Holy mother of demos Batman. There is an insane number of game demos available to be played until June 22nd during the Steam Game Festival. More than most people have any hope of conceivably playing during that time.
I’m on my own summer adventure and I am going to catalog my thoughts about what I played. With any luck, I can push you toward a few demos while the event is active and if not, perhaps a few new wishlist items and games to look forward to afterward. Let’s game!
Grounded releases to Steam Early Access and Xbox Game Preview on July 28th.
Grounded is a co-op sandbox survival game and one of my most anticipated games of the year. I squeed with delight when I saw Obsideon was providing a demo for the Steam Game Festival. The 30-minute time limit was all I needed to become hopelessly hooked on the game.
The first thing that grabbed me was the sense of scale. The game world itself captures the feeling of a massive world that most other games fail to do. Blades of grass felt like towering jungles and even the smallest of insects was intimidating to my shrunken human form.
Funny enough the world feels alien despite being set in a backyard. Every step led me to unexpected sights that were interesting and fun to discover. 30 minutes isn’t much time to explore a survival game but I was able to craft some basic tools, do some fighting, run screaming from a giant spider and build a small shack.
The combat felt nice as I was able to attack, block, or throw my spear. I was able to take a single ant or some mites, but a pack of them would send me running. The ecosystem itself felt alive as various insects scurried about, interacted with and hunted one another. Larger insects shoved aside the towering grass as they moved like a T-Rex from Jurassic Park, and if I’m being honest, the spider was far more terrifying.
I’m intrigued that recipes are discovered rather than being hooked to a leveling system, it’s a neat idea that strays from the genre norm. My only hang up was the soft death penalty. I dropped my gear when I died and was simply able to walk over and pick it all up. Survival games need a bit more teeth than that to be effective, but it is a demo of an early access title. Things may change. I cannot wait to dive into it in July.
Earth Breakers is slated to release in 2020.
Earth Breakers a fast-paced competitive first-person shooter with heavy real time strategy influence. The whole game kind of feels like an RTS, except you are one of the soldiers on the ground.
Two teams of players fight to destroy the opposing team’s base, every player earns money they can use to donate toward constructing buildings, defenses, or vehicles and researching upgrades. Certain upgrades, techs, and vehicles require different buildings.
It’s a really neat emergent kind of system forcing a kind of tug of war between teams. You can play as a variety of classes from assault, to sniper or an engineer who can repair buildings and vehicles. You can also use your money to spawn in vehicles to be used.
Even though demo features no tutorial I was able to pick up its concepts on the fly with relative ease. The gunplay is a little simplistic but very tight and smooth. The demo was missing a ton of upgrades and vehicles, I’d love to see them in action in the full game because the matches I played were already a lot of fun.
The server list was a bit bare, likely due to the sheer amount of demos people are splitting their attention between. The full game will feature bots though, so hopefully, the game ends up playable regardless of popularity. It is one you should definitely watch though.
VoidTrain is slated for release in Fall 2020
VoidTrain might win the award for the coolest idea for a video game. You build and manage a train traveling through the void with no gravity. The demo did a great job of showcasing it’s basic ideas, such as swimming through the air while connected to the train via a tether, crafting, and basic combat.
I was able to dive off the train to collect resources to craft some basics such as a refinery and kitchen but I also had to watch out for a type of flying shark that would attack both me and my train. Eventually, I’d arrive at a depot where I had to take out its guards before I could use it properly.
From there I could add additional wagons or upgrades to my train before setting forth into the void again. The whole floating through space idea worked great, the game says there is no gravity in the void, but the traversal works more like swimming.
The demo was limited in scope regarding things I could craft and the full game looks to add explorable islands and hostile trains to battle as they try and board you. Even without that, I can already see how addicting the core gameplay loop is going to be. In the full version, you can play it with a group of friends as well. As with Grounded, I felt there wasn’t much consequence for death, but it’s still early.
It gives me somewhat of a SteamPunk Sea Of Thieves vibe, just with a focus on PvE as opposed to PvP and I can totally get behind that. The reveal trailer of VoidTrain had my curiosity, but the demo has my attention and I can’t wait for the full game.
Iron Harvest releases on September 1st, 2020.
I’ve kept an eye on Iron Harvest for awhile. I’m a sucker for both mechs and Steampunk and Diesel Punk is damn close enough to count. I was happy to see a demo of it for the Steam Game Festival.
Iron Harvest is a real-time strategy game that plays a remarkable amount like Company Of Heroes. It was similar enough that I picked the game up with and understood what to do very quickly. Build units, take resource nodes, make defensive positions with sandbags and bunkers.
Where the game differs is instead of tanks, you get big honking mechs and they are the absolute stars of the show. Infantry combat works well, you need to use cover and you can swap a unit class by picking up a different weapon. The mechs definitely take the spotlight, both visually and during gameplay.
The two available factions in the demo are somewhat similar on the infantry front but had unique mechs. The demo was fun, if familiar and I’d love to see real-time strategy games make a resurgence, even if I am terrible at them. Especially ones with cool settings like Iron Harvest.
Fae Tactics is slated for releases in 2020.
The Fae Tactics demo was a generously lengthy one. I love turn-based games and I used to have a problem where I compared every turn-based game to Final Fantasy Tactics. I’ve gotten over that, but with Fae Tactics, I didn’t really need too. It felt like the lovely child of Final Fantasy Tactics and Pokemon while Disgaea was that lovely aunt that babysat frequently.
The Tactical combat was phenomenal. Fae Tactics incorporates back attacks, vertical battlegrounds, combos, and a wide array of special abilities in a tight package that looks great too. No, really, the art style is great and the unit animations are top-notch.
Melee units can attack out of turn if an ally attacks a unit adjacent to them and you deal more damage if you are higher up than a foe or behind them. In addition to attack abilities, units also have assist abilities and wait abilities that trigger when a unit chooses to wait. There is a lot of tactical depth showcased in the demo.
Most missions in the Demo teach you the game as you play, dropping a new mechanic on you in each one. Eventually, you start equipping spells and talismans. Spells have cooldowns but you can otherwise use them freely and talismans are the monster-catching component.
Defeated enemies sometimes drop a talisman allowing you to equip and summon them into battle. Each unit has an element and there’s a large rock, paper, scissors component with strengths and weaknesses.
Fae Tactics felt really good to play and it looks like the game opens up quite a bit after the demo. If you are a tactics fan, you should be watching this game.
Alrighty, keep an eye out for Part 2 of my Steam Game Festival Adventure. In the meantime you could check out my reviews or Kofi Page. Happy gaming and enjoy the Steam Game Festival while it is still active. It is a lot of fun, I’d love to hear your thoughts on demos you have played in the comments below!