Steam Next Fest, the biannual event that scatterguns hundreds of game demos into your eager face for a week before rudely yoinking them away again, has come to an end. That’s a bummer if you missed out on the chance to try the demo of a great game, but the good news is that a few free demos aren’t expiring just because the Fest is over.
That includes the demo for a game you absolutely shouldn’t miss: Shadows of Doubt from ColePowered Games. The demo will remain live for a few more days.
🚨ATTENTION ALL DETECTIVES🚨We aren’t ready for the case to go cold just yet 🧊📂We’ve decided to extend your #SteamNextFest demo investigation until Thursday Feb.16th! 🕵♀️🤝🕵♂️https://t.co/HMGp6KToqTFebruary 13, 2023
“We aren’t ready for the case to go cold just yet 🧊📂,” the official Shadows of Doubt account tweeted this morning. “We’ve decided to extend your #SteamNextFest demo investigation until Thursday Feb.16th!”
That’s great. Even though I’ve played it twice already, I’m not ready to stop.
Shadows of Doubt has been a big, intriguing blip on our radar since it was revealed at The PC Gaming Show back in 2020. It’s a first-person stealth detective adventure set in a fully simulated sci-fi city. Picture Deus Ex spliced with Blade Runner and you’ve got the vibe. Now imagine you’re a noir detective with a bunch of murders and mysteries to investigate in any way you choose, and you’ve got the rest.
The demo is fantastic. Once the game has procedurally generated the entire cyberpunk city, its dystopian history, and all of its inhabitants, you wake up in your apartment as a note is slipped under your door asking you to locate a missing person. After gathering up your detective toolkit and finding the person’s address in the city directory, you head out into the rainy night to snoop around. Investigate the crime scene and murder victim, gather fingerprints, read emails, examine phone records, and even go through the trash—you never know where an important clue might be found.
Each citizen of the hundreds living in the city has a name, a home address, a job, and routine they follow through the city as they work or enjoy their leisure time, and you can snoop around in their lives and discover their connections to other characters. Every single building in the city is fully modeled, so there’s nowhere you can’t go: break into offices and homes, hack security systems and watch surveillance footage, talk to people of interest, interrogate suspects, and even perform an arrest if you think you’ve got your perp. Throw in a conspiracy corkboard where you can arrange and connect evidence with red strings, and Shadows of Doubt will appeal to any armchair detective out there.
One thing that disappointed me a bit was when I was ready to turn in my completed case at city hall. The game only required me to provide proof that my suspect was at the scene of the crime, which boiled down to a fingerprint I’d collected and some surveillance footage I’d seen. I had way, way more evidence, though, including several incriminating emails I’d printed out proving they were a hired assassin, and I would have loved the opportunity to turn in those, too (“Look at all this Crime Homework I did, justice system!”). Hopefully, in the finished game, there will be a more extensive way to put all your evidence to use.
But it’s still an extremely engaging and fascinating demo, and all of us at PC Gamer who played it recommend checking it out. The demo gives you 90 minutes of playtime, and if you solve the first mystery (even if you botch it) you can gather more side-jobs at notice boards scattered around the city. And when you reach the demo’s time limit, you can just start again. The neat thing about the procedural nature of the mysteries is that even playing the same case over again will give you different leads, evidence, and suspects.
A release date for Shadows of Doubt hasn’t been announced yet, but we’re hoping we don’t have to wait too much longer for the full game.