Dem Oh! Round Up Feature Art

Dem-OH! February Round-up

Back on form this month with plenty of new demos from both regular releases and, of course, the Steam #NextFest. Not only did we play a lot, we were also were lucky enough to find SIX 5/5 Stand-Outs from across the entire map of genres. Believe me when I say there’s a wishlist item for everybody this month!

Stand-Out Demos

(in recording order)

Nocturnal Demo no longer available on Steam

Nocturnal is a classic 2D action platformer with a gimmick, or what I thought was such. The ability to temporarily light your weapons ablaze is used in combat; to defeat usually untouchable enemies shrouded in shadow, in puzzles; to open pathways and light switches, and in exploration; to discover secrets within the environment. It may seem like a simple mechanic but even within just the space of the demo it evolves several times over, continually upping the ante and keeping every new interaction engaging. Not the mention how beautiful it looks with the soft waves of light that ripple from an engulfed sword setting clouds of smoke alight. With snappy but challenging combat, rewarding exploration, and involved puzzles all wrapped in a a simple yet mysterious narrative hook, Nocturnal is shaping up to be a hot new indie hit. You might even call it ‘lit’… sorry.

Prison City Demo on Steam

An absolutly perfect retro throwback, Prison City is a 2D action platformer that would have enjoyed being up at the tippy-top of NES classics with the likes of Ninja Gaiden and Bionic Commando had it released thirty-five years ago. Instead it’ll just have to settle for being the tighest nostalgia-bait around, boasting a Mega-Man style level selection system across all sorts of unique environments, each with their own hazards, enemy types, and, of course, bad-ass boss. Clearly a lot of love and care has gone into reproducing the look, feel, audio, and design of the games that forever changed history and pulled the now fastest growing industry in the world into the true mainstream. And it is a wonder to behold. Players both old and new are going to have an absolute blast.

Alchemist: The Potion Monger Demo no longer available on Steam

Probably the most charming game on the list, Alchemist: The Potion Monger is all about exploring the unknown. Both physically in the world itself, as you discover new quests, challenges, and ingredients, but also within the world of magic, as you experiment with different techniques to craft new and wacky potions. The best part being that you can then use those magical cocktails however you wish – whether it be on yourself, to sell, or to throw at allies and enemies for all sorts of desired effects from acting as a perfume to poisoning them! I simply couldn’t get enough as I raced around uncovering new concoctions and secrets, fulfilling requests, and just losing myself in this welcoming magical world. Simple, wholesome, and forever exciting.

Sherlock Holmes The Awakened Demo no longer available on Steam

I wasn’t aware this one was actually a remake of a game from 2008 but there’s no way I’m zipping back to play the original when this beauty is just over the horizon. The blend of Lovecraft and Sherlock Holmes is a stroke of genius on its own but seeing the gameplay mechanics live up to such a high standard was incredible. Exploration, deduction, and puzzles all perfectly crafted around the Holmes character is a sight to behold as you piece together evidence in his ‘mind palace’ and recreate events using environmental clues. Sprinkle in that classic existentialist horror and we have a detective who can solve anything against forces that are unknowable – genius!

Dungeons of Aether OUT NOW

Dungeons of Aether is immediately striking due to its fantastically detailed pixel art but the crunchy dice-drafting makes every combat a fresh new puzzle, and that’s where the real hook is. Armed with all sorts of interesting abilities to help you react and plan around the current state of each (somehow always precariously tight) skirmish and items/equipment to help push back when struck with a bit of bad luck, you won’t find mechanics like it anywhere else. Almost like an advanced Dicey Dungeons, a game I absolutely love, this title relies less on gambling and more on mitigation and strategy in a way that is both incredibly morish and engaging.

