Games that didn't live up to the free to play part?

I don’t know if this is going to be controversial, but I really feel like Psy High’s quality dropped right after the free to play part of it. I’ve been a big fan of CoGs and I only recently started buying them (I didn’t have any way of paying for stuff online back then) so when I bought Psy High (one of the games that I was most hyped to play!) and actually did a playthrough…

I was thoroughly disappointed.

Now I’m not saying Psy High was bad (Though I seriously don’t get how some of you guys are that into the ROs, they felt so generic to me! I do like them and some of the interactions you get are pretty cute but I don’t see how people would pick an RO from Psy High compared to some of the ROs in other games), but I thought that the climax and even the events leading up to the climax were rushed. I know I should’ve been doubtful of it before buying it because of the low word count, but here’s the thing. The free to play part was good. It was even great. I loved the hook and the cliffhanger the game presented. The ROs were a lot more prominent in the first few chapters too. The achievements also made stuff seem a lot more intense, and before I had the game I spent so much time thinking of how the story would go on.

You can see why I was so disappointed when I actually bought the game. Yes, I’ll acknowledge that my expectations were very high, but seriously?! (Some spoilers ahead)

First of all, the way you just figure out everything in one go during the research session with Haley and Alison/Andrew was very unsatisfying. Secondly, Pierce was not scary at all. How could he be when he shows up like, literally never. It would have been easy to make him a bigger threat by just having him show up more, instead of just being the big bad at the climax. And honestly, same could be said for a lot of characters. They’re there just for the sake of being there. I do admit that the ROs are alright presence-wise, they’re not annoying or useless. My main complaint is still how there was a big lack of tension. Lastly, not a lot of replayability was there. I don’t mean they should’ve spiralled into this big dramatic plot filled with twists and turn at every corner!!! (woAh), just that a lot of the routes are super similar, and there’s not a lot of reason to take on other paths when choosing certain choices in the story. Usually, I replay games to see what outcomes there are if I invest in different stats, but in Psy High, there’s almost no difference at all! I have replayed Psy High multiple times and I can say for a fact that the amount of fake choices there are is disappointing. You basically only change some minor things here and there while the only two final outcomes are “Bad End” or “Good End”. Another thing is that the PC just knowing what to do with the Vinculum. I would’ve hoped for a little more backstory and content there, seeing as its the main plot device of the game.

Honestly, I wouldn’t be this nitpicky if the free content wasn’t so well-written. I get that you have to snag players in and get them interested quick, but I would’ve preferred some more consistent quality throughout the game. Psy High had a lot of potential for me, but the plot quality drop between the free chapters and the rest of the game was too bad for me to really enjoy it. (At the end of the day, it’s just my opinion. I just personally thought the free chapters was giving off more potential than the game actually had.)

But enough about my rant, what Choice of Games do you guys think looked good during the free chapters but wasn’t as great as you expected them to be when you actually bought it? And do you agree with my thoughts on Psy High?

Again, I get that Psy High is supposed to be shorter and less dramatic than most other games on CoG, but it’s no excuse for the free chapters to build up to something epic when the actual game was just decent.


Sincerely, I think you re-reading so many times the free chapters, that you get yourself hyped up for something is not there. There is not a big difference in quality, there is not certainly any epicness and the game is not marketed as such. It is a short fast-faced supernatural soap opera for teens. Like some sort of Those Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Witches in high school.

There is no deepness or Supreme deepness and psychological development because it is NOT the intent of a fast-paced well developed casual game. You shouldn’t let your own imagination over hype games to something they aren’t and hasn’t been marketed as.


Honestly, it was pretty good in my opinion. Not award-winning or something, but good enough for me not to feel it was a total waste to spend $5 dollars on it (Steam).

I agree with @poison_mara, it wasn’t marketed as an epic adventure, just a teen drama IF with a touch of supernatural into it. If the free chapters built something epic up, well then kudos to the author for doing it in such an early stage. And if you think that the quality dropped off along the line, then that’s the author couldn’t keep up with a consistent flow. Something that happens with many IFs. It’s not a crime or something like that.

Hmm…this is treading into the “personal preference” territory.

To me, it was probably 7th Sea : A Pirate’s Pact. It looked promising, but kind of disappointed me with how it turned up. Not that I went in with high expectations anyway.


This is a cool conversation, but just a quick heads-up to make sure it doesn’t turn into “what games did I not like” as opposed to getting into the details and specifics of creating a game that matches the promise of the demo.

