Missed out on any Summer Game Fest demos? Don't worry, we played them all

By Luke Albigés,
The Summer Game Fest Demos event may have ended and most of the trial versions vanished from the store, but that doesn't mean you can't still get a taste of the 40 games that were featured. Since we knew the demos would only be around for a short time (most still seem to work, mind, if you downloaded them while the event was still running), we made sure the TA news team played the lot to fill any potential knowledge gaps you might have.

Let's start with a quick round-up of what the gang got up to over the course of the event, shall we?
Heidi

Heidi

A certain kind of game is colloquially known as a 'Heidi game' in the TA office, and when we first started dividing up the list, nobody on the team was surprised to see so many of the colourful games get snapped up first. We were, however, more than a little surprised to see her get perplexed by a game for children, although we all knew better than to say anything lest we get sassed into the middle of next week.
Kes

Kes

TA's biggest pirate shill first set a course for Sail Forth and only seemed to have eyes for the nautical adventure, but we later managed to convince him to weigh anchor and play something else. And we're glad we did — watching him lose his mind at the obtuse puzzles of Faraday Protocol and The Strange Story of Brian Fisher turned out to be an unexpected highlight of the event. Also, he's the best Wreckout player on the team, so that's a thing.
Luke

Luke

Luke ended up playing pretty much all of the demos, because he doesn't believe in sleep. Throughout the event (and even now, actually), we'd often catch him sneaking back to the Tunic demo to "check something," when he was actually just looking for more secrets. He was not happy to be made to play Catlateral Damage, but will have his revenge when he pulls rank and makes Sean review Lawn Mowing Simulator. Wait...
Sean

Sean

So it turns out that Sean is actually super pumped for Lawn Mowing Simulator, and when we saw his name next to it on the list, we all just assumed that one of us had signed him up for it as a joke. But nope, he's all about that nonsense, apparently. We can't say that he took it particularly seriously, though — at one point, we found him giggling away while mowing vulgar images into someone's lawn. The monster.
Tom

Tom

Tom played a number of games that took him out of his gaming comfort zone over the course of the event and ended up being pleasantly surprised by quite a few of them. Since he was moving house at the time, we insisted that he put those skills to work in Get Packed, and he actually seemed rather taken with it.

With that little recap out of the way, let's get into the games!
Tom

A Juggler's Tale

xbox e3 demos

Awesome. Yep, that about sums up my experience with A Juggler's Tale, and ‘pleasantly surprised’ would be an understatement. I was hooked on Abby’s tale from the off and I found her struggles resonating with me in every way. The demo alone had me thinking about the societal strings that tug at you, applying pressure on you to play your part in the wider narrative, and the consequences those strings bring with them. Look at me, I’m only a few sentences into talking about this game and I’m already rambling about Abby’s metaphorical eye-opener of a story. Do yourself a favour and check this out, you really won’t regret it — the game’s also narrated in rhyme which blends the gameplay and story perfectly, and that alone is worth your time.

Luke

Antipole DX

Antipole DX Demo ~ SuperHeroArt

Rules are made to be broken, and that includes the laws of physics. It’s always fun when games mess with the fundamentals, so I loved being able to grab the titular Antipole Device mere seconds into this demo and having the power to reverse gravity at my fingertips. This is a retro-style platformer and it’s pretty challenging, especially if you’re going for the three challenge medals tucked away in each level, or aiming to beat the strict target times. The gravity-flipping aura makes for some neat interactions outside of the perilous platforming — such as flinging enemies into spikes and some light puzzle-solving — and Antipole DX feels like it will be a fantastic speedrun game due to how quickly it zips along and how many cool tricks and skips the core gimmick sets up.

Kes

Arietta of Spirits

xbox e3 demos

The Arietta of Spirits demo essentially gives you the opening twenty minutes of the game. I wanted to like it, I really did… but I left feeling mixed. The story was immediately touching and filled with sentimentality. Arietta and her parents are mourning the loss of their grandmother by trying to maintain a family tradition of visiting the cabin she lived in. No one is quite sure how to feel and the dialogue reflects that well, along with some of the gorgeous pixel art. However, the introduction to swinging your sword and adventuring through the wilderness is tedious and feels like it was geared towards a child. Your father gives you a sword like a responsible adult. You then beat wasps (and bushes) to smithereens through an over-long and fairly uninteresting forest. When you fight the wasp-queen boss it hits the mark, but I was already switched off by the tedium of the previous section. I’m still excited to see the game in full release when the player will be allowed to hit their stride.

