“I’ll try anything once, twice if I like it, three times to make sure.” – Mae West
LudoNarraCon 2022 (LNC) is a FREE digital convention hosted on Steam, with a focus on celebrating narrative and storytelling in video games and the talented and dedicated people that make such titles. You can read an in-depth overview of the event here!
Part of LudoNarraCon event sees developers exhibiting their games and making playable demos available for the duration of the event. This year there are over 30 demos and the following is a list of them all with mini-reviews!
Top Picks from the LudoNarraCon 2022 Demos
My top picks from LudoNarraCon’s 30+ demos are Strange Horticulture, Coffee Talk 2: Butterfly and Hibiscus, The Vale, How to Say Goodbye, A Space for the Unbound, Behind the Frame, A Year of Springs, The Wreck, MINDHACK and Wytchwood.
More information about these games, plus mini-reviews can be found here.
The Rest of the LudoNarraCon 2022 Demos
High Elo Girls
High Elo Girls is a coming-of-age Visual Novel set in the esports scene. Players take on the role of the latest recruit for a new all-girls team and must help the squad achieve their true potential, or risk squandering their own?
The Fermi Paradox
The Fermi Paradox is a choice-driven sci-fi narrative strategy game in which the player’s decisions in one corner of the galaxy can upend entire civilizations in another. The aim is to guide species through millennia and help them explore the vastness of space, make contact and, perhaps, create harmony.
The Fabulous Fear Machine
The Fabulous Fear Machine is a narrative-driven strategy game with a pulp horror style. Players can become a Master of the Machine, spreading the darkest Legends of urban myth, and letting fear rule the world.
Witchy Life Story
Witchy Life Story is a visual novel and crafting game in which players take on the role of the village witch. The harvest festival needs saving and is only two weeks away. Players must tend to their garden and pick plants for spells and rituals that will help the locals.
The Invisible Hand
The Invisible Hand puts players in the first-person world of a mid-level stockbroker, beginning their first day working at the trading firm FERIOS. Despite yearning for the job since childhood, the competition is stiff and there will be a fight to prove their worthiness! The mindset of FERIOS staff should match the ethos of their employer: profit is all that matters, the rules don’t apply if you’re a winner, and only losers feel guilty for the pain, loss and poverty that are the unfortunate but unavoidable by-product of the critical and important work they do.
Card Shark is an adventure game full of cunning, intrigue, and delectable deceit. Players must enter a world where the need to play their opponents outweighs the need to play their cards.
Developer: Seed by Seed
Available on: Steam
Baladins is an online multiplayer choose-your-own-adventure game inspired by RPGs, players can embark on entire campaigns with friends, packed into one-hour sessions!
Mask of the Rose
Mask of the Rose is a visual novel and dating sim with a side of murder. Set in a fallen Victorian London, players can seek love for themselves or a friend whilst helping a murdered man find justice.
Genesis Noir is a poetic adventure game about stopping the big bang to save your love. A cosmic gunshot expands towards the heart of a god and the player must explore the universe, seeking clues on how creation might be undone. With an emphasis on exploration, simple interactions, and generative art, the game seeks to create memorable moments and tactile gameplay
A full review of this demo is available here.
Arctic Awakening is a first-person narrative adventure set in the unforgiving Arctic. After surviving a plane crash due to a storm, the player is left with only an AI drone for company and must journey to find their co-pilot whilst uncovering the dark mysteries buried beneath the ice.
In MORSE, the aim is to break the bitter attrition of the Great War using timing, tactics and telecommunications. Having previously relayed messages, the protagonist finds themselves in charge. Players can send coordinates for artillery strikes to disrupt supply chains, batter trenches and shred reconnaissance planes. And in between missions, they can wander the grounds of the manor and get to know the other staff!
Monster Roadtrip allows players to embark on a journey like no other in this co-op narrative survival adventure. Players can visit fun locations and meet wacky characters but must manage their resources wisely. Just like in other Monster Prom games, there are still plenty of hot monsters to date!
In the third instalment of the acclaimed horror series, SIMULACRA, the town of Stonecreek is haunted and people keep disappearing without a trace, leaving nothing behind but a strange symbol With the townsfolk gripped with fear, players must use a missing victim’s phone to unlock the truth.
As the player steps into their first day at Kraken Academy, they soon find themselves responsible for saving the world from impending doom! This is no ordinary high school, there are ghosts, cultists, crocodiles that eat children and a Kraken with whom to join forces. By using a magical time-travel amulet, the unlikely team may eventually reveal the identity of the traitor.
A full review of this game is available here.
KeyLocker: Turn-Based Cyber-Punk Action
Keylocker is set in a silent world where music has been prohibited! The player takes on the role of B0B0 who will serenade a rebellion against the vicious authorities along with jukebot drummer, Rocket in this punishing rhythm game and turn-based JRPG.
Queer Man Peering into a Rock Pool.jpg
Queer Man Peering into a Rock Pool.jpg is a surreal walking simulator in which a queer man wanders around an island attempting to refurbish his empty beach house!
The Pale Beyond
The captain is missing, miles from civilization and everyone is looking for a leader! In this visual novel, players must manage limited resources, balance safety and morale, make hard calls and head in the only direction possible – into The Pale Beyond.
No Longer Home
Developer: Humble Grove
Releases: 30th July 2021
Platforms: Windows, Mac
Available on: Steam
No Longer Home lets players immerse themselves in the lives of Bo and Ao who must let go of the life they’ve built due to circumstances beyond their control. Players can learn about Bo and Aoi’s dreams, frustrations and fears in this relaxed and pensive demo by interacting with objects to trigger memories or thoughts.
ValiDate: Struggling Singles in your Area
ValiDate is a romantic visual novel about 13 adults in Jercy City and how they go about navigating new relationships and the harsh realities that come alongside them.
I Was a Teenage Exocolonist
I Was a Teenage Exocolonist is a narrative-focused life sim with a card battling component and a queer-friendly science fiction vibe. Players can explore, grow up, and fall in love and the choices made and skills mastered over a ten year period will determine their fate and the survival of the colony.
Solace State is a 3D cyberpunk visual novel with multiple endings. Players take on the role of a young hacker, Chloe, who comes to her political awakening as she empowers her friends in a militarized biotech society.
Beacon Pines is a cute and creepy adventure game within a magical storybook. Players take on the role of both the reader of the book and its main character, Luka. Exploring the town to find word charms and using them to change the course of fate! This choose-your-own-adventure mixes elements from a range of genres, from visual novel to RPG and adds a fun and original word-based mechanic in the form of charms.
Nine Noir Lives
Nine Noir Lives is a point-and-click detective noir puzzle game with a generous helping of silly humour and kooky characters! Players must ask questions, solve problems and lick a whole lot of items in order to solve a murder!
Magin: The Rat Project Stories
Magin is a combination of a narrative-driven adventure RPG and deck-building card game. The non-linear narrative, comic book visuals, voice acting and varied mechanics all come together to create a unique fantasy setting.
Overall, there is a fantastic selection of demos available this year. All demonstrate the value of narrative in games but with enough variety that there will be something for everyone. If you haven’t already started checking some of these titles out, what are you waiting for?
Want to see which demos were on offer last year? Take a look at:
LudoNarraCon 2021: Free Game Demos Available this Weekend!