Every Summer Game Fest 2022 Xbox demo tested

By Luke Albigés,

The Summer Game Fest 2022 demo event might officially be over, but that doesn't mean the fun has to end. If you missed out on any of the Xbox demos, don't worry — we tried them all! Here are our first impressions of each.

Summer Game Fest gave us a grand total of 35 ID@Xbox demos to try, ranging from games that haven't even been announced for Xbox yet to ones that came out years ago. Technically the event has now finished, but you might still be able to download and/or play some of these if you're interested... last year, we saw a mix of demos that were pulled or rendered unplayable after the event and those that stayed live, so your mileage may vary if trying to get involved now the event is done, but it might still be worth a try if anything here catches your eye. A few of these were definitely still working at the time of publishing this article.


Two of these demos — Sail Forth and Strings Theory — were seemingly the same as the ones in last year's demo event, so we skipped those in the interest of time (hit the link if you want to read our thoughts on the pair from last year, as well as all the others). We also gave Doodle God: Evolution a miss, since it's been out for three years and is a middling quick completion that has appeared in a bunch of sale articles already at this point. Instead, we elected to use our limited time to get as much as we could out of the demos that were actually new, so read on and see what we thought about the rest below. If anything piques your interest, don't forget that you can click through to the game pages and follow news on those titles, keeping you up to speed with notifications whenever we get updates, release dates, achievement lists, and all that good stuff. With that out of the way, onto the demos!

Summer Game Fest Xbox demos: TA team first impressions

Heidi

Another Crusade

Another Crusade is a turn-based action-RPG. Visually, its 3D wooden puppet style is pretty cool, with our character’s jerky wooden movement and the grainy, frozen faces of the NPCs, and it reminded me a bit of Costume Quest with its hint of childhood adventure, although it is a bit basic. The music is quite lovely. I have to be honest, though; at first I was not on board with the combat at all, which felt bland and a little repetitive. You have a path to follow, and enemies lie in wait to jump out at you once you run into their line of sight. As you can see the enemies beforehand, if there’s room, you can run around them to avoid them, but at first it was just travelling from one repetitive fight to the next. A guy was hiding behind a boulder and refused to budge until the ogres blocking the way to his home were dealt with. As far as I’m concerned, he’ll be hiding there forever, because I wasn’t in the mood to deal with a string of the same sort of enemy encounters. However, there is a timing-based aspect to combat, where if you press the right button at the right time, you can boost your attack or defence, and vice versa — if you’re too slow, you’ll suffer more damage. Once I got the hang of it, it livened things up a bit. Our hero also goes on to learn a few special moves which are more fun. To be fair, Another Crusade looks as though it’ll open up a bit more when you get further in, offering more allies, puzzles, and platforming, but I don’t think it’s one I’ll be rushing back to any time soon.

Sean

Ato

Don’t be fooled by its cutesy, pixel-art aesthetic — Ato is a surprisingly tough little Metroidvania that throws you into some intense sword duels to the death. Ato opens with our protagonist's child being kidnapped by a gang of thugs. Naturally, being the loving cat (squirrel?) father that we are, we set into Ato’s Metroidvania world to rescue our nipper. Ato is filled with colour. Its visuals are vibrant, easy on the eye, and make great use of the parallax effect with some quite lovely backgrounds accompanying you on your dangerous quest. And I say dangerous because even on normal difficulty, I found the combat to be a challenge. Each fight I encountered in the demo was different from the last, and at times you really have to be on the ball and ready to strike at a moment’s notice. It’s all very rewarding, and I can see myself coming back to Ato for the combat and varied fights alone. One area I haven’t quite clicked with yet, though, is the platforming. So far, I’ve found it pretty clunky and overall quite frustrating to execute this one dash ability that you have to aim first. Perhaps if I had more time with the game, it might click into place. If you’re into Metroidvania-style games, the Ato demo is absolutely worth checking out. Oh, and the music and sound design? A+.

