Games to watch from the Summer Game Fest Demo Showcase

40 games were released as part of an ID@xbox incentive for the Summer Game Fest. I sat down and played all of them and was impressed with the overall quality on display, I don’t think I played a bad one.

Below you can find some of the teams thoughts on titles they played, however, for me, there were 5 that stood out, and I urge others to check them out, if they can.

Death Trash (Crafting Legends)

Described as “A post-apocalyptic role-playing game where cosmic horrors crave humanity but meet punks with shotguns.” The game is a top-down shooter/stealth sim with delightfully bonkers aesthetic and world. One of the first things I had to do was throw up and use the vomit on a machine. The game promises a ton of flexibility in terms of choices (you can kill anyone in the game) and gameplay.

Worth checking out the website.

Sable (Shedworks)

I had seen a bunch of trailers and was immediately taken by the beautiful scenery and visuals; I just had no idea what the game was about. The demo showed it to be an open world 3-D Zelda game. It is absolutely gorgeous and looks very promising.

If the screenshot appeals check out their website.

Mad Streets (Craftshop)

This game is a party style brawler, part Gang Beasts, part Kung Fu Chaos. The demo I played feels like the fighting still needs some work to make the physics-based combat really sing, but it has a strong premise, and a style that is a pastiche of 80s teen dramas.

For the strong look and fun feel you can see more at their website.

Jamie’s Opinion: Much like AJ, I found the combat here to be less than stellar, with the floaty physics of the attacks playing like a less enjoyable Gang Beasts. If this could be tightened up, or if there was more impact given to a successful hit, then it could be a fun, local party game. As it is, I found myself getting bored even with this short demo.

 The Riftbreaker (EXOR Studios)

A base builder/tower defence game where the player controls a large mech capable of wielding an energy sword and minigun. The premise seems to be ‘what if you were the villains from James Cameron’s “Avatar”?’ and I was all for it. Snappy controls and intuitive menus make it easy to step into and I look forward to the full release. It is telling that this was made by the same people behind X-Morph Defense.

If being Stephen Lang in a mech sounds like your thing you can check out more info here.

Lake (Gamious)

I didn’t know what to expect from this. The story is about a woman who takes a job as a postal delivery person. From the demo that seems to basically be it. It was refreshing as hell for it to not have a twist, to not have any verbs involving violence, just a relaxing driving and talking game.

Their website doesn’t have a lot of information, so their twitter presence is probably the best place to go for more info.

You can also check out Jamie’s thoughts on Lake in the video below:

Clone Drone in the Danger Zone (Doroborg)

Much like Mad Streets above, CDitDZ is a physics based brawler. Here though, Voxel’s come into play, allowing us to destroy enemy robots based on where we hit them. One hit is enough to kill an opponent (or indeed us), but we can also take off a leg or arm which will only hobble them. After each level we’re able to choose an upgrade to help us out, but dying resets all progress back to zero. The combat is fairly well paced, with the challenge racking up quickly, but once again even this small demo began to wear out its welcome after a while. If Doroborg can keep up the inventive enemy encounters this could be a good laugh for an evening or two though.

If this sound up your street you can find more at their website here.

Paint the Town Red (South East Games)

Another physics-based, voxel brawler, Paint the Town Red‘s demo didn’t exactly bring the hype in my eyes. Initially violent combat and fast movement soon turned into repetitive action as the admittedly stylish looking enemies funnelled toward me one after another. Almost anything around the bar level can be picked up and thrown as a weapon, and the attack have a good amount of weight behind them as we kick and punch anyone in our way. But for me it was just too randomly chaotic to have any lasting appeal. Of the 70-odd enemies to kill I only managed about 13 before getting overwhelmed, and again I found myself reaching for something else far too soon. Of course these are all early days demos but of the ones I tried this in the last one I’d return to if given a chance.

More info can be found here.

