With Steam Next Fest completed, it seems like as good a time as any to talk about demos I played. My personal favorites were actually pretty different from what ended up on the most popular list!
Super Raft Boat Together describes itself as a multiplayer roguelike shooter. Technically, Super Raft Boat already exists, and the new part here is just the “together.” But I never played the original, so for me, the whole thing is new.
It’s a fun little multiplayer roguelike. Is it hugely innovative? No. Did I have fun playing it? Yes.
I’m going to fail to describe Inkbound correctly, but I still want to try, so here we go. Inkbound is a multiplayer roguelike. Its primary innovation is a turn based, real time combat.
Here’s how it works. In combat, all human players have an individual pool of action points, and can use that pool to move and take actions independent of other human players. These actions are resolved in real time, as they are taken. When all humans mark their turn as finished, all the enemy NPC’s take their turn.
Then the process repeats.
It’s a really cool system, and there are a bunch of other neat ideas and innovations here, that I don’t quite have time to cover or describe. The short version is “Inkbound might have something really special mechanically.” I’m very excited to see the finished game.
Deceive Inc is very interesting. I think there’s a non-zero chance I end up sucking at or hating the finished version of this product. That said, I played over 8 hours of the game, and I wanted to play more when the demo ended.
It’s a blend-in game that at least initially appears to be in the style of something like Perfect Heist 2. You’re a secret agent infiltrating a map, trying to ultimately collect a briefcase, and make your escape.
What the game doesn’t really tell you is that, in some ways, it’s more of a skill based shooter than a blend-in/deduction game. The time to kill is very high, and many guns’ mechanics are so intricate that they have a skill ceiling that I didn’t so much as scratch during the time I spent playing.
There are two opposing gameplay directions that the developers could take the game’s mechanics. Neither is a bad choice, but they represent two very different games. One is to lean heavily into the blending in, cautious stealth, and sneaking approach of something like Perfect Heist 2. The other (and current) direction is to lean into the gunplay/combat-based mechanics. This would result in a game that is closer to something like Hunt:Showdown. I don’t know how to recommend this game, without knowing the direction it will take.
The other reason I’m a bit hesitant on Deceive Inc is that I’m not sure how long the game will be up. Everything about it screams “Live Service” game. The history of interesting, but ultimately (financial) failures of live service games is documented pretty well, even just on this blog.
Quantum League. Knockout City. Darwin Project. Okay, I never did a writeup on that last one, but the point still stands. These were all interesting, creative games, with cool mechanics.
Now they’re all dead, and it’s not because they were bad games. It’s because their entire business model was based on getting a large playerbase and a level of revenue they never achieved.