Steam Next Fest has become our favorite seasonal event on Valve’s gaming storefront. This dedicated event has helped gamers find some of the coolest upcoming titles from indie studios, and we eagerly look forward to it. Next Fest hosts free demos of some of the best upcoming games. And, as traditions prevail, we once again dug through the offerings and tried out some of the demos. To save you time and cut right to the best of the lot, we have compiled a list of our favorite Steam Next Fest games you should download and play. So, without further ado, open Steam, and let’s get started!
1. Ghostrunner 2
Ghostrunner has always been a game that is reserved for the fastest and deadliest of slasher gamers. Set in a turbulent post-apocalyptic theme, Ghostrunner 2 follows the same FPP action that some have come to love and some hate because of how difficult it can get. The sequel takes place after the events of Dharma Tower and sees Jack take care of an AI cult hell-bent on destruction.
Ghostrunner 2 brings back one-hit-kill mechanics but spices it up with new Katana action that is now even more violent than ever before. The game has also been expanded non-linearly to cover other areas. It even includes new motorbike sections that will make exploration more fun. So, if you finished the first game in a jiffy and wanted a sequel, check out this free demo during Steam Next Fest 2023.
Download Ghostrunner 2
2. Deep Rock Galactic Survivor
Deep Rock Galactic is an underground caving resource shooter that has been massively loved and adored worldwide since its 2018 launch. However, Deep Rock Galactic: Survivor is a step taken from a different perspective, quite literally. The upcoming game is set from a top-down view and has simplified mechanics compared to the original.
Players or ‘Miners’ are dropped on the planet Hoxxes IV, where they must defeat the incoming horde of enemies and, finally, the alien boss. DRG Survivor has an auto-shooting mechanic, so you don’t need to point. However, there are massive hordes of enemies, so make sure to walk around as you dispose of them and mine minerals.
While it might be a bit too simple for DRG veterans, it’s worth a shot if the main game always confuses you, but you still want that action.
Download Deep Rock Galactic Survivor
3. Laika: Aged Through Blood
Of all the games available in the Steam Next Fest, Laika: Aged through Blood is a very different one among the lot. This game, as described, is a “western-inspired motorvania” that takes that word to heart. Laika’s crux of the gameplay is a smart interconnection between a lot of bike riding, deadly blood-soaked shooting, and a well-done bullet time to go with it.
While it might seem simple, there are times when riding your bike through an endless maze of enemies and shooting them simultaneously gets overwhelming. However, there is a very gripping story about revenge, sacrifice, and taking back what was once lost to your tribe woven along with it to make all the pain worth it.
Download Laika: Aged Through Blood
4. The Thaumaturge
Fans of Diablo will especially love this top-down, story-driven adventure. Created as a full-set RPG, Thaumaturge is based in 20th-century Warsaw. In the game, beings called Thaumaturges hold extraordinary perceptions that can detect auras, feelings, and even future actions of a person. The main character, Wiktor, is a Thaumaturge and is searching for a healer who can cure one of his ailing conditions and restore his connection to Upyr, a monster friend.
The game follows turn-based combat, with players selecting specific moves and gauging enemy reactions. Even though Thumaturge is top-down, it features full-depth cinematic cutscenes with skills and a complex story that binds it all. So, if you’re looking for an RPG adventure that gets a bit dark, play this demo at the Steam Next Fest.
Download The Thaumaturge
Jusant is an action puzzle climbing game that is equal parts calming, melodic, and anxiety-inducing. It appears to be based in a world where the water has drained, and our protagonist is on the seabed. The character then sees a tall mountain and decides to scale it. Climbing in Jusant works very much like a real-world scaling adventure.
You must dynamically manage to attach your carabiners and pitons to walls, methodically hold triggers for that perfect grip, and even rest to get stamina. Amidst that is a perfect backdrop of calming music, excellent lighting, and an art style that will make you feel at home. So, if you want a peaceful yet simulative mountain climbing adventure, try Jusant out.
6. Anima Flux
Anima Flux is a co-op Metroidvania featuring two enhanced special agents living in a dictatorial regime. The only human city where they live is constantly subjected to an organized mutant invasion. That is where you and your companion come into play, taking out the mutant hoards and saving the colony.
Anime Flux remixes two genres into one: Metroidvania and couch co-op. Both the characters develop differently as the game progresses, and the game features some grim locations. While Anima Flux has been made with co-op in mind, the developers have confirmed that you can play the game solo too.
Download Anima Flux
7. The Last Exterminator
Ah yes, if it’s a Steam Next Fest demo list, we have to squeeze in at least a few boomer shoots in the list. And what better game to suggest than The Last Exterminator? A title that has managed to impress the entire retro-shooter community, this game puts you in the shoes of Kira Parker, an exterminator barely making ends meet. As luck has it, an alien invasion begins, and they destroy the one thing Kira had – her van.
The Last Exterminator features a no-nonsense FPS gameplay inspired by titles like Doom, Blood, Duke Nukem, and more. It runs on its engine and looks similar to titles like SiN and Kingpin. Furthermore, on launch, you’ll receive modding options for players who enjoy doing it, episodic levels with numerous secrets to uncover, and no-nonsense shooting gameplay. The Steam Next Fest demo contains the first level of Episode 1.
Download The Last Exterminator
8. RoboCop: Rogue City
If we start gushing about Paul Verhoeven’s Robocop movies, it will extend this article into a fanboy review. And I don’t want to take those chances with my editor. Naturally, given my appreciation for RoboCop, we had to add RoboCop: Rogue City, a no-nonsense FPS featuring the part man, part machine, all cop hero many of us have grown up watching.
