Harold Halibut is one of the more intriguing videogame ideas I've seen in a while. It's "a handmade narrative game about friendship and life on a city-sized spaceship submerged in an alien ocean," which is interesting in its own right. But it also employs a stop-motion visual style reminiscent of games like The Neverhood or Armikrog, or (for those of a certain age) those classic 1960s holiday movies. We got a closer look at Harold Halibut at the PC Gaming Show in 2023, and now you can take a piece of it for a spin courtesy of the demo that's now available on Steam.
The demo promises about 1.5 hours of gameplay from the very beginning of Harold Halibut, although developer Slow Bros. said some people have needed twice that time to get through it. It's a chunky demo, clocking in at 54GB—that's bigger than Elden Ring—but Slow Bros. said the mondo gigs are necessary "because we wanted to keep the full 4K quality."
I haven't played the demo yet because a download that size is pretty much an overnighter for me, but I'm eager to give it a go. The graphical style is great but it's the story that really appeals to me: A guy just trying to get by in a mundane-and-yet-not situation that seems to grow increasingly bonkers every time he turns around—I won't say it's relatable but it definitely feels up my alley.
It also feels like it has the potential for some grim turns (or maybe I'm just too hung up on Iron Lung), but more than anything Harold Halibut looks wholesome and thoughtful and funny, and sometimes that's what the moment calls for. (I also want to know if Harold and the rest of the gang ever make it home, but for that I'll have to wait for the full game.)
Steam's next Steam Next Fest, an extravaganza of hundreds of game demos, kicks off on February 5, but the Harold Halibut demo on Steam is live right now. The full game is expected to launch sometime in early 2024.