SUPERHOT broke me. It tried to break its way into my mind, but instead, it just broke it. Let me explain.
In case you don’t know, Superhot is a first person shooter. Anyone that knows me will be thinking ‘Noob? Playing a first person shooter? Wut?’. As it turns out, there is a little more to it than that. In this game, time only moves as you move. As a consequence, every move you make has to be deliberate and precise. Stay still and watch bullets moving towards you at a snails pace. Panic though and it’s game over as they speed up and hit you before you can blink. This unique mechanic allows the game to present as a corporeal puzzle game as much as it is as a shooter, which is ironic considering the incorporeal theming involved.
This is a game concept that makes so much sense. Even if you have never thought about it in your life, you hear the explanation of what this game is and think “wow, of course, how come I didn’t think of that?”. And it works! There isn’t another game like it, at least gameplay wise. It is one of those titles that creates something completely new and showcases it to its full potential.
What can be seen as a simple aesthetic actually serves to be a great asset in the gameplay itself. There are three colours. White, red and black. Red = enemies. Black = objects. White = anything else. This completely eliminates any visual clutter aiding even further in the idea that the gameplay IS the game. It is distinctive, it is thematically appropriate and it is everything that it needs to be.
The hitboxes weren’t quite as precise as I would have liked considering this can be a game about millimetres. It could be technical limitations, it could be a choice to be discourage using cover, but bullets being stopped in the air by an invisible corner is frustrating when you feel you have otherwise made a good play.
+ Fast Pace
Levels vary in length but they rarely outstay their welcome. The short bursts that the game gives you allows for going ‘all in’ – getting creative without fear as dying will only set you back a couple of minutes. This can go two ways. On one hand, you can bash your head against the level until you nail it. It isn’t a problem because once you have died you are already back in the game trying again before you even have time to finish any outbursts it may have brought on. As soon as you complete it you forget the struggle, feeling like the baddest ass in all the land. Or alternatively, you nail it first time and truly are the baddest ass in all the land.
– Difficulty Curve
This is where my troubles began. I would say the difficulty throughout the game is sprinkled. Naturally, it starts off simple, but there were some early levels that tripped me up in the same way as some later levels, while there were some later levels I did easily in one try. For some, this will provide an interesting pace. For others, it may be a little more frustrating as it can be difficult to tell if you are improving at the game.
The final level, however, is something else. It is long. Mercifully, it is checkpointed, but that didn’t save me. The previous levels contained more strategically placed enemies, highlighting the puzzle element that I mentioned earlier. This level though is – for lack of a better phrase – on another level. Personally for me, it felt different from all the rest of the game. Yes, it felt climactic, but also it lost a lot of what I enjoyed about the previous sections. I don’t want to say specifically why as that is spoiler territory, but my strategies weren’t working and I couldn’t find a set answer to get through it. This, sadly, marked the end of my Superhot experience. The frustration outweighed the potential pleasure of succeeding and I had my first ever on stream rage quit. As it turns out, I had been probably around 15 seconds from completing the game, but unfortunately I have no desire to return.
I like the story this game is telling and more so the way it tells it. It is brief, it is memorable and it uses the medium well. As you progress an unsettled feeling creeps in and the further you go, the more it grows. It plays with ideas of control and reality, and it was always welcome to check back in at the pc every few levels.
Upon putting it down, I vowed never to go back to this game. As much of a shame that it is that it ended this way, I still had fun in the lead up. The short snappy levels were great fun and when something works out well, it truly feels superhuman. Punching an enemy in the face and catching their gun to then shoot them in the face isn’t something that you get to do very often and while it may be a novelty, it doesn’t lose its appeal for the duration of the game.
SUPERHOT wanted me to complete the game, so in a way, technically, the fact that I quit actually means that means I won. So with that in mind, to conclude.. SUCK IT SUPERHOT. I BEAT YOU.
2022 has been a phenomenal year for games. I personally rarely play games as they release, which means I am going to be feasting for years to come. Since my 2022 games post was a celebration of games both past and present, I also wanted to make a post specifically about games that released this year. For every game I play another 10 release that I want to try. This makes it hard to keep up, so I thought I would pick out 10 that have piqued the peak of my interest.
For reference, I have played 6 games that released this year (not including during 12 Days of Game Pass)
The Past Within
This of course leave many games untouched. As always, picking only 10 was extremely difficult. But here are the games I am most hyped to try from this year, in release order!
