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Hands-On with 6 Games at Day of the Devs: The Game Awards Edition

Day of the Devs 2023 Hands On

Day of the Devs has come and gone, and with it, I got the chance to try several upcoming indie titles! From a cinematic car racer with Mass Effect inspirations to a psychedelic visual novel that takes a trip through an SNES-era RPG, this year had no shortage of unique and promising titles on display.

Let’s dive into the demos that I got to play!


My day started off with RESISTOR, a stylish, narrative-focused racer. The demo was fantastic, beginning with a robust character creator before immediately throwing the player into its exciting world and gameplay via seamless transition into an introductory scene with your customized character.

I’d like to emphasize how cinematic the cutscene direction and narrative was, even from these opening moments of the demo. The animation for the characters and settings was beautiful. I got the chance to meet with Violet McVinnie from Long Way Home, one of the game’s developers, and she spoke to the experiences and influences that led to this narrative approach — namely, that her experience working with the Mass Effect trilogy greatly informed her ideas while developing the narrative for RESISTOR. And it showed!

The demo transitioned into a high-energy race, where I unfortunately learned I’m not great at racing games (Mario Kart is the extent of my experience). But the movement options available were great! Boosting, knocking adjacent cars over, hopping over cars, flying off ramps — clearly there were a lot of cool tricks and ways to keep driving a fun and engaging experience.

After the race, the demo has you take a more freeform drive to the game’s hub world. While driving outside of the race context, I found it neat how the game throws in optional objectives, like toppling a few nearby cars over, if you are so inclined. Once I arrived at my destination, I caught a brief glimpse of the hub world on foot before reaching the end of the demo.

This RESISTOR demo was a fantastic start to the day, and I can’t wait to see where the game goes. Especially ending on that tease of the hub world, which promises to be full of missions, characters to meet, and other fun stuff!

Dome-King Cabbage

I don’t even really know how to describe this one, but it was one of the day’s highlights for me! Dome-King Cabbage is a psychedelic visual novel where you play as a character who is navigating the world in hopes of becoming the enigmatic title of Dome-King, though you don’t even meet them until the end of the demo!

The visuals on display were a sensory overload, and I was continuously impressed with how much detail went into these scenes. I got the opportunity to speak with Cobysoft Joe, the developer, where he explained that he hoped the sense of overstimulation and unique visuals would leave a substantial impact on players and keep the game interesting throughout.

These scenes and dialogue were surreal and absurd, shifting from incredibly chill to incredibly dark in a few lines. For example, after looking at this kaleidoscope of colors and details, the player was tasked with choosing between two universes to destroy: the universes’ names consisted of random letter and number combinations, and the being you’re conversing with suggests just choosing the universe with the name that you dislike more since the destruction of a universe isn’t really a big deal anyway.

At one point, the player boots up a Game Boy, where you can peruse through a Wii menu-esque selection screen that includes such games as a Star Fox parody, a Nintendo 64 game parody in all its polygonal goodness, and an SNES-era monster collecting RPG. The monster-collecting RPG is the only playable option, so selecting it leads you to the introductory sequence of this monster-collecting RPG.

Within that game, you explore a classic opening town, meet the townsfolk, and learn that the RPG’s cute mage protagonist is also on a quest to become the Dome-King. Your task is to choose one of three creatures to be your starting companion: the options include a wolf-man creature, a pink flame sprite, and a blue slime. I chose the pink flame sprite (fun fact: the developer said he goes for the blue slime), at which point I was thrust into battle with a rival character who gets one of the remaining two creatures. Sound familiar?

The battle system in Dome-King Cabbage is turn-based, with your creature using a mana system to cast spells. As this was the first battle, my sprite had two basic spells which I used to defeat my rival with ease. After this, your RPG protagonist says farewell to their townsfolk, and the game cuts off as the protagonist reaches the next area.

The game then returns to the world outside of the Game Boy, where you meet the game’s protagonist, Mush, and reach the end of the demo after a sequence of more psychedelic cutscenes.

This demo was many things, and all I can really say is that I’m excited to play Dome-King Cabbage when it comes out. It left an impact on me and has me intrigued to see the parallels play out between the RPG protagonist’s journey to become Dome-King in the Game Boy world and Mush’s own journey to become Dome-King. Not to mention how curious I am to find out what a Dome-King even is!


All those days of playing Wordle finally paid off with Cryptmaster, a text-based dungeon crawler where the player provides freeform text input via typing or voice chat to navigate an eerie crypt with their party of undead heroes. I went with typing for the purposes of the demo.

The Cryptmaster demo entailed meeting the hilariously snide necromancer guiding your party of the undead and navigating early parts of the crypt as an introduction to the game’s mechanics. As an early example, claiming treasure from a chest involved guessing what it is. The player could ask the necromancer to describe the treasure in various ways: you could ask what it tastes like, what it looks like, and so on before typing out and guessing what the treasure is.

