With my time enjoying the Xbox Summer Game Fest Demo Event drawing to a close I wanted to let readers get a glimpse at a couple of the lighter offerings the festival had brought out. While these demos might have been on the shorter side content-wise, they still showed a lot of promise. Let’s check them out.
Seasons of the Samurai
Developer: TopView Studios
Players are tasked with a seemingly simple task here. Get the samurai from one end of the path to another. But, of course, there’s a catch. The path is broken into tiles of varying height. With the push of a button, the player can manipulate the time of day or season to change the elevation or location of various tiles. By deducing the right sequence the player can get the samurai across the path to the goal. Where the samurai will often break out into an adorable victory dance.
The gameplay in Seasons of the Samurai is the pickup and play style that makes many puzzle games so accessible. And while the portion of the game that is playable in the demo kept it very straightforward, it is easy to see how developer TopView Studio could get really creative with their premise. And while the gameplay might have been simple, the lighting effects here were anything but.
As the player manipulates the time of day to aid the samurai’s journey the lighting dramatically changes along with the board’s tiles. This gorgeous effect is applied perfectly, enhancing the feeling that one is interacting with a genuine wooden board. Watching the shadows expand and contract with the light moment is a simple trick by today’s graphical standards. But, like many simple things, it can still be breathtaking with the right touch.
Next up on this Xbox Summer Game Fest Demo Event roundup is this charming pixel art game that has players trying to restore their town after an invasion by malevolent shadows has left the world bathed in eternal darkness. This task falls on the shoulders of our young protagonist. A woman named Yui.
As the demo opens we get the chance to explore Yui’s village as her before her town is destroyed. We chat with some other denizens and even get to pet a friendly dog. But in short order, shadows appear and Yui is sent by her father to find the grandmaster to save the town. However, Yui gets lost along the way and fails to find him. Fast forward to seven years later and everything that moments before was bright and warm is now in ruins. Yui’s family is barely surviving and no one has seen Yui’s dad since that day. When she is sent to get her food from a nearby Cave she stumbles upon and ancient ruin that houses a magical entity that sends her back in time. Yui must now try to prevent the downfall of her world.
The visual style, while charming, is the pixel art presentation we’ve all grown very accustomed to in the indie scene. The characters are designed well, and the few locales I got to visit during my demo were well designed. The gameplay was classic 2D platforming. Nothing was particularly challenging here as most jumps were either easy, or there was no penalty for missing and trying again.
I was surprised by the absence of combat in Yestermorrow. Enemies are all to be avoided only. Though many can be jumped on, though it does no damage. This is by no means a bad thing, just took me by surprise. My demo time with Yestermorrow left me with a sense of quaintness. It seems like a chill game with some charm, but I’m not sure if there is enough there to make it stand out from the pack.
More from Xbox Summer Game Fest Demo Event
Plus, in case you missed them, I’ve provided quick quotes and links below from the rest of my Xbox Summer Game Fest Demo Event Coverage.
Tesla Force: Nikola Tesla is working on his latest science experiment. But when Marie Curie shows up at his lab warning that his experiment could awaken the Great Old ones, he scoffs at her superstition. And yet, she’s right. Now, it’s up to Tesla and the company to drive back the chittering hordes of monstrosities before Arkham is overrun. Time to break out some science! Read my impressions here.
Haven: When I think about why I love the indie game scene, its always about two things: unique game design, and beautiful visuals that don’t lean on photorealism. These aspects of indie games always make finding something new in the space exciting. The promise of having a game experience like nothing you’ve had before is one of a kind. And, from my demo experience with Haven, that could be precisely what we are getting here. Read my impressions here.
Cris Tales: Meet Cris, a young girl living in an orphanage in the quiet town of Narim until one day she meets a talking frog who shows her she has magical powers. Now, as a time mage, Cris must embark on a fantastic journey to gain mastery of her powers and defeat the Empress of Time. Read my impressions here.
Lost Wing: Tasking players with maneuvering their starfighter down an obstruction filled and winding corridor, Lost Wing challenges their hand-eye coordination as the dodge and blast their way through space. Read my impressions here.