Operation: Tango

A very solid digital set of puzzle rooms with a vibrant 80’s spy movie/secret agent theme.

Author Note: Images in this article are from the Operation: Tango Press kit. It turns out getting nice images off a two player game on an ultra wide monitor is kind of a pain. I’d say they accurately reflect the look of the game.

Operation: Tango is a really cool asymmetric co-op puzzle game, where you play as one of two secret agents. And when I say “Co-Op,” I mean Co-Op. There is no single player option here. Good news is that you only need to own one copy of the game to play it with someone else on Steam, since they can just download the demo, and play the full game through that.

In Operation Tango, you and your friend take the role of two spies. One player is the Hacker, and one player is the Agent. The world has a “Futurist 80’s spy” vibe which is generally executed exceedingly well with bright colors, flashy outfits and locales, and clean UI for the puzzles.

Working together with your partner in anti-crime, you’ll need to make your way through a series of missions, each with a varied set of objectives and goals. While the game does require coordination and timing to be successful, not all puzzles are on timers, and even those that are tend to be generous, giving an illusion of intensity while offering far more time than might otherwise be obvious.

Because of its whole thing, most of the puzzles in Operation Tango that I saw don’t really fall into any single consistent pattern that can be used to describe them, outside of the idea of relying on asymmetric information. So I’m just going to go through a few that I remember and liked, to give a general sense of the vibe.

One mission has one player effectively playing an infinite runner while the other player feeds them information and call outs, while moving obstacles out of their way, healing them, and managing the rest of the interface. Others involve disabling security drones and cameras so that the other player can get by. There are a few re-used elements, such as lock picking, but those tend to amp up in difficulty as you progress.

My one big criticism would be that the game does suffer from a bit of a breakdown near the end. The last mission in the game is by far the weakest one in my opinion, and feels like the designers took 2 half finished missions and smashed them together to make a single level. To quote the person I played with, the finale felt like a worse version of Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, and there’s a section in the previous level that is more or less just Spaceteam. With that said, the rest of the game is much stronger, and much more fun.

The game also doesn’t necessarily lend itself well to replayability once you’ve done a level as both roles. While the game does its best to randomize various elements of any given puzzle, once you understand the rules in play for a given puzzle, they’re mostly solved. Looking around to search for clues or ideas was the most enjoyable part of the game, and when you know what you’re looking for, it’s a lot less of a “Secret Agent” infiltrating a building, and more “Puzzle Speedrunning.”

Still though, Operation: Tango was one of my favorite demos from PAX East for a reason, and the full game feels like it delivers on the promise of the demo. Because of what the game offers, and because of the fact that only one person has to buy the game, I feel comfortable recommending it. If this article hasn’t persuaded you, I suggest you grab a friend, pull down the demo, and see what you think.

Good luck out there agent.

A Buncha Steam Demos

Usually this would be good, bad, and ugly, but today we have weird, weirder, and still pretty weird.

Last week was the Steam Next Fest, a great chance to check out a whole bunch of demos of new games! Of course, I did not do that until yesterday when it turned out the entire event was over.

So instead of information about games promoted via Steam Next Fest, I went, downloaded a bunch of demos in the first three pages, and played them. So here we go.

Cthulhu Pub

Time Played: 45 Minutes

Genre: Simulation/Tower Defense

Thoughts – In theory, Cthulhu Pub is a game about building a restaurant for Elder Gods, and keeping it from being assaulted by things that want to destroy it. Of all the games on this list, I would say this one is in the roughest shape. I had to restart quite a few times before I figured out how to just… start the game without running out of money before finishing the tutorial. There are mechanics that aren’t explained, and it’s just generally kind of buggy and starts to slow down when you get a fair amount of monsters on the screen. But, it was weirdly compelling enough for me to keep trying until I figured stuff out, so it’s got that going for it.

Magical Girl D

Time Played: 12 Minutes

Genre: Pornographic/Erotic RPG

Thoughts – Magical Girl D is an RPG where you play as a magical girl with a dick. The demo had three visual novel style sex scenes, and the PC had one non-basic special attack. I feel like those two sentences really capture everything you need to know about this game demo to decide if you want to play it.

