Five Steam Demos to Check out During LudoNarraCon 2024

Games Lists LudoNarraCon
Five Steam Demos to Check out During LudoNarraCon 2024

Today is the first day of LudoNarraCon 2024, an online convention running on Steam from May 9 to May 13 focused on a slate of narrative-focused games. In addition to panels and fireside chats from developers, the event features a crush of Steam demos that offer a sampling of some exciting story-oriented titles on the horizon. We sampled a collection of these and have come up with a list of five demos that, through strong writing, fun gameplay, or sheer strangeness, are very much worth checking out.


1000xresist ludonarracon 2024

Release Date: 5/9/2024

Beginning with an unrelenting assault of proper nouns and sci-fi mumbo jumbo, 1000xRESIST immediately throws us into the deep end of an intriguing and stylishly presented dystopia. While I won’t deny that my hour with this narrative-based thriller began with confusion, it relatively quickly divulges what you need to know about this maximalist setting that includes extraterrestrials, global pandemics, and clones, as it sets up interesting stakes. We play as Watcher, a member of a dogmatic organization that battles alien invaders called the Occupants. But of course, things aren’t what they initially seem, and as events flash between the future and the past, we watch as Watcher’s ironclad faith in this institution is tested.

One of the main aspects of its storytelling that stood out to me so far is how it balances larger-than-life events with more grounded concerns. Even as the apocalypse swirls in the background, it takes the time to dig into specific moments from before the disaster, like a brutal portrayal of suburban discrimination and tensions between first and later generation immigrants. At another point, Watcher butts heads with their long-time friend Fixer over differences in ideology, resulting in a messy breakup. Although the gameplay is fairly light, as this one is mostly based around traversal and chatting with other characters, its strong visual language and evocative backdrops, such as a school visited by a headless god, ensure that making your way through this space feels eventful. While 1000xRESIST’s success will largely hinge on whether its complicated sci-fi story sticks the landing, what I’ve seen has me optimistic.




Release Date: 5/23/2024

In Hauntii, you play as a cute little ghost who finds themself trapped in a monochromatic limbo as they’re forced to gather memories that will allow them to break free from this purgatory. To do so, you’ll have to use their poltergeist powers to haunt objects, taking control of these items’ unique functions to solve puzzles and gather resources. So far, none of these abilities are revelatory, but they act as a fun little diversion from the main event: exploring this beautifully rendered spirit world. While one would expect this nether realm to be dreary, in reality, it’s a place made up of distinct biomes, from an ethereal city to an adorable forest, each bolstered by the aesthetic contrast between light and dark that’s delivered through a striking ball-point pen illustrated look.

Early on, the camera pans out as you cross a bridge, the music swelling while impossible architecture stretches into the distance. Later, as you attempt to break free of this place, you’re subject to an awe-inspiring collection of celestial sights that brim with creativity. And even though the experience is most effective when it’s wordlessly relying on its eye-catching art style to do the heavy lifting, I also had some fun conversations with the other ghosts that are trapped here. My biggest question is if its puzzles and action elements will hold up, as they felt a little uninvolved in this opening stretch, but hopefully these will come together. Regardless, Hauntii’s memorable visuals make it one to look out for.




Release Date: 5/15/2024

Tabletop RPGs have blown up in recent years, leaving no shortage of places where you can bash monsters and roll a D20. But despite this abundance of options, Baladins seems like it may find its own niche in this space as an adorable alternative to many of the more in-depth, hours-consuming takes on the form. In this pen-and-paper-inspired RPG, you roll (digital) dice to perform ability checks, traversing the board to investigate a mystery involving a time-looping dragon. As alluded to, play sessions are relatively fast, and I was able to clear the first in a brisk 25 minutes, making it easy to squeeze in some more of this tale with friends who are strapped for time.

If there’s a standout element that made me eager to track down some buddies and share this experience, it was the playful atmosphere and breezy tone. Likable characters, such as the corkmaker Bungo, who is the best boy, fill this adventure with charming conversations. And it’s all further elevated by the paper-crafted look of the cast and diorama backdrops, which grant this world the tactile feel of a boardgame. Although this experience is much less mechanically intensive than something like Baldur’s Gate III, for instance, the demo had just enough complexity from managing Action Points and movements to make things interesting. Considering that I’ve only played the first run, I’m not sure how the game’s structure will feel long-term and how information carries over between time loops, but Baladins’ buoyant energy has me eager to grab a few friends and find out.


The Drifter

the drifter

Release Date: TBA

The Drifter is a pulpy dime novel in point-and-click adventure game form, and I mean that as a complement. Thanks to a synth-wave title drop and grimy vibe, this one feels very much inspired by ‘70s genre-faire like the work of John Carpenter, except with a heavy dosage of hard-boiled narration to boot. We follow Mick Carter, a man who’s been running from his past but finally returns to his hometown following the death of a family member. Unfortunately for him, things quickly go off the rails when he stumbles on a conspiracy that puts him in the crosshairs of a dangerous organization. Over the course of this 30-minute demo, I could already feel myself getting sucked into what could turn into a page-turner.

As for its problem-solving, at least based on the puzzles I’ve seen so far, it seems to be following in the steps of more modern point-and-click adventure games that utilize relatively intuitive solutions to problems, with scenarios that don’t require painful pixel-hunting. And again, did I mention it nails the grungy details? Pixel art underpasses and imposing rail lines combine nicely with the score to drive home this homage to a particular era of flicks. The Drifter wasn’t previously on my radar, but its demo has certainly caught my attention.


Great God Grove

great gods grove

Release Date: TBA

This year’s LudoNarraCon features plenty of oddballs, but Great God Grove was the most unapologetically wacky I encountered, thanks to its surrealist imagery, bizarre speech patterns, and live-action scenes involving hand puppets. In short, it seems pretty good. From LimboLane, the developers behind the similarly strange Smile For Me, this is an adventure game where you use a megaphone that also doubles as a vacuum cleaner to suck up items (and sometimes even words) all so that you can repair the relationships between a pantheon of gods and avert the end of the world.

It took me a few minutes to fully align with the idiosyncratic presentation here, but once I did, I was delighted by its hilarious dialogue and colorful character designs as I took the first steps in fixing this place hurtling towards destruction. There are so many bizarre, specific touches here, like the goofy way the God of Leadership’s Bizzyboys talk or the Looney Tunes-esque animation the protagonist does when they run around. The icing on the cake was the previously mentioned puppet scene, which turned what could have been dry exposition into an amusing and slightly unnerving sequence that entirely sold me on what they’re going for here. Great God Grove’s over-the-top tenor makes me hope it finds a deserved audience of kindred weirdos.


Elijah Gonzalez is an assistant Games and TV Editor for Paste Magazine. In addition to playing and watching the latest on the small screen, he also loves film, creating large lists of media he’ll probably never actually get to, and dreaming of the day he finally gets through all the Like a Dragon games. You can follow him on Twitter @eli_gonzalez11.

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