Heidi

BattleCakes

xbox e3 demos

BattleCakes is an RPG where you customise a cupcake and send it forth into the world to do good deeds with its cake friends. The demo was lovely to look at, with gorgeous pastel colours and a clean cartoonish design, but the gameplay itself didn’t really grab me all that much. BattleCakes has the same sort of random dialogue as something like Donut County, and the demo does have you do a few quests and help out a few cakes struggling with mild inconveniences, before trying out a turn-based battle — I did enjoy all of this, but I didn’t feel compelled to continue. If, however, you’re looking for a nice colourful RPG about happy cake friends, this might be worth your time to try.

Heidi

Black Book

xbox e3 demos

After an oddly disjointed exposition, the macabre mood of Black Book begins to settle in. The dialogue isn’t one of the game’s strengths, but the card-battling mechanics seem to really fit the game’s story and darker themes, and the little animations as you move to attack or defend work well. The demo really opens up after your first battle, introducing new gameplay mechanics such as your Sin counter, your map, access to the Black Book itself, and more. If you’re looking for something a little darker than BattleCakes and a little less laid-back than Lake, Black Book might be well worth your time.

Heidi

Button City

xbox e3 demos

Button City is a bright adventure game with all the colourfulness of Ooblets and all the randomness of Donut County. The full game has you solving puzzles, completing quests, and playing arcade games, and the demo gives you a snapshot of this. It’s Kids Day at the arcade, meaning all games are free, and you have to weedle, bribe, or persuade three other kids to join your team before you can take on the reigning champions of the arcade. The demo does stop pretty abruptly after you’ve played that arcade game, but beforehand, you get a nice sense of Button City’s quirky and colourful world (which is made up of squares stacked on top of each other) and its inhabitants. Plus, it’s always a good sign for a demo if you’re left wanting to play more!

Luke

Cardaclysm: Shards of the Four

demo

I’m a big fan of card games, but Cardaclysm didn’t really click with me. I think it’s due to how the resource system works — you start each area with minimal ‘mana’ and therefore extremely limited options in terms of what you can do, collecting more as you defeat opponents and explore to add to your replenished supplies and have more to work with in each subsequent battle. There doesn’t seem to be a limit (beyond said resources) to what you can do in a turn, either, which led to everything hinging on your Turn One play. I liked a few of the ideas on display, such as having the choice to power up cards in battle by playing a second copy on top of the first or make the upgrade permanent by doing it in your deck menu instead, so it could just be the demo isn’t entirely representative of the full game, as I couldn’t see much of a reason to be excited for this over any of the numerous great card-based indies already on the scene.

Luke

Catlateral Damage: Remeowstered

xbox e3 demos

I’m not, however, a big fan of meme games like Goat Simulator, so I got the feeling that I’d be bored of Catlateral Damage before the first level was even over. I was correct. You play as one of several adorable little mischievous kitties and… knock things over. That’s it, that’s the game. There are upgrades to unlock so you can move faster, jump higher (or double jump, just like a real cat), and all that fun stuff, which will let you return to previous stages to access previously out-of-reach areas where you can… knock things over. Cool. The novelty wore off for me before it even kicked in, but if you’re into daft games like this, you’ll probably get a kick out of this one. Unlockable cat pictures is a plus, though, it must be said.

Luke

Clone Drone in the Danger Zone

xbox e3 demos

Simple arena combat is the order of the day here, with increasingly challenging waves of foes waiting for you every time you reenter the titular danger zone. Between rounds, you’re able to upgrade your fighter in a number of ways — whether you choose to invest in mobility, defence, melee, or ranged attacks is up to you, and they allowed for significant power gains even within the ten stages offered by the demo. There’s a cool slow-mo effect on winning blows, but the basic graphics mean this still isn’t especially impressive. Combat itself isn’t all that interesting either, and that’s not ideal in a game that does basically nothing else. Melee foes just rush you while ranged ones motionlessly fling stuff at you, and there feels to be a distinct lack of precision and nuance to the melee combat itself, which could hamper any chances of long-term appeal.

