Surprisingly enough, 2021 marks the very first year I got into trying out game demos. And as such, I had a lot of catching up to do. So I thought it would be fun to rank all the demos I played this year, from my least favorite to the absolute best, split into three categories for easier reading. (Obviously, this is all based on my opinion, so some games will be ranked quite low because they’re not really my thing, not because they’re bad.) Keep in mind that the copious point-and-click puzzle games created by Artifex Mundi will be ranked in a separate post.
25: Pillar – This game is supposed to be a collection of “personality puzzles”. The demo includes Giving, Capable, and Distant. The puzzles ranged from rather boring to mind-scratchingly confusing.
24: Awesome Pea – This retro-inspired platformer is just too painful on the eyes because of that awful distorted screen!
23: Wanderjahr – This game is a bright and colorful RPG with a surprising difficulty level. While the automatic battles are unique and certainly require some strategy, I didn’t find it very fun. Also, the game feels like it really needed to be played with a mouse, not a controller.
22: ‘n Verlore Verstand – It seems basing a game on dreams is an excuse for it to make no sense. That might be okay if it was actually fun, but…it’s really not. The third and final location in the demo was where my already strained patience wore thin, as it’s a long, meandering place filled with way too much aimless walking.
21: World of Final Fantasy – This game is like Final Fantasy mixed with Pokemon, as you can capture various monsters from the Final Fantasy series and use them in battle. During the demo, the battles were just way too slow-paced for me. While I hear there should be a setting to speed them up, I have to admit that the demo left a bad taste in my mouth, nonetheless.
20: Embers of Mirrim – This game has a unique concept, but poor execution. You can split into two embers that are controlled separately using both analog sticks. This is not only quite difficult, but the gameplay feels very tedious, as well.
19: Cat Quest – This game is cute and all, and you get to play as a cat, but it also feels a bit too much like a mobile game. If that’s your thing, then this cartoony little game might be your thing. But it’s not really mine.
18: Metamorphoses – Inspired by Franz Kafka’s novella of the same name, the demo covers Gregor Samsa’s transformation into some sort of unspecified bug. While the demo itself was intriguing, I hear the rest of the game isn’t super interesting and doesn’t have much else to do with the source material.
It Was Okay, I Guess
17: Minecraft – Minecraft is just not my thing. There is too little direction, and I’ve never been good at…just creating for creation’s sake, I guess. I get why people like it, but it’s not for me.
16: Terraria – Terraria is like a side-scrolling Minecraft. Again, it could be cool for people who enjoy this level of freedom. As for me, well, I just find it overwhelming.
15: Songbird Symphony – In this rhythm platformer, a chick named Birb tries to discover where he comes from. The game is quite cute, but I’m not great at rhythm games, and the platforming felt too easy.
14: Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memories – This is a rhythm game that takes you through various songs and locations from the Kingdom Hearts series. There is nothing particularly wrong with that, but since rhythm games are really not my thing, I can’t place this too high on my list.
13: Portal Knights – This game feels a lot like Minecraft with RPG elements. That extra ability to level up makes this game a bit more fun for me, but I still don’t feel like I’m the intended audience for this one, y’know.
12: Disgaea 4 – I have mixed feelings about this one. I liked the game’s story and sense of humor, and I would have liked to get a better feel for those confusing tactical RPG battles. But the game also seems to be mainly just battles, with none of the actual adventuring I usually enjoy in RPG’s.
11: Xeodrifter – This game was heavily inspired by Metroid. And while that’s normally a good thing, it felt a bit more like the very first Metroid, which I couldn’t beat. This game is basically a bite-sized Metroid that you can get for really cheap and complete in a short time.
10: Trine 2 – In a fashion similar to The Lost Vikings, this game allows you to swap between three characters, Amadeus the wizard, Pontius the knight, and Zoya the thief. The fantasy vibe and graphics were quite pleasant, and I think it could make for a rather interesting side-scrolling adventure.
9: Spelunky – Spelunky is a super difficult game where you explore randomly generated caves, collect treasure, and probably die a hundred brutal ways. It seems like it could be surprisingly fun, though, and also rather amusing.
8: Oninaki – This RPG game has a heavy emphasis on death, where you play as a Watcher named Kagachi who helps the dead to move on. As depressing as the subject matter is, I finished the demo feeling quite intrigued by where the story would take us next.
7: Mega Man 11 – Having only completed Mega Man X, I don’t know too much about the Mega Man games. But the fairly recent Mega Man 11 feels like classic Mega Man with a fresh coat of paint.
6: Earthlock – Earthlock is an RPG that takes place in a world that has stopped spinning, and it was also the most generous demo I’ve played thus far, as they allow you to play through 21% of the game! This seemed like a pretty interesting RPG, and Gnart the hogbunny was just too cute!
5: When the Past Was Around – This game is a point-and-click puzzle game about a young woman named Eda. I hear it’s a story about love and heartbreak, and it seems like it could make for a relaxing, but emotional journey.
4: Yoku’s Island Express – I never thought they could make a fun pinball adventure, but here it is. This is an adorable game where you play as Yoku the dung beetle and new postmaster of Mokumana Island. The noisemaker is also just too funny.
3: Unravel – You play as Yarny, a little creature made of yarn, in this adorable side-scroller. During my brief time with the game’s first level, we solved puzzles and performed platforming feats made possible thanks to Yarny’s unraveling strands of yarn. This game and its sequel often go on sale, so there’s a good chance I’ll be getting this one someday.
2: Tearaway Unfolded – This adorable game sports a papercraft aesthetic and utilizes the PS4’s motion capability and touchpad. It’s extremely charming and creative and is easily one of the most delightful demos I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing.
1: Immortals: Fenyx Rising – This open-world adventure is inspired by Greek mythology and Breath of the Wild and has an excellent sense of humor. It is also the first demo I played that I actually bought!