横戈

Time Played: 13 Minutes

Genre: RTS/Base Builder?

Thoughts – This might be a good time to mention I can’t speak Chinese, because this entire demo was in what I assume was Chinese. It could be something else. It’s some sort of RTS, but again, the whole “I can’t speak Chinese” thing meant I didn’t get through the tutorial.” But, I mean, it seemed kind of cool.

Fishards

Time Played: ~2 Hours

Genre: Top Down Arena Brawler

Thoughts – Fishards is a neat little arena brawler, and I’ll most likely write more about it than just this little blurb. You are a fish wizard, and you try to kill other fish wizards in multiplayer battles. I’d say it feels like it has the most in common with Magicka, as you summon spells by combining various elements. Unlike Magicka, it actually runs on my computer.

Legends of Mathmatica²: Under the Shadow of Certainty

Time Played: 13 Minutes

Genre: RPG

Thoughts – I didn’t play a huge amount of this demo. The combat itself is much better than the other RPG on the list. The combat is a sort of real time charge bar system. Each character in your demo party has multiple meaningful attacks. I got to the first mini-dungeon, then went to do something else. With that said, the writing was… present. It was there. I did not really care for it.

Treasure Tile

Time Played: 9 Minutes

Genre: Grid Based Diablo?….

Thoughts – I didn’t play a huge amount of this one. Treasure Tile feels like someone took an old roguelike, removed the permadeath portion, and strapped in Diablo/ARPG mechanics instead. While the game has some beautiful graphics, the combat itself just felt kind of off to me, and aiming skills felt difficult.

As always, thanks for reading, and if any of these seem interesting, I encourage you to play the demos yourself. Also, if anyone can tell me what that RTS game is called or how it works, that would also be cool.

Another Day, Another Demo – Loop Hero

So I know I already recommended another demo earlier this week, but I just found out about Loop Hero, and it’s incredible. I’m not sure what the best way to describe it would be, except that it’s kinda like an idle game, except with tons of gameplay? And with all the microtransaction bullshit just completely gutted?

I think the easiest way to put it is this: the game more or less plays itself, and you choose how to build up the world that exists around it. So it’s not so much an idle game, but it is a game you idle while playing? I dunno. The point is, the demo is out, it’s really cool, and you can grab it here.

Ed’s Note: I’m gonna try to get a review copy to play, even if I suspect the attempt will fail. When it comes out, I’ll most likely grab it and play it. Word to the wise though, I’m feeling like it might be a bit of a toss up on how good the full game will be when it’s released. This might be a new Slay the Spire, and it might be a flop. I’ll keep folks informed either way. And the demo is really fun. I’m just not sure how representative it is of the full game.

Maybe Check Out – Masquerade

Just purely out of the goodness of my heart, and not in any way related to the fact that I’m not sure what to write about this week, I’d like to direct readers to this to a neat little demo I found over the weekend for a thing called Masquerade.

Masquerade is a shooter with some puzzle elements, but the big thing you should look at about it is how weird it is, and (mostly) how well done the controls are. There are still some rough points, and the game itself has an art style I suspect people will find “Polarizing,” but the game itself was neat enough to have me keep playing for quite a bit.

So yeah, if you want to play a “prog rock album cover”-inspired shooter, go grab this demo.

PAX Online 2020 – GAME DEMOS – PART 6 of 6

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In what turned out to be Part 6 of 6 of our demo coverage, thus allowing me to go back and enumerate everything else, we take a look at eight more demos. Why not three for each part, you ask? Like all the others? I don’t know either. But here they are, the last eight.