Flowstone Saga Demo on Steam

Tetris combat. Yes, you read that right. Flowstone Saga is a gorgeous JRPG that replaces the boring old turn-based combat with a real-time falling block puzzle, where the goal is to prepare big sets of lines for huge attacks, always be ready to make a quick move to interrupt enemies, and connect special gems contained within certain blocks to generate ‘heat’ in order to boost your effectiveness. As if that isn’t enough, there’s still equipment and items to manage, abilities to trigger, and all sorts of differently shaped pieces to try. The crazier their form and thus the tougher they are to place, the more heat gems they contain (as well as simply coming with higher block coverage). A risk vs. reward mechanic that had me laughing and panicking my way through many a fight. With a simple non-obstructive narrative, I really loved that Flowstone Saga let me just go and play. I was allowed to explore right away. It let me quickly try again on failure. And it constantly introduced new concepts to engage with, such as enemy priority, combat tricks, and challenges that reward experience and resources. Levelling up beating on classic RPG enemeis like crabs and bees via Tetris is something I didn’t know I needed until now. I’m tremendously excited to see where this one goes.


Mail Time Demo on Steam

Check out the Preview here!

Some games are comforting just to exist in and in that sense Mail Time is a giant soft blanket. Deliver mail to a cooky cast of lovely creatures as you platform your way through the underwood.

Troublemaker Demo on Steam

Check out the Preview here!

Troublemaker is an Indonesian action brawler that fuses ridiculous high-school shananigans with a pretty dark backstory. Certainly a weird one…

Steam #NextFest Feb 2023

No. 1

  1. Dust & Neon (2)
  2. Mika and The Witch’s Mountain (2)
  3. ArcRunner (2)
  4. Boti: Byteland Overclocked (2)
  5. Ninja or Die (3)
  6. Bramble: The Mountain King (4)
  7. Gripper (3)
  8. Nocturnal (5)

No. 2

  1. Valfaris: Mecha Therion (4)
  2. Voidtrain (3)
  3. Painter Simulator (3)
  4. The Last Case of Benedict Fox (4)
  5. God of Rock (3)
  6. Prison City (5)
  7. Ravenbound (2)

No. 3

  1. Afterimage (4)
  2. Battle Drones: Red Rock Resistance (1)
  3. Teslagrad 2 (2)
  4. Alchemist: The Potion Monger (5)
  5. Sherlock Holmes The Awakened (5)
  6. Trinity Fusion (2)

No. 4

  1. Shumi Come Home (4)
  2. Ogu and the Secret Forest (4)
  3. Dad by the Sword (2)
  4. Tape to Tape (4)
  5. REMEDIUM (2)
  6. Radio the Universe (4)

No. 5

  1. Return (2)
  2. Plan B: Terraform (4)
  3. Dungeons of Aether (5)
  4. Planet of Lana (3)
  5. Super Raft Boat Together (3)
  6. Cardboard Town (3)
  7. Scene Investigators (2)
  8. BOOK OF HOURS (2)

No. 6

  1. Full Void (3)
  2. Greedventory (3)
  3. Wall World (3)
  4. Mr. Saitou (3)
  5. The Last Starship (2)
  6. Suffer The Night (3)

Dem-OH! Dashes

NOTE: Ratings are basically representative of how much I enjoyed the demo and the likelihood that I’ll come back to the title in the future (or even would liked to have continued playing it right then), with regards to gameplay, quality, and (of course) personal preference to genre, etc. A zero represents that the game is too non-functional to really get a feel for it. It is essentially a non-rating.

No. 1

  1. Bits & Bops (4)
  2. Click to Escape (2)
  3. Crime O’Clock (2)
  4. Crafty Survivors (4)
  5. SUPER 56 (3)
  6. Super Adventure Hand (3)
  7. Soulitaire (4)

No. 2

  1. Prescience (3)
  2. DESTRUCTURE: Among Debris (3)
  3. Antipaint (3)
  4. Humanity (4)
  5. I Am Future: Cozy Apocalypse Survival (3)
  6. Saga of Sins (3)
  7. Gods Of Defense (3)

No. 3

  1. TinyAttack (1)
  2. After Gym: Gym Simulator Game (1)
  3. Orrstead (2)
  4. Aloft (3)
  5. Recollection (2)
  6. 衔尾:龙之铃 DragonBell: XI (3)
  7. Flowstone Saga (5)