The Steam Game Festival: Spring Edition is live today through March 23. The special Steam page features indie games that were going to be showcased at this week’s Game Developers Conference, which has been cancelled to help reduce the spread of covid-19. Some of the games have been available for a while, while other upcoming ones have free demos you can try.
A similar showcase occurred back in December and was tied to The Game Awards. For the Spring Edition, there are selections from the Indie Megabooth, Day of the Devs, and the Media Indie Exchange. Many, though not all, of the games have demos, while others have been released and are on sale or are in early access. It’s a lot to sort through, but there are over 40 cool-looking indie games to get a taste of.
Since I’m all about finding silver linings these days, I’ll say that although it’s unfortunate GDC was cancelled, Steam’s Game Festival means you don’t have to fly to San Francisco to play these demos, or wait for some busy journalist to tell you about them. If you’re jonesing for the GDC experience, though, here is me, a busy journalist, telling you about a couple demos I played this afternoon that I really enjoyed.
Spiritfarer is an upcoming 2D game where you play as Stella, a boat captain for the dead. You have a host of passengers whom you have to make happy by performing various tasks. So far I built a meditation room onto our boat for one character by purchasing and placing the structure on the multilevel barge that Stella steers. I caught some fish for another via a minigame, and I planted some corn in the boat’s garden for another. (You may know that I used to live on a boat, but we did not have a garden, unless things going moldy in the icebox count.) The game has bright colors and some lovely animations that give it a cheerful vibe. Plus there’s an interaction prompt for “hug,” which hit me a little harder in the feelings than I was ready for today.
Filament is a puzzle game coming out April 23. You’re trapped on a spaceship; to progress through various doors, you solve puzzles by guiding a robot with a tether around some columns. When the tether touches the columns, they light up and you open the door. It’s easy to understand the premise, but some of the puzzles in the demo delightfully tripped me up. The tether can’t overlap itself, the robot can’t cross over it, and some columns are obscured, making them hard to get the tether to touch. I regularly wove myself into a corner trying to sort some puzzles out. From what I played, it’s a lot of fun, and I’m really excited for the full release.
Heavenly Bodies is sort of like QWOP in space (I’ve got a thing for space today, I guess). You control an astronaut by moving their arms, legs, and hands with different buttons on your controller. I’m wretched at games like these, but there was something delightful in trying to shuffle my astronaut through doors by grabbing something and kicking my legs uselessly. I mostly flailed around or made minimal progress, but when I got too frustrated, I would stop and just watch my character drift in space, which was a peaceful counterpoint to the fun but difficult navigation.
There are a ton of other games that I haven’t tried but which look pretty cool. Futuristic cooking game Neon Noodles, vineyard simulator Hundred Days, and exploration game Curious Expedition 2 all look up my alley right now. If you’re looking for some new things to play and get excited about, check out the numerous games for yourself.