Indie Variety Hour – Steam Autumn Festival

With the world still being in a state of constant turmoil, Valve has continued to run digital game conventions through Steam. Thus from October 7th to 13th Steam users were able to participate in the Autumn Game Festival. Similar to the Summer version of the event, I’ve played numerous demos and will be cataloging my favourite ones here.

Unlike some of my fellow bloggers I am slow and thus the festival is over, so consider this post a list of things to keep an eye on rather than demos to try. Plus, with the variety of games on offer there is a good chance I was able to play some demos that were missed by other folks. I went through over two hundred games, selected eighteen demos to play, and wishlisted eight of them. Without any further adieu, here are the winners of the fall selection.

Demon Turf

Planned release platforms: PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox

It wouldn’t be a Frosti-list without representation from a platformer, and Demon Turf was the only one that I played which left a fully positive impression.

The platforming on offer was fluid and offered a degree of player expression. You have access to both a double jump and a hover. Depending on what order you use them in they manifest differently. Going from a jump into a hover into another jump triggers a long jump which allows players to cover a ton of distance relatively quickly. I was also able to climb surfaces by using a similar order of moves while wall jumping, which felt great.

Demon Turf is definitely one I’ll be picking up in future.

Trailer | Official Site | Steam Page

Carto

Planned release platforms: PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox, Play Station

Carto strikes me as one of those laid back puzzle games you can curl up with after a long day. You play as the titular Carto, a child who wanders around with a magic map that allows players to reorient the island they’re exploring and has some puzzle application. For example, during the demo an elderly man said he was lost and needed help finding his home. He provided a context clue for where his house was located and then I had to move his map tile to the appropriate spot for his house to poof into existence.

Carto doesn’t strike me as a particularly difficult game, but I am interested to see how much mileage the developers get out of it. Humble publishing the game is also a promising sign.

Trailer | Official Site | Steam Page

Lucifer Within Us

Planned release platforms: PC

Now for an induction game.

Lucifer Within Us is a detective style adventure game where you play as a demon hunter in a world where technology and religion are intertwined. The focus of the game is placed upon discovering inaccuracies within suspect testimonies so you can paint a clearer picture of who done it. Also demons. The demo didn’t go into that much, but I assume they will play a bigger part of the full release.

What I enjoyed most was how during the investigation you have both suspect’s testimonies side by side and you’re able to swap between them while finding contradictions. It streamlined the process of interrogating both suspects while also helping to provide a clear visual timeline of what happened removing any ambiguity.

If nothing changed Lucifer Within Us should already be out by the time this post is live so if you’re sold on the premise you can play it right now.

Trailer | Official Site | Steam Page

Raji: An Ancient Epic

Planned release platforms: PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox, Play Station

Raji: An Ancient Epic, similar to Lucifer Within Us, should be available by the time this post is live. It follows the titular character Raji on a quest to save her brother who was captured by demons as they invaded her town during a battle against the Gods.

The most interesting aspect of Raji is the ties its story have to Hinduism. Greek and Norse mythology are popular within media, but I can’t think of many notable examples of Indian mythology and as such Raji is both refreshing and intriguing.

Additionally, the combat has a nice flow to it. It isn’t particularly deep, but it was based around context sensitive parkour so it was flashy enough to be satisfying.

Trailer | Official Site | Steam Page

Morbid: The Seven Acolytes

Planned release platforms: PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox, Play Station

Morbid: The Seven Acolytes is Dark Souls. No I am not making a meme. The similarities are uncanny, but I still dig it.

Morbid is a dreary, ambiguous game with a strong sense of atmosphere and punishing combat. Of all demos I played this was the I spent the longest time with entirely by accident. There is just something so intriguing about the world and the demo managed to really draw me in.

One thing I appreciated was that I didn’t lose anything when I died. Unlike the games it clearly inspired by, Morbid doesn’t punish you by having you drop all your shit when you die. Instead, you’re simply shunted back to the last resting stop and enemies respawn. I could see that still being a turn off for some, but it was a welcome change of pace from my perspective. It’ll keep things from ever becoming too oppressive or frustrating.

Similar to Demon Turf, I think Morbid: The Seven Acolytes will be one I pick up without hesitation once it is available.

Trailer | Official Site | Steam Page

Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion

Planned release platforms: PC

Now for something completely different: Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion.

Turnip Boy is a wholesome, meme humour, Zelda inspired romp. You’ll explore around, solve some puzzles, and occasionally kill baddies. It’s a tried and tested formula we’ve seen again and again, but I really enjoyed the demo. Meme humour can usually be pretty obnoxious, but I thought it was light-hearted enough to be genuinely funny here.

Trailer | Official Site | Steam Page

Terra Pulse

Planned release platforms: PC

Next up, Terra Pulse: another game focused on exploration and light puzzle solving. You explore the ruins Rio de Janeiro three hundred years after a disaster that caused nature to take back the land that humanity had claimed. The world has an almost metroid-vania feel to it and there is some very stylish 2D hack and slash action to accompany the exploration.

Exploring the demo felt great, even though the level designs were mostly linear loops. There’s something to be said for games that allow you to forget that you’re sat in your basement and are instead exploring the ruins of a long lost world.

Trailer | Official Site | Steam Page

Quantum Protocol

Planned release platforms: PC

I like card games. I like waifus. Quantum Protocol is both of those things in one.

Quantum Protocol is a deck building game and stood out as the best card game I played during the whole of the Autumn Game Fest. You start off with a limited pool of character specific cards and expand your deck to adjust your strategy throughout gameplay. The ability to shift gears and adjust led to the demo having a great sense of flow and dynamism and I’m really interested to see how that plays out in the full release.

Alongside the card game, there is a story delivered with the same kind of vignettes as a visual novel. The demo focused on introducing the main cast of characters so I didn’t get much of a story hook, but it seems that the leading cast are white hat hackers that are trying to take down some shady organization from the shadows. It a bit cliché, but I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt for now. The gameplay on display is good enough to carry the experience if the story doesn’t pan out – at least what I saw in the demo gave me that impression.

Trailer | Official Site | Steam Page


Okay. Woo. That was a lot. Hopefully there was something in there you hadn’t had time to get to yourself that has piqued your interest. In poking around I’ve already seen some posts by other bloggers about the Autumn Game Fest, but regardless what was your favourite game demo from the event? If you weren’t able to participate: has anything here caught your fancy? Let me know in the comments below.

3 thoughts on “Indie Variety Hour – Steam Autumn Festival

  1. I backed the Kickstarter campaign for Raji a couple of years ago, which sadly wasn’t successful. It’s great to see it getting some love now though!

    Have you checked out the reviews for Lucifer Within Us…?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have. The positive and negative on Steam cite the same issue for a lot of people: length. The game is only around 3 hours long which some folks don’t think is reasonable based on the ~$20 price tag. I still bought it and intend to play through the whole of it with Mir on the weekend. I’m decidedly in the camp of “would rather spend more money on a short meaningful experience” than “spend less money on a long and repetitive experience”.

      Like

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