You were tasked with playing the Cabernet demo on Steam last week. How did you get on? If you’ve played it, I expect it’s on your wishlist already. If you haven’t played it, shame on you. While it’s downloading, have a read of this preview as I played it, and boy, it’s good.
Exceedingly good, even. There’s so much going for this upcoming game that I would write a list, but instead will summarise it into some keywords: vampires, choices matter, art, engaging, wishlist. In all honesty, this indie from Party for Introverts comes out top for most anticipated.
You play a promising medical student named Liz (I don’t have my notes to hand to provide you with her full name, Your Honour), and the first thing we learn about her is she’s dead. At the start of the demo, we’re at her funeral, where her uncle is giving a speech about what she could have been. This scene is pivotal as your responses will shape Liz’s starting stats.
After our intro to Cabernet, we join Liz as she awakes from her slumber, covered in mud and none the wiser about where she is or what has happened to her. What she does know is that she’s walked into a high society party hosted by Countess Orlova. An opportunity to clean herself up and don suitable, exquisite attire, and she’s soon mingling with the guests.
It becomes clear, as I’m sure you’ve deducted, that this party might be a bit suspect. Indeed, vampires live among us, and Liz realises she’s one of them. Or is she? Being a sun dodger and sporting a toothy grin doesn’t warrant a bona fide Nosferatu, and Liz has the edge: ethics. This is where Cabernet shines; your choices matter and will shape the options available as you progress.
Will she be more humane or a nihilist? Conversations will prompt your response and subsequent relationship with the speaker and unlock ability points to invest that make you a little more sophisticated in your conversations – be that in art, literature, politics or science.
Liz is educated on her new strengths and weaknesses as she concedes to her fate. We all know these by now, but our hero learns to shapeshift into a bat and has free roam to fly around and reappear as long as there’s a suitable landing spot, a.k.a. her shadow. Additionally, that sexy seduction technique vampires boast appears as an enchantment. With this skill, Liz can ‘influence’ others, potentially other vampires?
I can’t express how good Cabernet is at this stage. This isn’t a simple visual novel of jumping from one conversation to the next to progress the story. There’s a feeling of autonomy where choices matter, and your actions genuinely will shape the way the tale plays out. The additional mechanics of turning into a bat, enchanting the plebs, balancing out that blood thirst while being humane, or perhaps being an all-out rotter that slaughters everyone in sight make this fiendishly good.
Oh, did I even mention the visuals? The illustrations and animation in Cabernet are as elegant as the higher classes represented in the narrative but have that visceral element to it that makes it feel… gritty and something to sink your teeth into. Ha! Seriously, I can’t wait for this one to come to Steam in 2024.
I don’t get paid for this: check out the Steam demo – it’s fantastic.