Format is as follows:

GameName of the Game
Demo LengthHow Long it Took me to Finish the Demo
GenreType of game, based on my impressions
Quick Thoughts3-4 sentences based on what I thought of the game
Play It HereLink to the Demo
GameMoo Lander
Demo Length14 Minutes
Genre Adventure?
Quick ThoughtsI think I spent more time trying to figure out what to put in the genre box above then I have spent thinking about Moo Lander. It’s not bad… it just didn’t really grab me? It has some nice art, and amusing writing, but nothing about the demo screamed “BUY ME” to me.
Play It HereLink to the Demo
GameCrown Trick
Demo Length2 Hours (got to final boss, didn’t beat it)
GenreTurn-based Roguelike
Quick ThoughtsI love Crown Trick. Crown Trick does not love me. Crown Trick thinks it’s okay to put you in a room with three fairly massive bosses and just beat you into a ever-loving pulp. I want to play more Crown Trick, and I want to beat it.
Play It HereLink to the Demo
GameNeon Abyss
Demo Length10 Minutes
GenreRoguelike
Quick ThoughtsNeon Abyss seems to take ideas from a bunch of places, including Binding of Issac, Dead Cells, and Enter the Gungeon. It’s a fast-paced roguelike where you collect stuff and get better. The demo was fun, and it’s actually out already, but there wasn’t anything in the demo that screamed that I had to buy this game.
Play It HereLink to the Demo
GameNeko Ghost, Jump!
Demo Length1 Hour
Genre2D/3D Puzzle Platformer + Speedrunner
Quick ThoughtsA lot of stuff about Neko Ghost, Jump! right now is very crude, including the art, music, and animations, but the gameplay is awesome. You can swap between 2D and 3D, and it tends to get used in some really clever ways. The most unique platformer I saw at the show, and have seen in quite a while. Worth keeping an eye on.
Play It HereLink to the Demo
GameEldest Souls
Demo Length5 Hours/2 Hours from a friend who is good at Dark Souls
GenreDark Souls
Quick ThoughtsThe genre is technically called “Soulslike” but if you make a game where I die for three hours in a row to the same single enemy, you’ve made a Dark Souls. I’m not good at Dark Souls style games, and as I learned with this demo, I might be really bad at them. The game is pure boss rush fights, and my friend who likes Dark Souls games liked it a lot. I mostly liked watching him play after I beat the demo, and reminding myself that I’m not bad at video games, sometimes they’re just hard.
Play It HereLink to the Demo
GameGreak: Memories of Azur
Demo Length40 Minutes
GenrePuzzle Platformer
Quick ThoughtsI liked Greak, but again, not enough for it really leave a permanent lasting impression. The idea of controlling multiple characters is really neat, but I struggled with the controls, mostly because they were set up pre-bound for Xbox controllers, so a lot of the prompts were off. The one mini-boss was the area where I died the most, and trying to do combat with both characters at once never clicked for me. Still, if you like games like Trine, this might be for you.
Play It HereLink to the Demo
GameLovingly Evil
Demo Length1 Hour (I played really slowly)
GenreVisual Novel/Dating Sim
Quick ThoughtsI don’t really play visual novels/dating sims. I was gonna have someone else play it, and do a write up, but life happened, so I did it instead. Look, I think if you play this sort of game to begin with, you’ll be a better judge of if you’d enjoy it than me.
Play It HereLink to the Demo
GameWerewolf: The Apocalypse – Heart of the Forest
Demo Length22 minutes
GenreVisual Novel
Quick ThoughtsIf nothing else, the writing for this game drew me in really quick. I’ve got to wonder how much of the writing is actually variable, and how much is scripted, but if the goal of a demo is try to get me interested in the full release, this one worked.
Play It HereLink to the Demo

PAX Online 2020 – GAME DEMOS – PART 5 of 6

The good, the bad, and the ugly.