Sean

Batora: Lost Haven

Batora: Lost Haven had me hooked from the first few minutes alone. There is nothing better than an RPG with a rich and curious world that feels lived in, and from my initial impressions of the game, it appears Batora has just that. You play as Avril, whose family died when a mysterious catastrophe wipes out half of Earth. When out exploring, Avril discovers two strange beings who elected her as the new “Keeper of the Balance,” giving her special powers. Avril then embarks on a mission to save Earth. At this early stage, the story is vague, but it’s got me intrigued. Why did these two unknown beings gift Avril with these powers? I want to know more! In the demo, we find ourselves on an alien planet where we need to absorb its core. The visuals from the locations you explore to the character models, everything looks wonderful, and you can tell that developer Stormind Games has poured a lot of love and effort into the game. As you explore this alien world, you are attacked by various out-of-this-world beasties, and there is an interesting mechanic at play here. Avril has both a Sun and a Moon form with different attacks that she can switch between on the fly. Enemies will take more or less damage depending on what form you’re in, so you need to switch between the two quite often when you’re attacked by these aliens. For me, the twin-stick combat felt a little loose, and I would often completely miss my attacks and leave myself open to getting clobbered by a giant frog thing. I think more time is probably needed with Batora to really get to grips with the combat, but after playing through just a small section of the game, I can say Batora: Lost Haven is certainly one I’ll be looking forward to when it launches this year.

Tom

BattleCakes

Who said that cupcakes couldn’t be badass fighters? Well, everyone actually, but BattleCakes is looking to change that misconception. In BattleCakes, you play as a heroic cake that teams up with its fellow baked goods to protect their home town of Vanilla Hill against sweet-but-wayward creatures. It’s a turn-based RPG with a lovely pastel-coloured aesthetic and some nice dialogue. The demo gives you a chance to meet a few of the characters, complete a handful of quests, and partake in a slice of combat. Ultimately, it’s not quite my slice of cake, though, and I struggled to find my feet with it — I guess a love of more action-orientated games is baked into my DNA. If you have a bit of a sweet tooth for cuddly adventures, friendly visuals, and Mr Kipling, then BattleCakes might be the icing on the cake for you.

Luke

Boxville

Say, do you like Machinarium? If the answer is yes (which it should be, Machinarium is brilliant), you’ll definitely want to keep an eye on Boxville as it’s very much cut from the same cloth. Well, the same card — as the title suggests, this story takes place in a cardboard metropolis, with every single screen a wonderfully low-tech art project. Boxville is a classic point-and-click adventure set in a hand-crafted world populated by living cans, and as in Machinarium, there’s no dialogue in the game. Everything is conveyed via thought bubbles and comic panels drawn on card offcuts as our heroic little blue can goes off in search of a missing friend. Puzzles are creative without being overly obtuse, and as satisfying as it is to solve them, just progressing to a new screen is reward enough as you get to check out a beautiful location for the first time and meet new characters that have way more personality than you’re likely to have seen in a can before. It’s wonderful. Developer Triomatica ran a Kickstarter campaign late last year which sadly didn’t get off the ground, but the team has said that it’ll still be looking to release Boxville later this year regardless. You can’t keep a good can down, as they don’t say.

Luke

Brok the InvestiGator

There’s a good chance a fair few of you played this demo for yourselves, since developer Cowcat ran a promotion offering a free copy of its previous game, Demetrios, to anyone who beat the demo and submitted their ending results screen. Described as a ‘punch-and-click adventure,’ Brok offers exactly what that premise describes — puzzle-solving and investigation, mixed with bouts of simple scrolling fighter combat and even opportunities to solve problems with brawn rather than brains, like beating a door down rather than tracking down a key. A Quantic Dream-like branching narrative will track how you deal with each scenario and take your adventure to different places (as you’ll have seen on the results screen if you beat the demo yourself), and it also records your choices from previous runs when you replay so you can see what different choices might take you to new places or puzzles. A clever hint system and puzzles with multiple solutions help make for a really interesting adventure game, and one that I’m looking forward to playing more when it launches.

Tom

Broken Pieces

Broken Pieces was a game I was hoping to enjoy, but unfortunately the demo didn’t grip me as much as I was expecting. The game takes place within a little island village that has a small problem with supernatural entities, while the protagonist, Elise, seems to have some powers of her own, which allows her to call upon storms at will, but with the risk of awakening otherworldly creatures. It’s a third-person psychological thriller that tasks you with solving the mysteries surrounding the town, scavenging for various supplies, locating clues to navigate puzzles, and shooting at things that aren’t human. It looks pretty enough, and is perhaps a game worthy of your time if you enjoy a sprinkling of the supernatural with your mystery-solving and cult-busting escapades.