19th May – Eternal threads – Cosmonaut Studios
This is an indie game that is set in the north of England. As a northerner myself, that would be enough to get my interest but I also played the demo. I had a fun time with it. I love when games let you explore something that has already happened (Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture being another example) so I am so very down to pick this one up and piece it all together.
24th June – AI: THE SOMNIUM FILES – nirvanA Initiative – Spike Chunsoft., Ltd.
I only played AI: The Somnium Files for the first time this year which is great timing for me, having the sequel readily available. I haven’t heard much about this one as I have purposefully avoided anything about it, but even the screenshots on Steam leave so many questions. I’m going to need some answers.
30th August – Immortality – Sam Barlow/Half Mermaid
I love FMV. I love mysteries. Why havent I played this yet you may ask? I DONT KNOW, I NEED TO OK! I was already interested in what the game may have to offer, but multiple 10/10 ratings and awards/nominations mean I need to get to this one STAT.
Check it out here or it is currently on Game Pass.
22nd September – Beacon Pines – Hiding Spot
I played the demo for Beacon Pines a while ago and really enjoyed it. It has been long enough that I have forgotten a lot of the specifics but I do remember the lovely art, the cool story book narrative puzzle structure and an almost ‘Night in the Woods’ vibe. It is currently on Game Pass so I must jump on that opportunity to play it.
You can get it on Steam here or it is also currently on Game Pass.
28th September – The Excavation of Hob’s Barrow – Cloak and Dagger Games
This is another game that I played the demo of and wanted more. The atmosphere and art were great, and thankfully that is as much as I remember. Once I play a demo, I tend to internalise the want to play but forget a lot of the rest which means that I can enjoy the discovery again when I finally play the full game.
13th October – The Case of the Golden Idol – Color Gray Games
I played the demo for The Case of the Golden Idol relatively recently, much more so than the previous two games but much to the same effect. I immediatly knew I needed to play the rest of the game and locked it away until I get the chance for the full story. I do remember exploring wacky scenareos and collecting key words in order to piece together exactly what went down. It was great fun and I absolutely want more.
9th November – God of War: Ragnarok – Santa Monica Studio
It is probably very obvious that I want to play Ragnarok. I played God of War for the first time in 2022 and while it isn’t in my favourite games of all time, it was extremely enjoyable. I have actively avoided as much as I can from the sequel and everything that I did see was another thing too much. It looks outstanding.
15th November – Pentiment – Obsidian Entertainment
I have heard that I will enjoy this one and I 100% believe it. Narrative based, mysteries, detective work, choices, historical setting, murder. Just put it in my veins please.
Pentiment is on Game Pass or you can get it on Steam here.
18th November – The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil in Me – Supermassive Games
I love playing The Dark Pictures Anthology games and was very hyped for this one as it is my favourite premise of the series so far. The reviews are dissapointing, but I am only keeping them in the back of my mind because I am one of the few that thinks Man of Medan is much better people give it credit for. As always, I will go into this one with an open mind and enjoy the inevitably bloody ride!
This game has been in Early Access for a long time and I have had it on my Wishlist forever. It recently released in full and I must play it. I have a huge soft spot for cosy games but I am equally hit and miss with them. I love experiencing different applications of them and analysing what made one more successful to me over another, and this one looks like its own unique take worth some time.
If you would like to see a more extensive list, I’ve got you. Click here for a list of (at the time of writing) 51 games that have my attention. I will be keeping this up to date so if some of them have vanished I do apologise. That does however mean that I am making my way through the backlog so that is a win. Thanks to Game Pass I am able to dive into some of these right away, what an exciting time!
Last month I sat down to start my first Let’s Play since Exit/Corners. I was so excited to get back to recording. Just me, the game, the freedom of recording whenever felt good, and the flexibility of being able to take a moment and edit it out. What I didn’t anticipate was the colossal struggle of deciding what I wanted to play. Often, it is not until you begin a game that you know whether you should have recorded or streamed it, which resulted in me staring at my screen in complete decision paralysis.
Then, all of a sudden – there was a lightbulb. Christmas was coming and there were still a few weeks to prepare if I wanted to do a special series. I was too late for an advent calender scenario (in hindsight after 21 hours of recording, thank goodness), but the 12 Days of Christmas doesn’t start till Christmas day. Score!
I immediatly knew that this would be a perfect opportunity for me to finally try out some different games that I have had my eye on. I decided on Game Pass because games can leave at any time and I rarely have a subscription, so if I wanted to get through some of my ‘Play Later’ list I would need to hustle. I painstakingly managed to whittle the list of 70+ games down to 12, and looking at the result – I was extremely excited about it.