Heidi

Clouzy!

xbox e3 demos

I’m still not 100% sure what happened in my time with the Clouzy demo. It’s a brightly-coloured farming sim in which you are, in theory, taking care of adorable clouds. The clouds were adorable, the colours were bright, but I was far too confused to be a farmer. Clouzy sort of drops you in with no idea how to interact with the world or even what you’re meant to do in it. You’re accompanied at all times by your lovely flying cat friend, who is equally adorable, but who will not share his wisdom; he just follows in silence. I wandered around for a bit, picking up water droplets and reeds at random, but I had no idea what to do with them, and the clouds seemed perfectly fine without my help anyway. If you’re looking for a relaxed indie sim in a beautifully colourful world, Clouzy might be worth a try; to be fair, I am sort of determined to go back to it, just to find out what you’re actually meant to do.

Luke

ConnecTank

xbox e3 demos

This was one of the low-key highlights of this collection for me, and it’s kinda crazy. You play as the crew manning a giant robot — up to four of you can work together here — and need to start each battle by piecing together a conveyor belt to carry ammo to the mech’s weapons, before play shifts to following on-screen recipes to turn endlessly spawning junk into ammunition with which to bombard the enemy. Bullets come in three colours (and later with different unique abilities) with a simple rock/paper/scissors interaction between them when different types clash on the battle screen at the top, where shots slowly move towards their target. Intercept enemy shots to avoid taking damage, while trying to weave in a few damage-dealing opportunities… it’s hectic enough on your own, let alone once you get into the Overcooked-style chaos of multiplayer. The art style is awesome, too, so I’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for this lovely little oddity.

Sean

Death Trash

Death Trash

Out of all the demos I played from this event, Death Trash was my favourite. Within the first five minutes, you have to make your character puke and then scrape it all up off the floor with their fingers to deposit into a machine to power it — how could you not enjoy that? Death Trash is an action-RPG set in a post-apocalyptic world where machines rule over humanity. The game is filled with blood, gore, puke, and bizarre abominations, such as the giant Fleshkraken — an octopus-like creature that (I think) is made up of nothing but a mountain of flesh — that’s a little lonely and just wants some friends. Despite its rather sinister and bleak setting, I found there to be a lot of well-crafted and humorous dialogue in Death Trash. There’s also a lot of depth here — it feels similar to an early Fallout game (except all the puke) with heavy RPG elements such as its multiple dialogue options and various skills to level up. Death Trash seems like it will be a must for all those who are looking for an old-school RPG with modern elements and a weird and unsettling world to get lost in.

Tom

Deathtrap Dungeon: The Golden Room

demo

I certainly enjoyed my short time with Deathtrap Dungeon even though it’s far removed from my preferred style of play. This isn’t one that I'll pick up when it releases — twice I was zapped by a zombified witch hand and I don’t plan on receiving my third helping of restart risotto. Still, I found the game to be well directed, offering a tense atmosphere that allowed me to feel the urgency in my decisions. If you enjoyed — or still enjoy — the classic Fighting Fantasy books on which this is based, then this game will surely be well placed in your collection!

Tom

Dreamers

xbox e3 demos

This is definitely the most relaxing demo I played, which if I’m being honest, has taken me well out of my comfort zone. I’m used to games that are big on action, so when it came to me mooching around a colourful little island collecting chicks for a carpenter, who in turn would give me wooden planks for a fisherman, I felt rather out of place in this simple world. Dreamers is exactly that: a soft and cuddly experience to help you wind down after a long day. It’s a colourful world, carried along with a happy-go-lucky soundtrack that gently nudges the protagonist to continue his journey to find his grandma. This will be one for those of you who prefer a slower experience with games, and if that’s you then this might just be a gem you don’t want to miss.

Tom

Echo Generation

demo

A hockey stick is the best tool to use when fighting a trio of testosterone-filled smack-talking raccoons that want to beat you up for walking too close to their trash can. That’s a lesson we should all remember when travelling along this highway of life… or maybe not. Echo Generation is a turn-based RPG in the style of Costume Quest, featuring some kids that want to make a movie about aliens, but end up doing some absurd things along the way, such as fighting giant rats, stealing from a man’s doll collection, and chatting to weird alien conspiracy theorists — and that was only in the demo! It seemed like a fun adventure that will surely make even the wildest of childhoods seem rather sensible in contrast once the full game releases.