Trigger Witch – Rainbite

Jake’s Opinion – When browsing the demo page the key art for Trigger Witch immediately caught my attention, once I learned it utilized a retro 16-bit inspired art style I knew I had to try it out. You play as Collette a young witch in a top-down SNES-era Zelda-esque world. The demo has you playing through a training gauntlet to prove you are ready to graduate witch school. Instead of using typical magic, the witches in this world arm themselves with various guns and the gameplay takes a twin-stick shooter approach, with the right stick controlling your aim and the right trigger firing your weapon. You can also do a long dodge roll to avoid enemies and obstacles. The guns featured in the demo are all real-world-style weapons, such as revolvers, uzis, and assault rifles. I’m interested to see if that trend continues throughout the game or if the Collette can make use of some more fantastical type weaponry. The game is billed as an open-world action-adventure, but the gauntlet is comprised of various rooms where you have to solve puzzles to advance or defeat all the enemies in a room. The demo ends after you beat the strange gigantic head boss that is apparently a manifestation of one of Collette’s past bullies. This is definitely a game I’ll keep my eye on as the combat and puzzle gameplay was enjoyable and I’m curious how the open-world aspect will mesh all of that together. The playful pixel art juxtaposed with the violent gameplay also seems amusing and interesting.  I’d also like to know if and how the gameplay expands – magic has supposedly been replaced by guns in this world, but I think some extra powers would go a long way to spice up the gameplay. 

Arietta of Sprits – Third Spirit Games

Jake’s Opinion – Arietta of Spirits is a pixel art top-down action-adventure game featured in the Summer Games demo event. Like Trigger Witch it also seems to take a lot of artistic inspiration from A Link to the Past but instead of a fantasy setting, the game is set in what appears to be modern-day. You play as Arietta who is traveling with her parents to her late grandmother’s cottage, a place where she has been many times before, but not since her Grandma passed. The demo feels like a very small slice of the game, and only lets you tackle the first fifteen or so minutes of the game. Your parents task you with a few easy objectives and your mother asks you to go fetch some apples off in the forest. You equip yourself with a wooden toy sword and venture out. You soon encounter some large wasps and eventually a giant boss wasp that must be defeated in order to escape with the apples. Arietta has a dodge roll to assist her in combat and I like how she begins to visibly perspire and her movement slows if you use it too many times in quick succession. The game touches on themes of grief and overcoming loss, and I’m not sure how much those themes will appear in the full narrative. In addition, the gameplay mechanics were very limited in the demo and I’m curious how/if they will be expanded to make the game more interesting. Judging by the title there will be some interaction with spirits and possibly some magical powers, and there is a brief scene at the end of the demo where you are in a dream-like world with spirits or ghosts encircling you, but unfortunately, immediately following that scene the demo ends.

Tunic – Isometricorp

Jamie checked out the Steam Demo a little while back in this video!

Jake’s Opinion – Perhaps my most anticipated game featured in the Demo Fest is Tunic – so I knew I had to give it a try. Information has been somewhat sparse on this game in general, all I really knew was that it took a lot of inspiration from Zelda titles (I didn’t plan on only playing Zelda-inspired demos) and that it featured a super stylized low poly art style. I’m not the only gamer who is avidly awaiting the full release of this one, many people like the mysterious, secretive approach the designer has taken in revealing his game. In order not to fully spoil the final product the demo he created is apparently a mixture of several parts of the game combined out of order. The demo has you start on a beach à la Link’s Awakening and I was immediately struck by the beauty of the game, I’m always amazed when developers can make something so visually striking using less detailed art styles such as this. You quickly find a wooden sword to defend yourself against the roaming enemies and you can start exploring the environment. Tunic features an isometric view, a design choice that seems to make it easier for developers to hide secrets in the environment, such as secret passages or hidden treasures obscured behind something in the level. The combat feels like a combination of top-down Zelda games and the stamina-based combat of the Dark Souls series but on a simpler level. Like Dark Souls you drop all your currency when you die, but you then have a chance to go retrieve it. After the initial area, the demo opened up a bit with different paths to take, although one path contained a brutally tough, huge skeleton boss. The developer seems to have found a sublime combination of combat and exploration and wrapped it in an appealing visual style. I’m confident that the combat and exploration balance will be prevalent in the final release. Tunic’s release window is currently set for this summer, so hopefully, we get a release date soon and not a delay – after playing the demo I’m even more stoked and can’t wait to play the full game.  

Buy Me a Coffee at Become a Patron!
Written by
AJ Small is a games industry veteran, starting in QA back in 2004. He currently walks the earth in search of the tastiest/seediest drinking holes as part of his attempt to tell every single person on the planet that Speedball 2 and The Chaos Engine are the greatest games ever made. He can be found on twitter (@badgercommander), where he welcomes screenshots of Dreamcast games and talk about Mindjack, just don’t mention that one time he was in Canada.

Leave a Reply

Lost Password

Please enter your username or email address. You will receive a link to create a new password via email.