Day 1 – Valheim (Early Access 2021)
Back when this game released – when everyone’s life temporarily became consumed with exploring the mysterious lands, building the fanciest buildings and voyages to collect lost equiptment – I didn’t have access to join in myself. This is probably for the better because I can be known to lose myself to games from time to time. While I think that I barely scratched the surface in my look at the game, I was very pleased to finally have the opportunity to do so.
I definitely wanted to play more when I was done, but I have found that the more games that I have played since then, the less tempted I was to go back. At this point, I have played the beginning of many survival games. Sadly though, it is very rare that I get hooked and while I still could go back to it, it has moved down the priority list far enough that I could be ok leaving it there.
Ranking – Continue playing offline/That’s enough for me.
Day 2 – Undertale (2015)
Undertale was one of those legendary games for me where I feel like I have heard whispers here and there, but in reality knew virtually nothing about it. As a result, the main desire to play it came from a curiosity and ability to add it to my game reference archives rather than excitement to play the actual game itself. That probably heavily adds to the surprise of how much I loved playing this game. Of the titbits that I had heard, not one thing had lead me to believe that this game was going to be half as funny as it is. That alone would be enough for me to continue, but the intrigue to see where it is going is also strong enough that I didn’t want to put it down.
Now that I have completed this series, Undertale is at the bottom of the Let’s Play priority list purely because I feel like it isn’t going to be easy to pick back up. I also have no idea if I have screwed myself with the choices I have made so I am conflicted as to whether I need to do a little research before diving back in. Don’t worry though, I certainly have to see it through at some point.
Ranking – Continue playing online.
Day 3 – As Dusk Falls (2022)
I am so surprised I didn’t jump on this earlier. It feels like an alternative to a Telltale or a Quantic Dream game, which are some of my absolute favourites. Add in that one of the primary genres – at least in the first chapter – is thriller. How did I not play this sooner?! As opposed to a horror narrative like a Supermassive game (Until Dawn, Man of Medan), I can play this and experience making stressful decisions without the need for reassurance and distractions from the atmosphere. That makes this the perfect game for a Let’s Play as it is exactly the type of content that I love to record. I am always curious to what my gut instincts are in these difficult situations and what happens as a result. It is going to be a lot of fun returning to this and the chapters make for good episode dividers which is always handy for me.
Ranking – Continue playing online.
Day 4 – Deaths Door (2022)
I really enjoyed this game. I loved the concept, I loved exploring the weird world and I loved my little character. I certainly want to continue it, the only hesitation I have is the difficulty. I managed well enough with the combat so far, but I am concerned that I will get stuck and drop off, which I don’t like to do with a series that I am sharing if I can help it. If I do continue online it will be a Let’s Play because that means I can edit any repetitive failures into death montages. I am going to play the other games first then reassess, but if you would like to see it then please let me know. Same goes for all the other games in question as if there is external interest then I will make special effort to continue it online.
Ranking – Continue playing online/Continue playing offline.
Day 5 – Citizen Sleeper (2022)
Ahhh, Citizen Sleeper. I was nervous about trying this one as I knew it was going to be a lot of reading. To top it off, I got sick and lost my voice right as this was my next game to play. So, as much as I heard good things, I was entering this one with an ever so slight dread in my mind. It didn’t take long, however, before I was enraptured in the world. You know it is a good game when you want to keep going and going despite the reading out loud. The further I got and the more mechanics I learned, I was more and more won over by the game, leading it to be my favourite in the entire bunch. At the time of this post it is likely that the Let’s Play has already begun as I am planning on continuing this game first! Don’t sleep on it (hur hur hur).
Ranking – Continue playing online.
Day 6 – Signalis (2022)
I tried really hard with this one. This game is well loved by a lot of people and I wanted to see why. It is just unfortunate that in survival horror, both survival and horror stress me out massively. This was the first excessively long video as I knew that once I put the game down it was likely I wouldn’t be able to pick it back up, so I wanted to see as much as I could. All things considered, I think I did pretty well! It is awesome to have the classically influenced genre in an entirely new style. It feels modern and old school at the same time.
The great thing is, as much as I suffer with survival horror, I LOVE watching other people suffer through it. So even though I won’t be continuing the game, I will certainly enjoy watching someone else’s playthrough and enjoy it vicariously.
Ranking – That’s enough for me.
