The demo has returned! Between the limited-time abundance of the quarterly Steam games festival, the spread of standalone 'Prologue' releases, and just straightforwardly available demos on Steam game pages, it seems clear that it's not a fad. Thank heck?
Here's the latest game to have a demo: Rustler, a topdown medieval action game that frequently refers to itself as 'Grand Theft Horse'. It's out in early access today.
The trailers and screenshots are certainly evocative of Grand Theft Auto 1 and 2. This is a topdown game, albeit in proper 3D, in which you explore a medieval open world to complete quests, get into fights and, yes, steal horses.
Where Rustler maybe loses me is with its Steam description that mentions that it's "full of pop-culture references." This includes a screenshot of a de-limbed knight proclaiming that it's "just a flesh wound." I'm not sure there's any lower form of comedy than straightforward references to other works of pop culture, but if there is, it's references to Monty Python specifically. Expect poop and dick jokes, too.
Still, I've enough nostalgia for the early GTAs that I am midly curious. If you feel the same, you can find the demo on Steam.
And isn't that great? I've no idea if demos help or hurt sales of games (and it probably depends on the type of game), but it's definitely a good thing for you and I, the players of games, to be able to try before we buy. I spent about six years of my career cramming demos onto coverdiscs on the front of magazines, watching as demos grew in file size and diminished in quantity, and it's an honest joy that it looks like they've returned over the past year. (But please don't make me put them on CDs and DVDs for a living again, thanks.)