Steam NextFest June 2021’s Best VR Demos: ‘Sentenced VR’, ‘AGAINST’, ‘Retropolis’

For the past year or so, Steam has been running these huge demo festivals where they’ll get an awe inspiring number of indie game developers to release short playable samples of their works in progress. I wrote here about how impressed I was with some of the VR games in the demo festival this past February. Another demo festival is here, and I’d like to point out some of the cooler VR games again.

Sentenced VR Steam Store

Sentenced is maybe one of my favorite games to tell people about to pitch the idea of VR as a whole –  Play as a medieval executioner, look your convicts in the eye, and maybe feel guilty when carry out their sentence. The players control an Executioner in 15th century Europe, probably wearing a big black hood and ready to chop things into the basket. But the game is more complicated than that – Our job is to follow orders from the town sheriff and listen to the cues of the prisoner for when to complete the execution.

There are a few things players can choose to do to change things up in the demo to change the ending. I won’t spoil them, but the demo’s ending statistic screen does reveal more when you finish the game. Sentenced VR’s developer, Samuel Gordon, has said there will be a good number of different scenes in the full game when it releases on June 25. I’m absolutely looking forward to seeing more people pick this one up.

Secret of RetropolisSteam Store

Secret of Retropolis is a cute point and click adventure game from a VR point of view. It has a great parodied film noir presentation, with really cartoony art that is recognizable right away. The demo was almost insultingly short, but hey, all the best adventure games insult their players a little bit, so I don’t mind wishlisting this one.

AGAINST Steam Store

AGAINST is a fairly typical VR rhythm game in the style of Beat Saber – which isn’t an insult, I can’t even imagine making a rhythm game outside the stereotypical style in VR for the next few years. What separates this one is that it has a really cool comic booky art style, and honestly the single level I’ve played was much better than anything I’ve done in Beat Saber. It feels more involved as the camera twists and your drumsticks (swords and guns and brass knuckles in this case) change themselves up every little bit. This diversity of movement added to the rapidly increasing tempo of the excellent soundtrack…AGAINST just felt good to play.

 I’d love to hear what anyone else has been playing on VR, or specifically in the latest Steam demo festival, VR or not. Reach me on Twitter!

The VR demos of Steam’s ‘Play What’s Next’ Festival 2021

I’ve been loving the Steam Demo festival, Play What’s Next! So far I have mostly checked out the upcoming VR games – here are my thoughts on some of them.

TossVR – we play as an acrobatic ape climbing through jungle gym playgrounds of increasing difficulties. I had a lot of fun trying to figure out the exact movements and speed and everything required to get through! Very satisfying when you get to punch the “I finished the level” button! It’s also super colorful and happy to look at, so the game really improved my spirits! Steam link

BoomBox – this is a rhythm game in the style of something like Beat Saber, but wow it’s so much nicer to look at! There were only two songs available in the demo, but the dev promises to have a LOT more with a bunch of environments to go through. In the level that was available, it’s like you’re jogging down a trail and the whole experience is just so dang smooth and chill. This might sound stubborn, but if the devs price this under Beat Saber’s $30, I’ll definitely be buying it for its full release this month! Hope others will too, because a lot of work clearly went into making this game so seamless and relaxing. Steam link.

Sword Reverie – A JRPG with anime style visuals and HUGE SWORDS? It was fun! I only did part of the demo, but it was mostly just following a path and talking to characters, then combat, and you rinse/repeat. I think the devs have bigger plans than this though, based on the magic resource management system that’s in the game? Basically you have spells you can cast depending on how you wave your HUGE SWORDS and which element they have equipped. It felt so dang good Fus-Roh-Dah’ing badguys across whole dang battlefields with an arm swing, since all the enemies have ragdoll physics. Steam link.

I’ll be playing more demos on Steam, until the Play What’s Next festival ends on February 9th. Be sure to follow along on this blog, Instagram, and Twitter for all the cool stuffs.