Luke

Despot's Game

This spin-off from Despotism 3k sends teams of puny humans into simple roguelite maps in what effectively amount to killing game shows, with waves of robotic enemies to slay while handling basic survival mechanics to prevent the squishy little folks from starving. Battles in Despot's Game boil down to simply placing your little humans on a grid based on enemy placement warnings, then kicking off the battle and watching all hell break loose. As you progress, however, more and more ways to prepare for and interact with ongoing battles are introduced, so you can pause the fray, buff and heal allies as needed, and alter abilities to increase the team’s chance of survival. It feels very basic from the offset but I actually found myself fairly engrossed in it once things started to opened up, so I’m interested to see just how crazy things might get later on…

Heidi

Endling: Extinction is Forever

Okay, so we knew going in that this one would be bleak. Endling: Extinction is Forever is an adventure game about the last mother fox on Earth, and her efforts to save her cubs. The thing is, Endling doesn’t shy away from serious topics like eco-consciousness and the idea of extinction. As we found out in our Endling: Extinction is Forever interview, where we spoke to programmer and co-founder of developer Herobeat Studios Javier Ramello, the game is based on “terrifying” actual scientific forecasts about how the world might be in the next fifty to a hundred years. As Ramello explains, there isn’t enough genetic diversity just from this mother and her cubs to save the species; we’re literally just racing to keep them alive for as long as possible, against the corruption and pollution of a ruined world. Ramello told us “there is always a door open for hope”, so there might still be a ray of light in the dark themes of Endling. As for the demo, it immediately gives you a sense of terrible responsibility. There is danger everywhere for the fox and her cubs, and there’s always icons up for your cubs to show if they’re still alive. Those cubs are so tiny and vulnerable, and we’re in charge of feeding them, hiding them, and keeping them safe. We explore at night and sleep during the day, and every new exploration shows just how much the world is suffering. It’s a sobering experience, and it’s amazing how quickly you become invested in the fox’s survival. Even if you’re not sure whether this one's for you, it feels like this would be worth a go because of the importance of its message. Either way, this demo is definitely worth a try.

Luke

Exhausted Man

Look, I play games as a form of escapism, so something as on-the-nose as this is not what I want to be messing with in my spare time when I’m busy trying not to be exhausted. Exhausted Man is a cross between puzzle game and physics-based meme game where the controls work against you — think I Am Bread and Octodad — starring the titular tired dude in a snazzy sweater. Exhausted (that is his first name, right?) slithers along the ground in a manner that you will either find hilarious or extremely unsettling, writhing and contorting in oddly hypnotic ways as you try to complete basic household tasks while drained of energy. And bones, apparently. I enjoyed Octodad for its outlandish premise, and I do think Exhausted Man has the potential to offer the same kind of dumb fun, with each level being a self-contained scene where you set up the room to your liking before messing it up as you try to complete your assigned tasks by flopping about all over everything. It’s one of those things where I quite enjoyed it in demo form but probably couldn’t stomach a full game of it. Still, if you’re more of a fan of games where the controls are out to get you, this reverse Octodad oddity where a tired guy flops around like an out-of-water cephalopod could be worth a look.

Luke

Grid Force — Mask of the Goddess

I knew nothing about Grid Force going into the demo, so from the name alone, I was expecting maybe a turn-based tactics game of some kind, but I couldn’t have been wider of the mark. No, this is actually a “tactical bullet-hell RPG,” in the devs’ own words, offing fast-faced action combat on those titular grids, with each encounter bookended by optional story scenes that tell of a world caught in a time loop of repeated failure whenever leading lady Donna is unable to save the day. There’s a bit of shared DNA with tag fighters like Marvel Vs. Capcom here, not just in the pace and intensity of the competitive battles but also in the fact that you only take direct control of one of your squad at a time, swapping someone else in whenever your point character starts to look a little worse for wear so they can recover. You need to be smart about this, though, as there’s a type effectiveness chart in play too that will make some matchups swing in favour of certain archetypes over others. There’s also a really satisfying parry mechanic to let you send projectiles back where they came and build up a stagger gauge on an enemy that can lead to huge damage. Aside from a bit of simple squad management, it’s just these battles and story scenes, which may make it feel a little limited for some, but I found the battles enjoyable and the story interesting, so I’ll be keeping an eye on Grid Force when it launches soon.

