Valve are currently hosting the Steam “Next Fest“, a showcase of upcoming game releases, during the event people can watch developer livestreams and showcases of various upcoming titles, it’s an opportunity for players to discover new and interesting games with various upcoming releases now sporting demos for players to trial.

One specific game that peaked my interests is IntiCreates, one of the only few Japanese developers remaining who haven’t succumbed to the ESG plague, and their upcoming 2D pixelated side-scroller YOHANE THE PARHELION -BLAZE in the DEEPBLUE-.

IntiCreates has a long track record of producing games tailormade for their niche audience, they simply refuse to impose any sort of censorship or restrictions, going as far as to snub both Microsoft and Sony regarding their enforcement of censorship on Gal Gun Returns, of which IntiCreates originally announced that the game would be releasing on all platforms barring PlayStation.

Only for them to ruthlessly tell Microsoft to go screw themselves months later as they refused to arbitrarily censor the game for release on the XBOX One resulting in that port being canceled outright. The game eventually released on Steam and Nintendo Switch.

IntiCreates are one of the only developers remaining who actually have the balls to scoff at these corporate giants, they know what their fans want and by god are they going to give it to them completely unhindered or unaltered.

Anyways, back to YOHANE THE PARHELION -BLAZE in the DEEPBLUE-, it’s a Love Live Sunshine spin-off featuring the ever popular Yohane, the game itself is a “Metroid Vania” style game with gorgeous 2D pixel graphics. Yohane the Parhelion: Blaze in the Deepblue is due to release on November 16th.

And currently, thanks to Steam’s “Next Fest” you can enjoy around an hour of gameplay by installing the game demo on the Steam Store for absolutely free.

Having played through the demo myself overall, the game is quite solid and enjoyable, I’m a bit of a stickler for quality pixel artwork but even so the game does have its downsides, it’s not very “challenging” in terms of game difficulty, but it sure does offer a fun experience.

There is a good amount of exploration available, allowing you to fight the first two bosses. Interestingly, the second boss is encountered in the third area, providing an extended exploration of the second area, additionally, there is a glimpse of one of the in-game side quests, where Chika requests you to find her hero mask.

The boss fights I encountered were well-designed and effectively utilize the games mechanics by rewarding players for experimenting with their allies. Another minor criticism is the lack of a weapon quick switch feature, similar to the one for switching friends.

This means that switching weapons takes longer, as you have to access the pause menu to equip a different weapon, but aside from that the demo was a pleasurable experience and well worth the free trial experience for fans of these sorts of 2D “Metroid Vania” esk games or rather just fans of the sort of games that IntiCreates continues to push out and obvious fanatics of the Love Live! franchise are bound to get a kick out of this as well.