Kes

Faraday Protocol

xbox e3 demos

This game made me confront the fact I am an idiot. Tom and I were both quietly surprised that the gold and black rooms are actually a kind of stylish sci-fi mythological affair and not drab and boring. There is a good joke in the cryptic dialogue, too. The puzzles were pretty simple, until I lost my mind for about twenty minutes. I messed around with a door and it offset the natural puzzling pathway the game had prepared, leaving me twirling around like a ballerina in a mirror maze. Looks and plays solid enough to work as a full-scale title, though.

Tom

Fractal Space

Fractal Space | Demo ~ SuperHeroArt

This is a fantastic addition to the puzzle genre and offers rewarding gameplay mixed with casual puzzles to solve. I really enjoyed Fractal Space and the puzzles it offered, which was complemented by the relationship between the protagonist and his AI friend. I’m not sure I’ve ever enjoyed a puzzle game that much before, come to think of it. Fractal Space has been built by a two-person development team, but it doesn’t feel like it once you’re in and can see the vastness of outer space. I’ll be looking to get the full release when it’s out.

Tom

Get Packed: Fully Loaded

xbox e3 demos

I pride myself on my organisational skills and my need to put care and attention into everything I do, but Get Packed takes that statement, neatly places it inside a bubble-wrapped box and throws it out of the living room window to be crushed by a passing car. Seriously, this game is a barrel of laughs that has you attempting to empty a house as fast as possible, with the elegance of a bull in a china shop. The demo offers a couple of missions, which task you with loading up a removals truck in a race against the clock. The challenge comes with your character's refusal to do anything with any sort of finesse whatsoever, so you find yourself demolishing the objects more than you remove them. This will be a fantastic game to play during a family games night, without a doubt!

Luke

Godstrike

xbox e3 demos

The core concept of Godstrike is genuinely fascinating — time is everything. The timer for each stage slowly bleeds out as you would expect, but it also serves as your health bar (getting hit lops off a solid chunk) and a currency, with upgrades and abilities also costing segments of precious time proportional to their power. Each level of this fast-paced twin stick shooter therefore becomes a delicate balancing act, requiring a few perks to help keep you out of harm’s way, a lot of skill to avoid burning too much time unnecessarily, and finding that sweet spot somewhere in the middle of haste and efficiency. Should the timer deplete, you go into a stressful sudden death mode where any hit will end your run, and that’s not ideal with how much the game likes to throw at you. This could get pretty crazy, and I’m keen to get involved with the full game to see just how silly it gets...

Luke

Justice Sucks: Recharged

xbox e3 demos

I can’t say I’ve played as a murderous vacuum cleaner in a game before, but there’s a first time for everything, right? Justice Sucks is absolute nonsense, with your plucky little appliance working to fight off home invaders and burglars by using a combination of suction powers and device hacking — overload an electric fireplace to create a makeshift flamethrower trap, for instance, or have a freezer burst open to chill and delay any interlopers who venture near. Once you manage to turn the entire environment against the intruders and finish them off, you need to feed on their corpses (pretty sure that’s not how vacuum cleaners work…) to grow stronger, then clean up the crime scene before the residents return to a bloody murder scene. Your prize? A ludicrous animated cutscene that concocts some absurd reason or another to thrust you into a completely different scenario on the next level. Good times.

Heidi

Lake

Lake open-world adventure gameplay

Lake is a lovely, laid-back open-world adventure, that I’ve had my eye on for a while — ever since our Xbox Exclusives Spotlight on Lake. It takes you back to the 80s, and revolves around Meredith Weiss, who’s moving back to her hometown of Providence Oaks for two weeks to temporarily take over for her dad as mail carrier. It’s a story-rich, narrative-focused game, and I found myself drawn into the dialogue as Meredith made her rounds and met the townspeople, being nosy, polite, or friendly as the occasion demanded. Lake’s demo doesn’t rush you off your feet, but it doesn’t need to; the game aims for a relaxing experience, and driving the mail truck around and taking in the scenery of Providence Oaks is something I’m looking forward to getting back to.

Sean

Lawn Mowing Simulator

xbox e3 demos

Regular viewers of the now-defunct TGN Mixer streams will remember my love for weird simulators (PC Building Simulator and Bus Simulator), so when I saw that Lawn Mowing Simulator was available as a demo, I immediately hit that download button and checked it out. As far as lawn mowing simulators go, Lawn Mowing Simulator is my favourite lawn mowing simulator. In it, you can mow the grass, or not. I found myself carving up flower beds and failing to pull off doughnuts in my Stiga Estate 2084 lawnmower with its blistering top speed of 5.5mph. Joking aside, there looks to be a pretty comprehensive sim here, which requires you to manage your own lawn-mowing business. I found it pretty cathartic, mowing those lawns... just don’t decimate one of Mrs Robinson’s petunias, or you’ll incur the exorbitant fine of £1 and her wrath.

