LudoNarraCon 2023: Top Picks From Over 40 Game Exhibitors!

LudoNarraCon 2023 - Exhibitor Top Picks

“We don’t need to have just one favourite. We keep adding favourites … But we never lose the old favourites. They’re always with us. We just sort of accumulate them.” – Lloyd Alexander

LudoNarracon 2023

LudoNarraCon 2023 (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 the LudoNarraCon event sees developers exhibiting their games and making playable demos available for the duration of the event. This year there are over 44 narrative-focused games being exhibited and the following is a list of my top picks, with mini-reviews!

Top Picks from LudoNarraCon 2023 Exhibitors

Underground Blossom

Underground Blossom - Key art

Developer: Rusty Lake
Release date: 2023
Platforms: Windows, Mac
Demo available on: Steam
Engine: Unity

Underground Blossom is an upcoming game from Rusty Lake. The demo will take around 15-30 minutes and begins with the player arriving at a tube station where they are greeted by a woman with her baby daughter named Laura. The player must perform various tasks and solve puzzles in order to board the next tube train and reach a new station where Laura will be present but at a different stage in her life.

Underground Blossom features the classic Rusty Lake aesthetic with bold linework and illustrative cartoon art style and muted colour palettes. The music is fairly minimal but what the player does here is melodic piano that is melancholy with a dramatic touch. The point-and-click style gameplay consists mostly of inventory-based puzzles that offer a nice light challenge and are both fun and satisfying to solve. Despite a few distinctly creepy moments the game has a casual pace and is quite relaxing overall. It has everything one might expect from a Rusty Lake game and I recommend it to existing fans and newcomers to the series alike.

You can watch a full playthrough of this demo here.

Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus and Butterfly

Coffee Talk Episode 2 Hibiscus and Butterfly - Key Art

Developer: Toge Productions
Released: 20th April 2023
Price: $14.99
Platforms: Windows, Mac, PS4/5, Switch, Xbox One/Series X|S
Available on: SteamGOGPlayStationeShopMicrosoft
Engine: Unity

Coffee Talk Episode 2: Hibiscus and Butterfly is a stand-alone sequel to 2020’s Coffee Talk, players can jump straight into this new game but those who have played the first instalment will recognise some familiar faces in the café!

It is a wonderful new addition to the series that boasts fantastic casual gameplay, and eclectic and interesting characters in a fantastical yet everyday setting. The retro-style pixel graphics are stunning and make good use of colour to add to the relaxing ambience along with the charming lo-fi soundtrack. Overall, this is a quality experience that I’d highly recommend to fans of the first game or anyone looking for a laid-back but engaging experience.

You can read a full review of this game here.

Fall of Porcupine: Last Days of Summer

Fall of Porcupine - Key Art

Release Date: 2023
Platforms: Windows, PS4/5, Xbox One/Series X|S, Switch
Demo available on: Steam
Engine: Unity

Fal of Porcupine: Last Days of Summer is a unique narrative-focused adventure game that explores the balance of work and daily life through a reflective look at an unhealthy healthcare system. It primarily involves exploring and talking to different characters but there are various types of puzzles and interactivity to keep things interesting. For example, when treating patients a kind of QTE occurs where players have to press different combinations of buttons within a certain time to succeed. There are also, inventory and logic-based puzzles as well as platforming elements that are really fun!

The game has a charming, slightly minimal art style that uses simple shapes and gentle painterly and crayon-like textures alongside autumnal and slightly muted colour palettes. The music is very relaxing for the most part with calming guitar playing, though things do get a touch more dramatic where appropriate with melancholy strings and heavier notes. The ambient sound effects such as birds tweeting are also a nice touch and help bring the environment to life. Overall this is a delightful game, it does touch on some mature themes and the demo gives the impression that the game is not as cosy as the cute aesthetic and animal characters would have players believe! This is definitely one to keep an eye on!

Citizen Sleeper

Citizen Sleeper - Key Art

Developer: Jump Over The Age
Released: 5th May 2022
Price: $19.99
Platforms: Windows, Mac OSX, Xbox, Nintendo Switch
Available On: SteamSwitch, Microsoft ,GOGEpic, Humble
Engine: Unity

In this sci-fi TTRPG / narrative adventure hybrid, the half-derelict space sprawl of Erlin’s Eye, battered by the aftermath of ‘The Collapse’ will become your home, ripe with opportunities, mysteries and dangers. Your choices and consequences will have tangible, often permanent effects. Citizen Sleeper is an adventure that captivates players with its lore and characters and keeps them engaged thanks to its experimental, well-designed gameplay system. Not perfect, but far above average. (Written by Tamaster)

You can read a full review of this game here.