I like Mara’s point about how when you go into the first few chapters of a game, the possibilities can seem endless, but after you play, you can perceive more of the limitations of a game, which could lead to disappointment, regardless of the game. For those who have been disappointed by a demo, do you think part of the problem could have been solved by a longer demo? In part I wonder whether the issue is actually the issue of creating a satisfying resolution in the last chapter of the game.


I rarely play the Demos, so I would not even notice a quality drop after the free part. The few demos I played we’re mostly betas and in none of them I experienced a significant drop in quality.
The middle of a game is always the slowest pace, since they are building Up the climax for the ending.
Perhaps this is really more of a built expectations vs. Reality Thing. Fantasy is a strong thing, so If you imagined some really good endings, the “normal” one the author built might look boring in comparison.
You might test this with playing a Demo part directly before buying the game. Does it feel the same or is the difference less?


do hosted games count? if so, i’d say fatehaven for a whole bunch of reasons. the plot and progression mainly, which went off the rails right after the demo ended and mostly got messier and messier until the abrupt end. it’s an ok game, but not nearly as much as what you’d expect from the demo. just my two cents.


What did the demo lead you to expect that you didn’t get from the game itself, in Fatehaven?

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the style of progression, mainly. the story was going at a smooth pace, no huge twists or turns except the doomed hometown bit that you’d expect from many fantasy rpg’s. but then instead of staying with the friend and continuing your quest, the mc abruptly ends up working for a bunch of strangers after the demo. then the stuff with maeben or whatever happens, derailing the focus once again. then the main quest shows back up but starts twisting more and more and ends abruptly with the time loop thing that sorta came outta nowhere

might just be me, but from the demo i got the feeling it would be more of a straightforward fantasy rpg kinda game instead of the twisty one it turned out to be. not that this is always a bad thing, for example with the butler did it, which unveiled the twist slowly and carefully while having an easier to swallow progression of tone. in fatehaven’s case though i feel it was handled kinda messily.


I think the problem is with games based on twists. The demo can not be accurate to the fact there is a twist. It is like Bioware Knights of Old Republic The fact that the game has the big twist the player was the villain all along, You certainly can not spoil it in the demo. Fatehaven is a similar situation.

If you don’t like the twist… That is nor the demo built fault.


I think it’s unavoidable to make a demo that won’t disappoint at least someone, and that it’s realistic to assume that as soon as you hit the paywall you’ll start thinking about what the rest of the game is going to be like before you buy it. I can imagine that if you really liked the demo, even minor changes that you don’t like will probably not sit well with you throughout the rest of the game.

I think the problem lies more in the way a twist is handled rather than the twist just being there. You can always put a twist in a story, but if it isn’t set up well or if it’s introduced in a rush it can be a bit jarring. Especially when it comes to fantasy and supernatural stuff. Even if a story takes place in a universe you’ve created, I don’t think you can expect the reader to casually accept everything you write without considering how it fits into the world you’ve set up.

If the way big events and relationships and such are handled radically differently as soon as the demo is over, I can imagine the game being disappointing, because it breaks the idea the writer has given you of how you’re going to experience the story.


We actively strive for cliffhangers in COG demos for obvious reasons. One of the best examples of a well chosen demo end is in The Fog Knows Your Name.


I find this to be a very odd post. That’s not because this sort of thing doesn’t occasionally happen with COG, but rather that I don’t find Psy High to be a good example. In my opinion, it’s pretty well-written throughout, and the stakes involved are interesting. It’s not like it’s something Shakespeare would write, but it’s worth the price of a large side of onion rings from Happy’s Pizza.

Alternatively, I’ll throw out A Wise Use of Time as one that really screws the whole thing up past its excellent demo. For the uninitiated, you gain the power to stop time one day, and get the chance to use it while figuring out the nature of it and how you can use it for good or evil. After the demo portion, however, the story instead becomes about a lot of different things, none of which are really that good. Most notably, the central conflict now involves stopping some guy who’s basically a time-stopping tool who kills people and steals their powers; this casts a shadow over the rest of the game and makes most of what you do seem paltry and pointless. Plus, the story was more poorly written and more linear from that point on.

For the most part, though, I’d say that ~90-95% of COG live up to the quality of their demo, as it’s the same people writing the entire thing. Funnily enough, I’d say it’s more common an excellent game is hidden behind a mediocre demo; Tally Ho and Heart of the House, two of my favorites, come to mind (sorry, @Gower; the rest of the former is easily my favorite COG, for what it’s worth).