Tom

Mad Streets

xbox e3 demos

This is a game for short bursts of mindless fun when you just want to spam a couple of buttons to brawl with a group of oversized college kids. Mad Streets is physics-based, and I’m sure there’s potential for players with a higher skill level than me to master the game, but I couldn’t come to grips with it. I spent most of my time wobbling around like a drunk kitten, swinging at the closest object I could find in the hope of landing a punch with any sort of reasonable force behind it. It’s safe to say that I probably won’t be returning for more due to my inability to play fighting games, but don’t let my feeble skill set deter you from this arcade punch-'em-up.

Kes

Mayhem Brawler

Mayhem Brawler - Demo ~ SuperHeroArt

Superhero policemen get tips on an in-universe Twitter and then fight crime, or something. It is a Streets of Rage-like brawler and seems to have solid mechanics with some X-Men heritage mixed in. The art style is just fine (although the cutscenes were really cool). There will definitely be some complexity in the moves you can pull off that are more akin to a fighter. Unfortunately, I’m a games journalist fraud and suck catastrophically at brawlers. I died a lot, didn’t do much beyond scream about prison shivs, and found myself thoroughly annoyed by my lack of skill. Your mileage may vary, especially if you can actually play fighters.

Luke

Paint the Town Red

xbox e3 demos

I’m not saying that I’m a fighting game snob, but daft physics-based brawlers make me want to vomit up my own lungs. The novelty rarely survives the first match, and the skill ceiling is just so low when there’s so much randomness at work that I just don’t see the point. Understandably, then, I didn’t even make it to the end of the very first bar room brawl in this ugly physics-driven mess before rolling my eyes and turning it off to try and find something actually decent. If you like the chaos of games like Goat Simulator and Gang Beasts, you’ll probably have a good time with this, but I’d rather play something where I feel more in control and able to score wins where skill rather than luck is the deciding factor. Paint the Town Red was not for me. In hindsight, maybe Kes and I should have swapped on those last two... oh well.

Luke

Princess Farmer

xbox e3 demos

If you can look past the rather garish art style and budget presentation, you’ll find Princess Farmer to be an entertaining puzzle game with some neat ideas and a whole lot of heart. At its core, Princess Farmer is a simple match-three affair, but each stage offers its own twist on the basics — time limits, target crops, multiple wells, score targets, versus battles, limited-move levels, and more all feature even just within the demo, and this variety really helps the action stay fresh for longer. Characters and dialogue are playful, with inter-stage story sequences offering light-hearted dialogue choices that allow you to make your princess as sassy, timid, bossy, or downright confusing as you like. I could feel the Series X scowling at me as I played — the kind of withering glare you might get from a crane operator if you asked them to use their industrial equipment to lift your shopping up the steps at home — but as simple a game as it may be, this is still a lot of fun.

Luke

Sable

Screenshots

This stylish adventure has been on my watch list for some time, so I was delighted to finally get to play it, and it did not disappoint. The demo let’s you play the opening section of the game, exploring a huge beautiful wasteland in search of the parts needed to make that badass hoverbike you’ll have likely seen in the trailers (and in that picture above, actually). The mysterious world is just a joy to traverse, with stamina-based sprinting and climbing (think Immortals, or Breath of the Wild if you don’t mind leaving Xbox County) ensuring that you feel as engaged with the gameplay itself as you do in the ever-awesome act of simply whizzing around in this stunning setting. I’m in for more Sable, please.

Kes

Sail Forth

Sail Forth Demo ~ SuperHeroArt

Pirates, innit. Good fun, but a bit simplistic. You sail around and manoeuvre awkwardly until you can fire your cannon at some blokes on an absurdly small island. Then you collect the bits that fall out of their corpses and move to the next island. The navigation was pretty excellent, actually, forcing me to not only deal with the wind but trim the sail accordingly. The promise of building a pirate fleet sounds fun, but the main issue with Sail Forth’s demo was the extreme amount of guidance followed by an entire lack of it. There was a certain point where I was supposed to be looking for a merchant's vessel and I have no idea where on Posideon’s marble butt-cheek it was. Despite that, I had a fun time. Pirates, innit.

