We’re doing something a tad different this week, folks. Between the slowing down of releases and the things I want to talk about not having time in them to warrant a post yet (seriously, The new Ninja Turtles game dropped the day before this did, expect a post on that), I’ve decided to do a grab bag if the stuff that caught my eye from the current Steam Next Fest. For those not in the know, Next Fest is a collection of pre-release demos of independent games on Steam that started in the last few years because Covid is still a thing and indie devs wanted to show off their wares. It’s a week-long event and there’s some good stuff in here. Let’s get into the nitty-gritty
Selaco is the demo I’ve been waiting on most of the ones here. The game originally started life as a Doom WAD in GZDoom (one of the main source ports for Doom and Doom 2) and eventually took a life of its own. The team working on it finally got a build they were proud enough to show off to the public and I gotta say, I’m damn impressed. By far the most “complete” of the demos I played this week, Selaco takes a lot of inspiration from Doom and F.E.A.R. of all things. I mention F.E.A.R. for the more tactical feeling the combat has due to the interactivity of the environments you can use for cover and the incredibly adaptive enemy AI.
Enemies will bark callouts, bum rush with heavies, toss grenades, flank you, and more. And then there’s the Invasion Tier system, where enemies will get more powerful as the game goes on. This is previewed by way of enemies getting a barrier that they can shoot through and blocks your shots. You get a small arsenal of weapons to fight the invaders off, starting with a trusty assault rifle that is decent at the short to mid ranges, a shotgun for when things need to be extra dead, and a hand cannon called The Roaring Cricket that can turn heads into pink mist and has a three shot burst alternate fire. It isn’t the full arsenal, but it’s a good sample taste, I wish we had the nail gun that was teased. That would have been awesome.
The three missions that were in the demo were the perfect test showing off the weapons and enemies, especially at the higher difficulty levels. There are also abilities you get, but they were disabled for this demo, which means slo-mo might still be on the menu. Selaco is the perfect example of a demo in the modern-day. Shows you the best aspects of a game in microcosm to get you interested. Looking forward to this one’s release
What if Mega Man Zero, but Kamen Rider and with Sonic’s Homing Attack. If I had to describe Berserk Boy’s entire vibe in a sentence, it’d be that. The entire demo is focused on showcasing this setup as much as humanly possible. It does a great job at doing so. The platforming and enemy placement do a good job of giving you ample opportunities to use the dash to traverse and fight in interesting ways, this is best done when the enemies are armoured and need multiple hits to take down or some obstacles or platforms require the use of the dash to get around them. This is then capped off in a boss fight that takes what you’ve learned in getting through the level and makes for a fun challenge.
You can then replay it at your leisure and there’s one thing that dawned on me while I was going through it again: This game has the potential for some amazing challenge and speedrun nonsense and I mean that in the best way possible. There are so many things you can do to shave time off of your level traversal and get the dash to work in specific ways to go faster. And this is on top of the Mega Man X style wall climbing that is mixed along with it.
Berserk Boy is another I’m keeping track of for the future, though it will take more time in the oven before I can recommend it fully.
Last, but certainly not least: Deadlink, the third game that caught my eye. This is more familiar territory, so I’ll breeze through this one quick: It’s a Roguelite FPS where you play as a fixer in a Cyberpunk dystopia that pilots combat mechs through VR. That sounds like a mashup of tired things, but it works out because of the unique use of the mechanics and how they play into the gameplay loop.
Th one available frame was the soldier frame, but there appear to be three more if the demo is anything to go by. You get three abilities in addition to your weapons: a grappling hook, and a disruption wave that stuns enemies and grenades. All of these mark your enemies and this marking of enemies are tied to the main gameplay loop because it causes a damage boost. Combine these with some procedurally generated combat arenas and some slick shooting, and you have a good work in progress. It does feel a bit too reliant on marking enemies, but that’s more of a skill issue on my end than anything.
Deadlink like the other games I mentioned is all of the “this is great and I want to play more” variety. Specifically because of all the neat mechanics and feeling to said mechanics. I’m not gonna jump into it during early access, but I’m wish listing it.
And that was the Look at some of the stuff from Steam’s Next Fest that I thought was super neat, check back next week for some more regularly scheduled chicanery.