Steam Next Fest 2022

While people with silly things like “good computers” and “money” are playing Elden Ring. I’ve been checking out Next Fest. So far I’ve only played The Wandering Village. It’s got a cool art style and concept but feels a little unbalanced.

What are y’all playing?

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There’s been a bit of discussion in this thread, but I could go with either moving on? I’ll probably start playing stuff for proper this weekend, when I finally have some spare time.

I think posting in this thread going forward makes more sense since the title actually has the actual name of the event in it. Also gives me a great chance to properly link the event page since I forgot to do that this time!

Anyway, I’ve managed to play a couple more demos since the event started and they’re all stuff I wanna share!

Gematombe - A block-breaking (think Arkanoid or Breakout) versus puzzle game. This specific style of game seems to come so few and far between, much less one that’s specifically aiming for an arcade feel. I’m not a huge fan of the game feel (seems a little slower than I’d want it to be) but it is pretty fun once things get going. I really like the character designs too!


Witch and Council - One of those decklike roguebuilding games where you control a party of up to 3 magical schoolgirls(?). I’m not certain there’s anything super unique about the mechanics of this game. I’ve played tons of these and haven’t seen anything like that yet but the character designs and animations are super cute. I can easily imagine this being the next card game I get into whenever it comes out.

I haven’t finished the demo yet, but it may also be the case that this’ll lean less on the roguelike elements since it seems like it has a straightforward and linear story. Which would be cool if that’s what they’re going for.


How to Say Goodbye - A puzzle game about coming to terms with death. This game’s kind of like a sokoban game but instead of pushing blocks around you manipulate tiles to shuffle objects around. I don’t know if that makes any sense but I found it to be pretty intuitive once I started playing it. Although I will say the controls are a little funky even after learning how it all works.

The art style is very simple but so incredibly potent and I think that same descriptor can be applied to the story, which seems like it has the potential to be absolutely emotionally devastating!

Played the demo for IXION. Seems like a good survival citybuilder, I love a tech tree with options to further invest in/research things you have already ‘discovered’, instead of the singular linear paths to the win conditions many tech trees are made up of. Clearly going to be a game that requires you are efficient with how you use your space, too. The story, surprisingly, also kind of hooked me in the end since so many survival citybuilders rely on the ‘ah, yes, it’s not entirely Moral but it is Necessary’ tone, I wasn’t looking forward to working for an Elon Musk-ish private space exploration corporation… until the demo ends with him likely rapidly moving up the timeline of the Earth’s destruction. ~Oopsie.~

I’m a big fan of Pharaoh, so I had to give the remaster a try. Seems like a straightforward remaster, some of the UI details feel a little more modern (derogatory) and the animations aren’t the best, but the look of the buildings is very nice and it plays like I’d like it to. I’d have to wait for the full release to say if it’s a better buy for anyone who missed the original than just the GOG version of it, but I’m optimistic from the demo.

eta: Tried out I Was a Teenage Exocolonist, which is a game about a kid - age 10 to start, it looks like you’ll be 20 at the end - going through a very visual novel-esque series of choices about who you talk to (and how you talk to them) and what you do with your time, what classes you take and such, on a new space colony on an alien planet with some weird aliens on it. Also probably a time loop game.

It’s got a neat world and very cute character designs, so I think I’d give it a try when it’s out.

Mask of the Rose

Intriguing start to a mystery. I have some familiarity with the world of Fallen London by way of Sunless Skies, this begins a lot earlier than that: half a year since London fell through the ground. It seems like the game will deal with how people carve out new lives for themselves in this aftermath. Writing seems good (the scenes from the eve of the fall itself are especially good) and they do introduce a lot of different … stats, or mechanics, for building relationships with people. Not sure how all that will turn out. But it will be fun to find out!

Neon White

Had fun with the action sequences. It’s a very tight action game with an interesting move set built on knowing all drops and shortcuts of a level. I can see many getting super into speed runs of this.

But being the person I am, I’m so tired of its style of writing. You know, that one where they intentionally lean so hard into worn out tropes because of nostalgia? I’m not going to judge it all based on the demo, but for my own preferences I hope it’ll actually do something with all this as the story develops. Or just that it’ll be more funny, because it’s a bit bland. For now all this horniness and style falls flat on me.

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First game I’ve wishlisted that I hadn’t heard of before. Character designs and overall art style is quite unusual and refreshing (with an emphasis on the player character’s hands in first person view). The writing has potential, but there’s very few character interactions to judge by in the demo. The empathic and general psychological nature seems interesting, but I’m not sure how the interactive mechanics will go. It’s like a typing game plus some word association stuff?

