Crystal Catacombs procedurally generates neon sci-fi, roguelikey platform exploration

Tom Sykes at

Nobody would blame you for having had your fill of sidescrolling, procedurally generated platforming roguelikes, but Crystal Catacombs might be worth a curious glance before you swear off the sub-sub-genre forever. For one thing, it's gorgeous, employing tiny yet detailed and colourful (but not garishly so) pixel art to bring its neon cavey world to life. It's a slightly different breed of game to something like Spelunky - the physics are nowhere near as delightfully precise - but you should find something to enjoy here if you traversed your way through Super Metroid or Symphony of the Night back in the day. Details and demo link after the break.

Tesla Effect delayed by two weeks, now releasing May 7th

Tom Sykes at

Were you looking forward to Tex Murphy's grand return to the sci-fi gumshoeing circuit on April 22nd (AKA 'tomorrow')? Well I have some bad news: Tesla Effect has been delayed to May 7th, for reasons of...actually, no reason was given, but I'm assuming it has something to do with an FMV dame, or a shiny MacGuffin. It usually does.

Sleeping Dogs demo now available on Steam

Rob Edwards at

If Sleeping Dogs has you unsure of whether it's worth your hard-earned cash, now's your chance to give it a try as Square Enix have released the Sleeping Dogs demo on Steam. It features an on foot pursuit through a crowded market, chasing down a rival gang member before beating him to a bloody pulp. This is followed by a warehouse section that shows off Sleeping Dog's slow motion shooting.

If you like what you see, rest assured there's plenty of content on its way as Square Enix have announced that they have six months of Sleeping Dogs DLC planned. Also, be sure to check out Sleeping Dogs' PC-specific features.

Orcs Must Die! 2 demo out now

Tom Senior at

Some, but not too many Orcs Must Die! A demo is now available for Orcs Must Die! 2, through Steam. It offers two levels of solo and co-op Orc melting that'll introduce a few new traps and let you run around as new character, The Sorceress. The game will be properly released next week. To celebrate, the original Orcs Must Die! is available now for a quarter of its usual price. Buying it will unlock "10 classic maps" in the sequel.

For more, have a look at our Orcs Must Die! 2 preview and check out the trailer below.

Gratuitous Tanks Battles gets gratuitous demo

Tom Senior at

Gratuitous Tank Battles now has a demo! Blue's News noticed the appearance of the 'demo' icon on the Gratuitous Tank Battles site. Clicking on that will start the 71 MB download and give you a chance to play a few missions, design a few units, and get hooked on GTB's moreish blend of tower defence and carefully planned lane assaults. You can select an option that will let the AI steal your unit designs and use them against you, essentially letting you create your very own baby version of Skynet. D'awww.

Play Tera for 30 minutes in your browser for free

Josh Augustine at

Some people need to see things for themselves. If our Tera review wasn't enough to convince you one way or another if the new action-combat MMORPG from EnMasse Entertainment is for you, you can test it out yourself with no commitment.

EnMasse teamed up with Gaikai to offer their new demo through your browser, with no download.

Sniper Elite V2 demo out now

Tom Senior at

Sniper Elite V2 claims to feature "the most realistic simulation of military sharpshooting yet available" on its Steam page. The ballistics system takes "gravity, wind, velocity, bullet penetration" and "aim stability" into account every time you pull the trigger. Hit the target and you'll get to see your victim's demise in splattery detail via a hallucinatory slow motion death sequence. This gory epilogue peels back the victim's skin to show organs popping and bones shattering from the impact of your bullet as it passes through your enemy's squishy body. This feature is "not available in Germany."

If that sounds like the sort of shooter you might like to shoot guns in, you can take a few experimental pot shots now in a new demo, available on Steam. The full release is scheduled for May 4. Yesterday we learned that the team deathmatch mode that it ships with will be exclusive to the PC, which is nice. Check out the official Sniper Elite V2 site for more.

