Top Games of Ludonarracon 2023 Showcase

A Collection of Narrative Games

We’re once again entering festival season for steam, with the ludonarracon 2023 festival just behind us. For this post, I’m going to talk about all the games I played from the festival.

I’ll be going over my favorite games in written form, for the entire list, be sure to watch the showcase video.

1: Cryptmaster

What happens when you combine Wordle, Typing of the Dead, and a Dungeon Crawler? Cryptmaster takes all that, puts it in a blender, and asks you to explore a dungeon using the literal power of words. The only way to unlock new skills for your party is to figure out the correct words to activate their abilities. One minute, you’re trying to guess an item from descriptions, the next, you’re typing in words to beat up enemies in the dungeon.

A very inventive take on the genre and one I really want to see where it all goes.

2: Demonschool

Combining the school setting of a Persona game with that of something like Into the Breach, Demonschool looks like another really solid take on RPG and tactical design. When our school is invaded by demons, ghosts, and gangsters, it’s up to a group of teens to figure out what’s going on…by beating up every monster they see.

The combat system is all about managing each character’s abilities and what they can do during a turn. Each time you give an action to a character, the cost to do something with them again that turn goes up. You’ll need to balance making very offensive plays with keeping the rest of the team out of harm’s way. I’m not sure how the school elements are going to work with the rest of the game, but Demonschool looks like a very interesting game for SRPG fans.

3: Sucker for Love: A Date to Die For

Sucker for Love is one of those concepts that could only ever have been conceived by an indie developer. Combining visual novel, dating sims, and Lovecraftian horror into one game. Now with the sequel, there are more eldritch gods, more dating, and more murder and people losing their minds. While it’s not for everyone, if you’re looking for an adorably horrific dating sim/adventure, then this is a game to check out.

4: Slay the Princess

Choose Your Own Adventure-styled games is nothing new from the indie space and visual novel scene but Slay the Princess’s more horror take has my interested. You are heading to a cabin in the woods with the goal of slaying the princess. However, how you choose to interact with her has massive ramifications for the story and what kind of princess you will be dealing with.

The game is definitely setting itself up for a lot of permutations in terms of branching paths. If they can pull it off, this could be a great and interesting take on the formula.

5: Times & Galaxy

We’ve seen all kinds of premises for an adventure game, but one that is about you doing journalism is a bit different. Times & Galaxy isn’t about you solving puzzles or saving the day but getting the scoop. Each case has you exploring an area to gather clues about what’s going on before putting them all together to create a story for your paper. How you decide to report is as important as what you’re reporting on. I don’t know how this will factor into the story or if there are any branching plots, but it certainly is a different take.

6: Harmony: The Fall of Reverie

The latest game from Don’t Nod, Harmony the Fall of Reverie takes the gamifying of choice to its logical conclusion. While searching for her mother, Polly stumbles upon the world of Reverie which is powered by our thoughts and emotions. In order to save both worlds and find her mother, she will need to control how the future plays out.

Each act of the game is laid out on a giant chart with nodes representing different events and choices. How you decide to respond will set you down different paths that represent the various ambitions and will change how the story flows. This is definitely a game that is going to be designed around multiple endings and paths with an interesting story.

Those are my personal favorites, but I played a lot more games from the showcase that you can find in the video.