Day 7 – Exo One (2021)
This is another game that I was nervous to record. I had it recommended and wanted to give it a try as it felt like the type of game that could leave the service before I get around to playing it. From what I understood about the game, I was worried that there was going to be a lot of downtime with nothing to talk about. There certainly was a lot of downtime, but each uniquely beautiful environment seemed to offer enough intrigue to fill the gaps, in a game that also seems well suited to some flow state meditative time.
At the time of recording I decided that it was enough. I reached a point that felt appropriate to stop and called it there. However, for a reason that I cant quite put my finger on, this game stayed in my mind. It could be that we made good progress or it could be a fear of missing out, but not finishing it isn’t sitting right with me. So I think I will actually update my ranking from ‘That’s enough for me’ to ‘Continue Offline’.
Ranking – Continue offline/That’s enough for me.
Day 8 – Spore (2008)
This game is adorable. Seeing where we started and where we ended up is so entertaining and fascinating to me. From weird little critter to slightly bigger weird critter, I am still curious to see how far the game goes. The fun part about it is that everyone’s game is going to be slightly different. I am definitely more interested in the evolution and creation than the rest of the gameplay, but it kept a pace so that you were never far away from your next adaptation. The rest of the gameplay was made more interesting by the other weird critters that you can meet. I am unsure why the game isn’t calling me back, but at the same time I don’t think I can uninstall it until I’ve at least played a little more.
Ranking – Continue playing offline/That’s enough for me.
Day 9 – Kentucky Route Zero (2013)
It is funny how there are so many individual things that I like about this one, but as a whole it didn’t really capture my attention or imagination. I enjoyed the freedom of being able to talk to people then explore the map, seeking out the places they talked about. It felt fantastic that I found a place that was just mentioned off hand when my objective was to go elsewhere. The issue was that I didn’t really feel any pay off from it. Things were weird but I don’t know why they were weird, and even whether to expect any explanations or just more weird.
The thing I liked the most was the art style. It is distinctively simple and effective, and I loved the use of shapes. I am still interested in continuing the game, I am just unsure whether I should record it as there is no way of knowing whether it is going to fall flat for me or not. It will be interesting to see how it developed over the years, but I can see that by playing it myself. Do let me know if you would like to see more.
Ranking – Continue playing online/Continue playing offline.
Day 10 – No Man’s Sky (2016)
For whatever reason, I did not expect this game to be such a survival game. I knew it was about exploration but it has all the fundamentals that I have seen in survival games before. The great thing about this though is that you can customise to your heart’s content.
I did enjoy my time with it but I am beginning to think that survival games in general aren’t for me. The introductions and tutorials tend to either be very long and by the time I get freedom I have had enough, or very short with no direction and I lose patience trying to figure it out. That, combined with either a lack of a beginning direction or a lack of an end goal and I should probably conclude that I am not the target audience for the genre. Having said all of that, I am glad to see that this game turned everything around from release and has turned into a vast game with lots to discover, should you choose to.
Ranking – That’s enough for me.
Day 11 – Opus: Echo of Starsong (2021)
I am not sure whether it comes through on the video – I think I hid it well enough – but I honestly shouldn’t have recorded on this day. I did it because I was on a schedule but I was so exhausted, I probably should have rescheduled. Having said that, if there was any game that I could have played while feeling that way it was this one. The story moved along at a good pace to stay engaged. The world was fictional enough to capture the imagination yet familiar enough with its politics. It was easy to play, nice to look at and is told from a perspective that I feel is more common in movies than games, which happens to work very well in my opinion. The characters are imperfect which makes choices fun, and I definitely would like to see more of the story. It is just a huge shame that the voice acting isn’t in English. Please let me know if you would like to see more of this one.
Ranking – Continue playing online/Continue playing offline.
Day 12 – Tunic (2022)
Tunic swooped in at the end there to claim the title of my second favourite game in this series. It is very similar to Death’s Door in genre, gameplay and perspective, but with an entirely different vibe. Both of these games have similarities to the Souls series and as a fan from a distance, it is wonderful to get to have the things I like about that series in a game that is more my style. The exploration and level design is wonderful, and the lack of direct information elevates the achievement of figuring something out, as well as the mystery of the land. It is colourful, satisfying, and the accessibility features give me the confidence to definitely pursue this one as a Let’s Play. I cannot wait to get back in there and find a god damn shield!
Ranking – Continue playing online.
The best part about doing this series is not only that I got to experience so many games, but it has also given me a great insight in to the types of games that I would like to play on the channel. Since then, I have created a bigger list of games that I would like to record, so I have plenty of options when my Game Pass runs out. This has been an experiment, a challenge and a joy all at once, and I am so glad that I managed to get it finished in the planned timescale without sacrificing any quantity or quality (I did sacrifice my Christmas Eve so rip to that, but it was worth it). I hope you guys had at least some of the fun that I had. Thankfully, this was just the beginning. I now have the pleasure of actually playing these games!