Sean

Grotto

Grotto is one of the most mysterious and intriguing games I’ve ever played, and I’m hooked. Living in a dark and dingy cave, a local tribe of anthropomorphic animals come to you for counsel as you are a soothsayer, someone who can foresee the future by looking up at the night sky and picking out constellations from between the stars. This is the only way you communicate with the new strangers who huddle around your fire in the middle of the night; you don’t get to pick a dialogue choice in the traditional sense. Instead, you must draw a constellation from the sky and present your new animal friend with their fate. Each constellation that you find in the night’s sky offers a brief and cryptic description of what it is. The problem here — and you are warned about this at the start by a sweary frog man — is that these constellations can be interpreted differently by each person, so the counsel you give to one creature, which you perceive to be the correct answer, can actually be misinterpreted, leading them to cut the hands off the sweary frog man so he can no longer wipe his arse. I’m sure there is a proper method for all this divination lark that determines the best course of action, but the game is pretty vague, and I am yet to discover how that system works in its entirety from the short time I’ve had with the demo. I can’t wait to dig into this unique experience when it finally comes to Xbox later this year. When exactly, I hear you ask? Let me consult the stars, and I’ll get back to you…

Luke

Lost Ruins

Whereas most of these games are on the upcoming releases list, this dark and stylish pixel-art adventure actually dropped a few weeks ago, meaning we’ve already got the Lost Ruins achievements. It seems pretty challenging, and it’s really easy for one silly mistake to cause you to lose a bunch of health and have to burn through valuable supplies to top yourself off — Lost Ruins combines exploration platformer elements with melee and magic combat as well as survival elements, although at least checkpoints seem to be fairly plentiful to save you from losing too much progress after taking a death. The art is great, as it the way characters and enemies are dynamically lit down in the dingy dungeons, so if you’re up for a dark and dangerous adventure with hints of games like La Mulana, you’ll probably want to give this a look.

Tom

Metal: Hellsinger

If you’ve written off Metal: Hellsinger as a Doom or BPM knock-off, I highly recommend you think twice before forgetting about this beautiful piece of rhythm-based carnage. In fact, Metal can potentially be described as the offspring of the two aforementioned titles, which turned out to be the antichrist. The demo gives us only one level, but honestly, that’s all you need to fall in love with it. One feature that makes Metal: Hellsinger a worthy adversary of other hell-based shooters is its soundtrack, and the level I was able to play through in the demo features vocals from Arch Enemy’s Alissa White-Gluz. The catch, though, is that you’ve got to play well enough to unlock each track’s vocals by reaching the maximum score multiplier, but that’s easier said than done. Levels start off with a fairly basic metal instrumental track playing in the background, but as you begin obliterating the demon-spawn on each level, you unlock another layer of the soundtrack, which continues to increase in intensity until you unlock the vocals — at which point you feel like you could probably take on the devil himself. It’s a fairly forgiving system, though, so you don’t have to be crazy good to rack up your combo meter, and the combat itself is smooth enough for it to be an enjoyable and fairly easy game to learn. Jump in and give this game a go if you enjoy mutilating hellish nightmares with shotguns, revolvers, machine guns, big blades, or a magic skull that shoots flames out of its mouth and happens to be your lover of sorts.

Luke

Musynx

I know I extoll the virtues of creative rhythm-action games shortly when talking about Overpass, but I’ll always have a soft spot for no-nonsense Bemani-style beat-matching, too. Musynx is just that, and it’s been available on pretty much every other platform for a while now so it’s great to see it finally land on Xbox — we really don’t get as many classic-style music games as most other systems and it’s a crying shame. You can tell just how massive the Musynx song library is going to be from the fact that the demo generously gave us 12 songs to try out across two difficulty levels and two modes (four- and six-button). The tunes span all manner of genres and even come with custom styles and themes for the notes and charts, from colourful clouds for the upbeat pop tracks to futuristic laser grids for the more intense electro stuff. It can get extremely intense, especially until you manage to get your head around the button layout, but it’s always great to see that combo counter shooting up into ridiculous numbers as you nail complex passages. We’ve already got the Musynx achievements (some look a little daunting after having played a bit of the game, I must say) and it’s out in a few weeks, so I’ll definitely be grabbing this and busting out the arcade stick.