Combat involves typing out actions to attack the enemy. To have your party members learn these actions, the player can gather letters throughout the crypt until you form the action’s name, or the player could also type in and guess the action’s name given the letters you’ve gathered. After finding the letters a and p, I was able to guess that my magician party member’s -ap action was zap, for example!

What struck me the most in Cryptmaster besides the cool black-and-white aesthetic was the freedom this text input gave me. To give a true sense of this flexibility: at one point, my undead party needed to trick a door into thinking we were alive by describing the sun, so I typed that the sun was “lit” and the door accepted this as a viable solution.

Cryptmaster was one of the highlights of the day for me, and I very much look forward to returning to this crypt upon the game’s full release!


“It’s time to cook!”

Wordle came in clutch again while playing Leximan, a word-based adventure where you engage in leximancy to fight, uncover secrets in the overworld, and a whole lot more. This demo was charmingly bizarre in its humor, having you play as an underdog wizard who ends up in a magical cooking disaster followed by a boss battle.

To cast a spell in battle, the player drags letter combinations from a pool of letters together to form a word. This system brings a ton of potential to combat, as forming different words can mean the player has a range of options for approaching an encounter. One encounter you could go with spelling out “boon,” or you could instead go with calling your opponent a “noob” if you are so inclined! The boss battle at the end even broke out into bullet-hell-esque sections when it came time to dodge attacks. 

Leximan’s chaotic tone and unique combat system make it one to keep an eye on!


AIKODE is an immersive action RPG featuring fast-paced combat and an intriguing narrative, with great music to boot. It promises impressive environments, epic battles with colossal bosses, and even relationship-building systems. Unfortunately, my time with the demo build indicated the game may need fine-tuning to fully reach its potential. It’s possible that the playstyle and I didn’t mesh, but the combat and story also did not click during my time with the demo.

The demo introduces the hack-and-slash combat system with a group of enemies and cryptic dialogue before leading the player to a boss fight, with easy and hard difficulty options available for the battle. I went with easy and still had a pretty difficult time, as it felt like I was fighting more against the game than the boss. The targeting didn’t work well, the input lag seemed significant, and the win condition of lowering the boss’s regenerating health to below 25% within approximately two minutes wasn’t intuitive or explained at all until after death. I almost succeeded after a few tries, but the demo froze toward the end of the battle and I could not continue.

This ambitious game shows a lot of promise in concept, so I’m hoping some of these rough patches get ironed out with further development.

Hermit and Pig

Hermit and Pig is a quirky turn-based RPG that follows a socially anxious Hermit and his lovable Pig, and this demo oozed charm and humor. I played through a day in the life of Hermit and Pig as they forage for mushrooms, combat the unusually violent wildlife around their woodland home, and maneuver conversations with strangers, ending with our protagonists choosing to help a local villager with what will likely unfold to be the game’s main plot.

Visually and musically, the game captures that Mother/EarthBound aesthetic and feel, from its overworld to its combat system. A variety of enemies — from bees to spiders to snakes — appear in the overworld and attack you, initiating a battle with the Hermit (fortunately, the Pig seems removed from the dangers of combat).

Attacking and defending in battle involves timed action commands that increase your output or decrease damage taken. Using the Hermit’s trusty manual accessible from the battle menu for reference, you can choose an attack by inputting the appropriate directional sequence Final Fantasy 6-monk or Street Fighter style, with certain attacks hitting stronger for certain enemies. For example, the slapping attack (used by inputting up, left, and right) worked great against flies. It took a bit of trial and error for me to learn what attacks work best against certain enemies, but I started to pick up on the game’s logic as the demo went on. Battles ended with cute victory phrases like “the ant got together with its friends later and regretted to mention this.”

Sometimes, instead of an enemy attacking you in the overworld, a stranger will pop up for a conversation instead—which can be even worse for our socially anxious Hermit! These conversation encounters involved playing through hilarious dialogue with the stranger, like a Mother-fied Shin Megami Tensei demon negotiation.

Finally, the demo gave us a taste of Pig’s foraging abilities and the variety of fungi on offer! When navigating the overworld, Pig would occasionally sense a nearby fungus, as indicated by an exclamation bubble over their head. Hermit can direct Pig to locate the buried fungus and claim it. These mushrooms and truffles provide a variety of effects, including healing, attacking, buffing, and more.

Though I did get a little lost in Hermit and Pig’s sprawling map, overall the game’s humor and charm has me curious to see where it goes!

And there we have it! Day of the Devs was an incredible time that has me anticipating several of these upcoming games. Thank you to the teams at Double Fine, iam8bit, and The Game Awards for hosting this year’s event and having me along for the experience!

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Mario Garcia

Mario Garcia

Mario joined the Social Media team at RPGFan to help spread his hype for RPGs. He started out as a kid playing Nintendo RPGs (Mario and Luigi, Paper Mario, Pokémon, etc.), was delighted to learn that turn-based combat was a thing, and has loved the genre ever since. When he's not hopping between a bunch of games and growing his ever-expanding backlog, he's watching movies, planning to travel, and spending time with his friends in true power of friendship fashion. Oh, and he works his day job.

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