Ahead of this week’s Xbox Games Showcase, ID@Xbox has launched a week-long Summer Game Fest demo event. From July 21-July 27, over 70 unreleased games will be given the spotlight treatment over on Xbox.
Just at a glance, it’s recognizable that ID@Xbox and its developing partners are offering a diverse lineup of games. With no shortage of free demos to download and try out, one may wonder where to even begin.
Sifting through the games, I began downloading title after title to compile this list of the five must-play ID@Xbox Summer Game Fest demos for your consideration.
The Vale: Shadow of the Crown
First up, we have Falling Squirrel’s The Vale: Shadow of the Crown. The Vale is a fantasy RPG with a twist: the game was developed with blind and visually impaired players in mind. Playing in the perspective of the second-born child of a king, you control a character who is blind from birth.
The game is intended to be played with headphones as it utilizes assistive technologies, including binaural audio to help the player navigate. Using audio and haptic feedback, you’ll be taken through the narrative, fight enemies, and embark on side quests.
It’s a truly unique experience that is largely accomplished by incredible audio design and voice acting. Falling Squirrel worked alongside the Canadian Institute for the Blind (CNIB) to ensure their game was inclusive and accessible. The Vale: Shadow of the Crown is expected to launch later this year.
It’s hard not to be drawn to the quirky concept of SkateBIRD. Glass Bottom Games takes the novelty of the Tony Hawk Pro Skater games and replaces the pro skaters with adorable birds.
SkateBIRD’s demo offers an open area for players to get a feel for the gameplay, controls, and aim to get a high combo. You can skate up ramps, grind on railings, and all the fun stuff you’d expect from a skateboarding game, except you’re a bird the whole time. Additionally, you are able to tackle the challenge of collecting the letters B-I-R-D-Y within a 1-minute time limit.
SkateBIRD has a lot of potential, and as Untitled Goose Game proved, birds are a real seller. Glass Bottom Games has slated its release for 2021.
Admittedly, I didn’t know of Cradle Game’s Hellpoint before the ID@Xbox demo event. Though, after playing through the rather lengthy offering, it’s one that will remain on my radar.
Hellpoint is a Soulslike with aesthetics bringing it closer to Dead Space. That alone drew me in right from the demo’s opening moments. Set on the Irid Novo space station, players will fight countless horrific creatures that have taken over after some giant cataclysm. There are some deep sci-fi inspirations in the environment, and plenty of brutal tools at your disposal. All of this is fused with Gothic touches that appear to be inspired by H.R. Giger.
As you’d expect from the genre, Hellpoint offers quite a challenge, so be prepared to try over and over. There’s a lot of compelling content within the game, and a few secrets I’ll withhold for you to discover during the demo.
Fortunately, Hellpoint’s release is just around the corner: July 30.
Knight Squad 2
Chainsawesome Games return will a follow up to their fast-paced party game. Knight Squad 2’s demo offers a local multiplayer experience with three game modes to try out.
The first mode is Battle Royale, which pits eight players against each other as they race around the arena, grabbing powerups and picking each other off. It’s fast, fluid, and is accessible enough to be enjoyed by any player. The remaining modes include Payload and Capture the Grail. Both are equally as fun. With how rapid the matches go, losing isn’t the end of the world, as you can quickly pop back in for another round.
The arenas included in the demo appear to be slightly smaller than those in the original. That said, the demo is just a small offering of what will likely be a robust party game. Knight Squad 2 is expected to launch later this year.
Raji: An Ancient Epic
Finally, we’ve reached Nodding Heads Games’ Raji: An Ancient Epic. This is another game I knew very little about going into it. Once I realized what the mechanics and setting are about, I grew to appreciate what the demo offered.
Raji is set in ancient India and centers around a girl named Raji. She is gifted power from the gods to defeat demonic beings who have invaded the land and kidnapped her brother.
Raji incorporates a great mixture of combat, puzzle-solving, and platforming to keep the gameplay from becoming stale. Overall, Raji was a surprise hit for me. However, it’s worth noting that during the game’s animated cutscenes, I did experience framerate drops. Though, I’m hopeful those will be addressed by its 2020 release date.
This is just a small taste of what is being offered during the ID@Xbox demo event. There are plenty of other demos to download and play through. However, the above topped my list of must-plays. A full list of available game demos can be found on Xbox Wire. ID@Xbox will be adding additional titles throughout the week,