Also tried out Neon White, the writing is definitely hovering uneasily between funny enough and kind of cringe-inducing, but the actual gameplay is much more engaging than I anticipated. The flow of the movement is enough for me to say ‘well, if the writing tips over into bad, you can fast forward’ because it’s fun enough to justify it. Really smooth, really fun, decently challenging little puzzles to get the bonus item.

The Wandering Village is cute, but had a mix of bad humour in tutorials (haha, you see, the village elder’s name is a bit like Albus Dumbledore, it’s very funny) and just that sort of survival city building where everything goes awfully wrong so fast you don’t have much chance to recover. My village began to be poisoned before I had researched all relevant technologies to it, and by the time I had the chance to build even one decontamination station, my city’s population was too small to actually staff it.

Ozymandias, a quick 4X from the developers of Kim, I believe?, suffered from a similar lack of information on screen. I felt like I could go from last place to first place in one turn and have no clue what, exactly, affected that. Not bad, perhaps a bit dull despite being hours shorter than a standard game of Civilization, but could definitely use a stronger tutorial and a bit more information on screen.

Roto Force was pretty cool, but I’m not a big twin stick shooter guy. It’s the sort of game I’d probably rather on Switch for those 20 minutes you gotta kill than on my PC, but if it’s your genre, it seemed quite fun and pretty polished, so I’d recommend giving it a try if you have time before Next Fest ends.

A Little to the Left is a pretty if dull mobile-style puzzle(?) game about deciding if you would like your objects organized by colour or height or perhaps by the number of holes in their bow. It’s nice enough?

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FixFox is a game about fixing random machines with coins, postage stamps, etc., the writing is cute enough so far, the world is that kind of comedic dystopia of a Pikuniku that feels like it’ll have a few things to say without getting particularly dark, and resources are plentiful enough to not be a survival game while certain ones are scarce enough to occasionally require a bit of job prioritizing. (Reminds me, strangely, of the little emotion locket in Ni no Kuni.)

Might prove a little too easy to sustain an 8 hour or whatever run time, but the demo is a treat on its own at least and I could see the world hooking me in enough to breeze through the gameplay.

Card Shark has several rather delightful card counting, deck stacking, and other ways to cheat with cards that pretty much instantly had me hooked on the premise, aided by some very lovely painted backgrounds. Mildly hesitant to see how they handle the Romani characters, as games (and all media) often make them quite villainous and certainly they are your allies here in cheating people at cards, but hopefully we’re raising the money for a good enough cause for it to still land in a good spot.

Attention fellow video game enjoyers of the forums, the June edition of Steam Next Fest has begun!

An important stipulation for this round (and potentially any future Next Fests) is that games can only be featured for one Next Fest ever, as per this official source. So if you see something that interests you make sure you check it out before the event ends next week!

I haven’t had a chance to thoroughly look through all the categories and whatnot but even at a quick glance it looks like a lot of stuff that’s appeared on the various Summer Game Fest streams have demos available to download.

There are a couple of demos that I’ve played previously that I can mention though!

Escape Academy - an escape room themed puzzle game. The puzzle designs feel very plausible and grounded (compared to something like the Zero Escape games) and you solve them by moving through a digital space so there’s a kind of physicality to them as well. There’s also a neat post-puzzle review that shows you how long you took to complete each step and whether or not you skipped or circumvented any solutions too!

Overrogue - a decklike roguebuilder mixed with aspects of turn-based RPGs. Like a lot of these games, it shares a lot of mechanics with the most popular games in the genre. The unique stuff going in this game is that you have a party of 3 characters who each take their own turns from your shared deck and that healing or defense of any kind is scarce so you have to carefully mitigate damage by swapping the order of your party around.

There’s also a potentially concerning gacha mechanic for earning new cards that’s about as needlessly confusing to navigate as your average gacha game.

Super Bullet Break - another decklike roguebuilder. While it doesn’t take a lot for me to get into a deckbuilder, Super Bullet Break feels like it’s working overtime to try and make one of these that feels completely different to play from other deckbuilders out there. So many of the mechanics work differently than you’d expect them to; enemy targeting, turn order, upgrading, the individual as well as the themed mechanics each of the cards have. It’s all a lot to take in considering how homogenous and accessible other deckbuilders tend to be but it’s so cool to figure it all out and get a fun run going.

The only thing I don’t love about this game is that some of the character designs are sexualized in just the most embarrassing and generic way imaginable. It really brings down what is otherwise one of my favorite deckbuilders of recent memory.

