If you’re like me and have a Nintendo Switch, looking for new games to explore and not wanting to spend money right now, I recommend looking at a few demos to try out. In the past, I’ve resorted to buying games on sale that unfortunately came out 10-15 years ago such as “Bioshock Infinite” or “Doom 3.” But hey, who doesn’t love looking at graphics from 2004 for only $3.59? In my defense, however, I have played “Bioshock” before on a gaming laptop, so it was more of my second time around and I still loved it. Here are three demos you can try out right now to pass some time.
“The Flower Collectors”
Created by Mi’pu’mi games, “The Flower Collectors” takes place in Barcelona in 1977, where the ongoing political aftermath of dictator Francisco Franco’s death remains. You play as a retired police officer named Jorge who lives out his days sitting in a wheelchair and looking out from his apartment balcony. Taking on a strong adventure narrative style inspired by crime noir films such as Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rear Window,” the game has a voyeuristic quality as you control Jorge from a first-person perspective and are tasked with using his binoculars to peer down at the plaza below.
This slice of life through his lens provides a calm, relaxing start to the game as you observe the area, where colorful anthropomorphic characters are going about their day among stone-colored architecture. After the initial observations, the game progresses to when Jorge wakes up in the middle of the night, where he hears a gunshot and witnesses a dead body in the street. Rain starts to come down and lighting flashes, giving an exciting feel to the atmosphere and creating suspense. In the aftermath, you unexpectedly meet an out-of-breath, shocked journalist named Melinda who works with Jorge to solve the case. She helps to interrogate characters such as priests, beggars and the old ladies next door, as well as drawing sketches alongside Jorge.
While there aren’t a ton of skill-based challenges and minimal gameplay location-wise, the game emphasizes crime chronology and narrative building skills to help mimic an investigation. Visually, it’s fairly minimal as well, but the Spanish architecture of the buildings and interior design of the apartment I grew to appreciate, as well as the nice use of lighting to transition from day to night and vice versa. So if you’re looking for a bit of a slow-paced, investigative game, then I highly recommend it. I liked that the objectives posted in the top left of the screen were easy to follow, but they were described vaguely enough so that there was a bit of a challenge in finding objects such as his binoculars or his sketchbook. I did find myself wishing that I could explore more of the apartment complex and meet other characters besides the ones you observe from the balcony. The voice acting was another aspect I enjoyed, because it helped to bring out Jorge’s cynical yet curious personality along with Melinda’s eclectic one. The game was released on Feb. 11, and if you thoroughly enjoy the short demo as I did, it can be purchased in full for $20. I also recommend looking into other games from this company such as “The Lion’s Song” if you enjoy narrative style playing that is set in a specific time period. It takes place in early 20th century Austria, where there are four stories that each character has and as you play, your choices throughout the game affect how each story unravels.
If you want to see the full release trailer, you can check it out here.
“Bravely Default II”
If you’re yearning for a role-playing experience that contains great plotlines and loveable characters that help give the game a sort of storybook/medieval feeling or just looking to get more into JRPGs, this demo of the game is a great way to start. I, who don’t play these much, am starting to enjoy this genre more, with its basic class system and the turn-based combat that are defining features of this game style.
Published originally by Square Enix but then taken over by Claytechworks, “Bravely Default II” is the third installment of the series, but you don’t need to have played these to understand this game because its story is completely new and only shares qualities of having quests and a turn-based battle system. The plot focuses on four heroes of light named Seth, Adele, Gloria and Elvis, all tasked with saving the world from evil. There are five different kingdoms and as you play, you encounter new locations that include towns littered with shops where you can take items such as healing potions and tents, along with important characters that support the main plotline and NPCs awaiting your arrival with side quests.
At the start of the demo, you are prompted with three difficulty options and begin as Seth, but the name can be changed to whatever you would like. The first chapter opens with twinkling, magical-sounding music and the backdrop is a textured piece of paper. After the chapter loads, you’re notified that the demo allocates five hours of gameplay for you. This is a helpful feature and makes the demo feel a bit longer than the others. You start out with the three other characters and a map is displayed in the top right where you can either enlarge or put it away. The first destination is a town called Savalon, set in the dry and desolate desert.
With its side quests and mindless battling between plot points, having a lot of patience is key. Especially when it comes to the narrative cut scenes, which there are a lot of. The combat in each battle is based on Brave and Default systems, where you have the option to do a basic attack, choose an ability to activate or use an item. Each turn you can earn one Brave Point (BP), or you can use the Default command to save the points for later. The next turn you have you can attack with two actions, or Default again. This then puts you at an advantage where you can put out several attacks with these points when you’re vulnerable and losing against your opponent. As you explore the world outside of combat, you come across items, treasure chests, and other enemies frolicking around.
As previously mentioned, the game includes a class system and within this system there are jobs. When not in battle, you can change your job and gain experience, learning new skills. The set job of your character can be subject to change after defeating villains called “Asterisk beaters”. Some of the jobs range from the Beastmaster, the Bard and the White Mage. As the Beastmaster, you learn skills from enemies and then you can deal out damage with these newly acquired skills. Bards provide support for any of the other jobs and are unlocked after you go through the first dungeon in Chapter one. As a White Mage, you serve as the healer on hand to cure and raise injured allies.
While the demo only introduces us to these components briefly, you’re constantly exposed to cute characters and watercolor-Esque towns that adhere to the aesthetic on the front of the game. The game boasts a storybook feel through the visuals and characters. The setting looks medieval and the names used such as kings and lords are relevant to that time period. Having inventory and objectives, displayed on a book are helpful and charming at the same time.
The full version of “Bravely Default II” was released on Feb. 26 and is available to purchase for $60. You can watch the trailer featured in the latest Nintendo Direct here.
“Project Triangle Strategy”
If you’re looking for another fun JRPG with nice visuals and a strategic battle system, the third demo that I recommend is “Project Triangle Strategy.” This is the only one in the list that just has the demo, so the game is still in the works and the title itself could be set to change. Unlike the chibi-resembling characters in “Bravely Default II,” the characters are set in 2D animal style, with varying model and texture quality that helps define the surrounding areas. The setting includes the kingdom of Glenbrook, which is one of three kingdoms set on the fictional continent of Norzelia. Much like the medieval qualities of the world in “Bravely Default II”, Glenbrook boasts small towns filled with knights and small shops where you visit to gain information about other characters.
When you first start the demo it does provide a disclaimer that you’re set in the middle of the game’s story, so the plotline is a bit confusing. There is also the point of how a lot of the side stories end up being cut scenes, with a heavy narrative that can be boring at times. But, you do have the option to choose conversation options so this helps make the inter-character dialogue more interesting. The first battle is set on a bridge, where you are tasked with either fighting for the prince or ostracizing him. Combat-wise, it’s based on turns, much like the combat in “Bravely Default II,” where each character determines their move before attacking and is encouraged to form chain attacks with others to tarnish the health of enemies. I have been playing it for some time now and can vouch for this, as well as in the system you are put at risk as you move up on the bridge. Another important part of the combat is how far the attack range of each weapon is. It ranges from 1 to 3 dots, and depending on your distance, it will either work or not. If you’re near another member, the combo can be set up to advance forward, which is where the combination attacks come into play. This intuitive gameplay makes “Project Triangle Strategy” stand out from the rest.
If you’re curious, you can check out the trailer here. Although this demo is the only available version, the actual game is set to release sometime in 2022.
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