Definitely continuing as Let’s Plays
As Dusk Falls
Potentially continuing as Let’s Plays
Kentucky Route Zero
Opus: Echo of Starsong
Along side this post I am going to run some Twitter Polls to see if I can gauge interest in the games I am unsure about so please look out for those!
The year is almost over! Since I don’t make a habit of playing many brand new games on release I don’t often have a lot to add to the Game of the Year conversation. I do however track all of the games that I play within a given year. Since I missed so many titles throughout my life, I am very fortunate to experience many amazing games for the first time all year around. I want to celebrate that, so here are my Top 10 Games from this year!
10. AI: The Somnium Files (2019)
It was very difficult narrowing this list down. I have played so many good games this year that could make my top 10 for so many different reasons. After much back and forth, I have chosen AI: The Somnium Files as number 10. Despite not enjoying everything about it, I have to acknowledge that I loved the core mystery. Not only did the game deliver a murder mystery that kept me guessing with so many wild yet somehow plausible theories, it managed to bring it all together to a satisfying conclusion. When an ending falls flat it can often dampen my memory of the rest of the experience and that could very easily happen with a story so full of twists and turns. Thankfully, they nailed it!
If you would like to hear more about my mixed feelings on this crazy game, you can read my review here.
9. God of War (2018)
God of War felt like my first delve into the best that cinematic gaming has to offer. I felt like I was playing a blockbuster and because that is so rare to me, it was pretty damn awe-inspiring. I think the reason that this game doesn’t make it further up the list is becasue when something shines so much, the rough edges feel a little rougher. Slight issues with pacing, invisible walls and certain character arcs occasionally took me out of the experience and stopped this from being up there with my favourites. However, the fight choreography, the mythology and the characters themselves were so much fun, it was overall a fantastic experience.
8. Yes, Your Grace (2020)
I almost missed this one so I am so glad that I got to play it before it left Game Pass. The tough choices every day, the looming threat and the never knowing whether we would get through the next week created an extremely stressful and melancholic atmosphere in which I personally felt the weight of the kingdom on my shoulders. Yet somehow that is not all I remember. I remember the charm of every character being recognisable despite their pixel forms. I remember the nerves when someone returned to the palace, and the joy when they were saying thank you (and bringing me supplies). I remember the shenanigans of my daughters that elevated the game from a management sim to a life sim. It can be sad, it can be stressful, it can be buggy, but it is very worth playing.
7. Astrologaster (2019)
Having zero expectations helped as I discovered how much of a total delight Astrologaster really is. The music, the history, the choices, the relationships, the consequences – that is what the game is all about. It is all delivered with a sense of humour that couldn’t be nailed by just anyone. The passion and heart from the devs is palpable. If you are having a bad day, I couldn’t recommend this enough to get at least a few giggles. For how simple the game is moment to moment, the production value shines and makes this a stand out indie title.
6. Zero Time Dilemma (2016)
Finishing the Zero Escape series was the end of an era for me. I played the entire series for YouTube and each one was as wild as the next in their own way. It took me a while to adjust to the third and final game having such a new style, but once I got used to it I grew to love it. The janky animations added character as much as anything else, and the new flow of gameplay made a lot of sense in terms of the story. As I reflect, this game and Virtues Last Reward keep trading places for my favourite in the series, and that was very unexpected considering how much I enjoyed VLR.
If you would like to hear more of my feelings on this game, not only can you watch my series in the video above but I guested on the Left Behind Game Club podcast where we talked in a lot of depth. You can find more information about that here.
5. Elden Ring (2022)
One one hand, it almost feels wrong to put Elden Ring on this list as I am not even sure I am half way through yet. On the other hand, I HAD to put Elden Ring on this list. I have quietly enjoyed the souls games from a distance for a few years, but never thought I could actually play them. I wanted that sense of exploration but I don’t have the patience required for the combat. Then Elden Ring came along. It is like Dark Souls had a child with.. well.. me. Every change they made and feature they added feels tailored to my enjoyment and I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with the game so far, knowing I have many more hours of joy, discovery, fear and fascination to go. This was my onlyday one gaming splurge this year and I am so glad that I did it.
