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  • Writer's pictureNate Hermanson

9 games you need to remember from LudoNarraCon 2024

Every time we cover a big event, there are way too many games for us to realistically cover in the time we're allotted. Too many games that grab hold of us and demand to be shared with the world, workload be damned.


As big-time story game fiends, LudoNarraCon is the kind of event where almost every game does that to us... We played so many unique and mind-gripping games in the last week! So, we couldn't go without writing a round-up of some of the best demos we got the chance to play. In this lineup, we're giving you quick hits on a bunch of amazing-looking games so that when they come out, you'll remember them and fall in love with playing them just like we did.


The nine games in this list awed us, made us cry, scared us, and showcased the artistry of narrative-driven gaming in vastly different ways. Remember as you read to add any games that interest you to your wishlists and to show these devs some love!



Index

 
The key art for Wander Stars. A collage of the game's characters. On the left side seems to be the game's villains: a shadowy wispy character who hides in the background, a menacing looking cat with sharp fangs sits in the foreground, and an annoyed looking blonde man stares directly at the main character with a yellow arrow in his hand seemingly pointed toward them. On the right, the game's heroes can be seen. It starts with the red haired hero preparing a fiery punch. Behind her, a pink-haired lady with a green headband watches the scene seriously. A black dog with his own yellow arrow is facing away from everyone but peeking over his shoulder at them all. Lastly, there's a girl with heir hair in buns and round glasses who watches along joyfully.

Developer: Paper Castle Games

Genre: Turn-based word-driven move-building RPG

Platforms: PC and Switch


When it comes to anime-inspired games, inspiration tends to be fairly limited. Magical girls, chibi characters, or high school students living their lives.


That's fine. I love that stuff. But what I grew up on was big muscles, cheesy humor, and complex power move names. Paper Castle Games seems to have grown up the same way, as their sophomore release, Wander Stars, perfectly emulates that era with its Akira Toriyama-esque art style, loud episode openings narrated by some voice of god, and even a "classic audio" filter that makes everything sound like it's coming out of tinny built-in TV speakers.


And the gameplay backing 14-year-old Ringo's journey to be the best Kiai fighter backs it up too. Combat is entirely based around this system of building your super moves by choosing the words to form your turn. You start with the type of move you want to pull off — punch, kick, or bat, for example. Then you add modifiers like super or extra, which can add to the base strength of the move. Consider elements too, like fire or water.


By the end, you'll be stringing things together to make a move like "Super Special Extra Fire Kick" that does tons of damage and is super fun.


An in-game screenshot of Wander Stars. A red-haired girl who wears a sleeveless tee and shorts with red boots, stands ready to attack a strange robot made of random pieces. They fight in some void in space. The user interface shows an inventory of words the player uses to build special moves.

I was amazed at how far Paper Castle Games went to transport me back to the nights I'd spent laying on the ground with my cousins, staring up at a 13-inch TV while Goku finally beat the enemy I'd spent the last month of my life anticipating. Wander Stars not only captured those vibes but served them up with a clever word-based combat system that I can't wait to stretch to its limits when the game finally comes out.


The key art for Pine: A Story of Loss. On the left side of a tree dividing the scene a bearded man looks down defeated. He is pulling a cart with a pile of logs and a wood carving of a woman. On the right of the tree, a bright and sunny day can be seen, alongside a woman who looks up at the man lovingly.

Developer: Made Up Games

Genre: Single-serving narrative heartbreaker (and healer?)

Platform: PC


Pine: A Story of Loss makes its intentions known from minute one. This is a game to sob to. It's a game that so effectively communicates the weight and power of grief, the way it weaves into your every day life and sneaks up on you. And the fact that its demo showcases that, despite being just a tiny piece of what promises to be a fairly small whole when it finally releases, is so powerful — even more so with it being the team's debut work.


Pine communicates grief through the story of a lone homesteader as he goes through his day-to-day maintaining his home. He chops down trees for firewood, dries grass for his roof, cultivates and harvests his garden. Through the mundanity of these tasks, you and him both get lulled into a false sense of security before grief rears its ugly head and a memory of the better times appears. It's a powerful, painful story, told with simple animation, wrinkles and bags on a weary face, and twinkling piano music. It's devastating — exactly what it is trying to achieve.


An animated GIF of screenshots from Pine: A Story of Loss. It transitions from a sunny day shared between a man and his wife carrying resources back to their home... into that same man with a beard sitting in that field at night, against the cart, holding a wood carving of a hand.

