When I last wrote about Slipways, I called it the best demo of the Steam festival and lamented that it was no longer available. Good news! It's back, and in expanded form. There's now a public beta of this wonderful, pocket-sized grand strategy game which you can play via Steam until May 10th.
The demo includes three modes, which are described in a post on Steam: "score-focused play in the standard run mode, searching for a derelict megastructure in the sample campaign mission and the ultimate sandbox chill of the endless mode."
Slipways is about forming a trade network between planets. Each planet needs a resource and produces a resource, and you need to link your solar system together in a way that the population of every planet is kept happy. On top of that, there's a meta-layer of upgrades, research trees, and a handpicked council of aliens to please.
It's a grand strategy game, for sure, but one where a single match can last less than an hour. In my case, it ended up lasting closer to 90 minutes, because I found myself agonising and obsessing over every decision. It always feels like there's an optimal choice to make, but you need to see the whole board and think five moves ahead to work out which it is.
If you don't have time to give the beta a try, you don't have long to wait until it's available again. Slipways is due for its full release on June 3rd.