4. Guardians of the Galaxy (2021)
I am not entirely sure why it took me so long to play Guardians of the Galaxy. I had access to it for a while but the timing never felt quite right. Now that I think back, it is like it was for a reason. In an extremely stressful time in my life, this game gave me a wonderful place of respite. It is another that felt designed for me on a few different levels. The character interactions and small details were fantastic and the levels were very fun to explore. I even enjoyed the combat which isn’t usual for me. The only hype I really heard about this game were the few who were championing it saying it is underrated, and I whole-heartedly agree. I always hope for more people to play it because I’m sure there will be many that have as much love for it as I do. It is funny, colourful, bold, emotional, and so worth your time.
3. Stray (2022)
Stray was everything I needed it to be and more. To this day I see people calling it ‘that cat game’ but that feels so reductive to me. In my review I went into detail about why I believe this game worked so well, so instead of rehashing that, I will leave a link here. What I do want to say is while this game will not be for everyone, I am so happy that there is a space for games like these to be made. Not everything has to be a blockbuster, but I do believe games need some sort of substance. This is a short game that is bursting with atmosphere, gorgeous visuals, small moments, world building, and feelings; perhaps even more impressive considering all of the characters are animals and robots.
2. Persona 5 (2016)
This game took over my life in a way that I didn’t expect. At a time when I was creating a schedule – forcing in some mandatory yet reluctant rest time – P5 became part of my evening routine. Having never played a story based JRPG before (unless Pokemon counts) I wasn’t even sure what to expect, let alone whether I would like it. But after playing the first couple of hours I was completely sold. It was a totally new experience and I was entirely on board. The further in I got, the more I loved the characters and the more excitement I got from new mechanics, new story beats or discovering new elements of the game. This game is a masterclass in style and I couldn’t get enough. I lulled in the middle which isn’t unusual for me during a long game, but overall, Persona 5 took a place in my heart. Maybe even stole it? A hugely enjoyable experience that I will remember for a long time.
1. Return of the Obra Dinn (2018)
The award for favourite game that I have played this year goes to – Return of the Obra Dinn! All I knew going into this game was that there might be murder mysteries and puzzles, and that I was slightly off-put by the art style. It is so interesting how thoughts like that can 180 so hard that it becomes one of your favourite game experiences to date. As soon as I felt the game in motion I knew I had it wrong. This game is art in every sense. Not only the visual aesthetic, but the music, the audio design, the pacing of every reveal, the setting, the characters, the story, the clues, the unravelling. It is crafted to perfection.
In puzzle books my favourite pages are the logic grid puzzles. I had no idea this game would basically be a huge, sprawling version of those. Except for a couple of tiny niggles, this game ‘hit’ on every level for me. My only regret is not being able to experience it for the first time again.
Looking back over my list and writing this post is pretty magical. These games are outstanding and were one of the saving graces of a tough personal year for me. And the best part? I know there are 1000s more where they came from, just waiting to give more fantastic, wild, emotional, challenging, thoughtful, hilarious, *insert all other adjectives here* experiences, and the library just grows and grows.
For anyone else like me – people who want to experience everything there is, Indie and AAA alike – we will never be able to play all of the games that we would like to before we die. There literally aren’t enough hours. On one hand, that could be a reason to be super selective. On the other, how many games have clicked with you on a level that you never expected or could not have predicted? For me, that number is pretty high. The conclusion – be adventurous. Go with your gut. Listen to others, but not too closely. Curious about something? Give it a go! Not really feeling anything? Try absolutely anything! Games are more accessible than they have ever been, what better way to celebrate that then.. well.. playing games.
If you would like to see more of what I played this year, I have a Twitter thread with initial thoughts of every game I played here. I also have a more concise visual list on GGApp that you can view here.
Remember the Steam Next Fest that took place one month ago that I said I would make some content for? It’s here! I played so many great demos and I am very excited to finally share them.
One night I had an idea – which then became a personal goal – to create a magazine. It seemed like a fun challenge to get to practice writing, graphic design and art all at once, and that turned out to be true.
Although the festival has been and gone, the games last forever. Some still have demos going and some have even released, so it is always worth taking a look.
You can view on desktop directly or download a PDF below to view at your own leisure. This is something that is a little different for me so if you have enjoyed, please don’t hesitate to let me know!
I recently made a post about a bunch of the Indie Games that have released this year, of who’s demos I had played over the years. Since I didn’t cover all the Indie Game Festivals as comprehensively as I would have liked at the time, I decided to do the same thing again except this time, for games that got their releases last year. This still feels relevant as thankfully, the games havent gone anywhere. In fact, now may be better than ever what with updates and such.
