E3 2021Spotlight

Spotlight | A Look at 8 Summer Game Fest Demos

The iD@XBox Summer Game Fest Game Demo Event is live!

That’s a lot of words, and there a lot of demos! 40+ in fact, and here are 8 that we’ve checked out after they caught our eyes.

Echo Generation

Developer Cococucumber’s love letter to the ’80s, Echo Generation has been on our radar for a while now. Finally getting hands-on time with this meaty demo has us excited. A charming art style is mixed with a 3D pixel style to great effect, though the blurring of objects in the fore and background can be a bit much. Simplistic turn-based combat feels fine, emphasizing a timing-based button prompt that adds to your damage done or lowers your damage taken. There is no release date for the game outside of “2021” so keep an eye out for when it’s finally announced.

Paint the Town Red

You’re an angry man looking to punch people for kicks. This is a basic first-person brawler with an emphasis on lasting as long as you can so that you can unlock super moves, though in the demo it took me far too long to ever get to any of the interesting stuff before one of the dozens of people chasing me took me down. You’ll be picking up anything you can get your hands on to smash and throw at everyone, for fun! There is a 2nd mode outside of the “go punch everyone” scenario called “Beneath” that seemed to emphasize exploration but after half an hour of running around I couldn’t figure out what to do and performance was so bad on the Series X that I started to feel sick. Depending on the price this one could be a laugh, though I doubt it has much longevity.

The Riftbreaker: Prologue

A twin-stick RTS Tower Defense hybrid that is coming to Game Pass, this demo was great. Performance on Series X was atrocious at times, but the gameplay and setup are fantastic. The game focuses on building up bases using local resources that you need to mine. An easy-to-use power and structure system helps keep frustration down, and the twin-stick shooter part feels surprisingly good. Ammo is sparse though so you’ll find yourself using your far weaker but infinite ammo attacks quite often. This game looked good in previews, and finally getting our hands on it confirmed that this game has real surprise potential when it releases later this fall 2021.

Lake

With an art style reminiscent of Firewatch this game looks beautiful.  Set in a town situated by both a mountain and a picturesque lake, you take on the role of a woman taking time out from her stressful job in 1980’s I.T. to be a Mail Carrier.  Delivering letters and parcels from a van never looked so appealing before.  Meeting interesting people, having conversations, and doing off-the-books favors for them (while you should be working) will allow players to spend hours in a relaxing game that has literally been designed to prevent you from rushing through it. 

Catlateral Damage Remeowstered

In a bright colorful style, this game looks like everything that you could ever want from a Cat simulator.  After selecting a real-life Cat from a photo, you become its cartoon avatar and can live your best life in various locations until you run out of energy and crash out. Various tasks and challenges are available to you such as knocking down a certain number of books, finding a certain toy, or trashing everything in the room just like a real cat would.  Finding a stash of Catnip on a high shelf certainly affected my cat abilities and made jumping up and scratching the curtains much harder.  If you have children that love Cats, they will love playing this game. 

The Tale of Bistun 

This demo impressed me a lot.  Described as a Story-Driven/Isometric/Action-Adventure game based on a tragic story from Persian legends it is very striking visually.  Waking up on a mountain with no memory of who you are or how you got there, you set off to find out the answers to these questions and uncover your past.  In my playthrough, I encountered a different realm, rescued something that looked very much like a Tree Ent and followed a Phoenix in flight around the mountain.  Tunneling into cliffs to uncover portals and fighting monsters in a light RPG manner certainly whet my appetite to play more of this game when it is released.

Sable

Arguably the most visually striking of all the demos available, Sable is a beautifully animated open-world exploration game meets ‘Moebius” cartoon come to life. Every environment is hand crafted, you’ll be surprised at how swiftly this open-world draws you in. You play as a young girl named Sable, who is about to undertake some sort of rite of passage as a part of her nomadic clan. There’s no combat to speak off, but there is exploration, puzzles and did we mention hoverbikes? We cannot wait to dive into the full release later this year.

Tunic

Tunic is an upcoming action-adventure game developed for the most part by a single developer, which makes it all the more impressive. What initially might strike you as some sort of Zelda-like clone, but where you play as a rather adorable fox, is actually a little more interesting. While that description works, there’s a fair bit of challenge in this adorable-looking game, so don’t be lulled into a false sense of security. Played from an isometric viewpoint, areas are often blocked off until you obtain a needed item or weapon to progress. Interestingly, all in-game text is in some sort of made-up language, with pieces of the manual of the game being discovered along the way. You’ll want to give this one a go for sure.

Jesse 'Doncabesa' Norris

Proud father of two, lucky to have a wife far too good for me. I write a ton of reviews, am a host on the You Had Me At Halo podcast, and help fill out anywhere I can for our site.

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