Wednesday, October 5, 2022

We Got Both Kinds. We Got Point *And* Click!

It took longer than usual for me to find half a dozen demos in the latest Steam Next Fest I felt there was a good chance I might actually play. The myriad filtering options, as ever, seemed to make things harder to find rather than the intended reverse. I'm getting more accustomed to the way Steam presents but I don't think it's just my age that makes it feel awkward and unintuitive. It has the feel of something designed primarily by techs for techs, not by a marketing department for an end user.

Perhaps the most irritating piece of user-unfriendliness is the way the list resets to the beginning every time you click through to look at the full Steam page behind a demo. If you're happy selecting and downloading from the link in the list itself, making your choice purely on the thumbnail, the tags and the line or two of descriptive text, you get to keep your place but if you have the temerity to ask for further details then it's back to the beginning of the line for you!

After about forty-five minutes of painstaking and often painful research, I managed to come up with a baker's half-dozen titles. That's seven in old numbers. Will it be Lucky Number Seven? I guess we'll find out.

For a short moment and for the sake of variety, I considered trying some new genres. It would certainly make for more interesting posts. I looked at some platformers and ARGs. I flirted with Undecember, which has a very enticing name and got a write-up on MassivelyOP yesterday. 

I thought seriously about trying several titles recommended by Emily from MonsterLady's Diary. She mentioned A Castle Full of Cats and Asterigos, both of which I'd already thought about, but in the end, much though I like the idea of searching a castle to find a horde of cats, I have some difficulty seeing hidden object games as a worthwhile use of my time and the "Developer Plays" stream for Asterigos made it look much too hard - unsurprising given it has "Souls-like" as one of its tags.

There was an mmorpg I would have liked to have tried. Unfortunately, I can't even tell you what it's called. Well, I can... it's called 蜀山:初章. I'm not quite sure how it made it into the list. There's a big orange warning that says "English language not supported" and a whole paragraph about how to change your settings if you want to see games in other languages, which I might but haven't, as yet.

Naturally, my curiosity got the better of me. I Google-translated the title, which turns out to be Shushan: The First Chapter. It's yet another mobile mmorpg that also has a PC port. There's a trailer for it on YouTube, which I've embedded above for your viewing pleasure. No, that's quite alright. All part of the service!

It looks quite bland, especially compared to the two very similar titles I'm already playing, Noah's Heart and Chimeraland. I'm not a huge fan of the setting, either, and even if I was in the mood for a storks and weeping willows I'd most likely play Swords of Legend Online, which is a decent mmorpg with a passable English translation.

I will admit I was curious all the same. It might be interesting to try playing a game where even the most basic instructions are incomprehensible. It would be New Game Confusion dialled up to eleven and I do enjoy being utterly confounded by game mechanics. What finally stopped me was the 14GB footprint. That's a hefty investment for a demo and my drives are looking a bit bloated right now. I think I'll need to jettison some of the deadweight before I add any more.

After much consideration, I decided to stick with the kind of demos I feel pretty confident I'll be able to finish before the event ends, which for the most part means point&click adventures and visual novels. 

I didn't anticipate much trouble finding some. Usually NextFest is riddled with the the things. I also imagined I'd be able to come up with several featuring the kind of protagoniosts, plots and settings I prefer - anthropomorphic animals, noir and neo-noir detectives, near-future dystopias and heartwarming whimsy. That kind of thing.

Surprisingly, most of those seemed a little thin on the ground this time. Maybe we're entering a lean patch after the long glut. I managed to scrape up enough to meet my quota, anyway, so here they are, in alphabetical order:

  • The Abandoned Planet
  • Foolish Mortals
  • Life of Delta
  • Midnight Girl
  • Pitstop in Purgatory
  • Rosewater
  • Unusual Findings

I won't go into details about any of them here. I'll save that for the reviews, although I'm not very confident about getting through the bulk of them before the event ends in five days, especially since I'm working all weekend. It all depends how long the demos are - a highly unpredictable variable.

I have already finished one of them. I played through the demo for Midnight Girl last night. Steam tells me I spent just over an hour on it but that included a lengthy afk. I think it was more like thirty minutes although even at that I must have been lollygagging at the lovely visuals because there's a complete walkthrough on YouTube and it only takes sixteen minutes.

Review for that one coming next time, possibly alongside at least one more. I'll probably cherry-pick the most interesting ones first in case I run out of time, which means the Old West adventure Rosewater's up next, followed by one of the SF titles, either The Abandoned Planet or Life of Delta.

Here's hoping at least a couple of them make it onto my wishlist even if they do then languish there for years. I did actually buy a game the other week that I first tried in a Next Fest, so it can work as a marketing excercise. Unfortunately for the developers, the game in question, Sable, had to wait until it was on sale at a whopping 60% off before I finally deigned to get my credit card out. Still, that's £7.99 they wouldn't have had otherwise!

Of course, I still haven't played it. That would be crazy!


  1. 10 points in my book just for the Blues Brothers reference in the title!


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