The EGX demo for magic school adventure Leximan was perhaps only ten minutes long, but that’s all it really needed to confirm that this wordy spell-caster is a riotous delight of a thing that should absolutely be on your radar. Built out of a game jam prototype from 2020, Leximan casts you (sorry) as a would-be wizard who’s struggling to make an impact compared to his more verbally proficient schoolmates. In this particular demo, he’s woken by a friend to go and assist the school cook with preparing breakfast, but things go horribly awry when a pesky fire elemental turns up to spoil it all.
First, though, Leximan must deal with an even peskier toilet goblin, who’s causing havoc in his adjoining commode (and acts as a handy tutorial to teach you how its spell battles work). When these kick off, you enter a kind of turn-based battle screen, with Leximan on the left and your foe on the right. But instead of simply issuing commands a la Pokémon or Undertale, say, you must select and drag tiny pieces of word fragments to cast a particular spell.
I picked out CL and EAN, for example, to cast CLEAN, which left the toilet so sparklingly spotless that the goblin had no choice but to scarper for a dirtier hideout. But I could have picked LEAK, my demo handler told me later (presumably to wash him away in a torrent of toilet water), or indeed BLEAK, which would have the goblin so sad and depressed that he’d have toddled off of his own accord. Like fellow Rezzed Zone stablemate Loco Motive, the script has a keen eye for wit and comedy, and the presentation of said text is similarly top notch, employing excellent use of vibrating, wavy letters, different sized fonts and all-caps to really imbue its sparse, mostly monochrome pixel art with as much colour as possible.
In addition to casting spells in these specific battle scenes, you can also learn specific spells to cast in the overworld, too. These were mostly contained in little secret offshoots in this particular demo, and after commanding the school’s golem caretaker to SQUASH the breakfasting fire elemental, I spent probably another ten to fifteen minutes rooting them all out. My favourite was ENLARGE, which let me enter the locked gym (as my diminutive form wasn’t big or buff enough to enter without it). Inside I could take on the residing gym leader, like some kind of strange, demented Pokemon game, and using STRENGTH on them made them cower at Leximan’s rippling pectorals (and tiny swim trunks) and surrender their gym badge without further comment.
I’m not really doing the whole scene justice to be honest, but trust me when I say it was really very funny in the moment, and I did a proper chuckle at the whole thing on the demo booth. Alas, Leximan isn’t currently part of the Steam Next Fest, so you can’t go away and try it out for yourself at the moment, but I’d urge you to go and watch its announcement trailer instead to get more of a flavour of what it’s about. If Leximan can keep up its sense of humour across an entire game, this could really be something special when it comes out in full.