This games striking art style grabbed my attention almost as much as the premise. We play as a sort of wildlife watcher. Our job is to place cameras and watch them each night, in order to track the movements of Squirrels. I really enjoyed both the puzzle of the tracking and the potential of the story that is being told through it.
Lemon Cake is an especially cute bakery management game. The adorable art and the cozy vibes made this a pleasant experience all around. Eloise from Cozy Bee Games is also very open with her development, sharing her designs and progress on Twitter and Twitch!
26th February 2021 – Tiny Room Stories: Town Mystery – Kiary Games
I love escape room games. Tiny Room Stories: Town Mysteries features escape rooms – or escape buildings/areas – each in their own little dioramas, connected by an ongoing story. The difficulty was perfect for me to make it an enjoyable experience that I want more of.
The Song of Farca Prologue is still available to play for free at the time of writing. This game is set in an apartment, but it is easy to forget as you are interacting with the story through different panels, experiencing the world beyond. It is fun making use of the tools given to you and working your way through mysteries in a way that only a private detective could.
TOEM is a black and white adventure game where our goal is exploration and taking photographs. I had a lot of fun scouring every area for things to snap to fill up my compendium. Best of all, the game has just had a big update, including new areas and more. So even if you have already played there is every reason to go back and take another look.
When I first started this demo I had no idea what to expect. I had never played a game that looked or played like it. I ended up really enjoying it and being sad when I reached the end. In this game you will play through your characters life, shaping their personality and experiences through the choices that you make. Balance their needs and life decisions and see how you turn out.
18th October 2021 – Sacred Fire: A Role Playing Game – Poetic
I loved this demo. I have never played anything like it and I got really into it. The art style is somehow simple and complex at the same time. It is a game full of choices and you are in a lot of control of how to deal with situations. Or at least, you are in control of how you intend to deal with them, as long as the dice roll goes your way.
The game is currently in Early Access with a free demo here.
19th October 2021 – Escape Simulator – Pine Studio
Escape Simulator is an escape room experience specifically designed for multiple players. The rooms themselves are fun and well themed, and another selling point is that you can create your own rooms, as well as play rooms others have created.
Here is the Steam page if you would like to check it out.
21st October 2021 – Growbot – Wabisabi Play
Growbot is an adorable point and click adventure. While art style can play a huge part on whether I enjoy a game, that isnt the only reason I liked it. Upon solving the puzzles and reading every bit of lore I could find, I was fascinated by this world that I was learning about. From what I can tell, this game is fairly short. I would love to stream it sometime.
There were so many unique games released in 2021 and Moncage is no exception. This is a puzzle game in which you need to manipulate objects within an environment, in order to alter the perspective. It is very satisfying when you solve a puzzle and everything lines up the way it should. It is also telling a story throughout. I would say it is comparable to a 3D Gorogoa, all be it in a totally different style.
There were of course many more Indies released in 2021, but I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed the demo of every game above. It is so great to watch a game go from releasing a demo to releasing the full game, rooting for them and seeing how they do. Now, I will get back to playing more demos, scouting for more of these delights!
Over the last couple of years since the very first Steam Game Festival, I have spent a lot of time playing the demos of Indie Games. The idea of these festivals was fantastic to me. Games get the chance to showcase what they are, and I get the chance to try games that I may not try otherwise. Since then, I have covered festivals on my blog, on my YT channel and in my discord. It is something that I enjoy very much and would like to continue for years into the future. Seeking out the Indie gems is like panning for gold and when you find it, it makes you want to shout from the rooftops.
I got the idea to look back over the demos I have played back in July when 4 of those games released in one month! It is so nice to see games that I first tried back in 2020 finally get their release. So here are the demos that I enjoyed that have released this year, and some more to watch out for in the coming months. I haven’t played them all but I am itching to!
March 19th – Eternal Threads – Cosmonaut Studios
I prioritised playing this demo, not only because it looked up my alley but it is set in the North of England. I was not disappointed. Taking place within a house, this narrative based walking sim absorbed me, flashing between the past and the present, piecing together what happened. This is a game that I would love to stream sometime.
Cat Café Manager is a very chill, cute, management game. The problem with management games is that you don’t know whether there will be a difficulty spike, or equally, whether it will stay engaging for long. As far as I can tell, this is a nice, easy going game that would be a good entry to the genre for anyone intimidated by management sims or looking for something that isnt too taxing on the brain.
This is another management game, but instead of serving food you are breeding bees! The simplistic art style is easy on the eyes, giving way to the addiction of repopulating the island. I really enjoyed trying to breed them all, and the demo is still available so you can try bee-fore you buy.