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I have a list of about 80 demos I am trying to work through this week, we’ll see how deep I can get into that list before the Next Fest ends. :video_game: But a few highlights from the ones I have so far:

Railbound is a cute puzzle game about connecting trains, really charming art style mixed with puzzles that are suitably challenging early on in a way that makes me excited to see how hard they could get in the final levels. Will probably pick it up for Android instead of Steam, but good stuff!

Townseek seems like a real chill trading game, just floating around a pretty map full of cute animals and trading resources between towns. Love that even in the demo, there are at least two types of currencies to juggle, which keeps it just engaging enough to not be boring, but still relaxing enough to just kind of throw on a podcast and vibe to. Also, I can fly the trans flag on my blimp, so that’s good.

Paradise Marsh is another chill game, this one about catching bugs (with super cute journal entries for each of them!) and looking at stars and reading messages in bottles. Really beautiful soundscape to this one, it’s definitely the kind of game I’ll play with noise-cancelling headphones in a room with some natural light. Probably the game I’m most likely to just pick up the second I get an email from Steam saying it’s out.

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A silly question: do any of these demos run on Deck?

I don’t have a Steam Deck to confirm if they do or do not, but I was watching LauraKBuzz’s streams of the Wholesome Direct, PC Gaming Show, etc. and I’m pretty sure she said she was downloading demos to hers for games that looked interesting as their trailers popped up, so I think yes?

ETA: Doing a quick Twitter search of ‘steam deck demo’ and it seems like most games that support controllers at all will work on a Steam Deck - here are a few specific ones that tweets are confirming work: Cult of the Lamb, Dome Keeper, Agent 64, Metal: Hellsinger, Roots of Pacha, Signalis, Endlight, Midnight Fight Express, and Tinykin.

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Loopmancer seems to be shaping up to be a pretty neat rougelite loopy game. It sort of reminds me of Ruiner but 2d, but with more exploration and traversal mechanics. The voice acting seems… alright, i hope they take another pass at it maybe.

Melatonin is a rhytm game with a very chill vibe. I really enjoyed it, kind of like Rhythm Heaven beats to relax and study to.

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Feels like a lost ps1 arthouse game with an immaculate cyberhorror aesthetic.

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Yeah! I just played this too and it’s a really cool demo, excited to see where it goes

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Melatonin and Signalis were both pretty cool. Melatonin plays roughly identically to Rhythm Heaven, but with a really nice pastel art style and a more chill soundtrack. Very neat. And Signalis is Resident Evil (down to the fact that you can play with tank controls) but in space and Lovecraftian. Dig it.

Gloomwood is, unsurprisingly, a pretty good go at Thief With Guns. Leaning against doors to listen for enemies on the other side, sneak and crouch being two different mechanics/buttons (thank God!), the difference between opening a door and opening a door silently matters. It’s good stealth, but with guns.

Hypnospace Outlaw’s spin-off FPS game, ‘made by’ a kid who I think you could get killed if you didn’t ban him from Hypnospace. I’d maybe like it a little more if the gun could only move left and right, like the old DOOM and whatnot, but it’s still a fairly competent one of these that is elevated by the fact that I liked Hypnospace Outlaw’s music and lore enough to get half of the jokes.

Potion Permit is a pretty solid game, bit of a business sim, bit of a Stardew. You’re managing a clinic and need to both have a good reputation with the townspeople and also need to gather potion ingredients from the nearby woods (which have some monsters, although only some of them are aggressive enough to attack you before you attack them, so it’s fairly chill). I could see it becoming challenging if your clinic starts to fill up, but I actually think that’d be a fun twist on this type of game, so I’m excited to see where it goes. Also, your dog is adorable. A big boof.

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I’m starting off with demos of games which appeared during all the different showcases during not-E3.

Midnight Fight Express: Cool brawler game. The levels are short (about 5 minutes each) and encourage replayability with a combination of getting S Ranks, and several mini objectives. The third level takes place on a train which plays really well with a new mechanic introduced there.

A Little to the Left: This is just as pleasant as what they showed on stream. The puzzles of placing everything in its aesthetically pleasing place starts off simple and gets a bit trickier, and I found some difficulty with a couple of the alternate solutions.

Roots of Pachta: Prehistoric Stardew-like. I went through the full 8 days in the demo to see what the “Objective” is (which I know some people don’t care to engage in and just play freely). In Stardew it was rebuilding the community centre by delivering all matter of items via the bundles. Here it is a cave system where you meet some sort of animal spirit who has a puzzle for you to solve. I only managed to get two because getting through each chamber requires you mining a random number of rocks until the door opens. No currency, but there is a Contribution score, which functions the same way in delivering farmed items and using it for buying upgrades.