To know that this lumberjack came to the game's artist in a moment of meditation following his own personal loss makes the work feel even that much more cathartic, and I cannot wait to ugly sob at the full release whenever that comes.


The key art for The Posthumous Investigation. A collage of the game's many characters with the main character, a detective in a trenchcoat and fedora, sits in the middle. Over his shoulder's the mystery's victim looms.

Developer: Mother Gaia Studio

Genre: Time-looping detective game

Release Date: Q4 2024 Platform: PC


Time loop gaming has never been better. With games like Deathloop, The Outer Wilds, and The Sexy Brutale coming every few years or so, it feels like the genre consistently gets a genuinely clever take that reminds people how perfect the conceit is for gaming. And the next few games on this list focus the time loop on narrative in some fun ways.


In The Posthumous Investigation, you inhabit the grayscale shoes of a detective hired suddenly by Brás Cubas, a well-to-do entrepreneur, to investigate his own death. With his deep connections and influence over Rio de Janeiro, you get quickly stuck into a fascinating mystery whose intrigue never seems to end. Then you get knocked out and wake up in a room with the dead Brás Cubas. And he ends up coaching you through the investigation of his own death before setting you back to the start of the day you took the job.


An in-game screenshot of The Posthumous Investigation. A man in a full suit and fedora falls backward into a black and white spiral.

The Rio de Janeiro setting? The clever use of a murder mystery's victim as a coach in the adventure? The classic Disney-meets-noir aesthetic? The Posthumous Investigation has me deeply intrigued and I can't wait to loop my way to the answers when it comes out.


The key art for Kulebra and the Souls of Limbo. Against a space-y blue background, a variety of things are seen flying through space. There's a crow with a red mail cap, a hat with an eye on it, a green book with a skeleton head on it, a purple gemstone, a strange bird-like creature with a toucan-like snout, a key, a pink and white bird that squawks, and the game's main character Kulebra. Kulebra is a skeleton of a snake with fiery blue eyes.

Developer: Galla Games

Genre: Time-looping soul-saving game

Platforms: PC and Switch


Time loop gaming has never been better. With games like Deathloop, The Outer Wilds, and The Sexy Brutale coming every few years or so, it fe wait... Is anyone else experiencing deja vu?


We've got ANOTHER time loop game in Kulebra and the Souls of Limbo, the debut release from Galla Games. Here, the time loop is decidedly more emotional, as you loop through a day in the life of a batch of souls stuck in limbo and try to help them move on to the afterlife. As the spiritual snake Kulebra, you'll spin up and roll through a Paper Mario-like vibrant Land of the Dead that takes inspiration from various Latin American depictions of the afterlife.


Don't let its charming looks fool you, though: Kulebra's got teeth. Over the course of the 13 hour demo, you'll find that it encroaches on some serious emotional territory. And amidst the back-and-forth fetch quest-y timeline-mastering gameplay, you could be surprised by how powerful its narrative can get. Familial drama, learning how to move on, accepting your fate. It's got it all, and this is just the demo!


An in-game screenshot of Kulebra and the Souls of Limbo. The eponymous Kulebra, a snake spirit made up of the floating bits of a snake's skeleton, sits in front of a garden gate. To his right, a skeletal figure in a dress and straw hat looks into the garden. A sign to their left labels said garden as "Rosa's Garden" and to their right, a sign advertises a "pet a flower" service for one of this world's currency. In the upper left, a popup reads "New Task: The Locked Garden."

Kulebra and the Souls of Limbo is a sneaky one, and as it slithers its way to launch after years in development, I'm certain Galla Games has a gem on their hands.


The key art of Moses and Plato. On the top of a moving train in the middle of a forested mountain valley, two detectives stand shocked. One is an anthropomorphic fox, the other is an anthropomorphic cat.

Developer: The Wild Gentlemen

Genre: Holmesian "all 5 senses" detective game

Platform: PC


I'll say it again and again and again. The VGG team loves a detective game. And Moses and Plato: Last Train to Clawville is a detective game that makes full use of its setting to create a truly unique experience.


Moses and Plato is the Holmesian spinoff of the Chicken Police adventure games, and it truly feels like an entirely new world. Where Chicken Police is all gritty detective noir with realistic imagery collaging to make its characters, Moses and Plato is a colorful and thoughtful detective adventure that's all about stopping and literally smelling the roses (and the sweat of the person you're interrogating). Using Moses's animalistic senses to amplify your detective work is a welcome touch as you activate his enhanced hearing, sense of smell, and sight to discover things no chicken cop ever could.


