Our favorite demos from PAX Online 2020

Gare – Thursday, September 17, 2020 6:34 PM
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PAX Online has unleashed a host of exclusive demos on Steam, and – being the indie enthusiasts that we are – we felt the need to once again try a whole bunch of games… and then write about them. That’s kind of what we do around here, after all.

So, without further ado, let’s take a quick look at some of our favorite demos from PAX Online 2020:

Gestalt: Steam & Cinder

Sporting tight controls and some of the most eye-poppingly detailed pixel art to have ever graced your monitor, Gestalt: Steam & Cinder is certainly a project to keep an eye on. The demo immediately puts you in the shoes of protagonist Aletheia, an experienced bounty hunter wielding both a gun and a sword, and for good reason. The game’s fast-paced battle system is built around enemies having two bars – a red HP bar (this one is self-explanatory) and a green break bar that, once depleted, causes said enemy to be temporarily stunned. Shooting at enemies from a distance in order to deplete their break bars, then rushing in for the kill once they’re stunned is a solid strategy, but ammo is not infinite and your gun does need to be reloaded very often, so caution and precision is very much recommended. While I do hope the full game will expand on its mechanics and introduce a wide variety of enemies requiring different strategies, what I’ve seen of Gestalt: Steam & Cinder so far shows an immense amount of promise.



Rosewater

Point & click adventure games are like comfort food to me. I’m always ready to try more, and they usually fill me with all sorts of warm, nostalgic feelings. I doubt this will come as a surprise, but I found the demo of Rosewater, from developer Grundislav Games, to be an overall pleasant experience – it’s got chatty characters, a main heroine with an attitude, and an unmistakably homey feel. Despite the somewhat mundane start concerning a writing assignment for the local newspaper, the stakes are soon raised and a fresh, exciting adventure appears on the horizon… and that’s sadly where the demo ends. Nonetheless, I’m left intrigued by Rosewater’s apparent quest for untold riches, and can’t wait to find out more.



Unpacking

Okay, so this is less like a game, and more like a relaxation tool. I mean that as a compliment, of course. Staying true to its name, Unpacking has you unpack your stuff in your new house, so be prepared to dig into those cardboard boxes and find the appropriate shelf for every book, stuffed toy and writing utensil. And while the game is mostly just a whole bunch of clicking while soothing music plays in the background, there’s an almost therapeutic quality to it all.



Raji: An Ancient Epic

The demo of Raji: An Ancient Epic turned out to be quite a pleasant surprise for me. I expected a fun, competently made action game with exotic, supernatural elements, and Raji is certainly that – but what I didn’t expect was that this game would essentially feel like a very blatant love letter to Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, one of the finest games of the early 2000s. From fluidly animated, acrobatic combat to daring platforming and wall-running, the demo featured all the key PoP-esque elements to make my eyes light up with excitement.



The Life and Suffering of Sir Brante

A text-based storybook RPG with a heavy emphasis on choices and consequences, The Life and Suffering of Sir Brante has you become the young scion of House Brante, and allows you to shape your destiny any way you see fit. Set in a world where people must accept the Lot they’re born with (commoners are destined to suffer and serve, while nobles are encouraged to aspire for greatness), the game recounts the life of its titular hero from the moment of his birth right until his death. Every chapter of your life is replete with decisions both small and big that affect your character’s mentality and world view (represented by various stats like Determination, Willpower and so on) and can lead to severe, life-altering consequences – including your death. Anyone intrigued by the concept of a game chronicling a character’s entire life path while letting the player make all the important choices should consider giving this one a shot.

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