Format is as follows:

GameName of the Game
Demo LengthHow Long it Took me to Finish the Demo
GenreType of game, based on my impressions
Quick Thoughts3-4 sentences based on what I thought of the game
Play It HereLink to the Demo
GameJack Move
Demo Length41 Minutes
GenreJRPG Mechanics with a Cyberpunk Theme
Quick ThoughtsPerhaps the most interesting thing mechanically in Jack Move’s demo is the ability to swap out your spells mid combat. Everything else is pretty standard, but well executed. If you’ve played a JRPG, you’ve seen most of these mechanics before, but the presentation is fun. This could turn out to be really good for folks who already like the genre.
Play It HereLink to the Demo
GameDrone Swarm
Demo Length28 Minutes
GenreReal Time Puzzler/Strategy
Quick ThoughtsIn Drone Swarm, you control a spaceship that has a drone swarm. The writing is painfully campy, and the whole “Oh no aliens please don’t attack us” thing, where you are then forced to blow them up (even though mechanically, you can pretty easily survive without damaging them) rubbed the wrong way. On the other hand, the actual mechanics are neat, since you do stuff by drawing patterns and shields. If nothing else, Drone Swarm is pretty unique, making this demo warrant a play.
Play It HereLink to the Demo
GameDestiny’s Sword
Demo Length12 Minutes, but I just Stopped “Playing”
GenreI have no idea.
Quick ThoughtsThe Destiny’s Sword demo does not do a good job of selling Destiny’s Sword as a game. As far as I can tell, it looks like a glorified mobile game with some troop management mechanics. Honestly, this was just such a poor demo that I stopped playing, since it was kinda hard to figure out what you were even supposed to be doing, and you can’t really interact in the battles outside of a few “Tap to activate” abilities.
Play It HereLink to the Demo

PAX Online 2020 – GAME DEMOS – PART 4 of 6

This excerpt space for rent.

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Format is as follows:

GameName of the Game
Demo LengthHow Long it Took me to Finish the Demo
GenreType of game, based on my impressions
Quick Thoughts3-4 sentences based on what I thought of the game
Play It HereLink to the Demo
GameMorbid: The Seven Acolytes
Demo LengthJust over an Hour
GenreDark Souls, but 2D
Quick ThoughtsI am not a Dark Souls person; this game is a Dark Souls. As such, it took me forever to beat, and at least 4-5 tries on the final boss alone. Did I like it enough to buy it? Not sure yet, I’m not a masochist. Overall, really good.
Play It HereLink to the Demo
GameInkulinati
Demo Length1 Hour
GenreTurn Based Tactics
Quick ThoughtsOne of the neatest things I’ve played so far at the show. Art is great, music is great, gameplay is great. Only real gripe I have is that the AI in the demo seems very weak in terms of letting you just shove the enemy captain Inkulinati off the ledge. But, y’know, demo. Worth keeping an eye on.
Play It HereLink to the Demo
GameExophobia
Demo Length39 Minutes
GenreSingle Axis Shooter
Quick ThoughtsI wanted to put “I can’t believe it’s not Return to Castle Wolfenstein” in the genre section again, but then remembered I’m supposed to be professional. Nothing amazing, nothing awful about Exophobia. The opening is very slow. This is one of the demos where I think you can play it and know if you’ll be interested in the final game. This one just isn’t for me though.
Play It HereLink to the Demo

PAX Online 2020 – GAME DEMOS – PART 3 of 6

The wheel of fate is turning.

Round 3! Ready? FIGHT!

Format is as follows:

GameName of the Game
Demo LengthHow Long it Took me to Finish the Demo
GenreType of game, based on my impressions
Quick Thoughts3-4 sentences based on what I thought of the game
Play It HereLink to the Demo
GameRangok Skies
Demo Length8 Minutes/48 Minutes (More on this below)
GenreShoot Em Up
Quick ThoughtsI have two lists of times up above, because 8 minutes is how long it took me to clear the demo, and 48 minutes is how long it took me to clear the demo on one credit. SHMUPs are not a huge part of my gaming diet, so I’d be curious to see someone more familiar with the genre play this. Regardless, I liked it.
Play It HereLink to the Demo – You may need to set your refresh rate to 60hz for the demo to work properly. The publisher has confirmed the devs are working on a fix for this that is expected to be released in the full game.
GameNeurodeck
Demo Length1 Hour
GenreDeckbuilder Rougelike
Quick ThoughtsI am really conflicted on Neurodeck. Right now, it feels like playing a prototype more then playing a demo. The mechanics are interesting, but currently feel untuned, and the enemy scaling is ridiculous. It doesn’t feel like the mental illness tone of the game was built with those mechanics in mind, more that the theme was added after mechanics had been decided on. There are also some bugs.
Play It HereLink to the Demo
GameUragun
Demo Length15 Minutes – Only one level, but it took a few tries
GenreTop Down/Twinstick Run and Gun
Quick ThoughtsUragun is neat. The demo is pretty short, but it’s fun. Twinsticks aren’t really my cup of tea, but you lose nothing by grabbing the demo and seeing if it’s something you want to keep an eye on. It has some really neat enemies, like these little dudes that form blocker walls.
Play It HereLink to the Demo