Luke

Skeleton Crew

summer game fest demos

If you miss the Trine games (or, to go further back, The Lost Vikings), you should definitely add Skeleton Crew to your wishlist. Each of the playable characters has their own abilities and different ways to interact with objects, enemies, and hazards, so the game really comes into its own in multiplayer, where you can work together to combine your various powers in interesting and useful ways. There's a lot going on at any given time (especially with multiple players), but it all holds up well, and I thought this was pretty good, if nothing groundbreaking.

Tom

Splitgate

summer game fest demos

I had some fun writing about the demos in this article, but now it’s time to get serious. Splitgate has the potential to become a successful competitive first-person shooter without a doubt, and my tiny paragraph here won’t be enough to do the game justice. The demo alone offers fast and fluid 4v4 team deathmatch modes that feature variations like shotgun- and sniper-only rules. But the real potential here is the ability to open portals, giving you the ability to flank enemies and get to higher spots on the map in a flash. It’s going to be free-to-play when it releases and if the team can keep on building upon these foundations, we might just have a new, highly accessible shooter to contend with others of its ilk. I would definitely recommend this game to anyone with a love of competitive shooters.

Kes

Strings Theory

xbox e3 demos

A platform puzzler where you have to negotiate through stages collecting string-brains to open up the next level. You play as string-figures — a thin blue one, a chonky one, and an electric pink pair — negotiating a not-string pathway using each character's special skill to find a way around the next section. It wasn’t as much fun as it sounds, but I think I was a bit puzzled out at the point I gave it a go. It didn’t really push the boat out in any meaningful way, it just screamed of being a weekend game that you play for four hours so you don’t go braindead. I’m being very harsh and I feel bad, but String Theory’s demo just didn’t compel me.

Luke

Tanknarok

xbox e3 demos

Nostalgia is a powerful tool, and Tanknarok weaponises it masterfully. It fuses elements of two formative games from my past — the simple arena battles of Atari 2600 classic Combat, and the pace and freneticism of Micro Machines — and is so easy to pick up and play that anyone can get in on the action. Matches are over in the blink of an eye, but Tanknarok never lets up, instantly switching up game modes, maps, and special rules for the next round until an overall victor is crowned. It's a blast in local multiplayer, plus you can play online as well, which is great. Definitely one to watch for anyone who likes fast-paced, action-packed multiplayer fun.

Heidi

Teacup

xbox e3 demos

If I were to be a frog, I’d like to be the tea-obsessed frog of Teacup. This demo did exactly what demos should do, and made me eager to play the game in full. The world of Teacup looks as though it’s lifted straight from the pages of a storybook, with beautifully lilting music to match. Our hero Teacup is on a quest for more tea, a quest I can definitely sympathise with, and it takes her through this storybook world to chat to its inhabitants, solving puzzles as she goes. I tried two enjoyable puzzles during the demo, with Teacup arranging a fruit and veg stall and seeing if she could out-swim a salamander. The demo felt like it ended too soon, but only because I was enjoying it so much. If you’re not sure which one of this onslaught of demos you’d like to try next, I’d recommend putting a few minutes by for Teacup.

Luke

The Eternal Cylinder

xbox e3 demos

The Eternal Cylinder gets a free pass from me purely on account of its stars — weird trunked aliens known as Trebhums. These little critters must recruit more of their own and evolve by eating other creatures in order to avoid the impending doom of that titular (and terrifying) gargantuan cylinder that relentless crushes everything it comes into contact with. Trebhums can be made to evolve into all kinds of shapes and sizes — longer legs can let them leap higher to reach new areas, for instance, and we're promised many more weird and wonderful abilities in the full game as your family grows and mutates. It's by the Rock of Ages team and is just as wonderfully weird, so this found its way onto my radar, for sure.

Kes

The Riftbreaker


the riftbreaker release date xbox game pass

A mech-based Starcraft-style base building game with pretty graphics and meaty guns that plays perfectly. It’s fun to play, you immediately care about your base, and shooting oversized guns into enemy aliens that pop into disgusting pulps just hits right. You mine ore, generate electricity, and place gun turrets to shore the place up. There are some small, medium, and enormous sized monsters to defend valuable resources. There was a sad moment when I lost several ore mines because a giant fire golem rained his fists down upon me with a might of a 10,000 watt microwave. The story had strong Ender's Game nods, so hopefully there is a bit of a twist coming before it retreads old narrative ground.The biggest compliment I can give the demo was that it was the only one I had to actively tear myself away from. It was giving off those Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War vibes that weren’t going to let me escape...