Heidi

Nummels

Death... so much death. You poor loyal Nummels, why have I failed you?! In a cruel platforming world, I am trusted to guide the Nummels to the exit, but those fools, those fools... they smile even as they throw themselves off a cliff or into the water, and even I, when I die, am brought back to life even as the drowning body of my predecessor is still sinking to its death. True, the game’s art style is clean and sharp, the introduction of each new obstacle is well-timed, and the goals set before you are satisfying to complete — but for what? For the cold clink of gold coins dealt out to me for each of the Nummels I manage to save, reminding me of all those that perished. I am trapped, bound to guide those grinning idiots onward, ever onward, forced to watch as one wrong step leads to them happily following each other to their doom… but, well, you know… it’s actually really fun.

Luke

Overpass: Rhythm Roadtrip

Music games are very much my jam, so it’s awesome to see so many creative ones popping up in the indie space these days. Overpass' subtitle accurately describes what you get here, and while you don’t need to worry about any of the actual driving besides which of the three lanes you are in, the premise still gives life to the note chart in a way that most game don’t or can’t — most of the time, it’s just a means to an end, but here, you’re playing along with the game world. This does lead to a viewpoint that felt rather awkward at first to me, angled quite sharply upwards to catch beat prompts on tunnel entrances, lights, scaffolds, drones, and whatever else above the road, but it didn’t take long to click. There are hints of Aaero about it and just a dash of DJ Hero in the lane-switching mechanic, which is absolutely fine by me. Quick reactions are needed here, since those beat prompts coming on frequent obstacles means you often don’t get to see them until quite late, and heads-up — with faster tracks and patterns, this can lead to a fairly intense strobing effect, although I did notice a setting in the menu to mitigate this in case it’s something to which you might be sensitive. Overpass manages to get quite a lot out of its simple three-note stave just through the way notes emerge in the world itself, and with plenty of replay value thanks to additional challenges (such as hitting all the streetlights on a stage as well as the actual beats) and a seemingly solid soundtrack, this one will be on my playlist for sure.

Luke

Overrogue

Deck-building roguelites are far from a rarity these days, and there’s a lot of tough competition in the space — Slay the Spire, Roguebook, Monster Train, and Nowhere Prophet, to name but a few. Overrogue seems to have more going on in terms of overarching story, with a Disgaea-esque hunt for a new Overlord on the go and each run taking place in a self-contained dungeon where you need to create a deck and build from scratch. Between dungeons, you can use resources to unlock new cards and treasures via a gacha mechanic and add them to the loot pool, along with Stickers, which can either offer minor permanent stat buffs for your characters or cause cards found in dungeons to be dropped at higher levels, improving their effects. Overrogue seems to enjoy the sound of its own voice a little too much, and it doesn’t really feel like it has the same kind of engaging tone as the best of its peers so I ended up simply skipping through a lot of the dialogue in the interest of time, and even that took ages. Maybe that’s something that will improve later on when you’re more invested in the characters, but the dialogue-to-dungeon ratio certainly feels off in the early stages. I have a really bad habit of starting these games and then never finishing them, even when I really enjoy them (sorry, Monster Train… it’s not you, it’s me), so I’m not sure I’ll be adding another to the pile, even if Overrogue does seem like a decent entry into the genre.

