Way back in June, Steam ran the second-newest incarnation of Next Fest, its demo-sharing event – and for some reason I didn’t publish this post until November, after October’s Next Fest. Many games were available for the general public to peruse and try out at leisure, and I went a bit wild downloading loads of them. I’ve collated a few of the ones I really enjoyed (and a couple I was less enthusiastic about) into a couple of posts. From a Goldeneye ‘clone’ to a world with only trains, there was a solid variety available, and many of the demos are still on the go if you want to give them a shot.
Agent 64: Spies Never Die
Tesco Great Value Goldeneye
Agent 64: Spies Never Die was the first demo I played from Next Fest. A pretty unabashed Goldeneye imitator, it was a good time, actually. It might leave you wondering why you’re not just playing the real deal, but it’s got a solid impersonation of Rare’s shooters of the era in aesthetic terms, and it plays pretty well too.
Much like the real Goldeneye it’s got very generous aim assist, which makes the game’s gunplay feel a bit simple on the PC. Difficulty levels add additional objectives to the level – at least in the demo – which is a fun approach. I’d check this one out if you’re a fan of the ‘source material’, and if it’s cheap enough I’ll definitely pick the finished product up for a Bargain Bits in the future.
Wishlist: Why not? (meant to do it but forgot)
Building to de-pollute
Terra Nil initially seemed like an inverted take on the expansionist city-builder, where instead of populating the area you’re growing tons of plants. Using the power of technology, you reconstruct a handful of different biome types to make a flourishing ecosystem – it’s a neat idea and the graphics are pretty good. However, Terra Nil leans more towards puzzle-game than chill city-builder.
At least in my limited experience of the demo it was very easy to completely ruin your chance of winning the level you’ve been placed in through bad use of resources early on – I ended up stranded after about 20 minutes. I might be misconstruing the game, but if this is reflective of the full experience it’s not really for me; getting into the mechanics is a key part of city-builders (I did learn more than I’d ever wanted to know about traffic for Cities: Skylines) but ultimately the failure state being quite strict in Terra Nil is enough to put me off.
Wishlist: No ‘wish’ list but I ‘wish’ you all the best, Terra Nil.
Space station Doomviolence
Selaco is what I refer to as ‘a Doom’, information that you might be able to glean from its proud advertisement of being made in GZDoom. It’s got all the classics; secrets, keycards and so on. I quite liked Selaco, and I think if you like this sort of game you will too. You’re hanging out on a space station when it suddenly comes under attack by soldiers, and as a captain in ACE Security it’s up to you to shoot your way out.
There’s a ton of incidental dialogue and things to find, and in many ways Selaco feels like quite an up to date game despite its retro inclinations. The aesthetic is pretty good, if honestly a little uneven – the guns are like 2D sprites from a 3D render in very high resolution, which weirdly reminds me of Flash web games, which would do a similar thing way back in the day. The HUD and environments look really good too, though I got lost a bit and some of the hallways were a bit same-y (again a few tins deep at the time).
Wishlist: Yeah, sure man
Imagine all the trains
If Terra Nil was a city-builder that isn’t, Sweet Transit is a city-builder that definitely is (with a twist). The universe of Sweet Transit is one where the only form of transport is trains – the deep lore behind this happening as yet eludes me, but the idea is quite funny and so I’ll roll with it.
I’d definitely be lying if I said I’d played enough of this to form a coherent opinion. It seems like a fairly deep and mechanistic game, targeted at those who like trains, resource management, and industrial revolution-ish endless expansion. Personally, I got deeply confused in the process of trying to get more wood to continue constructing. Since I was playing half-cut at around 1am, I carried on and played Selaco instead. I think the person that will love Sweet Transit will already know they love it. The demo’s now gone after Next Fest, but maybe take a look if that’s you. I forgot a screenshot for this one and can’t get another because of this.
Wishlist: Nope (sorry, trains are cool)
Playing an old Gameboy inside an indie game
Goodbye World is exactly the sort of thing I’d want to see in something like Next Fest, and I’ll definitely be revisiting it when it’s out. It’s a narrative game about game development, told through the eyes of two young developers struggling to make their way creatively and financially. I’m not sure how much of Goodbye World is strictly autobiographical, but from the three chapters on display in the demo it feels like the developer is putting a lot of their own feelings about the creative process out there.
It’s fundamentally almost a linear visual novel – from what I’ve seen here – interspersed with gameplay segments in which your character idly plays a block-placing platformer on a cracked old Gameboy. The visuals are lovely and the music is a proper standout. Definitely keen to give this one a second look on release.
Wishlist: Definitely – see the review when it appears
Myriad: A Rogue Adventure
I can’t really think of anything here
Alright, I was feeling pretty bullish after playing a few really good games for this, but Myriad was rough. It seems to have some sort of roguelite statistical game nestled inside it, but the central combat is just so sluggish, weightless and floaty that it doesn’t really matter.
I’ll fully admit I didn’t really give this one a fair shake, giving up almost immediately, but the central gameplay loop was so poor I wasn’t interested when I had loads of other demos to get on with. I try to avoid stereotyping this sort of 3D action game made in Unity, but it’s hard not to see that jank shining through here.
Giving them the boot
A bit like Duke Nukem meets Hotline Miami, Anger Foot is a fast-paced run-and-gun hallway-shooter with a big focus on using your personal trainer collection to boot enemies into the next life. It’s loud, lethal and fast, with a timer reminding you you’re (sort of) on the clock.
Anger Foot takes a humorous approach, with enemies doing daft dances if they kill you and the central plot revolving around Anger Foot having one of his precious pairs of shoes stolen by Goo Cop after he messes with the Crime Gang. This sequence of words almost seems like it’s trying a bit too hard.
I think if it seems like something you’d like, you should check it out. I might give it a second chance on release as frankly I was feeling a bit irritable when I played it and found some of the levels’ ‘cheap’ deaths a little frustrating. It’s very loud in a visual and audio sense, which added a little to the stress but which is part of the game’s appeal.
Wishlist: I didn’t, but you definitely might
If you want to read some more indie-ish stuff, why not check out my reviews of Mysteries Under Lake Ophelia or Vampire Survivors. We’ve been a bit lazy so far this year on the writing front, so that’s all you get.