This week, Valve launched their Steam Game Festival on their store, Steam, and it’s a beautiful showcase of everything that PC gaming has to offer; in case you’re unfamiliar with the concept, the short of it is that this online store, Steam, is the world’s biggest retailer of digital PC games, and their festival is a showcase of playable game demos- literally hundreds of them- across every genre. I played six radically different demos and in my opinion, they all deserve some of your attention. I’ve included links to each game’s Steam page for easy access!
Skatebird is a game I’ve been waiting for- I backed the Kickstarter a while back and I’m a pretty big fan of some of the dev’s previous work, Hot Tin Roof. The game’s premise is super simple- you’re a bird, and you know how to board. Exciting as the upcoming remakes of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater sound, you don’t get to play as a budgerigar.
Haven took me by surprise- it caught my eye with its stunning aesthetic, sure, but it kept my attention with through its writing.
The demo dropped me in the middle of this relationship between the main characters, Yu and Kay, who’ve escaped some sort of regime called the Apiary to a distant planet- as the demo goes on, it does a good job unveiling the story and bits of the world instead of exposition-dumping everything on you at once. I like the relationship between Yu and Kay, and I feel like this game handles the dynamics between the couple with a refreshing sense of realism. There are two core gameplay loops, it seems- you run around on the surface of the planet, surfing on energy threads to pick them up and fuel your home, while foraging for food and fighting dangerous creatures, and then you go home, have conversations about your relationship and cook dinner with whatever you foraged that day. The game’s aesthetic reminds me of Gravity Rush, while the relationship elements remind me of an experimental game called Facade that I played several years ago- albeit without the parser and a lot more upbeat.
I’m really looking forward to seeing more of Haven; the little taste I received in the demo makes me want to know more about the game’s world. Haven is coming to Windows later this year.
Peglin is a pachinko roguelike that’s inspired by both Slay the Spire and Peggle– if you don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s basically pinball, but you have no control over the ball after you’ve launched it- you just have to set a trajectory and rack up points before your ball falls through the floor. What sets Peglin apart is that you’ve got to deal with slime monsters along the way- each ball you launch through the course counts as an attack against these- the more stuff it hits, the harder your attacks land. If you get hit hard enough, it’s game over. It’s a cute, relaxing game that’s well worth checking out if you need a break from the action- it’s a roguelike that won’t break your heart.
#4 The Captain is Dead
I’m a simple man- you throw Star Trek at me, and you’ve got my attention. The Captain is Dead is a game that draws a lot of inspiration from Trek– the moderately overwhelming tutorial was narrated by a rather Q-inspired character and, well- just look at your ship.
As for what the game is about, imagine if you were in the last few minutes of a Star Trek episode, everything’s on fire, your shields are down and crew are injured- you’ve got to stop your ship from exploding. The gameplay itself is pretty interesting- it’s turn based, and in each turn, you control a different crew member, each with their own set of abilities. As different systems are attacked, it’s up to you to balance repairing said systems with keeping your crew alive and actually fulfilling your mission. This video game is actually based on a board game of the same name- it’s a little on the complex side (and it felt like the tutorial threw the kitchen sink at me) but once you’ve got a handle on it, it’s a lot of fun.
If you’re looking for an unabashedly complex spaceship life simulator, you may have some fun with Ostranauts; I tried the demo for this one, and it’s legitimately fascinating- every aspect of life in a somewhat messed up sci-fi future seems to come into play here. Unfortunately, I found it hard to navigate, and the demo doesn’t do a great job of explaining how things works- it sort of just dunks you in there.
I see great potential in this game, for sure- it’s just too complex for my personal taste. I particularly enjoyed putting together my character’s backstory- it was handled sort of like a choose your own adventure game, with the choices you make shaping not only their history, but their personality and interests. While Ostranauts isn’t really my thing, it’s still pretty cool, and if it sounds like your genre, check it out.
#6 The Wild at Heart
The Wild At Heart is best described as Pikmin in the style of a point-and-click adventure game with an autumnal aesthetic. You play as a kid named Wake who found himself lost in the woods- and you meet some weird characters. With the help of spritelings- little creatures who follow you like they’re your clingy friends at a party- you make it through your environment. You can throw them at whatever’s ailing you. Being attacked by a giant stag beetle? Toss ‘em. Need a boulder moved? Throw those babies and they’ll get right to work.
Besides being incredibly charming, I’m seeing good potential in this game for some good, family-friendly puzzling action. While the demo wasn’t too hard, I could definitely imagine the final game being quite challenging. As a big fan of Pikmin, I’ll be keeping a close eye on this one.
I’m not quite done with the festival, but I wanted to hurry up and get this video out before it’s all over- are there any demos you’ve been enjoying from the festival this week? Hit us up on Twitter @1RuleBeCool with your thoughts.