Steam Game Festival (February ’21) – Part 1

I have been able to play through six of the 17 game demos that I’ve chosen and decided to share my thoughts about them with you. I will try to take a look at the remaining games, but maybe I need to cut down on my choices a bit. There just isn’t that much time in the festival to check out all of them properly. But the ones I have tried so far have been really good and entertaining!

Potion Craft

This seems to be what it… seems to be. You’re an alchemist crafting potions. But that’s not everything as you are also the new owner of the potion shop selling the potions you’re making! What’s nice for me is that if a customer wants to buy a potion that you don’t have in stock, they’re apparently just going to wait. That seems like a very relaxing game to play. I thought it may get repetitive fast and maybe it will be at some point. But for now, it’s fun trying to find the right herbs and mushrooms to “move” across the potions map in order to unlock more potions. The individual ingredients each have a different pattern of moving on the map, so you need specific combinations to reach your goal. This seems to be the main part of the game and it is actually quite fun, but can also be frustrating if you end up not having the ingredients needed and have to give up while being this close to researching a new potion!

Haggling is a fun mini game but I am not so good at clicking at exactly the right time, so I usually don’t bother with it for too long. It is important to satisfy your customers as your reputation will suffer otherwise. That is, I hadn’t been able to find and unlock a few potions on the map yet, but had customers that asked for these potions. So, I had to turn them away. I had also run out of ingredients for the healing potion – big mistake! My reputation dropped and as a result, I can’t haggle for better prices anymore which means I lose out on profit.

I spent more time playing this game than I had intended to. That’s always a good sign! However, I am not sure how repetitive it will get at some point. You’re trying to unlock all the potions, but once you have done so, maybe it will get too boring. However, I saw something about making a potion with two effects, so there’s probably a lot of possible potions and combinations to find. So, it’ll be a while to keep you occupied and exploring!

 

Alchemy Emporium

Another game about alchemy and potions. In the beginning, you’re shown a timetable for the whole week and you get to schedule what to do when (for example, purchasing ingredients, mixing potions and so on). What made me a bit nervous was that I could put a few points into the skill that lets me determine whether a potion was toxic while tasting it… oookay? It seems to be more detailed compared to Potion Craft with more stages to the potion-making and also to the selling as you can place potions in your shelves to sell. Also, after mixing a potion, you don’t immediately know what it does, you need to taste it. Tasting once, I was told it’s a potion to reveal lies, but the label was still yellow. I would have to repeat the tasting process later (only one tasting at the given time) to make sure that’s really what it does! What I don’t like is not getting any information at all what the customer wants to buy. Out of your stock, you get a selection of potions that fit or may fit to their request. Or you’re told that you have nothing they need. But there is no text or indication other than that.

This game took me longer to understand what I’m supposed to do than Potion Craft, but it may be more intriguing to play, because you’re not moving on a map to discover potions but get to mix different ingredients and taste them. Or maybe it just takes longer to be certain what a potion does which could be more annoying in the long run if you’re impatient. Either way, both games are similar but different enough from each other!

 

Festival Tycoon

Something we can only dream of at the moment: Organizing (or attending) big festivals! What I dislike is when a game starts with giving me windows of text one after another without letting me start in between. It’s boring and I probably forget about half of what I read before I can even get my hands on anything. This game tells me what I need to build for regular guests and for VIP guests, it tells me about the quality value of buildings and how to build and rotate buildings. I’d much prefer if a game did that step by step while also letting me build the first parts.

One annoying part is that I sometimes went ahead and did something before the quest chain asked me to do that. It didn’t fulfill the quest in retrospect. So, I had to hire two more bands because it said I had hired 0 when I had previously hired 3 already. Also, it seems to be an early demo because the visitors got stuck in various places and didn’t move anymore. It’s too bad because this meant that all the bands performed without a single fan listening to them!

Despite this criticism, I actually liked the game! It felt a bit like a puzzle when I tried to find a fitting sponsor, fitting bands and fulfilling all of their requirements (a band didn’t want a specific genre, a sponsor that I added brought a band with exactly that genre which I hadn’t seen until it was too late, …), but I liked placing the buildings and seeing it all come to live slowly. I also lost money with my first festival because I hadn’t paid attention to the finances and had counted on selling more tickets. This was in the first map of the campaign mode. There is also a sandbox mode if you want to just build around.

 

Dorfromantik

The demo I last played on itch.io really was a slightly different version. Or I have simply forgotten about some of the quests. Either way, since the prototype, they have certainly refined the game. I already liked the “original version”, but in my opinion, the game has gotten so much better now with bringing everything that requires your attention to the board. It took me a bit to understand “add 3 fields”. I counted all field parts including the original piece. Don’t ask me why, I was tired… I guess. At the moment, you’re only going to a highscore, but a developer said that they are also working on a progress system. But even with “only” a highscore, it’s a fun little game that can be played when you don’t have that much time.

What I can say is that I will be buying this game! It is fun, it is casual and my only complaint at the moment is that the demo is too short.

 

The Invisible Hand

I went into this Festival and chose games simply because of genre and liking the screenshots that I saw. How “The Invisible Hand” could end up in my list… I have no idea, actually. I don’t like anything with stock markets. But here I am, playing a simulation game where I’m asked to buy and sell stocks. Also, the tutorial just told me that it’s time I’d learn about short-selling – thank you, real life just did that! It is first-person view, but as a lot of what you’re doing happens on PC screens, it’s not bad, actually. The tags on Steam have “satire” on them and it doesn’t take long for you realize this when playing the game. I am not sure I want to continue playing the game simply because I’m not a fan of that whole stock market topic. It’s so much about speculation and even in the game, everything is changing very fast and that just all goes right over my head. No, thank you. However, from what I’ve seen about the game so far, it’s a good one! So if this topic interests you, then go take a look at the demo!

 

Distant Kingdoms

I’ve seen Kalypso advertise for this game a few days ago, so I was quite happy to see they offer a demo. Unfortunately, it can’t be saved, so it is still running in the background (no windowed mode either at the moment) while I’m writing this. The game starts as your regular medieval city-builder. Until you reach the point where you build a mana well and add a totem to increase productivity of a nearby producing building. And once you can build a tavern, you can also recruit an adventuring party. I chose a good mix of human, orc and dwarf, ignoring the elves that offered their services. Each hero has a few perks which can help when adventuring. I could have needed one with a good perception, but of course, this was a trait nobody had. The party can explore new hex fields for you to then expand your city to. They can also encounter enemies. I don’t know if you get to fight against them. I had two or three windows with story text and could then choose between two options, but my party failed against the last choice I had because they fell into the trap and now they’re miserable. I haven’t found out yet if and how you can improve their mood again. But I also figured that this is a good time (close to being finished with the demo) to write this text and share my impressions.

As I said, it starts as your regular city-builder and if I hadn’t seen the description text and the advertisement first, I may have just tossed it aside. I do like city-builders, but after having seen so many already, they need something special to keep my interested. This may just very well have this something extra. I like the mix of adventuring and building! I also like the graphics, although I would have preferred being able to zoom in further. Also, you can click on your inhabitants, but they don’t have a name. That’s too bad. I like it when games offer this extra bit of individuality.

Still, it’s definitely interesting! I am not sure I want to buy it immediately when it becomes available, but I’ll keep it on my wishlist.

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