How to Say Goodbye: A puzzle game where you are moving floor tiles that are connected invisibly in a conveyor belt type of way. Interested in seeing how the mechanics are built out over the course of the game, so far they’ve put in moving two pieces at the same time and moving blocks that obstruct your way. Also has a rotating triangular cursor which looks cool. Can’t say much about the game’s theme of dealing with grief with what they have so far, but I’m optimistic.

There is No Light: Pixel art action game in a dark and dreary underground world, packed with gore. The beginning is kind of boring, since you only have a sword and have no special attacks (not to mention a tired old kidnapped family setup) nut eventually they open up a skill tree and additional weapons. I think the encouraged playstyle is to swap between weapons; the greatsword and fists both have cooldowns after activating a special, at which point you swap to the basic sword. You can however just stick with the sword for the most part. There are a couple of tricky encounters just because of how much enemies they throw at you, as well as all the particle effects and screen shake that comes with it. Beat the boss of the demo on my second try though. There’s also some sort of morality system that is affected by how you answer NPCs questions, although it feels a bit shallow. They nail it on aesthetic and worldbuilding however.

The Unliving: An RTS where you control a single necromancer directly with WASD and then raise the enemies you kill as your zombie army, directed by the right mouse button. I don’t have a lot of experience with these types of games, I don’t know if micro is the right term, but I struggled hard and died pretty quickly, and the long loading times were enough for me to give up. On the plus side, the base citadel you end up at when you die basically has a spell tree etched into the floor. More skill trees and the like represented physically in the world please.

Moonscars: 2D action game similar to Hollow Knight-like in the manner that you have a meter which you can spend for either healing or attack magic. There is a very satisfying parry attack because you do a wide sweep in front of you when you hit it, damaging everyone in front of you, and sometimes knocking people into spikes. You eventually get a choice of special weapons that deal status effects like a hammer that causes stun. If you don’t get to your grave after you die, it makes the enemies stronger, with the payoff being you get more souls for use in buying skills. Absolutely gorgeous visuals, I’ll be keeping an eye on this one.

Beneath Oresa: A roguelike deckbuilder where you’re controlling a warrior delving into a dungeon of some sort. Attacks are presented with your 3D character moving and swinging their sword in slow motion with dynamic camera angles rather than a side-on view or top down. I like the vibe of going through these depths with a companion, just wish there was some dialogue between them. I’d love to see how the final product turns out, because there are a lot of systems teased that aren’t available that have piqued my interest.

I think i wish Metal: Hellsinger was a brutal legend sequel, but im very about it Metal: Hellsinger on Steam

Orx: In the trailer they called it a deckbuilder mixed with Carcassonne. Place down tiles for roads, villages and farmland to gain money, and then place tower pieces so they can shoot arrows at orcs who come in several waves. I enjoyed what I played but bad choices for cards and a bad starting hand put me in a very bad place for the third map.

Broken Pieces: Thought this was going to a chill adventure game but then I saw shooting mechanics in the control menu. The combat feels tacked on and it would better without it. There’s not much to the story either, as the basic premise isn’t given, so I had no idea why I was doing the things I was told to.

Monorail Stories: I was intrigued by the idea of playing as two different characters, alternating between their train journeys as they never meet directly. However the demo is only 15 minutes long and it’s hard to say where it’s going. Great music though.

Neon Blight: Twin stick shooter where it takes entirely too long to kill anything. Didn’t get past the first boss because it knocked me out of the room somehow and I gave up.

Tyrant’s Blessing: It’s Into The Breach, but fantasy. You get three attack units plus a support unit (which starts as a puppy but could be a panda or a cat, amongst others) and have three sub objectives which earn stars, which can be later traded for upgrades. Fun!

Terracotta: Play as a terracotta warrior come to life in a puzzle game. You swap between two dimensions, one where you run about avoiding enemies (there’s no way to attack them, although later you get a dash), and another where you stop time and walk painfully slow while interacting with the puzzles. Puzzles involve drawing a line of Qi on the ground to do things such as fill in glyphs, charge machines or deflect arrows. I’d like to see how much more interesting the puzzles can get, but the running around enemies doing nothing aspect is a letdown.

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Time Bandit is Metal Gear Solid, if it also had an Animal Crossing-style real life clock to work around and was more communist. I kept this demo installed for a full 25 hours so I could meet a dude in a park, and he gave me a lecture on Karl Marx. Needless to say, it could become my favorite game of all time.

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