Welcome to Demo-licious, a new video column where I dive into free demos of cool, unusual, and wacky games and see what kind of trouble I can cause. In this first installment, I make a huge mess in Viscera Cleanup Detail — a silly indie game currently in Alpha that tasks you with cleaning up all the gore left over on an abandoned space station after all hell breaks loose.
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“The latest entry in the now rapidly growing “it’s like Minecraft but with guns” genre owes as much to the iconic indie sandbox game it draws from as it does to games like Call of Duty and Team Fortress 2. Guncraft may wave its influences around to an eye-rolling extent at times, but it adds enough fresh elements to the pile to round out its punchy build-and-shoot gameplay and keep you tinkering away between rounds. While matches are intensely dynamic–thanks to a solid range of classes, a few clever gadgets, and some brilliant arenas to battle across–the extreme level of customization is where the crazy fun is really at in this multiplayer shooter. Building your own customized guns and character skins from scratch is awesome, but building a giant angry Chuck Norris head to plunk down on the battlefield and taunt opponents with? Simply sublime.”
“Like in any extreme survival situation, the early moments of Don’t Starve’s grueling-yet-fascinating struggle to stay alive are electric. Suddenly the clock is ticking. Confidence is high as you first explore a vast open-world wilderness teeming with danger. From trapping a rabbit for the first time to crafting an axe to chop precious firewood before nightfall, every minor accomplishment that keeps you ticking is immediately gratifying. But as the days draw on and dodging death’s icy grip gets harder, the rigors of this unflinchingly brutal roguelike adventure chip away at your patience.”
“It’s great to see Coffee Stain Studios is taking a much-needed baseball bat to the ol’ bees nest for Sanctum 2, the upcoming sequel to its cool first-person shooter/tower defense hybrid, upping the danger and the action in the process. For instance, unlike their more docile brethren from the original game, Sanctum 2’s swarms of alien bug creatures want to gnaw your face off and curb stomp you into nothingness. They don’t mind taking a quick detour for a little human snack as they malevolently march towards your power core.”
“When you’re in the remote wilderness of werewolf country, hunkering down and chopping up all manner of horrific beasts night after night doesn’t seem like the smartest alternative to simply running like hell, but Canadian lumberjack brothers Jacques and Joseph are made of tougher, more stubborn stock. Their quest to save their sister from the demonic fanged beings of the night in Sang-Froid: Tales of Werewolves requires careful planning during the daylight hours and precise execution when the sun goes down. All of the neat ideas at play in this distinct tower defense/third-person brawler hybrid ultimately keep the rough edges at bay long enough to let the cyclical blend of strategizing and action take hold.”
“Being an evil dungeon lord has its perks. Simpering minions eager to do your bidding are in abundant supply, piles of treasure make great home decor, and you never have to wait too long before a new gaggle of doe-eyed do-gooders come charging into your realm to be gutted and looted. Impire’s strategic dungeon-sim revival channels the spirit of the classic Dungeon Keeper series well enough to wrap you into its diabolical fold for a spell. Micromanaging the inner workings of your subterranean lair gets off to a promising start, but the honeymoon phase quickly fades away once you realize just how inflexible and shallow this haphazard homage really is.”
“Poor Oozi. The perpetually grinning yellow alien isn’t likely to join peers like Mario, Meat Boy, Rayman, and Sonic among the ranks of the platforming protagonist elite anytime soon. Awesome Games Studio has indeed erected a vibrant and deadly world for its fledgling hero to charge through, but for all its visual creativity, Oozi: Earth Adventure is missing a certain spark to elevate it beyond its by-the-numbers approach to the platforming genre.”
“When you’re plague-stricken, weak from dehydration, and lost at night amid a thick copse of trees on a deserted island mountaintop, the last thing you want to hear is the sound of a hungry creature stalking you from just beyond the reach of your torchlight. The way Miasmata pushes your survival instincts to the brink as you struggle to persevere against sickness, nature, and the elements evokes a certain primal energy. You’re frail, alone, and in constant danger of being overtaken by the treacherous beauty of your natural surroundings. Every little breakthrough feels like a major victory. Every stumble has the potential to set you back catastrophically. It’s the constant give and take that makes the struggle to stay alive in this intense first-person adventure so gratifying.”
“In The War Z’s alternate version of history, Colorado is a cold, lonely place where the dead rise from their graves and seek out the last remnants of survivors to snack on. The droves of zombies congregating in the towns and cities nestled in this bucolic patch of countryside are deadly indeed in large numbers, but they’re not what concerns me the most. It’s those that are still breathing you really have watch out for.”
“Being stuck on an airship with a skeleton crew of strangers tasked with keeping it from being blown out of the sky makes Guns of Icarus Online one of the most thrilling multiplayer co-op experiences and also the most aggravating. On deck, everyone has a role to fill: someone has to steer the hulking bird, man its guns, and make repairs when things catch fire and go to hell. If anyone slacks off or performs their duties haphazardly, everyone dies. But despite some glitches and the occasional frustrations of wrangling inconsistent crewmates, there’s a certain undeniable satisfaction that comes from surviving an intense battle with your ship held together by duct tape and chicken wire.”