King Arthur 2 demo offers one hour of fantasy conquest

Tom Senior at

The new King Arthur 2 demo offers a hefty 1.7 gigs of magi-war. Paradox reckons it'll take about an hour to complete the demo, which will let you play through the tutorial and the first campaign mission. That means you'll get to quest, build armies and take cities on the turn-based strategy map, and fight some knights in the quite beautiful real-time battles.

You can get hold of the demo now from Fileplanet ahead of the game's release tomorrow. If you were to pause the demo mid-battle, zoom your face right up to your soldiers and take a few pictures, they could well look similar to the new screenshots below. They show men being exploded by magic, fighting through a forest of ice spikes, and doing battle in a dark forest.

The Darkness 2 demo is out now

Tom Senior at

Four arms are better than two when you're being assaulted by a city of gangsters. The Darkness 2 demo, now available on Steam, will gradually give you use of all your arms, just as soon as you've made it through the intro cutscenes, and the on-rails shooter bit, and a few more cutscenes. Thankfully the demo has been put together to give us an overview of some of Jackie's more powerful abilities, so it's worth persisting to get to the gorier bits. The pseudo-cell shaded look is a nice homage to The Darkness' comic book roots, too. Give it a whirl and let us know what you think. The Darkness 2 is out on February 7 in the US, and February 10 in Europe.

Musical puzzler AVSEQ gets a demo, out now

Tom Senior at

AVSEQ stands for Audio Visual Sequencer. It's a puzzle game in which you must draw links between descending orbs to vapourise them and unlock new notes on an audio sequencer cycling through the background. The idea is to build up massive chains to gain mega-points and unlock new notes for the gradually building musical score. You have to collect every note before the time runs out to beat the stage. It's join-the-dots against the clock with the added satisfaction of a swelling musical accompaniment.

There's a catch, though. If those orbs touch the bottom of the screen, they evaporate and break any chain they're hooked into. Each level becomes a frantic but absorbing game of risk vs reward as you try to sketch more and more ambitious webs over an increasingly kaleidoscopic backdrop. A two-mission demo is available now on the AVSEQ page of the Big-Robot site. If its musical tendrils manage to snare your attention, you can grab the full game here for a mere $5.

Mass Effect 3 demo date set for Valentine's day

Tom Senior at

How many reporters has your significant other punched in their lifetime? How many potentially dangerous insect races have they saved? How many intergalactic councils have they cut off, mid-speech? NONE, exactly. That's why you might want to spend Valentine's Day this year having a fling with Commander Shepard in the Mass Effect 3 demo instead. Expect to gain lots of Renegade points if you do, though.

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning demo now available

Tom Senior at

Looking for a big new fantasy RPG to play? Kingdoms of Amalur might just fit the bill. A new demo is now available on Steam, giving everyone a chance to dive in and fight the various things that live in artist Todd McFarlene's head. There's a "destiny" system that lets you switch between combat styles in the middle of a ruck, and there should be plenty of mad weapons to mess with. Completing the demo should unlock some bonus items for Mass Effect 3 as well.

Darkness 2 demo dated

Tom Senior at

A trial for The Darkness 2 is heading to Steam on January 24 after a week of Xbox Live exclusivity, according to a post on The Darkness 2 site. Hopefully it'll give us a generous chunk of time with Jackie and his demonic arm tentacles. In the first game they could throw cars about, or detach to become slithery spies capable of tearing enemies' hearts from the shadows. It looks as though The Darkness 2 will be at least as gruesome as the original, but will wielding Jackie's Darkness powers be quite as satisfying?

We'll all get to find out in a couple of weeks. Hooray for demos! If you're already certain you'll like it, you can pre-order The Darkness 2 to get 10% off.

Play Bastion in your browser

Tom Senior at

Awesome indie action RPG Bastion is now available as a Chrome app. If you're surfing with Google's browser you can go to the Bastion app page now and click "launch app" and you'll dive straight in. You can play through the prologue for free and then unlock the rest of the game for $14.99. It runs beautifully, and even saves your game to your google account so you can pick up where you left off on any PC.