Escape Academy is a delightful escape room puzzle game. If you enjoy escape rooms then you are sure to like it. With a fun story between and silky smooth gameplay, I can’t recommend this one enough. This is the only game on the list that I have played in full, and you can too right now if you have Game Pass!
July 15th – The Final Earth 2 – Florian van Strien
This is a great city builder. Easy to pick up, but so difficult to put down. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with it. The graphics are simple but clean and clear, making a visually unique game that you can get creative with. Definitely a recommend from me.
Hazel Sky is one of the earliest demos that I played and I was very happy to see it recently get a release. I can’t speak for the rest of the game, but the demo made me laugh out loud, and contained intrigue that made me want to see the rest of this world.
I am seeing a trend here. And the trend is lovely, laid back management sims. In this one, you play as a bear running a bed and breakfast. I really do have a spectrum of management covered! You can explore while gathering resources to make your business the best that it can be and meet the people(?) around you, all with minimal stress!
July 28th – Lord Winklebottom Investigates – Cave Monsters
I really want to play this game! Lord Winklebottom is a classic, point and click murder mystery adventure game. I love the style, it feels so nostalgic and has charm. The people are animals (obviously), fully voiced, and British. As someone who loves playing detective.. Yes please to all of the above!
September 13th – Deadwater Saloon – Creative Storm Entertainment / Tanglefoot Games
I was so mixed about this one. On one hand, I had problems with it. But on the other, I couldn’t stop playing. Two hours in and I finally forced myself to stop. At the time of writing the game has just released, so I will be interested to see if the problems have been fixed!
All of the above have released so far this year. But wait.. There’s more! September and beyond are full of releases.
September 22nd – Beacon Pines – Hiding Spot
I really enjoyed this one. The mixture of its really unique art style, and the contrast of cute but eerie makes me want to continue. The closest tone I can think of is if Night in the Woods, except younger characters. The gameplay however is a story book narrative puzzle. You collect terms that you can add to the story in certain places to alter the sentences and as a result, branch the paths. I have seen similar mechanics in Fate of Kai, and Indie Showcase demo Storyteller, and I have loved them every time. If this couldn’t be better, it is, because it will be available day one on Game Pass! I’m really looking forward to see how this one does.
Wishlist on Steam here to be notified when the game releases!
September 26th – Monorail Stories – Stelex Software
This is another demo that I played a long time ago. It was short but sweet, telling a story and building a world through rides on a monorail. You only need to look at the screenshots to see how much care has gone into the art. I wish them all the luck for a successful launch!
I played the Dome Keeper demo earlier this year as recommended by a few friends. They were right, it was a blast! In this roguelike your time is split between mining for resources and defending your base, using upgrades gained from said resources. It is fast paced, easy to learn but I imagine not so easy to master, and has that ‘one more try’ appeal. I hope this one blows up!
September 28th – The Excavation of Hobs Barrow – Cloak and Dagger Games
I am generally not a fan of horror so I avoid it, but for whatever reason this is one of the demos that I played. And honestly? I was so glad I did. I played this one on my own without recording and I remember having a great affection for it. But – my memory being my memory – I can’t remember exactly what happened or how it played. What I do know, is that it immediately went on my Wishlist, and I would love to stream it sometime after it releases. The art is gorgeous and I want to be back in that atmosphere.
Previously known as Incantamentum, you can wishlist on steam here.
2022 – Nobodies: After Death – Blyts
I loved the demo for this one and it is still available now! The best comparison I can make is that this is like a point and click, escape room style game. You are cleaning up after murders and trying not to get caught by solving the puzzle of the area you are in. The art is gorgeous which sounds like a contrast to the concept of the game, but it makes it even more fun to see where you might end up next. I hope this one finds its audience because the demo is a strong recommend from me!
Finally, Organs Please doesn’t have a release date except 2022. Despite the dark humour in the dire world that we are living in, it is easy to forget the horrors of what you are actually doing as you enter a flow state of maximum efficiency. The mechanics are introduced at a satisfying pace, building you up from rookie to mega multitasker in no time. I really enjoyed the gameplay of this one and would definitely like to play more upon release.
And that is it. Apparently this has been a quiet year for games. While that may be true in the AAA spaces, new indie games are coming out every day. It can be hard to know how to filter through the volume of games, so hopefully someone will not only find this list useful, but also give these ones a chance! Some of these games were created solo and they are absolutely excellent. Let me know if you give any of them a go!