Luke

Polyfury

I’ve been absolutely loving Just Shapes & Beats lately, and this simple shooter has a similar lo-fi geometric vibe going on. Another way to look at it is as an on-rails bullet hell Geometry Wars boss rush score attack game, which is a long description for something which is actually pretty straightforward. When I say ‘on-rails,’ I mean it, too. Your ship sits on a circular rail that fills the middle of the screen, with directional inputs on the analog stick mapped directly to the corresponding part of the ring, which makes movement extremely snappy. It needs to be, too. Each stage in Polyfury is a boss battle against an increasingly aggressive shape, with plenty of patterns to learn, phases to work through, and screen-filling attacks to dodge. Constantly landing attacks rains multiplier bonuses onto the ring for your to dive between bullets and beams to collect, and there’s also a global score multiplier that starts at 4x and slowly decreases as the fight goes on to encourage speedy wins. I also noticed a ‘graze’ feature that seems to reward you for scraping dangerously close to attacks, but I couldn’t work out exactly what the reward is amid all the chaos. Still, I made top ten on the leaderboard, so I must have been doing something right. I get the feeling there won’t be a huge amount to the full game, but if all of the bosses are as much fun to fight as the big bad square in the demo then it’ll be a fun time, and the score attack mechanics do seem strong enough to give even a short game a good amount of replay value.

Luke

Re:Call

Okay, this one is pretty neat. Re:Call’s looping gameplay is based on the Mandela Effect, with your choices able to alter the shared memories of everyone else involved so that they appear false, shaping the narrative around your decisions. The demo is technically very short but it’s ingeniously put together, with each choice leading to an outcome that might present you with new opportunities on later loops or just end the current one abruptly if you do something completely wrong. Over the course of multiple loops, you’ll slowly start to put together a chain of events that leads to a positive final outcome, and the game even has the decency to gloss over conversations you’ve already heard and cut right to the chase once you know how an option plays out, making it even quicker and easier to set up everyone’s memories in a way that lets you come out on top. It’s a fascinating concept and I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on it.

Tom

Richman10


Yeah… no. Richman10 is without doubt not my jam in the slightest, and the lack of tutorial available in the demo really didn’t help matters. The demo only allowed me to play two game modes — classic and fight — and by the time I had used my first turn, witnessed all sorts of power-ups from other non-player characters, and had a host of other wild things happen within the game, I was completely turned off. As far as I can tell, it’s a juiced-up game of Monopoly mixed with Mario Party, so expect a host of different things to be going on. I bid you good luck if you decide to try out the game, and if you have the patience to learn the game's mechanics, let me know your thoughts!

Tom

Severed Steel

Fast, so darn fast — if you want it to be. Playing as a one-armed badass protagonist that would put John Wick to shame, Severed Steel is a first-person shooter that throws in a ton of Mirror’s Edge-style parkour stunts. The demo gives you a chance to play through one of the game’s earlier levels, which sees you earn your arm cannon… yes I said arm cannon. The left arm fires a high-energy projectile that decimates enemies, walls, or pretty much anything else it hits, while your right arm is free to pick up a multitude of different guns while you’re running through the level. I found the combat to be too fast for my liking initially, but the game offers a ton of different options within the settings menu, like automatic slow motion when performing stunts and auto-kicks when you get close to enemies — there is even a setting for reduced violence, but I was greatly disappointed to see there wasn’t an option for even more violence! With those two beauties turned on, Severed Steel became a delight to play, and I found it to be a ridiculous amount of fun. If you’ve enjoyed games like Mirror’s Edge, My Friend Pedro, or Ghostrunner, you should definitely give this a go. It’s already out on PC, and looking at the game’s Steam achievements for the game, it doesn’t look like there is anything too back-breaking to accomplish either, so this will definitely be an early purchase for me.

Luke

Shadowrun Returns

Shadowrun is great. I don’t really feel a lot more needs to be said about this classic cyberpunk RPG series at this point — they’ve been available for years and enjoyed by millions in that time, and the trilogy is already available with Xbox Game Pass. So long as you’re not put off by isometric viewpoints a la vintage Fallout, you should have a great time.

Luke

SpiderHeck

You know how much fun the Ninja Rope is in Worms games? Imagine a real-time arena combat game where it’s just a bunch of spiders flinging themselves around like that, grabbing everything from sci-fi guns to light sabres to slaughter one another… that’s pretty much SpiderHeck. Controls feel a little fiddly at first but that’s the price you pay for this kind of versatility, and before you know it, you’ll be webbing around the arena like a pro, scampering around on ceilings to set up tricksy kill shots, and just generally making a nuisance of yourself for your arachnid opponents. SpiderHeck lacks the simplicity of many go-to party games like this — Gang Beasts, TowerFall, and even Nidhogg — so introducing friends to it is naturally going to feel a little one-sided at first if you’re even semi-competent. Still, I can see a good time being had if you can get them to stick with it long enough to get a feel for being a nimble little murder-spider, but I worry that will be the tricky part when there are so many more accessible alternatives out there.