In detective games, I always celebrate whenever a game has me needing to break out a notebook to keep track of clues and story beats. But Moses and Plato makes that less of a necessity while still keeping things engaging. There's Moses's mind palace, which updates to log historical events; personal profiles of characters; and more. And there's a character relationship chart that you can use to track the tangled webs that form throughout the game. These things being built in instead of being something I do on my own time is a great little mix-up for the genre.


An in-game screenshot of Moses and Plato. In a nature-filled traincar, an anthropomorphic elephant woman with elegant face paint stands waiting with a book in hand. A grand stone carving of an elephant can be seen to her left. An abstract painting of what looks to be a bunny can be seen to their right.

In a lot of ways, it feels like one of those classic PC adventure games, with its blending of 2D and 3D art and its mixed use of perspective. And while it doesn't wildly innovate, it does a lot of things incredibly well. The demo is lengthy. Its world-building is powerful. I'm into it.


The key art for Nirvana Noir. Split down the middle, one half of the image is vibrant colors and anchored by a trench-coated man in all white holding some kind of colorful charm. The other half is monochrome black and gray and anchored by a man in all black caught in a fire.

Developer: Feral Cat Den

Genre: Multi-timeline mystery game

Platforms: PC and Xbox


Genesis Noir's jazzy noir take on the creation of our world, abstracting the big bang into an attempted murder and a love triangle, was one of the most stunning artistic achievements I had the pleasure of playing through a few years back. So, hearing that a sequel was coming was a dream.


And if you can believe it, Nirvana Noir actually manages to evolve and enhance that style from the first game.


Nirvana Noir tells two stories set in two versions of the same world: one where the Big Bang from the first game happened and one where it didn't. The former is a colorful rendition of the '60s, where the aftermath of the big bang has resulted in two major factions — change and preservation. One is looking to make actual change in the world. One is grasping at the past. Preservation is the same take on jazzy noir as the first game, where mobsters and real estate deals run everything and a series of arson fires disrupt it all.


An in-game screenshot of Nirvana Noir. The lanky No Man, a monochrome man wearing a hat and missing an arm, runs through a colorful street. Paint splotches on the walls, silhouettes of passersby are pink and purple, the debris on the sidewalk is blue and green. It's messy but it's art.

Nirvana Noir already promises to bring just as much style and artistry as the first game, but what intrigued me the most was what its narrative was doing on a metatextual level. In creating a follow-up to such a highly lauded game in Genesis Noir, they've found a way to stretch their creative legs to try something new with the '60s setting (Change) while offering more of what served them so well in the first game with the noir setting (Preservation).


I'm fascinated to see where it all goes. If you loved Genesis Noir, Nirvana is a no-brainer. And newcomers are welcome, too, as the team promises to build it as a standalone experience.


The key art for the game The Drifter. The main character, a man with a haggard beard in plain brown clothing, wields a shovel against some eerie source of danger to his right depicted by red lighting coming from off screen. Behind him, in front of the glow of car headlights, approaching soldiers with green-lit night vision goggles can be seen. All of this is happening in a stormy graveyard.

Developer: Powerhoof

Genre: Cinematic point and click adventure

Platforms: PC and Switch


Point and click adventures are my bread and butter. Whenever I get a chance to really dig into a classic point and click during one of these events, I take it. And sure, I cheated here, because I played a version of this demo of The Drifter years ago now. But I never wrote about it — and this game deserves to be shared.


The Drifter is a wildly cinematic point and click adventure. It maintains enough of the staples of the genre to make it familiar but does enough with its presentation style to make it feel like something brand new. You play as Mick Carter, a drifter whose journeys take him back to his hometown just in time to witness some horrifying things that tie him to a deep conspiracy, and to discover that death no longer means the end for him.


It's a pulpy thriller that the team says is inspired by King, Crichton, and Carpenter, the masters of thrills from the '70s and '80s. And it shows it from the jump with a tense traincar standoff that ends with a crazed man getting shot to bits and Mick tumbling down into an abandoned tunnel. If the full game is packed with moments like these, I may just have a heart attack by the end of the game.


An in-game screenshot of The Drifter. A man is underwater, being weighed down by something attached to the rope attached to his feet. A gas container can be seen floating just past him. Around him in the scene are dozens of other bodies that have seemingly been buried here the same way he might be. His expression is shocked horror as he says "Oh god!"

