Valve’s Steam Next Fest is on, and hundreds of new and upcoming games are getting free playable demos to download for all and sundry this week. Until February 13, 2023, the front pages of the Steam storefront will engage in a “celebration of upcoming games,” with developer-led livestreams of titles, as well as the opportunity to personally experience a slice of what’s next up on the world’s biggest PC game store. Of course, with all those new games available for the sampling, it can be tough to choose which to try out in the limited time available. Some demos might remain online after the festival, but the general assumption is that they’ll be unavailable for a while once the fest is over.
To that end, we’ve gone ahead and selected a handful of titles we think are worth trying out, via their Steam Next Fest playable demos. Check them out below, and recommend your own favorites in the comments.
Note: The following games were picked by Siliconera staff members out of the Steam Next Fest selection. The full lineup is viewable at this link and via the Steam client. System requirements and availability may vary by title or region.
Affogato blends coffee, conversation, and tower defense into a new style of RPG. The gameplay uses a “reverse tower defense” style, and players help a sorceress make her new café business successful by helping clients fight their “inner demons.” Between battles, they’ll converse with customers, build relationships, and use a realistic coffeemaking model to brew the perfect cup.
Check out its Steam page and grab its Steam Next Fest demo at this link. The full release is due in 2023.
Grim Guardians: Demon Purge
A new title from Inti Creates, Grim Guardians is inspired by gothic horror in the “Metroidvania” vein. Two sisters must challenge a demonic castle that has consumed their school, hunting demons throughout the 2D, multi-floor labyrinth. They’ll earn weapons and equipment from defeating bosses that unlock more areas to visit. Players will control the siblings in tag-team fashion, swapping sisters as the situation demand. Jump-in co-op also allows two players to control both Kamizono sisters on-screen, should the mood arise.
Grim Guardians launches on February 23, 2023. Its store page and demo are here.
Mr. Saitou comes courtesy of Laura Shigihara, the singer-songwriter best known as the lead composer and sound designer for mega-hit title Plants vs. Zombies. It’s a follow-up to her previous game, the story-based adventure Rakuen, and focuses on the titular Mr. Saitou. He’s an average white-collar worker struggling to find meaning in a workaday existence. An accident lands him in a strange fantasy world, leading him to unexpected friends and adventure. Shigihara says that Mr. Saitou is “short and sweet”, with a non-combat story and an original soundtrack.
Check out Mr. Saitou‘s store page at this link. The game will launch on March 24, 2023. Its Steam Next Fest demo is only in English, but the full release will support multiple languages, including Japanese, French, Dutch, Korean, Russian, Brazilian Portuguese, Simplified Chinese, and Turkish.
A new title from WitchSpring3 Re:Fine developer Kiwiwalks, WitchSpring R returns to the well of witch-raising. It’s a story-driven RPG that brings together daily life simulation, collection, crafting, and battle. Players control Pieberry, a bunny-eared witch living in a secluded, monster-infested forest. You’ll help her reach the outside world to walk amongst the humans, and will need to help her gain power, find resources, and train her attributes.
The game doesn’t have a release window, but Kiwiwalks says that the Steam Next Fest demo will last 2-3 hours, and include a tutorial. Check it out at this link.
Pocket Mirror ~ GoldenerTraum
From developers AstralShift and VisuStella, Pocket Mirror ~ GoldenerTraum is a “remastered” edition of Pocket Mirror, a legendary horror RPG. Despite being created in RPG Maker, a popular game development tool suite for independent and hobbyist developers, Pocket Mirror impressed with its visuals and story. GoldenerTraum updates the visuals further, as well as adding more features, like a new ending, 2D animated sequences, a New Game+ mode, and additional content. Players will be able to switch between the new art style and the classic one.
According to its store page, the game doesn’t yet have a release window, but you can grab the Steam Next Fest demo at this link.
Radio the Universe
Radio the Universe might feel familiar, and it should. Its creator, known only as “6e6e6e” (or “sixe”) has been working on it for nearly ten years. It was first funded via Kickstarter in 2013, and has been in development ever since. Now it’s playable at the Steam Next Fest, though it doesn’t have an announced release window (it was last planned to be ready by Winter 2020). Players take on the role of an immortal wanderer, traveling through the ruins of a mysterious city, taking on dangerous enemies and fighting to survive.
Here’s its Steam store page, from which you can download the playable demo.
A tactics title themed after Japanese high school toughs, Banchou Tactics has been in the works at Secret Character. It is inspired both by games like Final Fantasy Tactics and titles like River City Ransom. Players take control of various school-age street fighters caught up in a gang war to determine the toughest and strongest delinquent in the city.
The demo is available at this link. A release date hasn’t been specified, but it was last set for a Q1 2023 debut.
A Chinese-developed RPG boasting visuals in the vein of Square Enix’s recent “HD-2D” productions (like Octopath Traveler and Triangle Strategy), Wandering Sword promises wuxia-inspired adventure in its STeam Next Fest demo. Players step into the role of Yuwen Yi, a warrior who is recuperating in a mountain village after a brush with death. Players will guide Yuwen on his journey through the land, learning various martial arts and weapons, and mastering their meridian points in pursuit of pure martial prowess.
The game is planned for a 2023 release. You can grab its Steam Next Fest demo on this page.
A narrative adventure set at the end of the world, players are placed in the role of Watcher, a clone member of a secret sisterhood living in a closed facility called the Garden. The sisterhood worships “The Allmother,” the last surviving human. When Watcher’s closest sister, Fixer, uncovers a dangerous rumor, Watcher must explore history through a time-shifting tool to uncover a lie thousands of years old.
1000xRESIST is playable as part of the Steam Next Fest, and launches fully in 2023. Check it out on its store page.
Shadows of Doubt
An entry into the venerable “immersive sim” genre, Shadows of Doubt uses low-poly visuals to “fully simulate” a functioning cityscape in an alternative 1980s timeline. Players take on the role of a private detective and use gadgets and sleuthing skills to solve cases. Players can get to know any one of the hundreds of NPCs in the game, each with their own daily routine, and take a variety of routes to meet their goals.
Check out the store page to access the playable demo. Shadows of Doubt doesn’t have a release window yet.
The current Steam Next Fest runs until February 13, 2023.