With the break we took on GamerSushi over the last couple of weeks, I suddenly played more video games than I’ve played in a long while. Correlation? Probably.
One of the games I sampled in my several week long buffet was Enslaved. The game was good, but not great, although I would still recommend it for anybody looking for an Uncharted fix with not-quite-as-good gameplay. Sadly, the game underperformed like crazy, and is reportedly one of the bigger busts of the year in terms of sales.
Part of me wonders how much of this has to do with the game’s demo. Like many games, Enslaved’s trial covers the first level of the game, which provides a basic introduction to the world and the main character, Monkey. And when I say basic, I really mean it. It’s meant as the set up for the story rather than the gameplay, with incredibly linear platforming sections and only the slightest of combat. Much of the game revolves around the co-op aspect with the AI partners you encounter, and the platforming and combat grow from there. The first level is in no way representative of the game as a whole, so it’s baffling to me that Namco Bandai and Ninja Theory would choose that as the sample that they wanted people to play.
In my mind, the best demos are the ones that are completely representative of how your game plays once everything is rolling. Let people taste the things that make your game what it actually is. We’ve talked before about the less-than-stellar Resident Evil 5 demo, and even Limbo’s demo was kind of strange for what the game actually was.
While many games choose their first levels, this doesn’t always give the best example of what to expect. Batman: Arkham Asylum, for example, is one of the best demos of a game I’ve played in years, and it drops you right into the thick of a section that lets you test both combat and stealth. From what I can gather, this is also how the Dead Space 2 demo works, inserting you at a random point in the game with just the right amount of context, minus spoilers.
So, in thinking about all of this demo madness, a question formed. A couple of questions actually. One, what are some of the best and worst demos you’ve played for games before? And two, if you could select levels from your favorite games to give people a taste of why that game is so great, what levels or sections would you pick?