Powerhoof has long had some of the best pixel artists and animators in the game, and they're showcasing that fully with The Drifter. But it's the narration and voice acting that takes its narrative into the stratosphere. It all makes for a much more cinematic point and click experience, one whose pace matches the frantic nature of Mick's journey.


Whenever this hits, I beg you not to miss it.


The key art for Tom the postgirl. It depicts the interior of a house. A carpet has bits cut out of it, there's a dresser with a flower pot sitting on top and framed photos line the walls. Through one of the windows, you can see a girl in a red jacket with the hood pulled up peeping through one of the windows.

Developer: Oopsie Daisies

Genre: Peeping tom simulator

Platform: PC


The team developing this game describes it as a "walk and stalk." So you know we're in for something interesting with Tom the postgirl. You play a little girl who was delivered to a house in a box with the name Tom written on it. She survives on her own for a while before finally leaving her home... to peep on others in their homes while she "delivers" packages.


It's up to you if you peep inside the houses you approach, and if you deliver the packages as expected or just open them up for yourself to create chaos in your environment. It's a game full of dark humor and, no matter your decision, Oopsie Daisies will find a way to shock you. For example, when I finally decided to actually deliver a package after already setting one house on fire and building a snowman out of dog food by not delivering, it ended with a chainsaw revving and a blood-spattered window.


It's... a time.


An in-game screenshot of Tom the postgirl. In a monochrome world with red accents, a little girl in a jacket with the hood up approaches a giant house with a chainsaw. Two barren trees flank the house, a chicken sits just outside a fence, and a small red cart sits at the beginning of the path. A wooden sign reads: "KEEP AWAY BEWARE DOG".

Oopsie Daisies uses the charming style to make you believe for a second that what you're in for is purely harmless. And what it delivers instead is a startlingly disturbing but still surprisingly funny experience. Where the demo's final moments take the narrative is genuinely chilling, and you can consider me hooked and excited to see where it all ends up.


The key art for The Mermaid Mask. In an abandoned fishing village, a green light can be seen glowing at the end of a wooden dock. Two characters stand in front of an inn, Detective Grimoire with his red streaked hair and his handy notebook, and Sally Spears with her seafoam green hair, small red jacket, and grumpy look. They stand back to back and the game's title sits to their left, above the glowing green light.

Developer: SFB Games

Genre: Deduction-based detective game

Platform: PC (Consoles likely based on Tangle Tower's release)


SFB Games are a team I've admired from afar for so long, going from their flash days with Solarsaurus and Haunt the House all the way to them making one of the best Switch launch titles in Snipperclips. All along their journey of growth, there is one series that has stood the test of time: the deduction-focused adventure series, Detective Grimoire.


The Mermaid Mask is the latest, bringing series protagonists Detective Grimoire and Sally Spears to an abandoned fishing town to investigate the mysterious murder of submarine captain Magnus Mortuga. The duo stumble into the strange sub and uncover a cryptic cauldron, the potential of an unleashed curse, and the promise of yet another strange case.


It's rare to see an indie sequel, let alone a trilogy. And even within this one series, you can see just how much SFB Games has grown as a team.


An in-game screenshot of Mermaid Mask. A strange buoy with attached glowing green eyes and a tear down the middle that looks like a mouth lays dormant on the deck of a submarine. A door opens into an area to descend into the body of the submarine. Along the side of this opening the word SEAFOAM has been scratched out with paint and replaced underneath with the name MORTUGA. An overturned boat can be seen next to it on the deck.

The demo offers only a tiny snippet of the full release, but it reminds you how this team got here. It showcases the stunning painterly style of its environments, the blend of Ace Attorney-like deduction and Layton-like puzzles that work in perfect harmony, and the dulcet tones of Edwyn Tiong's Grimoire and Amber Lee Connors' Sally Spears.


SFB Games is set to have a big year with their survival horror love letter, Crow Country, having just released in May, and Mermaid Mask releasing later this year. So now's as good a time as any to hop on the bandwagon.

 

These nine games left a lasting impression during LudoNarraCon, and we'll absolutely be keeping an eye on on their roads to release. I encourage you to look further into any game that caught your eye and to wishlist these games, follow the developers, and otherwise support them however you can. Because the industry could use it, because LudoNarraCon rocks, and because we asked real nice.


See you for LudoNarraCon 2025.


Check out more of our LudoNarraCon 2024 coverage, and follow us at twitch.tv/Naetoid to get notified when we go live with our LudoNarraCon demos stream!

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