Choice of the Petal Throne ended when I thought it was only the beginning. I expected the game to be much longer.

Aside from that one game, I don’t think I ever had a situation where a game didn’t live up. I can usually tell if a game will be good (for me) from the first few pages, nevermind a whole demo, so I never end up with false expectations (aside from length, which happened with Petal Throne).


Yeah, after thinking about it for a while I do admit that I hyped myself up way too much for the game, but I still don’t really take back what I said. I also don’t think that the writing quality dropped a lot either, but some of the stuff was just disappointing given the more slow paced build up from the demo.

My final thoughts are that I don’t really regret buying it, but I’m not that interested in Psy High 2. The story was pretty fun for what it was, but overall I’m not that interested in it…


Alternatively, I’ll throw out A Wise Use of Time as one that really screws the whole thing up past its excellent demo.

Wow, I also checked out the demo for A Wise Use of Time ages ago and enjoyed it. Sucks to hear that that’s how the rest of the game progresses, because I really did enjoy how you could do kinda whatever you wanted with your powers in the demo.

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Oh yes! I only checked out the Fog Knows Your Name after I was able to buy CoG games, and I bought it instantly right when I finished playing the demo. The Fog Knows Your Name is a great game, really enjoyed it even though my first playthrough didn’t end that well, haha. I feel like the Fog Knows Your Name is a game that does live up to the demo, though I can’t exactly pinpoint the exact reason why I think that yet.

I guess I just preferred how things were paced in TFKYN over Psy High? Again, I think my main complaint about Psy High is how you just kinda solve everything in one go in the earlier chapters right after the demo or something. Meanwhile in TFKYN the exposition dump was pretty well executed. And of course, I didn’t wait years to buy TFKYN so I suppose there’s a difference there. Didn’t get any unrealistic expectations and such…

But yeah, I also understand why you’d end demos on a cliffhanger. Let me tell you, it is extremely effective. I honestly would’ve gone broke from buying CoG if you gave me a credit card two years ago :joy:


I always recommend our Steam Everything Bundle :smiley:


Some people can get really into stories, especially if in a genre they like. So their mind creates added stuff that isn’t actually in the game…sort of like how fanfic expands what people like, even though it isn’t official.

I’m guilty of this; in the Wayhaven series I actually had an urge to write a piece of fanfic between my MC and a RO about the relationship with their mother being bad. The topic was “I thought my mom hated me…must be even worse to love someone but can’t be around them because they remind you of their SO”

This is actually a criticism I have leveled at many CoGs. Not going to pick on any one in particular, but I also think part of it is that in the planning stages the writer may not know how they wish to end something. You can have a cool concept/idea, but not necessarily as thought out resolution.

However, you can also see this in a lot of games. sighs at Mass Effect 3

Of course there can be other factors. Burnout is a major issue as well as trying to meet deadlines.

That said, I definitely give a lot more leeway say with a CoG or Hosted Game. Much like most Visual Novels, there is just one writer and often they are also the coder. That is 2 skill sets that take up a lot of time, and sometimes a person can just want to be done with a project (and this doesn’t include the mentioned burnout.)


I don’t think I’ve ever been disappointed by a demo. The most I felt towards a demo is pure disinterest if it didn’t deliver what it promised in the description or something else. But then I wonder if that’s the fault of the demo/story or in the way it was advertised that led to my disinterest.

Case and point is that the movie Treasure Planet was marketed horribly to audiences before it came out in theaters, but’s another media entirely so it only somewhat applies.

After the whiplash that was Silverworld, specifically how the author handled/railroaded your character’s choice to stay or go home, I’m very suspicious of new publications, especially if they’re not authors I’ve heard of or I haven’t played the demo.

I personally dislike how COG demos purposefully end in cliffhangers since the payoff of finally knowing what comes after the cliffhanger can vary based on the author’s delivery. If I’m not familiar with the author’s work, then I lean towards not buying the rest until I see CoG forum goers review the book. If I know and trust the author’s ability to deliver a good story, then I’ll more than likely buy the rest of it.

So I don’t think the answer to someone’s disappointment towards a demo is to make longer demos, I think it’s a case by case basis thing that wholly depends on the author’s execution of the payoff of the cliffhanger.


Whenever I read a game.more than once, I feel like it was worth a couple of bucks regardless if I liked the ending or not. Sorry you were disappointed, though! You must’ve really been enjoying those first few chapters!