Rogue City features an original story happening between RoboCop 2 and RoboCop 3. It puts you in the boots of Alex Murphy, a literal walking tank, as we solve cases and eradicate the evil gangs of futuristic Detroit. While the gameplay is AA standard and has the stiffness of Teyon’s Terminator titles, you can conveniently ignore all that, thanks to the fun gameplay.
The Steam Next Fest demo features three linear levels and an open-hub world to explore. So, take our word on this one and try RoboCop: Rogue City. You won’t be disappointed.
Download RoboCop: Rogue City
9. Detective Dotson
It’s surreal to think that no developer has prominently explored something as vibrant and outlandish as Bollywood and modern-day India setting. The Indian dev team of Detective Dotson acknowledges that and presents a beautiful love letter to both. In Detective Dotson, you play a small-time detective living in modern India who gets into big trouble.
You collect clues, explore beautifully recreated Indian locations, solve cases, and live through an outlandish and fun experience. This game will also have an episodic prequel show, making this a multi-media project. We rarely get the representation of our Indian pop culture in the form of video games, and the demo has done nothing but excite us for the final title.
Download Detective Dotson
10. Vengeance of Mr Peppermint
We have come a long way from the days when Kunio-kun and Capcom dominated the side-scrolling beat-em-up titles. As the gameplay landscape changed, the focus on this genre dwindled. However, few developers acknowledge that there is still love and appreciation for beat-em-up games. Vengeance of Mr Peppermint is that. It is inspired by classic Korean crime dramas like the Vengeance series, and its inspirations are obvious.
This is a hardcore side-scrolling beat-em-up title, where we play as a hard-boiled detective out for revenge against his and his sister’s kidnappers. Vengeance of Peppermint claims that in the final game if you act cruel, the game changes as Peppermint’s psyche crumbles. It’s brutal, with art inspired by Kunio-kun games, and comes with fluid fight animations. For someone who loves Korean thrillers, this demo is a godsend and a must-try.
Download Vengeance of Mr Peppermint
11. Japanese Drift Master
Racing fans have always wanted Japan as a setting for their games. Especially arcade racing fans. That dream got crushed when Forza Horizon 5 went to the vibrant streets of Mexico instead of the thin alleys and neon-lit Tokyo streets. Fortunately, many indie developers have taken it upon themselves to create that experience. And Japanese Drift Master is one of those impressive efforts.
A wordplay on the Japanese Domestic Market, or JDM, this game allows you to customize and create your dream drift car and compete across the island. Featuring atmospheric, smaller towns with traffic, a dynamic day-night cycle, a robust car customization system, and a single-player story with a foreigner trying to make his name in the drift scene, JDM tries to fulfill that itch for a perfect arcade drift game set in Japan. The game plans for you to experience the impressive and robust automotive culture of Japan.
Download Japanese Drift Master
12. My Work is Not Yet Done
My Work is Not Yet Done might have a name that is quite a handful, but what it plans to do is impressive. Something which we love. It is a narrative-driven investigative horror game that combines survival and simulation genres. The story follows the final days of a surviving scientific expedition in a remote and unaccounted stretch of a sinking country.
The game boasts of having a non-linear plot that explores the dissolution of human identities. Furthermore, it has open-ended investigative and analytical work, haunted radio signals, and an ever-shifting landscape reclaimed by nature. It has stylish art, vividly reminding me of the 1-bit art styles previously seen in the Panstasz-developed World of Horror. It is a horror game worth keeping an eye on.
Download My Work is Not Yet Done
13. Empty Shell
Another tradition we judiciously follow here when we create our Steam Next Fest lists is adding a HyperStrange title. The reason is simple. They publish and develop titles that are worth your attention. Empty Shell is one such title getting published in just a few days.
Developed by CC ARTS, Empty Shell is a top-down survival rogue-lite shooter that puts you in a dark industrial environment. Taking place in a secret facility on a Japanese island, you play as a volunteer. These volunteers sign a contract for a recovery operation, which is not safe. Each death will put you in the shoes of a new volunteer, with randomly generated equipment and maps to explore.
You have optional puzzles to solve and logs to collect that give you the backdrop of the story. Empty Shell manages to introduce a tight atmosphere in the Steam Next Fest demo, and because of that, we recommend it. Also, the progression from the demo carries over to the final title.
Download Empty Shell
14. Silent Rain
Playing a co-op horror game is always fun. It provides some memorable moments, and let’s face it, who doesn’t like seeing their close ones getting a little scared playing a videogame? Silent Rain, an upcoming co-op horror game, plans to provide that experience.
It is a co-op horror game where you team up to explore a haunted mansion. It is also a hide-n-seek title, where you protect yourself from a mad doctor roaming the mansion. You coordinate with your friends to unravel the mysteries of this spooky mansion, solving puzzles and challenges. The demo gives you a slice of what’s to come. Keep an eye on if you want a horror title to play with friends.
Download Silent Rain
15. Forgive Me Father 2
Byte Barrel-developed Forgive Me Father brings several new things to the table. It brings a new story inspired by Lovecraftian-mythos. It brings satisfying first-person shooting (FPS) gameplay with light RPG mechanics through a skill tree. And it brings a distinct art style inspired by old pulp fiction books and comic books. Forgive Me Father 2 is more of the same in a good way.
It continues the storyline of the Priest character from the first game, once again throwing you amidst the eldritch horrors. The game comes with a dynamic madness system, a new story, and an original dynamic soundtrack. While the moment-to-moment gameplay stays similar to the first title, it aims to provide a fun experience. After all, why change something that works? It is a must-play demo for the fun it brings along.
Download Forgive Me Father 2
And with that, we conclude our Steam Next Fest 2023 demo list. Each of these demos got us excited for the final release. Did you try out a demo that impressed you? Let us know in the comments below.