Supergiant made the announcement on the Bastion site, where they also mention "some more Bastion-related news tomorrow." Intriguing. If you're curious about Bastion, it's well worth checking out. We gave it a score of 92 in our Bastion review. Even if you already own the game, it's worth booting up the app to see how well it all works. It's a colourful glimpse into the exciting future of browser-based gaming.

Elementary My Dear Majesty becomes "first 3D hidden object adventure game for PC," out today

Tom Senior at

Hidden object games test important life skills, like the ability to pick out that elusive bottle of ketchup in a well stocked fridge. They're a testament to the human ability to spectacularly fail to see things that are clearly right there in front of us, even when our girlfriends are literally pointing at them and saying "it's RIGHT THERE."

Even on a 2D plane, seeing objects when other objects are nearby can be tough. Bad news. The challenge of finding things in piles of other things is about to get harder. Elementary my Dear Majesty is adding the Z(omg)-axis to the equation, claiming to become "the first 3D hidden object adventure game for PC."

Batman: Arkham City demo available now through OnLive

Tom Senior at

Batman: Arkham City is out today in the US, but Europeans will have to wait until Friday to save Gotham. Wherever you live, you can play a free demo of Batman: Arkham City right now through the cloud gaming service, OnLive.

Once you've signed up for a free account and downloaded the client simply search for Arkham City in the games list and launch the free trial. It's limited to 30 minutes, but that'll give you chance to take control of Catwoman and thrash some burly men with Arkham City's super slick combat system. Hold down the crouch button while moving for some comedy cat-crawling.

Anno 2070 demo arrives, play the first two missions

Tom Senior at

Upcoming city-building sim, Anno 2070 has a demo! It covers the first two missions, in which you're tasked with funding and building a hydroelectric power plant at the behest of a tycoon leader. It should provide a gentle introduction to the construction and resource management mechanics, and also give us an opportunity to gawp at the lovely graphics engine (see more of it in these Anno trailers). The full game contains two factions, and will let you extend your cities beyond the shores of your island to the bottom of the ocean. Grab the Anno 2070 demo here.

Lego Harry Potter: Years 5-7 demo out now

Tom Senior at

Lego Harry Potter was great. You could take control of the world famous wizard-kid and all his mates and zap the shazam out of almost every object in the world. Whether it was a pot plant or a ghost, targeted items and people would react in hilarious and unpredictable ways. The pot plant would grow to a monstrous size and swallow a nearby student, the ghost would start singing opera. Mix that sense of playful exploration with the Lego games' trademark brand of silent, slapstick humour and you had something rather wonderful.

It's great news, then, to see more Lego Harry Potter heading our way. In fact, RPS mention that a small chunk of the upcoming Lego Harry Potter: Years 5-7 is already available in magically shrunken demo form. Grab it now from Gamershell. Years 5-7 covers the events of the last three books, and the final four films, culminating in the big magical show down with He Who Must Not Be Named, aka Voldemort.

Football Manager 2012 demo out now

Tom Senior at

The Football Manger 2012 demo is available now on Steam, offering the first half-season of 11 quick-start leagues set in England, Australia, Scotland, France, Spain, Holland, Belgium, Italy, Norway, Denmark and Sweden. If you manage to put together a decent squad and can't bear to lose them, you'll be able to carry over all of your progress into the full version when it's released on October 21.

"The demo includes the biggest leagues in the world and allows you to put your managerial skills to the test on a global stage," reads the Steam blurb, which explains why it weighs in at just over 2.7 GB. That's 2.7 GB of pure, sweet footballing data. Yum.

Orcs must die! demo hits Steam!

Tom Senior at

The Orcs have invaded Steam! Slay them with the demo of Orcs Must Die! Spotted on RPS! The full game is out next Wednesday October 12, which gives us days and days to practice planting traps and crossbow-blasting streams of green fools. There's 995 MB worth of Orcs to kill, and a pleasing variety of traps with which to do it. See a few of them in action in the interactive Orcs Must Die! trailer. You can pre-order the full version on Steam now at a discount and some shiny pre-order armour, which comes with a great big hammer. For killing Orcs, you understand.