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Steam Game Festival February 2021: a round-up

The Steam Game Festival made a return this year after three events in 2020. Over 500 demos were made available to gamers between 03 and 09 February 2021, while developers broadcasted their upcoming projects and answered questions.

The COVID-19 lockdown saw the cancellation of the usual gaming expos and organisers decided to take them online so they could continue. This has been great in terms of accessibility, but it also means I’ve tried so many demos over the past 12 months that it’s now proving difficult to find new ones I’m interested in. Fortunately I managed to dig out eight that looked as though they might be worth a go –here are my thoughts and whether they were deemed worthy enough for a place on my wishlist.

Blind Drive

Wishlisted: yes

We first came across this title at the Leftfield Collection at Rezzed back in April 2018, where Pete gave it a go. You step into the driving seat of someone who has been blindfolded and instructed to drive against oncoming traffic and must use what you can hear to avoid any collisions. It was good to be able to play the demo at home without all the noise and crowds of an expo, and what we found was a darkly humorous game which has now been scheduled for one of our upcoming GameBlast21 streams.

Cats and the Other Lives

Wishlisted: no, but maybe in the future

A pixelated point-and-click about a family mystery with a cat protagonist should be right up my street. Instead of controlling a human character, you guide Aspen’s fluffy paws and witness the conversations that take place during the funeral of patriarch Bernard. The demo crashed just before I hit the hour mark but that’s not the reason why I decided to not wishlist it right now; although I liked the idea of playing as a cat, it felt as though I didn’t have much control over the situation unfolding so I’ll wait to see what the reviews say.

Dr Livingstone, I Presume?

Wishlisted: no

There was something about this demo that our recording software really didn’t like and so there’s no gameplay video for it here unfortunately. It’s an escape room which takes place in David Livingstone’s house after you’re called there to help your friend, but he’s nowhere to be found. I wasn’t overly keen on the graphics and some of the controls seem as though they’d be far better suited to a touch device than a keyboard-and-mouse. It just feels a bit too clunky in both appearance and play to be wishlisted.

Fate of Kai

Wishlisted: no

I can see why many puzzle-lovers will enjoy this game once it has been released but I’m sorry to say it just isn’t for me. The adventure takes place in what looks like a graphic novel where you can turn the pages to find out what happens, then go back to change the character’s thoughts to create a different outcome. I’m so used to there being words within the type of releases I play, either spoken or written, that I didn’t follow the story as closely as I should have and therefore struggled to become invested in it.

In My Shadow

Wishlisted: no

Although there were several things highlighted in the trailer that pointed to a title which wouldn’t be for me, I picked this one because I liked the idea of the central mechanic: objects are placed within a room to create different shadows before you guide a young girl across the platforms to get a glimpse of her memories. It felt difficult to move the items as finely as I would have liked and ultimately, the whole thing is just a bit too ‘cutesy’ for my tastes. I wasn’t enjoying the demo so I stopped playing before I reached the end.

Jennifer Wilde: Unlikely Revolutionaries

Wishlisted: no, but maybe in the future

I really enjoy detective games and this tale about murder, espionage and revolution should have really appealed to me. Clues about the death of the protagonist’s father are gathered in a traditional point-and-click style with the help of Oscar Wilde’s ghost, before being fitted together in her notebook. The demo got off to a good start and the introduction with the characters was fun; but over the course of the next hour, I gradually began to lose interest. This one will be put on the back-burner for now and may be wishlisted later.

Lacuna

Wishlisted: yes

I’d kept skipping over this one in my Steam recommendations but playing the demo changed my mind: it ended up being the only other game besides Blind Drive to make it onto my wishlist. CDI agent Neil Conrad is awoken with the news of a murder before he’s dragged into a case which will turn both his life and the solar-system upside down. The investigation section was fun to play through and I appreciate the mechanics the developer has implemented to get away from the usual point-and-click frustrations.

Page One

Wishlisted: no, but maybe in the future

This was probably the most intriguing demo from the latest festival. Not much information is given away about the game other than it focuses on ‘a beach, a house, the howling rain and a mystery to uncover’ and takes inspiration from classics such as Zork: Grand Inquisitor and Myst. So why haven’t I wishlisted it already then? I’m sorry to say that the 360-degree environment and hand-drawn lines made me feel a bit nauseous, so I had to stop playing – I’m not sure I’d be able to make it through the whole title, which is a shame.

Did you get a chance to check out any of the demos during the Steam Game Festival this month? If so, did any of the titles make it onto your wishlist?

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Kim View All

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

8 thoughts on “Steam Game Festival February 2021: a round-up Leave a comment

  1. I looked at another 12 demos and a handful of visual novel demos over the weekend. I didn’t try any of the ones you covered here and surprisingly I only recognise a few of the titles despite browsing through the Steam. page for quite some time – I guess there really were a lot of them! Personally, I thought this festival was much better than the one back in June.

    Like

    • It definitely felt as though there were more games available this time around. I think I’m just a bit demo’d out; I’ve played so many over the past year and, although I can’t deny that the online events have been great in terms of accessibility, I’m looking forward to when we can get back to real-world expos again.

      Which demo was your favourite? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • I think you’d like this one, lots of dark humour ha ha! I’ve already scheduled it in for one of the GameBlast streams so we’ll see how well we do. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I can totally see how it doesn’t match up to a real expo, but I do hope they keep doing these, maybe once a year.

    I really liked Scarlet Hood and the Wicked Wood. I skipped past it a few times ay first, but once I realised it was by the same Developers as The Coma 2, I knew I had to give it a go!

    Like

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