PAX Online 2020 – GAME DEMOS – PART 2 of 6

Part 2 of what is starting to look like a substantial haul of demos. I was trying to come up with something interesting to say like “Grab your pickaxe as we go into the game mines,” but honestly, this is the easiest convention experience ever in terms of reviewing stuff. This is more “Click install on Steam and just play stuff.” So here we go.

Format is as follows:

GameName of the game
Demo LengthHow long it took me to finish the demo
GenreType of game, based on my impressions
Quick Thoughts3-4 sentences based on what I thought of the game
Play It HereLink to the Demo
GameOperation Tango
Demo Length20 Minutes
GenreAsymmetric Real Time Co-op Puzzler
Quick ThoughtsMy standout game of the show so far. A really cool puzzler, with one person playing the Hacker, and one playing the Agent. Neat puzzles, really nice art style. You will need a friend to play with, so find that person, and keep an eye on this one.
Play It HereLink to the Demo
GameBlack Skylands
Demo Length1 Hour (including some messing about)
GenreTop Down Run and Gun/Town Builder
Quick ThoughtsLots of potential here. Developers describe the demo as a “Vertical Slice” which in my experience means “Held together with tape and prayers”, so it will be interesting to see how this ends up maturing. I generally enjoyed playing it, and I’ll keep an eye on it.
Play It HereLink to the Demo
GameMayhem In Single Valley: Confessions
Demo Length1 Hour
GenrePuzzle?
Quick ThoughtsI did not have fun with this demo. Outside of some nice art and music, I have no praise for it. The demo was buggy, inconsistent, and exceedingly confusing and janky. Disagree with me? Go play it yourself. I can’t tell if it’s just not for me, or what, but this didn’t sell me on the game at all.
Play It HereLink to the Demo

PAX Online 2020 – GAME DEMOS – PART 1 of 6

Overloop, Hell Architect, and Nongunz. What do these games have in common? Well, mostly the fact that we finished downloading them first.

The misery that is 2020 continues, and one of the casualties has been in-person events, and actual conventions. However, PAX Online is here, and with a whole bunch of Steam demos. This article consists of the first part of Gametrodon’s ongoing coverage of PAX Online.

Format is as follows:

GameName of the game
Demo LengthHow long it took me to finish the demo
GenreType of game, based on my impressions
Quick Thoughts3-4 sentences based on what I thought of the game
Play It HereLink to the demo
GameOverloop
Demo Length16 Minutes
GenrePuzzle Platformer
Quick ThoughtsYou have a gun to make copies of yourself. Solve puzzles with it. There’s a story, but the tone is… eh. Nothing special, but seems competently made. Pixel graphics.
Play It HereLink to the Demo
GameHell Architect
Demo Length31 Minutes
GenreSimulation/Management
Quick ThoughtsSeems like a grimier version of Oxygen Not Included. A bit neat. Not really the sort of thing I’d usually play, but it held my interest long enough for me to finish out the demo.
Play It HereLink to the Demo
GameNongunz : Doppelganger Edition
Demo Length??? – (I quit after a few deaths.)
Genre??? – I think it’s a roguelite
Quick ThoughtsReally neat unique art style. Gameplay feels bad, but I’m not sure if that’s because I’m really struggling with the controls, or what. I’m gonna give this one another go with a controller. No actual in-game explanations given without text on how things actually work.
Play It HereLink to the Demo