Luke

Strong Moon

I don’t know where to begin with this one, so I’m just going to let the official blurb do most of the heavy lifting. "You play as Strong Moon, a full fan of fitness and junk food, distinguished by not wearing a t-shirt; only jeans (Thanks for the gods) and shoes, just to show us his mighty muscles.His brother became into an alive butter bar and kidnapped by a magician to extract the power that gives him life. Our character takes an adventured road through fields, caves, a huge volcano and many more corrupted areas to save his unique brother." Yeah… Strong Moon is weird, man. The animated intro was worth the download alone, dripping in Aqua Teen Hunger Force-esque ‘what the hell did I just watch?’ energy, but the game itself is kinda rough. It’s a basic platformer that looks like the kind of thing you might have played on Newgrounds years ago, and while I do love how utterly bonkers it is, it just doesn’t feel good to play so sadly, I think I’ll be giving Strong Moon a miss.

Tom

Stuffed

Call of Duty: Zombies meets Toy Story, is probably the best way for me to describe Stuffed. It’s a first-person shooter that puts you in the cuddly body of a teddy bear, with the goal of protecting a little girl's room from the terrors of the night. It’s a wave-based horde-style game that features gnomes, little dark creatures, Slender Man-style enemies, and other oddities that want to either rip out your stuffed insides or break down the door to the little girl's room — both of which will end your run. Much like CoD: Zombies, you rack up points for killing enemies, which you can then spend on new weapons, power-ups, door repair kits, upgrades, and other items that you generally see in this style of game. It’s got a fairly Toy Story vibe to its art style and you earn ‘Bear Coins’ once you’re eventually killed, which I presume is what you’ll spend on the customisation side of the game when it launches. I’m not sure if it’s for me personally, but it’s certainly worth a shot if you like those kinds of games. I’ll keep an eye on it for sure, because it might be a good bit of fun when multiplayer is enabled — just like Zombies, Stuffed gets too hectic in the later waves when you play solo, so for me, a group will be a requirement.

Luke

Terror of Hemasaurus

To say that Terror of Hemasaurus is a bit like Midway’s Eighties coin-op classic Rampage would be quite the understatement, but then again, it’d be somewhat inaccurate to credit Midway with inventing the concept of giant monsters terrorising cities in the first place. This is Rampage through a modern lens, with some really satisfying destruction physics applied to things like buildings and vehicles — knock out a key structural part of a towering skyscraper, for instance, and it will set off a huge chain reaction and level entire blocks as structures collapse on one another, or you could simply boot a car through a building to bring it toppling down, or even lob hapless pedestrians into whirling chopper blades as armed forces move in to stop your destructive antics. It’s simple but entertaining chaos, with each level having its own set of targets, from racking up specific body counts to causing a certain amount of property damage. With a selection of chibi-kaiju at your disposal and support to up to four-player co-op (which will get daft, given how crazy things can be with just a single monster wreaking havoc), this could be a lot of fun.

Heidi

Tinykin

Tinykin seems wonderful. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it as much as I did — it’s a puzzle and platforming game in which we’re Milo, who has arrived on Earth and is somehow insect-sized, inside a giant empty house full of officiously-helpful bugs. What’s more, there are even smaller creatures known as Tinykin that love to follow Milo about and help him on his adventures. If you’ve played something like The Wild at Heart, you’ll remember the somewhat tyrannical joy of herding a small army around a game to do your bidding — there are different kinds of Tinykin that can do different things, and you collect more as you go. That’s one area where Tinykin just seems full of possibility — the sheer amount of stuff to collect as you explore each new area, shimmering all around the room. Milo has a bar of soap to zoom around on, and it’s fun just to set him loose to hoover up as much stuff as possible. I didn’t think I’d be as invested as I was when I put the controller down to write this, and part of my mind is still contemplating all the tantalisingly glimmering stuff I have yet to collect. One small annoyance is that the camera is a bit clunky to get used to at first — it’s not always easy to see where you’re going to land, which makes judging jumps a bit frustrating. Once you’re used to that, though, it’s time to go zooming around the world of Tinykin!

