It's a place all right.

December 14, 2019 (Originally posted on Blogger)

Game Award Festival 2019 Demo Reviews

While I'm busy with a bunch of other things, including the year-end song rating list thing for this year, a thing called the Game Awards happened. It was a weird time. Also, they decided to release a bunch of trade show type demos on Steam for a couple days. In this limited time window they were available, limited even more by how I'm busy with stuff such as work, I went and played a small handful of the demos I was interested in. I'll just go with unscored impressions here as the games are still works in progress and this is just a small sample.

System Shock Remake
I was interested in seeing how this one worked out with the whole thing about this game being in and out of existence. It runs terribly on my current PC because it's not a modern VR-capable rig like they expect gaming PCs to be now, but I was able to get a bit into the game before getting tired of the lag. Hopefully the final has more graphics customization options, but at least they already have a motion blur toggle. Otherwise, it's pretty much just like a modernized version of the DOS original. The demo appeared to be just the initial whole medical level taken from the original. From the brief time I'd played that one before, I knew the initial layout of the first few rooms and to attack the cameras and so on. After that, it was just dealing with the weird approaches to things, some of which I'm not sure is from the original game at this time. All the puzzles are done from the same game perspective as the rest of the game, so it doesn't zoom in to focus so you have to be just close enough, but if a puzzle is on the floor you can at least crouch on top of it. Also the graphics seem to be pixelated textures with modernized lighting effects, and this seems intentional and not just from me trying to run it on low settings to get more frames.

I've played a demo of this game before, downloaded from the game's page. I was wanting to see if this demo was a new one, and was in luck. The previous demo had what seemed to be a bigger level with a bit of space and varied props, and a song about a heron. This new demo has a bit of a smaller but more vertically-focused level with lots of quarter and half-pipes, and a song about a barn owl. Generally it still controls like a janky Tony Hawk with janky Unity physics. Hopefully the physics core to the gameplay can be tightened up to be a more effective game and not just left broken for humorous effect, though ragdoll weirdness is still welcome. Trying to teleport back to the table causes the bird to just slam into the bottom of it half the time, ideally this would work most of the time. However, it appears they also put in a placeholder barrier that just resets the whole level, to the point of showing the tutorial again and having a new bird playable, if going too far from the table to keep from causing some extreme glitches. I was also able to find some really broken combos to get a lot of score quickly which were easy to pull off, such as getting stuck on ledges doing lip tricks and mashing two buttons. I didn't see any birds giving out missions though in this demo.

Chicory: A Colorful Tale
This was a fairly short demo for me, a dog paints things to save the world which of course lost color because this is a game involving painting. But the fun comes from being able to just smear color over everything. And somehow this solves puzzles. But then some really weird thing happens toward the end and it's like I'm playing an Undertale or Kirby fight. It really gets weird. There are sidequests along the way to the main path to make the demo last a bit longer, though, and therefore the game itself, just need to have a good eye for painting up the right stuff, as well as knowing how to change colors to make it more colorful. Plus the music is pretty nice to go with it. A pretty neat indie game. Then when I closed it after being done, it crashed and said "a good game has stopped working".

This seems like one of those beautifully animated emotional indie games. It's a bit of a 2D platformer but at the same time it involves making sure everyone on the boat is doing fine before they decide they're ready to cross over from whatever spirit world this takes place in. You can give them various things and also hug them at times, complete with cute animation. The character designs are pretty nice and generally mostly animals, the main character even has a kitty cat. During the boat trips to destinations, you can do things such as growing crops and fishing when you're not fulfilling tasks for the spirits. The demo was pretty short, but this looks like it could be sort of a feel-good-but-sometimes-sad-maybe kinda game, where someone might get attached to the characters who eventually have to cross over.

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