Kes

The Strange Story of Brian Fisher: Chapter 2

xbox e3 demos

You are a young boy in an attic trying to find his way out. Unfortunately, there are some important items hidden around the room that you will have to work out how to use in order to escape through a door with a heinously complex lock. To be honest, my idea of fun in a video game is not scuttling around like a slow boy-crab looking for a key that was hidden under another clue in an attic full of useless stuff. Nor is my idea of fun opening about twelve drawers, all of which have nothing in, only to realise later that there was, in fact, a drawer with an essential item. Nor is my idea of fun knowing what you have to do, but not being able to do it because the mirror you needed was craftily hidden on a shelf that you didn’t suspect it would be on. What person in a sane state of mind would store a mirror on a shelf that high up? If it fell then that mirror would break and the clean-up job might leave you with cuts or a health and safety warning. Maybe that is the strange story promised in the title. Anyway, yeah, The Strange Story of Brian Fisher is alright.

Sean

The Tale of Bistun

xbox e3 demos

The Tale of Bistun is a story-driven action-adventure game featuring a cosmic pomegranate, a talking tree, and a man who wakes atop a mountain with no memory of who he is or how he got there. It’s all very fantastical and has quite an intriguing story, which is inspired by the 12th-century Persian poem “Khosrow and Shirin.” I know nothing about this poem, but the way the game presents it, with its engaging narrator and ethereal realm, has definitely hooked me. The combat seems a little simplistic, but the demo only provides a slice of gameplay right at the start of the game, so it would be a bit unfair to judge that from the demo. If you’re in the mood for an interesting narrative adventure, definitely check out The Tale of Bistun.

Luke

Trigger Witch

xbox e3 demos

My boundless love for Enter the Gungeon drove me to check out the similar-looking Trigger Witch, but it didn’t turn out to be quite what I was expecting. The way the world and the witch exam was laid out did remind me a little of another much older favourite of mine — Soleil/Crusader of Centy, specifically the Rafflesia Training Ground (good lord, that music) —but there wasn’t really a whole lot to get excited about here. I guess it doesn’t help that I’m mentioning it in the same sentence as some absolute all-timers, and in fairness, Trigger Witch seems like a serviceable little adventure… just maybe not one for me. Then again, maybe I was just utterly spoiled by the next game on this list...

Luke

Tunic

Tunic

Tunic threw me for a loop. I was expecting a 16-bit Zelda experience with a cute fox in Link’s place, and it certainly does look like that. But in terms of gameplay, it’s actually closer to being a simplified isometric Souls game, with challenging combat, reusable health flasks, and resources to be recovered after you get smacked to bits. Tunic presents a world shrouded in mystery, even down to having its own language — I really hope this is something we’ll actually get to learn in the full game, as that was such a neat element of the superb Fez — and it really promotes exploration as there are secrets to be discovered everywhere. Even after ‘finishing’ the demo several times, I know there’s still more to discover, and with so much crammed into just this small demo, I’m excited for how much there will be to see and do in the full game. Day one, no question.

Kes

Wreckout

demo

What a time can be had in Wreckout, my dudes. This is a local co-op game that combines Rocket League, Pong, brick-breaking, and pinball… and it works marvelously. The loading times were pretty long but everything else was good fun. You can go 1v1 or 2v2 as you battle to destroy each other's bricks in a stage that has the trappings of a pinball table. You use your little cars to pick up and sling a ball around the stage, tackling or using supers when necessary to add a little spice. It seems like a technically sound game outside of a few issues where there was a lack of release when slinging the ball. Myself and Luke had a great time and I would highly recommend it. Also, I won.

And that's your lot! What's your favourite demo of the ones that you played? Gutted to have missed out on any of these? Know which you're already going to be grabbing at launch? Get in the comments and let us know!
Luke Albigés
Written by Luke Albigés
Hey, I'm Luke! I've been playing games since way back in the 8-bit days, and have spent the last 15+ years writing and talking about them professionally for anyone and everyone who would let me. Monster Hunter fanatic, wearer of many fine hats, and always up for a raid.