Although it’s nowhere near as dark as some of the other games of its type, the demo was enjoyable and the puzzles contained within were logical. The title takes place far in the future when Henry Dijon and a team of archaeologists leave Mars to visit an abandoned Earth and dig up lost treasures. Things go well and they make an amazing discovery – but then Henry’s professor is kidnapped and it all starts to get a bit weird.



Nine Noir Lives

A comedy noir adventure featuring a cat detective? The description for Nine Noir Lives by Silvernode Studios sounded awesome and I loved the feline title art, but I’m sorry to say the game didn’t live up to the expectations they’d set. My main issue with it was that there was just far to much dialogue where the player was required to passively listen; it was over 15 minutes before I was able to make my first real move and I was beginning to get bored. I made it to the end of the demo but I don’t think I’ll be purchasing the full title.



One Dreamer

I like games which feature interesting mechanics and if the prologue is anything to go by, One Dreamer by Gareth Ffoulkes is going to be included on that list. You can look at the code of objects found in the environment and change their variables to get around obstacles; so update ‘enabled’ to ‘true’ to open a closed roller door or switch files to get a goose honking like a cat and wearing a top-hat. It seems like there’s going to be quite a touching story underneath this pseudocode too so sign me up.



Papetura

Papetura by Petums is a point-and-click which immediately reminded me of the releases by Amanita Design thanks to its charming characters. It’s absolutely gorgeous and this can be attributed to the fact that it’s handcrafted: making the game entirely out of paper gives it a really unique look. This was another short demo coming in at under ten minutes, but it was enough to get a taste and make me keen to join Pape on his adventure to stop the dark and flaming monsters from burning down his world later this year.



Sail Forth

Although I ultimately didn’t get along with the game, my favourite thing about Sea of Thieves was the exploration. That’s why Sail Forth by David Evans Games jumped out at me: this procedural adventure would give me the ability to explore the waters without having to put up with players who just wanted to kill me. The demo was a little janky and it’s clear the project is still being worked on, but it gave a good enough idea of what the team is trying to achieve and the type of mechanics they’re building into their release.



The Wild at Heart

My favourite demo from the Steam Game Festival this time around. The Wild at Heart by Moonlight Kids was a wildcard (no pun intended) as I picked it randomly thanks to its artwork – and I was left impressed, with another title added to my wishlist. It’s similar in gameplay to Overlord and Pikmin, and its story about two kids finding a mysterious realm within a forest is charming. I may have encountered a bug during the demo which prevented me from finishing it (the developer is working on fixing it) but I can’t wait to get my hands on this one.



Did you manage to check out any of the demos during the Steam Game Festival last week? If so, were there any that you really enjoyed and will you be looking out for them in the upcoming summer sale?

Kim View All

Video game lover, Later Levels blogger and SpecialEffect volunteer. Big fan of wannabe pirates and fine leather jackets.

12 thoughts on “Steam Game Festival Summer 2020 Edition: a round-up Leave a comment

  1. Most of the demos I really enjoyed were for games still quite a ways out, but I did already pick up Barn Finders. It’s a little rough around the edges, but the devs seem determined to keep supporting it & improving things, so I feel pretty good about that pick up. That said, I probably wouldn’t have if there hadn’t been a demo.

    I also was impressed by LOVE, but the two I’m most looking forward to are Best Friend Forever and Ruinarch, which couldn’t be further apart from one another in concept or feel.

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    • I didn’t even come across Best Friend Forever or Ruinarch because there were so many demos available this time! I did see Barn Finders though, and it sounds as though your experience with it was similar to mine with The Wild at Heart. I’m not sure it would have come onto my radar if I hadn’t decided to try it on a whim as it’s not the sort of thing I’d usually look for on Steam. That’s exactly why demos are a good thing – I’m hoping events like this will encourage more developers to release them. 🙂

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  2. I picked 12 demos to play over the weekend and I’m currently writing a post to go along with it. Surprisingly, I didn’t try any of the ones you listed here, but I suppose if there were over 900 then it’s to be expected (I didn’t even release there were that many) 😂 Papetura did initially catch my eye, but I was concerned it would be one of those games that was all about the art with nothing much to offer in terms of gameplay.

    I added a few games to my wishlist over the weekend, but I think Spiritfarar was the highlight for me.

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    • Papetura reminded me of Botanicula because it had the same kind of feeling. I think it will be one of those games I buy on a rainy afternoon and ends up being a pleasant experience, although not necessarily anything groundbreaking if you get what I mean. It does look lovely though – all that paper-craft must have taken the developer ages.

      I downloaded the Spiritfarer demo but didn’t get a chance to play it in time for this post! I take it that it was good then? 🙂

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      • Papetura’s paper craft was definitely a unique point, it must have taken so long!

        I wasn’t expecting Spiritfarer to offer as much as it did, but the demo really surprised me. I’m just hoping they can keep it interesting enough throughout, but I’m keeping my eye on it for sure 😃

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  3. Were it not for my computer exploding last week I’d have gotten around to more than the ~30-40 demos I ended up playing. As I’m sure one can imagine I’ve already written about which ones impressed me most.

    My favourite of the lot that I played was Patrick’s Parabox. It’s a puzzle game primarily built around spacial positioning. It’s…my kind of puzzle game hahaha.

    Glad you did a write up as I figured we’d be drawn to different sorts of games and there were far too many demos for any one person to play. One Dreamer sounds like one I’ll have to keep an eye on. Changing the parameters of the world as part of a puzzle’s solution was the central gimmick in Baba is You and I rather enjoyed that. If One Dreamer also has a story to boot that’d make for an enjoyable experience.

    Looks like we had a similar experience with Sail Forth. I’ve got it tagged as a “keep an eye on this one” in my wishlist, but the demo didn’t leave a great impression. Little more spit and polish would help it immensely. Will have to see what it looks like in future.

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    • The One Dreamer demo was pretty good and the game is now on my wishlist. It seems to be about a developer who’s making a game… but then ends up abandoning it… and his partner, who appears in some of the scenes but not others… I think. Anyway, the pixelart was nice and I liked the pseudocode mechanic so I’m looking forward to playing this one. 🙂

      The Steam page says that Sail Forth is due to be released this year but, if the quality of the demo is anything to do by, I don’t think it’s going to be ready. I liked the idea behind it and it seems like it could be quite a chilled experience but it needs a lot more work first.

      I’ve been a bit out of the loop recently thanks to work commitments, but I’ve just checked out your post and saw that you tried Children of Silentown! I did this demo for a different digital event in May and really enjoyed it. Should we expect a point-and-click Frosti Friday one week? 😉

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      • Haha…quite possibly. Though I might need some nudges from point and click experts if I did play Silentown on stream. It is amazing how easily I can solve problems in genres I’m more familiar with, but as soon as I sit down to play a point and click I feel like my brain jumps out the window and I can’t figure out some of the most basic stuff.

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        • That makes sense. I still struggle even though I love the genre; until you get the first puzzle in a new point-and-click under your belt, it’s can sometimes be difficult to know what sort of logic the developer is looking for. Plus there’s the added pressure of having to do it in front of people if you’re streaming – but I’ve watched you play Hollow Knight. You can handle pressure! ha ha

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