Mythwrecked: Ambrosia Island

Mythwrecked - Key art

Developer: Polygon Treehouse
Release Date: 2023
Platforms: Windows, Xbox One/Series X|S, Switch
Demo available on: Steam
Engine: Unity

Mythwrecked: Ambrosia Island is an exciting upcoming adventure game in which players take on the role of Alex. Stranded on a mysterious island she must explore and befriend the forgotten Greek gods and help restore their memories. The demo sees her meet Hermes, the messenger, who she must help by completing various tasks such as feeding the birds and locating his lost possessions. An ambrosiadex helps keep tabs on things within information such as the player’s to-do list, a map, inventory, friendship status and more. There are also golden fruits to be collected, these can be swapped with island residents for various objects such as keys with which to unlock fast travel points.

The game has a slightly blocky art style that provides a nice amount of detail whilst featuring flat pastel colours and limited textures, appearing quite minimalist overall. The music consists mostly of gentle guitar accompanied by ethereal drones and mesmerising vocals. The minimal voice acting comes in the form of Sims-esque sighs, exclamations, yawns and similar. However, the dialogue is very well written with some interesting characters present within the demo. Delightful ambient sound effects such as seagulls squeaking and crabs skittering across the beach help immerse the player in the environment. This demo will take around an hour to complete and is a charming introduction to Mythwrecked: Ambrosia Island.

Dead Pets Unleashed

Dead Pets Unleashed - Key Art.jpeg

Developer: Triple Topping
Full Game Releases: June 2024
Price: TBA
Platforms: Windows, Mac
Demo available on:
Engine: Unity

The Dead Pets Unleashed demo will take around an hour or two to play and is an intriguing introduction to the game. The hand-drawn art has a vibrant, cartoon-like aesthetic that brilliantly matches the eclectic punk soundtrack and the various tasks and mini-games are sure to keep the player entertained. This is a fantastic example of a game demo and has lots to offer. Players can see various aspects of the gameplay and get a real feel for the tone and themes of the game. There are even some fun easter eggs to be found. Overall, I highly recommend checking it out and I’ll be eagerly awaiting the game’s full release in June 2024.

You can read a full review of this demo here.
A full playthrough is also available on the Indie Hive YouTube: Episode One, Episode Two.

The Star Named EOS

The STar Named Eos- Key art

Developer: Silver Lining Studio
Release Date: TBA
Platforms: Windows, Mac
Demo available on: Steam
Engine: Unity

A Star Named Eos is a delightful narrative-driven puzzle game in which players can help a young photographer uncover the truth about his mother’s disappearance. The demo will take around 20-30 minutes to complete and sees the protagonist recreate a photo taken by his mother on a train.

One of the most striking features of the demo is the immersive sound design with ambient sound effects such as the train travelling along the tracks or birds chirping outside a window and delicate and melodic guitar music playing throughout. This, teamed with the beautiful hand-drawn art with its painterly style gives the game a soft and casual aesthetic overall. Players can explore one room in the demo, with tidbits of information and memories coming to light when interacting with certain objects. The puzzles are both logic and inventory based and need to be solved in order to get the items required to recreate the photo. They offer a slight challenge but are not too difficult. Overall, the demo provides a satisfying and relaxing experience that indicates a very moving full game that I am now eagerly anticipating!

You can watch a full playthrough of this demo here.

Glitchhikers: The Spaces Between

Glitchhikers - Key Art

Developer: Silverstring Media Inc
Released: 31st March 2022
Price: £10.29 – £10.80
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Switch
Available on: SteamGOGitch.ioHumbleEpiceShop
Engine: Unity

Glitchhikers was originally released in 2014 as a short experimental game, this has now been redubbed Glitchhikers: The First journey with a new, reimagined version Glitchhikers: The Spaces Between arriving in 2022, expanding on the game and taking it to new horizons. This new game is an abstract journey through the spaces between places with plenty of interesting characters to meet along the way, all with curious conversations designed to encourage introspection and make the player think.

Glitchhikers is unique and relaxing. The subjects broached are thought-provoking and interesting and their heavier nature juxtaposes what is otherwise a very chilled-out game, giving it a sense of substance. There is a loose emphasis on mindfulness, being in the moment and simply appreciating the journey which encourages the player to focus on what is going on, however minimal. This low-stress title achieves its goals and is a fantastically original and pensive experience yet it will probably divide audiences. The slow pace, philosophical discussion and minimal interactivity that lots of people will love are the exact same reasons that it won’t be some people’s cup of tea, and that’s OK because we’re all on our own journeys!

You can read a full review of this game here.

If you’d like to see Indie Hive’s’ top picks from previous years, take a look at these articles:
LudoNarracon2021: Top 10 Picks from over 30 Free Game Demos!LudoNarraCon 2022: Top 10 Picks from over 30 Free Game Demos!

Did you like this article? Consider supporting Indie Hive through Patreon! Patrons receive an early access article on Sundays!
Become a patron at Patreon!

Leave a Reply