It's a place all right.

December 23, 2021 (Originally posted on Neocities)

Winter 2021 Xbox Demo Things

More demos to review, this time focusing on things I saw on the Xbone I felt like checking out at random. It probably ties into the Game Awards thing that happened recently, however much that was rigged or not. According to the internet, probably definitely. Especially coming from the Psychonauts fans. I still need to play the first one. And then Halo Infinite finally mostly released. Right before it got an award for being a player pick. And voting finished before the campaign even came out. That game released very weirdly and I’m not sure what to think. Also I still would like to play through the original campaigns first.

The Good Life
It’s that game that did crowdfunding, possibly attempted it multiple times beforehand if I remember right, and then found a publisher anyway. It’s more of a weird town simulator than Deadly Premonition was, and it also runs poorly on the base Xbone. The lowered framerate and the weird model jittering during cutscenes is almost trying to be like a PS1 game in a way lacking retro charm. Somehow this photographer lady that ended up in a small town finds people turning into cats and dogs and gets this power herself. She also keeps trying to chase after a woman in a powered wheelchair. It’s weird of course, and somehow slow paced yet also having missions come up with specific shorter time limits so knowing where the run button is helps. The timescale is the usual 1 second to 1 minute game time so the days just feel short like in certain farming games. There’s also this one meter I couldn’t figure out what it did and it drained completely yet I don’t know if it really does anything. It may have had something to do with some specific beauty routine that I couldn’t figure out in the time I spent on the demo. Also the game attempts to have combat later in the demo, but it’s broken and non-functional at least as far as I can tell so it’s easier to just run from hostile animals instead of blindly pressing the attack button vaguely in the direction and miss while constantly being attacked. Running is also faster as an animal, so most of the game might be spent running around as an animal just to move faster than a slow jog. I’m not sure how intentionally weird or jank this game is trying to be instead of just being the perfect cult storm Deadly Premonition ended up being but I wasn’t really feeling invested.

Overpass: Rhythm Roadtrip
This game is a rhythm game, not a racing game. The setting is essentially staring up while on some stylized road to match markers with the right inputs to some synth wave type-esque soundtrack. As a rhythm game, it’s fairly customizable between having several control setups on the Xbone, timing window adjustments alongside calibration, and having certain inputs automatically done if one needs to or just wants to watch a visualizer if it’s on full auto. I tried a couple control configurations to see how they did, both seemed fine. Even things like motion blur and marker visibility can be tweaked. The demo was short with only a couple tracks in it but two is more than one so it gave a better overview that way. This game has been on Steam for a while, where it was just called Overpass, but just now appears to be coming to consoles with the updated title since there was some generic-looking racing game under that name on consoles recently before it.

Space Boat
This game is one of those adventure games about figuring out who wants what thing to solve puzzles and advance the story, just with 3D controls. It features a “space cat” who is with some kind of space police to solve crime on the titular space boat that actually has a different name. It’s very indie budget and is apparently also a Kickstarter to extend into a full game. One of the characters sounded like a weird Cartman impression, possibly intentionally, while I think two others shared the same pitched down voice, and one random character sounded like a text to speech recording. Also the obvious commentary and jabs at premium versus freemium and subscriptions for everything and so on are throughout, as Kickstarter indie games seem practically obligated by social contract to comment on modern gaming and such. Including literal whales, or orcas actually however much those count as whales, hanging out in the premium spendy zones. Also of course some random dog made of jelly that exists to be pet. For whatever reason the volume sliders in the menu can also be cranked up to 600% as well.

Lonesome Village
This game seems to be about a fox or wolf or some kind of doglike creature on an adventure, where a village population disappeared and probably involves messing with the wrong deities. When I started the demo, it looked like it was gameplay because the HUD was there, but it was still a cutscene. After I could actually play, I went into the tent at the campsite and the game crashed. I’m not sure how that even happens. My second attempt went a little better, as I decided to go toward the ominous tower the game really wants the player to go toward. It seems to be a weird not-quite-Zelda game, which would make it at least the second fox-type Zelda-esque thing I’ve played on these demos, mostly focused on puzzle solving that I’m not sure I’m really doing any solving. The main mechanic seems to be using a lens to uncover hidden parts of the map. Also after completing a task, it seems to railroad straight to the next thing, as teleporting into town to watch someone build a building then being teleported right back into the tower for the next puzzle, which I somehow got stuck at because it was a dark room with a lever that didn’t seem to do anything. Also the game just seems to be mostly silent after the title screen aside from occasional sound effects, yet there’s a music slider. My volume was up, but the game’s just didn’t seem to go that high. I think this game could have used the 600% volume sliders, also more background music to not make me want to fall asleep trying to figure out what a lever does or doesn’t do. That didn’t help with my lack of motivation to get through the demo.

These were some random Xbone demos and I’m not really sure I got much out of it, some interesting ideas but nothing I’m totally sold on. I think Overpass out of all of these was the top pick.

I started on this last week and finished it around last weekend, and I finally got around to posting this since this week was busy. It’s a Festivus miracle. Also there’s a Steam sale now and I’m already finding things there. So there are still games that interest me but just not as much in that lot above.

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