The Steam Next Fest took place from June 19th through June 26th. This event gave users the chance to discover and try out many new game demos. In the following article, I will list some of the demos that I have played and offer my opinions on them. Please have a look at the other Steam Next Fest demos and reviews from my colleagues at Fuwanovel!
Reanimation Scheme is an otome game about necromancy, love, life, and death. Step into the shoes of the necromancer, Raenelle. Meet a colorful cast of characters, fail to summon the spirits of the dead, unravel mysteries, and maybe—just maybe—fall in love.
The first half hour of the plot is a bit loose. But as Raenelle arrives at the headquarters and the worldbuilding becomes more detailed, I found myself enjoying the game more. However, it should be noted that I discovered a bug in some of the scene transitions concerning missing images. This is something that will break player immersion if unaddressed.
Reanimation Scheme offers the player many choices, which increases the game’s replay value. The backgrounds are quite detailed, and the character sprites are well-designed. I liked the song included in the introduction, as well as the credit given to the voice actors not included in the current demo.
Overall, Reanimation Scheme appears to be a fun fantasy otome that shows promise. More polish is required, but for a demo, this is a fine effort.
Genre: Visual Novel, Otome
Publisher/Creator: Wind Chimes Games Limited
Planned Release: Soon
Relive the days of past social gaming networks and dive into this fictional video game era, when the ‘Kinmoku Shark’ gaming system and its online social network, ‘Videoverse,’ were still popular…
At a glance, one can see that Videoverse is going to be a very unique visual novel. In its short demo, I really enjoyed discovering the tweets and chats. Playing it helped me relive memories of the days when old-school Internet forums reigned supreme.
I did wonder why there were a few German words within the text, but it seems that the developer of Videoverse hails from Germany. That aside, I’m very interested in the full game, and am eager to see if relevant topics, like Internet trolls and social issues, will receive more focus in the full game.
Genre: Visual Novel
Planned Release: 3rd Quarter of 2023
30 Days Another
You have a death certificate from an unknown person in your hand. This person who ended her life by her will, died two days after her birthday. No one knows why they made act of doing suicide on a day full of happiness.
You are someone else who has nothing to do with this person’s death. So there is no obligation or justification to save this girl. But I know very well that there should be no more unfortunate deaths in this world. Go back 30 days before this person dies and become a person around you to prevent death. Every little word of yours, every ray of interest, may change fate.
What can I say about 30 Days Another? It has elements that I appreciated throughout: the detective work, a charming visual style, and interesting gameplay mechanics. However, there was some kind of bug that prevented me from completing the demo:
When you meet the other woman in front of the meeting room, the camera gets stuck and you can’t do anything except quit the game and start over…
I hope I’m the only one experiencing this issue, but if that’s not the case, please test it yourself and let me know in the comments section. Despite the technical issue I encountered, I’m still looking forward to this game. I will try to contact the developers to alert them to the presence of the bug.
Genre Visual Novel, Detective Adventure, Point-and-Click
Publisher/Creator: THE BRICKS GAMES
Planned Release: 3rd Quarter of 2023
Games Featuring Dating Sim Elements
One day, something, or someone, has turned humans into dangerous monsters. All that interests them now is violence and power. They are what stand between you, a cure, and the world you want. Most importantly? You’re fighting for more than just your own survival–you are fighting for those you love.
I’m not a hack-and-slash pro, but the demo was a lot of fun. It felt a little like a cross between Devil May Cry and Persona. In my opinion, the combat system can be somewhat difficult to manage, as it requires some skill with dodging at the right time (think of Bayonetta’s Witch Time). But once you get used to it, the system does evolve, adding a bit of rhythm to battles. The dialogue is well-written, humorous, and charming. Graphically speaking, Eternights is not the highest quality, but the 3D character sprites still fit the game.
The ability to choose how to answer questions is interesting, and the bond system offers replay value When I saw the first trailer for Eternights a few weeks ago, I felt rather underwhelmed, but was still interested in the combination of different video game genres. Now that I’ve played the demo, I’m feeling more positive; I’d like to know how the game will turn out.
Genre: Hack-and-Slash, Dating Sim, JRPG
Publisher/Creator: Studio Sai
Planned Release: September 21, 2023
Platforms: Steam, PlayStation 4 & 5
Games With No Visual Novel Elements
Pygmalion is a puzzle game using color synthesis.
Clear the stage by colliding the blocks with each other.
Removing all blocks within a certain number of times clears the stage.
To complete a level, you have to match artefacts of the same colour on the board. Of course, you have a limited number of moves. This title should appeal to puzzle lovers. The sprites are beautiful as well.
Genre: Puzzle Game
Planned Release: 4th Quarter of 2023
In Stars and Time
In Stars and Time tells the story of Siffrin and their adventurer friends—a found family bound together by fate in order to end the tyrannical reign of an evil king. But as victory is just within the party’s grasp, a tragedy occurs, the clock resets, and they have to do it all again.
As Siffrin’s the only one who notices this loop, each new start wears away at his cheerful veneer, yet he keeps going in hopes he can end this temporal tragedy once and for all.
In Stars and Time is a time-looping RPG adventure. With each loop, Siffrin gains a new perspective on the world around them, opening up new solutions to puzzles and allowing them to make better choices in conversation. Equip memories as armor, pray to the Change God to improve your team’s capabilities each loop, and challenge deadly foes to Rock, Paper, Scissors as Siffrin seeks the truth.
Mother/Earthbound and Undertale were definitely inspirations here, but In Stars and Time‘s looping mechanic and great sense of humour definitely make the game stand on its own. It doesn’t need to hide behind the big players at all.
The rock-paper-scissors battle system is a great idea. In every fight, the player can discover how best to fight the enemy by looking for the hint contained within the enemy’s sprite. I also love the dynamic between the characters.
In the demo, you discover a later story where everyone is already level 45, but it’s great to see what awaits you in the full game and I’m quite interested to see the other group members again in the full game.
All in all, an amazing title with a lot of thought, humour and style.
If you are interested in In Stars and Time, the game’s prologue is available on its Steam page next to the demo’s download link. The prologue lasts about three to five hours, but it is not needed to enjoy the full game.
Genre: RPG, Adventure, Fantasy, turn-based combat
Publisher/Creator: Armor Games Studios/ insertdisc5
Planned Release: 2023
Platforms: Steam and Nintendo Switch