Hashtag Survival

Next Fest Recap: June

Survival Games

Game: Skye: The Misty Isle
Pre-Demo: I’m pretty stoked to finally lay hands on this title. I’ve been watching the game via their Discord since…2021. I thought about backing it via their PayPal “back for alpha access” pitch, but frankly, the visuals were beautiful, but the gameplay footage they released was rough AF. Beyond (near constant) showcasing of graphics and, lately, lore – there’s not been much more footage or progress released until two weeks ago when they dropped a bunch of these Early Access teaser videos. It’ll be nice to get in there and touch stuff. 🤔

Post-Demo: What in the flying fucks was that?? I had a terrible experience when this demo: FPS that floundered at ten and lower despite heroic efforts to lift it (and I don’t have a shitty system!), NPCs that bugged and ran off from me -minus the ones that remained to talk with soulless eyes and rubbery faces- and more. A month or two ago, in the Hashtag Discord, I said (roughly) the following: I hope they aren’t so busy circle-jerking to beautiful visuals and harmonious soundtracks and lore that they forget to make the actual gameplay good. I understand that it’s a demo, yadda yadda. You’re launching Early Access in June. June is past the halfway point. Is this an extremely old build? Or is this all some weird, easy fix, and will it be flawless by the end of the month?

Maybe it’s just me, and I’m being a mean jackass.
Or maybe not.


Game: ASKA

Pre AND post Demo: I’ve danced with this game multiple times – under NDA and not – and I’d encourage folks to check it out. It’s shaping into a very interesting mashup of Valheim and Tribes of Midgard. It’s got a dedicated team and has undergone tons of testing; I don’t think you’ll regret it.


Game: EndZone 2

Pre-Demo: I enjoyed EndZone a lot more than I thought I would – honestly, Frostpunk turned me onto these “society survival” styled city builder games. I mean, I fucking suck at them, and my math is always wrong, and people die because I forget things like heat when it’s cold or to put aside wood for houses versus building something else. But the point is that I am trying. And you should probably try this, too.

Post-Demo: I couldn’t get very complex while checking out the game because I was on a livestream in Discord. Something about having to run my mouth and talk to folks or answer questions makes me even worse at MATH and the attention to detail necessary in society survival titles. Performance: I thought it was great -really smooth, no bugs or issues; I love manipulating the camera to focus or examine things- like an area for a settlement- or zoom in to watch my little ants work. People. I mean people. Hands down, my favorite part was when the little narrator/tutorial-style talking head lady was like, “..and don’t run out of water! It’s bad, and if you run out of water, EVERYONE IN THE CAR WILL DIE!”

Okay, Debbie Downer, jeez.


Game: Once Human

Pre-Demo: I think the survival label is a crock, and this is just another run-and-gun builder fest with a half-assed nod to meaningful mechanics like 7 Days to Die. Or, like a typical MMO, inhaled the looks and monsters from Remants plus some extra crafting and building quirks. That being said. Let it not be said that I snark without putting my snark where my keyboard is (or is it my keyboard where my snark is?), so I will try this and report back.

Post-Demo: I didn’t end up trying it at all. I don’t know why. I got a bad vibe as I looked into the site and setup. I can’t explain it, haha. Also, it seems like a free game with a pay-to-win component that people will feel egged into to protect themselves and their stuff from raids or recover from the mandatory server wipes.


Game: City20

Pre-Demo: I’ve wanted to try this out since I first saw it on one of the key campaign sites, so it’ll be nice to check it out when the demo is freely available, and Becca can also check it out. (And do better than me, naturally.)

Post-Demo: I didn’t get to play this! Somehow I missed that the developer strongly encouraged a controller, so Steam informed me. Given that I had a cruddy experience in another game with a controller emphasis, I figured I’d wait until they either add KB+M or until I get a controller.


Game: Project Castaway

Pre-Demo: I was super duper briefly helping out with their Discord before I purposefully cast away myself from the project. (Okay, the joke almost worked.) I’m wary of their track record with other games. How things were handled in their Discord in the early days- the desperate and constant foisting of the playtest onto everyone that entered the room, the dizzying array of bugs, and other quirks- made me want to stick clear. I may try and jump into the demo and see what’s changed- last I remember, it was very much Stranded Deep with a dash of Green Hell mechanics and straight-up UI variations.

Post-Demo: Frankly, I didn’t bother to install it and try. I was time-strapped and haven’t seen anything yet from their footage that makes me feel like I’m missing out.


Game: Under Canopies

Pre-Demo: Still mad at the way Among Trees handled that entire clusterfuck? You may want to check out this title—similar naming style and similar visuals, but hopefully a giant difference in development and community engagement.

Post-Demo: I mean. I stand by everything I said above. At some point, maybe next year, it’ll be interesting to check out and compare to titles like Among Trees or the shuttered (ish) Far North. The demo was very early, and I was plagued by many graphical quirks- including boulders that moved or disappeared, hiccups, etc. I haven’t checked deeply into this title yet, but I don’t get why the developer didn’t chuck it into a later Next Fest- both for a more polished experience and to align the “reveal” closer to the release. Maybe there’s a funding campaign in the works, and this was a way to highlight the game and draw attention. I’ll have to investigate. If you’re an Among Trees player, check Under Canopies and let me know your thoughts.



Other Games

Game: REKA

Pre-Demo: My wife and I have been waiting to try this game out for a hundred years. Pretty stoked to finally try it out this week.

Post-Demo: I was most disappointed by my time spent in the REKA demo. This sucks even more because it was the one game that my wife was SUPER EXCITED to try out. I will cut to the chase, though, and say that driving around your giant chicken house is fucking amazing. It was the best part of the demo by far.

The demo was very…demo. Touch this read that stand here – pretty boilerplate “learn 2 game” stuff, which is understandable both as a demo and for this type of game. The story and lore are supposed to be king, which is fine, but I know there’s a large emphasis on the building and COZY-ING of your chicken house. I found the building clunky and not fun to navigate, minus the actual snapping down floor tiles and picking them up. Overall I kinda felt like the game needed more time to cook. 🍗


Game: Tiny Glades

Pre-Demo: Okay, once again, I probably will never crack this game open, but holy fuck, I kinda bet that Becca will love it. Check out the fantastic building in the trailer! (Shit, actually, Anne, our main mod, would probably build crazy stuff too.)

Post-Demo: I loved this. Haha. The demo was incredibly basic- you were restricted to a small circle of available land for builds- but it was so much fun. In terms of building, I have negative creativity – but this made me feel like I could kick back and mess around making pretty things while watching a show.


I’m curious. Are developers reading the Steamworks documentation regarding Next Fest events?

Wouldn’t you want to choreograph your appearance for maximum impact- balancing Next Fest, your page/site/Discord rollout, etc?
Kinda like a debutante being introduced to society?

Some of these games participate in a Next Fest and then go back underground for YEARS. Their forums drown in endless WHAR GAME posts – or gamers cull their wishlist, and you’re dead to them.

The game that cried release date.

I dunno. I can’t say that I enjoyed this Next Fest. Maybe I’ve been lucky in getting my hands on awesome demos at other events, or maybe this was just a crappy time all around. Did you play anything good?

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