Luke

Warhammer 40,000: Shootas, Blood & Teef

As one of the higher-profile titles in this collection, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that this recently announced 40K 2D shooter also feels like one of the more polished demos of the bunch. The cartoon art style looks great, although when everything is so detailed, with multiple rival factions going at it as bullets, explosions, jets of flame, spurts of blood, and all manner of other effects fill the screen, it can often be a little tricky to follow the action and even to see what’s going on at all, especially in multiplayer. Shootas, Blood & Teef plays out as a pretty standard side-scrolling twin-stick shooter, although movement can feel a little fiddly and floaty at times (and putting the handy dash on a face button in a twin-stick game isn’t ideal), but the shooting feels good… just as well, really, as you’ll be doing a lot of it. Levels are mostly ‘kill all enemies to open door to next area, rinse and repeat,’ but the arenas do help mix things up with unique hazards, choke points, and gimmicks. Multiple class options allow you to mix up how you play somewhat, with unique abilities and grenade types for each, but even with that, I can see this potentially outstaying its welcome if it doesn’t do enough to mix things up and keep the action interesting — the demo was decent enough, but I was already pretty much on autopilot by the end of it.

Luke

Wave Break

I’m not entirely sure what Wave Break is supposed to be. It’s a Miami Vice-inspired Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater-alike, in speedboats, with guns… it just feels like it’s tugging in too many different directions, especially when the main appeal of THPS at its best is its clear, singular vision and score attack purity. Being set on water naturally makes everything feel very floaty, controls are oddly unresponsive and tricks don’t always come out as they should, and the extremely limited nature of the Free Play demo doesn’t give you a feel for how the actual game will properly play out. If the guns are used for fun stuff like mid-flip target shooting for mission goals then cool, but if they’re just there to mess with other players then I’m not into that at all — it’s already hard enough to do anything semi-impressive with the sketchy controls as it is, let alone when you’ve got other players interfering. Still, the soundtrack is chill and apparently the full game has Weezer in it, so maybe let’s not write it off just yet, eh?

Luke

Wreckout

Wreckout featured in last year’s SGF demo event, and I fondly remember Kes and I having some tense back-and-forth matches in this Rocket League-meets-Breakout-meets-pinball top-down competition. It’s a new demo this year (unlike a few of the other returning titles), and it certainly feels a lot tighter from a control perspective — lining up shots and tackles seems much more of a skill now, and quick donut spins while in possession let you wind up power shots at the expense of making you an easier target. Load times are in dire need of optimisation for something that should be a quick-fire party game, but this is certainly a good time, especially in multiplayer.

Luke

Ynglet

Well, this is just lovely. A minimalist abstract platformer of sorts, Ynglet sees you guide some kind of sketched space dolphin thing around a line art world of floating pools and death-defying jumps. It’s got a lovely flow and rhythm to it once you get the hang of the slightly fiddly movement, and to offset all the crazy leaps you need to perform, you can plant a checkpoint anywhere just by sitting in a pool for a few seconds. The way the world dynamically responds to your movement is captivating to the point of almost being hypnotic, backed up by an incredible chill (and also dynamic) soundtrack made with the team’s “custom (and needlessly complicated) music software” (their words, not ours). Ynglet launched on Steam last year to great reviews — it’s only a few hours long, by the sounds of things, but that’s fine with me if it can keep me guessing and gobsmacked for its short runtime just like the demo did. Going by the Steam achievements, it looks like it may also be a pretty simple completion, too… depending on how the team decides to handle the tricksy 101% achievement.

Did any of these demos stand out to you? Any that you missed, but are now interested in thanks to these trailers and our write-ups? Let us know!
Luke Albigés
Written by Luke Albigés
Luke runs the TA news team, contributing where he can primarily with reviews and other long-form features — crafts he has honed across two decades of print and online gaming media experience, having worked with the likes of gamesTM, Eurogamer, Play, Retro Gamer, Edge, and many more. He loves all things Monster Hunter, enjoys a good D&D session, and has played way too much Destiny.