I recently dined well on Steam Next Fest — my first ever participation in this demo event, by the way. I wish I had been more aware of this, because I loved sampling all sorts of indie titles for free. And I knew right away what the first one I’d be trying out: Arcane Waters, a pixel pirate MMO that I’ve had my eye on for a couple of years now.
Character creation was basic — cute, but basic — with a “perk” tab that caught my eye. I guess this is as close to classes as we get here? I like the idea, at least.
The demo’s tutorial isn’t the best — just a series of semi-hard-to-read info boxes (in the lower-right corner, no less), after which the game just dumps you out into this SNES-looking world to fend for yourself. It’s an adorable setting, and the chill music only adds to it. There were a few quest givers who are there to prompt you to fight, farm, and mine (the three primary activities, I’m guessing). I elected to grab a free pistol from a retired pirate and make my way through a skeleton-infested area and see what loot there was to be had.
Oh, and it took embarrassingly long to realize that I could actually jump with the spacebar. I just assumed that a top-down game like this wouldn’t have jump, but… it does. And there are even little trampolines on the map.
Maybe I limited myself with a revolver instead of a sword, but my combat options were extremely skimpy. Arcane Waters operates on a turn-based fight system like an old school JRPG, and it functions fine. It’s just that my options were shoot and… shoot. I could adopt a different stance (there’s defensive, balanced, and aggressive), but for the most part I was plugging away at skeletons until they fell over and gave me some silver.
I didn’t get incredibly far, just enough to get a taste of the game. It definitely is going for the Stardew Valley aesthetic, although I doubt that the farming system will be as deep. It’s a title that warrants further investigation when a much more robust version comes along, that’s for sure.