It’s time once again for Steam Next Fest, a one-week period in which Valve’s gaming storefront becomes flooded with tantalizing demos for promising upcoming games. One major takeaway from this year’s event is that, yes, there are indeed a hell of a lot of awesome games on the horizon. And the best part? You can play demos of them right now. There are tons of demos currently available for download during Next Fest, but these are the ones you shouldn’t miss.
From retro-style shooters, to farm sims, to side-scrolling action RPGs and more, there’s a lot to choose from. Next Fest will end on October 10, and not all of these demos are guaranteed to stick around when the event is over. Definitely get some time with them sooner rather than later.
Chasm: The Rift
We’ll kick this list off with a throwback, and a damn fun one at that. Billed as “the first Eastern European boomer shooter” (please, can we stop using this term?), the demo for Chasm: The Rift (no relation to 2018’s action-adventure sidescroller Chasm) goes through two levels of the game’s corridor-shooting-stomp-crawl, giving you literally just the basics to work with: Move, Shoot, Jump. You can switch through a couple of different weapons, including a double-barreled shotgun and a chain gun.
In standard Doom fashion, you’ll be running around, grabbing keys, unlocking doors and hopefully not getting too frustrated when you inevitably ask yourself, “Okay, where the hell am I supposed to go?” I recommend scaling the FOV back to at least 100 and shutting the damn camera head bob off. The demo can be a little challenging, so you might want to watch the difficulty setting, but that challenge just adds to the fun. This is a promising retro shooter that we’ll be looking forward to when it launches on PC on October 10.
Aka is easily one of my favorite demos on this list. Aka, the titular character, was once a warrior, but now that the war is over they’ve followed an invitation to a peaceful island. You can probably guess what happens next, but yeah, you’ll be doing some farming and cooking and cleaning, but if you want, you can also just chill on the beach and look up at the clouds as time passes. War’s wake, however, looms over everything. It’s not doom and gloom, though. There’s a constant pattern of recovery and peace in each of the sidequests you can take on, given by wonderfully animated and emotion-stirring characters.
The art and music fit the mood wonderfully. I can’t wait to see what emotional twists and turns await in the full version when it ships sometime this year.
Brace yourself for a preview of an absolutely gorgeous and fun-as-hell side-scrolling action RPG. ASTLIBRA’s store page describes the game as a return to the “golden age of JRPGs,” and there should be extra emphasis on the RPG part because this is a remarkably rich fusion of quick, slashy action with a thorough RPG mechanical skeleton underneath. Selecting “Demo” from the title screen will toss you into a sort of “flash forward” sequence where you’ll take on an epic boss and wonderfully designed enemies before you’re brought back to a more traditional RPG starting area.
The art here is simply to die for. Whether it’s your character, the environments, the enemies, the super-fun soundtrack, or the utterly mesmerizing backdrops, there’s so much to love here that you’ll certainly want to keep this on your radar. It launches on October 13th.
And yes, you can change the demo’s language to English. It’s the first option in the settings.
The Entropy Centre
Have you ever wanted a gun that’ll reverse the effects of entropy? No? What’s wrong with you? Okay, what if it also was kind of like the Zero Point En—um, Gravity Gun from Half-Life 2? Well that’s the primary tool you’ll use to get through this very pretty-looking Portal-like.
What’s on offer in The Entropy Centre’s demo is a great execution of the old “guess I gotta find my way out of this random test facility” vibe. The puzzles offered in the demo are refreshing. It’s not just about where you put the puzzle objects but when you put them, as your entropy gun will turn back the clock, allowing you to move forward by opening doors, moving platforms, rebuilding collapsed areas of the building, and so on.
There’s also a really cool NPC you’ll meet named Astra. She’s delightful. But I won’t say too much about her to save you the joy of her introduction. The Entropy Centre launches on November 3 on PlayStation, Xbox, and PC.
The Knight Witch
The planet’s dyin’ Cl—Knight Witches! The demo for The Knight Witch grants a very promising sneak peek at this Metroidvania/bullet-hell hybrid. The hand-drawn vibe of the art is wonderfully alluring, and the fusion of shooting and spell cards adds a bit of deckbuilding spice that makes this sing with a gamepad in hand.
The story hits hard on themes of pollution, overtaxing of a world’s resources, and the destruction that follows from reckless expansion. The titular characters are the world’s last hope, kind of like the WEAPONS from Final Fantasy VII, but much smaller and way cuter. The Knight Witch is expected on all consoles and PC on November 29.
Imagine blending Fallout, Escape From Tarkov, and S.T.A.L.K.E.R. until it was ground up into a nice pixelated consistency and you have something very close to Zero Sievert. Right now, there are some performance issues to consider with this procedurally generated romp through a top-down pixel wasteland (the loading menu even warns of memory leaks), but you should still give this one a try, even if just to remember to keep on your radar when it’s out and hopefully in better shape.
While I do prefer my demos a little more polished, Zero Sievert is still in Early Access. With that in mind, what you can experience now is a very promising survival experience where Among Us-looking characters and strange beasts engage in heated battles across a desolate landscape. Zero Sievert is expected on November 22.
Asterigos: Curse of the Stars
Asterigos looks like an honest-to-goodness classic action RPG trip through some really bright and colorful environments. While it’s nowhere near as crushing, it’s got a strand of Soulslike running through it, particularly in the balance between stamina, health, and the timing of your attacks. Bosses in particular will give you a bit of a challenge, but once you acquire all your weapons early on, you get access to different “talents” that vary based on weapon type. It kind of reminds me of Final Fantasy XV’s weapon system, but actually fun this time. These are essential for boss fights as the different weapon moves will take chunks out of a foe’s health bar.
This looks like a very narrative game, so if you’re not into chatty protagonists who like to comment and fill you in on every little detail when you enter a new area, this may not be your cup of tea. That said, it looks like there might be a fun fantasy story here, so it’s definitely worth checking out the demo ahead of its October 11 release date on PlayStation, Xbox, and PC.
If you’re looking to slay an epic number of foes with active skills that test your timing and positioning more than anything else, give the demo for Soulstone Survivors a try. The longer you can remain on the battlefield, the more abilities you’ll unlock. Die, and you’ll go all the way back to Level 1 with your starting abilities.
The demo has a couple of maps to check out. It’s a nice break from the usual mashing of buttons and you can kinda zone out to it as you mop the floor with legions of enemies. That said, stronger ones will require a bit more awareness and alertness as they can knock your health down pretty quickly. Soulstone Survivors is expected to release on November 7 on PC.
Season: A letter to the future
Season is one hell of a visual treat. It’s been on our radar before, but having a chance to play a bit of Scavengers Studio’s upcoming title via the demo now available on Steam is a great way to see this game in motion for yourself. The art is simply sublime. The music gently floats above the exploratory, narrative gameplay in a way that will just instantly chill you out.
The demo is super short, closing shortly after you leave the village on your bike. But what’s here is really compelling in terms of visual appeal and storytelling. If you’ve been curious about this one, the demo is a great way to get a taste of what’s to come when it releases next year on PlayStation, Xbox, and PC.
Dredge is a very chill fishing and exploration sim that tasks you with setting sail across an archipelago to fish and unravel secrets. Time moves as you’re out on the waters, and things get kinda spooky at night. The store page contains an ominous warning, saying “you might not like what finds you in the dark.” Based on some of the previews available, I very much believe that.
You’ll need to keep an eye on the condition of your ship, as well as the fish you’ve caught, which are prone to spoiling and corruption. Overall, this looks like a wonderful, low-poly indie game that’ll be packed full of surprises and secrets to unravel when it arrives next year on all consoles and PC.